This trip to The Poisoned Pen to see Laura Bradford, Kate Carlisle, and Paige Shelton was special. Of course it was special because I was going to my favorite bookstore, and of course it was special because of the three talented women I was going to see, but it was also special because I was taking my niece Daisy with me.
No one in my immediate-- or extended-- family is as focused on books and reading as I am, and this includes Daisy. She'd never been to an author event before, but she was game to go because she thought it would be interesting. As I drove to Scottsdale, I was hoping that the afternoon would be a bit more than that. What was Daisy thinking? I don't know. She might have felt as though she were going on safari to see some strange and exotic sights. Or this eighteen-year-old might have thought she was going to be bored out of her mind. Only time would tell.
I introduced Daisy to one of my favorite Poisoned Pen staffers, Pat King, and-- as I knew he would-- he made Daisy feel right at home. My niece and I roamed the store, gathering up books and a t-shirt to buy, and then we took our seats right in the front row.
It seemed no time at all until the other authors arrived. Paige Shelton came right up for a hug ("I'm a hugger!"), and when she was introduced to Daisy, Daisy got one, too. Hmm... first time at The Poisoned Pen, first hug from an author....
|L to R: John Charles, Kate Carlisle, Paige Shelton, Laura Bradford|
Poisoned Pen staffer John Charles has a knack for asking interesting questions, and the crowd of fans sat back to enjoy the proceedings.
Asked when they knew they wanted to be a writer, Laura replied that she always knew she wanted to write. It took her five years to write her first book. She had a child, and it seemed as though all her "writing was done in twenty-minute increments."
On the other hand, Kate always thought she couldn't be a writer because she didn't have a Ph.D. She certainly knows better now!
How did they get started in the mystery genre?
When Paige first started writing, she joined a romance writers group. After they read some of her work, she was asked, "Have you ever read a romance novel?" Taking stock of the situation, she realized that she was much more interested in writing mysteries.
Kate Carlisle began her writing career in the romance genre, but it didn't take very long for her to discover-- like Paige-- that mysteries were more fun. Perhaps because of her romance background, Kate has a slightly different view of what constitutes a mystery: "Sometimes the mystery may be how two people get together."
Laura knew she was going to write mysteries by the age of fourteen, which is when she fell in love with Mary Higgins Clark.
Then it was time to mention each author's latest book.
Laura's is Éclair and Present Danger, the first in her Emergency Dessert Squad series set in Ohio. Due to an exorbitant rent hike, bakery owner Winnie Johnson needs cash to remain open. Instead she inherits a cat that hates her and an antique ambulance. Forced to think on her feet, Winnie closes her bakery and opens a new business: the Emergency Dessert Squad, and the EDS has the perfect dessert answer for any emotional need. As she talked about her book, I sat there knowing that I'd have to read the copy I'd just purchased as quickly as possible.
Kate's latest book is Books of a Feather, the tenth in her Bibliophile mystery series. This time Brooklyn Wainwright is dealing John James Audubon and his massive tome, Birds of America. And murder, of course!
Paige's latest book is the first in her Scottish Bookshop series set in Edinburgh, The Cracked Spine. American Delaney Nichols packs her bags and moves to Edinburgh to work in an Aladdin's Cave of a bookshop-- The Cracked Spine. Missing artifacts and murder ensue.
Next the authors were asked about research they've had to do recently.
Laura has had to research 1960s ambulances for her Emergency Dessert Squad books, and she also has to make trips to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to research her Amish mystery series.
Paige went to Edinburgh, Scotland, for The Cracked Spine, and Kate not only has to do research on the books Brooklyn is restoring, she had to delve into Audubon's life as well as various bird watching societies.
|These women are social media savvy!|
John Charles then asked them about writing series.
Kate believes that it's easier and more enjoyable to write series. "Your characters can become more real than your own family... sometimes you like them more than your own family," she said with a laugh. "You build a world around your characters."
"I love the big scope of a series and creating characters," Paige said.
"Writing a series can be challenging," Laura replied, "because readers become attached to certain characters, and I don't want to let the readers down."
|The signing line!|
Who is your book boyfriend?
Kate: Roarke in J.D. Robb's series. He's hunky, sexy, and he owns the planet.
Laura: Richard Castle, both books and TV.
Paige: Almanzo Wilder.
Who is your movie boyfriend?
Kate: Daniel Craig.
Laura: James Marsden.
What's the longest stretch of time you've gone with no shower and eaten bad meals when on deadline?
Kate: I don't know about the shower part, but... a week.
Laura: Three days.
Paige: Three days.
When John Charles asked the women about books they'd read recently that they'd recommend or about books that had influenced them, Laura told us that she was able to have Mary Higgins Clark sign the very same copy of Cry in the Night that she'd read as a fourteen-year-old. She also told us about a conference she'd attended when she was just starting out as a writer. Harlan Coben approached her and asked Laura if it were true about Mary Higgins Clark. When Laura admitted that it was, he asked her if she'd want to talk with Clark. He proceeded to whip out his cell phone, dial Clark, and hand his phone over to Laura so she could talk to the woman who'd had such an impact on her life.
"Unfortunately, Clark probably thought I was some sort of weird stalker/psycho because during the rest of the conference, every time I was waiting for an elevator and the elevator door would open, Mary Higgins Clark would be in there... and there I'd be standing there looking at her!"
Paige highly recommends Josh Malerman's Bird Box.
Kate was influenced a great deal by Sue Grafton's early Kinsey Milhone mysteries, and she went on to tell us that she enjoys reading C.S. Harris, Allison Brennan, and Iris Johansen's Eve Duncan books.
|Authors busily signing books!|
"May I add that I was once in an elevator with Sue Grafton?" Paige said. "For the entire five floors, I couldn't say a word!"
What three things can't they do without?
Laura: My computer. Candy corn is my deadline food of choice-- terrible, I know! And when I'm in the middle of a book-- which is the most difficult part for me-- I need to work in a coffee shop. I need to be put in a situation where I can't do anything else... like laundry or cooking or cleaning!
Paige: This is horrible, but... Diet Pepsi, potato chips, and my computer.
Kate: My computer, Brandini toffee popcorn, and a lock on my door!
What's next for the three?
For Laura, there will be another book in her Southern Sewing Circle series that she writes under the name of Elizabeth Lynn Casey. She'll also be writing an e-series for Kensington that involves the world of advertising, and her second Emergency Dessert Squad mystery, Silence of the Flans, will be out next March.
Paige's second Dangerous Type mystery, Bookman Dead Style, will be out in January, and her second in the Scottish Bookshop series, Of Books and Bagpipes, will be out in April.
As for Kate, she's currently working on the next Bibliophile mystery, and in November her newest Fixer Upper mystery, Deck the Hallways, will be available.
When the signing line began to form, Daisy told me that she really liked the sound of Laura Bradford's Éclair and Present Danger. What's a book enabler like me to do? I handed her my copy and told her to get in line to have it signed! (I then bought another copy for myself.)
|Daisy the photographer|
As the signing line slowly dwindled, I waited patiently. In the mean time, Daisy filled in as photographer for another fan who attended the event. Then my moment arrived....
|L to R: Kate Carlisle, Laura Bradford, Paige Shelton and Daisy|
It had indeed turned out to be a very special afternoon, due in no small part to these three talented writers. Daisy and I took our copies of Éclair and Present Danger out to the pool where we sat in the shade and read and smiled and laughed. (Yes, Daisy is as adept as I at keeping her book dry! Oh! And I also have instructions to send a copy of Silence of the Flans to England as soon as it's available.)
Memories are made of moments like this. Thank you so much, Laura Bradford, Kate Carlisle, Paige Shelton, and The Poisoned Pen!