Thursday, April 25, 2019

A Chat with Mabel Wickles, the Spinster Detective

Mabel Wickles is a character created by Sharon Mierke, and has appeared in five books

When my grandson Stu said I should start a blog, I never thought people would be so interested. For me, it was just a way of getting to know other detectives from around the world, and getting some tips on how to solve a murder. People loved my first interview, so this week I'm back to chat with my friend Mabel Wickles.
Good evening, Mabel! It's so nice to talk to a detective of my own age. Let us know a little about your first investigation. While you're at it, tell us about your latest one, and if you intend to continue investigating in the future.
We had a lovely woman, Buelah Henry, come to live in Parson's Cove.  She was a retired school teacher and lived in a cottage not far in the country.  One winter, Esther Flynn, found her body in the snow.  Now, Esther Flynn and I have no love for each other, but somehow I was quite sure she had nothing to do with the death.  Of course, everyone in town said it was an accident.  A terrible accident but that's all it was - she slipped on the ice and hit her head.  I, however, knew better.  Beulah was no fool.  First of all, she would never go outside without a coat on when it was thirty below.  Also, even though she wasn't young, she was as spry as a deer.  That was the first murder I solved.
My last murder investigation involved a trip to Las Vegas! I and several strangers won a week of fun in sin city.  You can imagine how shocked I was when after returning home, discovered that one of my fellow winners had been murdered and the body dumped in the woods near Parson's Cove. This investigation ended up involving much more than a murder, and even if Captain Maximowich might not agree, I know I played a part in uprooting a crime syndicate. I'll also have to admit that Flori and Reg helped out a bit too.
Will I ever do investigations in the future?  Of course not.  Unless something happens to just fall into my lap and I have no other choice.  Until that happens, however, I am retired. I mean, how many murders can happen in a quiet town?  Flori says we have one every season.  If that's the case, I'll keep you informed.

You never know, right? People use to call me The Homicide Magnet, because everywhere I go a murder happens, and I have to solve it. I have to play nice, or else they think I did it. But tell me, what's your major strength when investigating a murder?
I believe my major strength is my curiosity and my doggedness.  Well, some might call it nosiness and stubbornness but I beg to differ.  You can never solve a murder if you don't do some snooping, right?  And you have to stick to it.  There were several times when everyone else had given up, but not me!  When I'm sure someone is innocent, I'll do everything within my power to prove them innocent (and vice versa).  Even when in one case, the foolish young man refused to admit he wasn't guilty.

Anyone can be nosy and stubborn, but it takes much more to be a detective. What made you think you could solve a case? 
Well, not that I want to complain but sometimes our police department doesn't seem to know exactly what they're doing.  I happen to be more in tune with what's happening in our little town of Parson's Cove.  Perhaps that's because my shop, Mabel's Fables and Things, is right on Main Street, and I see what's going on.  And, let's face it, who's going to be suspicious when some senior citizen is poking around searching for clues?  I have to admit that once you've solved one case, it's easy to gain the confidence that you can solve the next one too.

Poking around and searching for clues is my favorite hobby. Now tell me: why were you the ideal person to solve that case?
The one of the foolish young man? Because although I knew Jakie was guilty of making many stupid mistakes and causing my friend, Flori, many a heartache, I knew he wasn't a killer.  Even when all the evidence pointed to him and he wouldn't tell the police he was innocent,  I was convinced that he was.  I just had to find out why he was keeping silent. Who was he protecting? Besides, I had to prove to Flori that her son was innocent because it was breaking her heart.

Can you describe a time when your work as a detective was critized?
When hasn't it been critized?  One that comes to mind is when Flori, my best friend, and I traveled to Yellow Rose, Texas, and Captain Maximowich came in person to tell me to return home.  Apparently, according to him, I could've screwed up the whole investigation. To add insult to injury, he even paid for our airfare!  Well, perhaps I almost screwed up one investigation, but he had to admit that in the end, I solved the murder.

I hate this Captain already. And do you have anyone helping you in your investigations? Tell us more about them.
Oh yes, my biggest helper is my friend, Flori Flanders.  We've been friends since kindergarten and not that I want to give our ages away, but that is almost seventy years of friendship.  I'm not sure Flori wants to be my assistant but she does worry about me and thinks that I leap into situations without thinking them through. Her husband, Jake, doesn't appreciate his wife getting involved but we've learned through the years how to manipulate Jake.  Of course, now that Reg Smee has retired, he has become more of a helper too.  It seems we were always going in opposite directions when he was sheriff but now we sometimes work harmoniously together. Another person who is a big help in his own strange way is Charlie.  He's a bit odd and most folks keep their distance but Charlie is my friend. Since he wanders the streets at night, he sometimes knows more about crime in Parson's Cove than anyone else.  Not that I use my cats and old people to solve crimes but in one case my cat, Sammy, and a busload of senior citizens came to my assistance too. 

That's it for today, then! Thank you for dropping by, Mabel. If another dead body appears in your life, first you solve that mystery, and then you call me to arrange another interview.


I am a wife, mother, grandmother, and author. And, in that order. Through most of the early years, I like to describe myself as a 'latent' writer - the ideas existed but must lay dormant until suitable conditions developed. When the last of our four children left home, the time arrived. Since I had no idea about the world of writing - and believe me, it is a world of its own - I decided to invest in a writing course. I enrolled in a three-year writing program with The Writing School in Ottawa, Canada

Thursday, April 18, 2019

A Chat with Belinda Blake, the Exotic Pet-Sitter

Belinda Blake is the main character of Belinda Blake and the Snake in the Grass by Heather Day Gilbert, available at NetGalley and for preorder on Amazon, Kobo, AppleBooks, Nook, and all online vendors

Good morning, good afternoon and good evening, everyone! My name is Albertha Isobel Hepburn, but nobody calls me that anymore. I'm Grandma Bertha, and this is my blog. My grandson Stu said I should have one, now that I solved a few murders in my spare time and became a celebrity. I want to contact detectives from all over the world to learn more about this job, so I can catch my next criminal in record time.

My first one was this young woman, Belinda Blake, who has the coolest profession in the world. So, Belinda, tell everyone: what's your daytime occupation, and how does it relate to your investigations? 

I'm an exotic pet-sitter, which basically means I'm willing to watch the pets no one else wants to get close to. I've built a clientele in Manhattan, and now that I've lucked into renting a small carriage house in Greenwich, Connecticut, I'm growing my client list there. My clients will often pay me to stay in their homes and care for their pets when they go on vacations.

As a side job, I play video games and review them in game magazines and online. I have quite a few loyal readers, and they've been begging me to start a Twitch (live gaming) stream online, so I'm kicking that around.

As you might have guessed, I'm not the kind of person who likes being locked down with a mundane desk job. I like variety and I'm an introvert, so pet-sitting and gaming are perfect fits for me.

I'm realizing that murders can happen anywhere—high society Greenwich or small-town upstate New York, where my parents live. And sometimes, pet-sitting gives me the cover I need to ask questions.

I love walking my doggies around, but if one day I get a pet anaconda, I'll make sure to contact you. Are you a fan of crime novels? What are your favorites?

I've recently joined a book club with my parents' neighbor, Jonas Hawthorne. We've been working
our way through classics. After reading, I discuss them with Jonas on the phone, or if I happen to be in Larches Corner, where my parents live, I'll join up with the book club at the local coffee shop. The latest one we read was The House on Haunted Hill by Shirley Jackson, and that was too dark for me. I'm an Agatha Christie girl, and I have plenty of her mysteries on my bookshelves. I especially like her sleuth Parker Pyne.

I didn't read The House on Haunted Hill yet, but I love the movie with Vincent Price. He played a madman better than anyone! Speaking of which, what do you know about the psychology of a criminal?

Funny you should ask that, since my psychologist sister, Katrina, thinks I'm a little too trusting. But I've learned a few things from what Katrina has told me over the years, and I'm becoming more wary (although Katrina still thinks I'm too reckless). One thing I've realized is that some of the best liars actually get to the point where they believe their own lies...and those are the ones you have to watch out for.

That's so true! Part of our job is to identify this kind of people. And how would you describe your investigation style?

I wouldn't call it organized—more like intensely dedicated. When necessary, I'll take chances so I can get the information I need. Since I'm a bit of a daredevil, it takes a lot to make me afraid, but let's just say that late last year, I wound up in a situation I could've never seen coming...

Now here's a question you'd never see coming: tell us something about yourself that you wouldn't want other people to know.

Sometimes I actually get homesick for Larches Corner, which doesn't make sense, because I left my small town years ago for college and the Peace Corps, then I started pet-sitting in Manhattan. I explained to my parents that I wanted the excitement of the city and all the opportunities it could afford. Yet some nights, when I open my carriage house windows, I can almost feel the cool breezes that drift off my parents' field, and I remember night skies so dark and clear, you feel like you can see every star. I've been getting nostalgic more lately, and I need to refocus, because my exotic pet-sitting career has really taken off here in Greenwich.

Thank you for your time, babes, and hope your business continues to go well. Hope to see you again soon! 

Heather Day Gilbert, an ECPA Christy award finalist and Grace award winner, writes contemporary mysteries and Viking historicals. Her novels feature small towns, family relationships, and women who aren’t afraid to protect those they love. Like Belinda Blake, Heather plays video games, although so far she hasn't done any exotic pet-sitting or hunted any murderers.

Find out more on
Twitter: @heatherdgilbert
NetGalley for Snake in the Grass:
Amazon for Snake in the Grass:
(Pre-order now and it'll be delivered on June 25th)