Sunday, August 25, 2019

A chat with Belinda Lawrence, an Aussie Sleuth!

Belinda Lawrence is a character created by Brian Kavanagh

Tonight we have a guest all the way from Australia! I love that country's cinema, they make some of the best horror movies in the world. Tell us, Belinda what was the first investigation you ever did? What was the last? Do you expect to do more investigations in the future?

The first was some years ago when I was backpacking after University in Australia. Back then, it was the thing Aussie kids did, back to England, the ‘Old Country’ and do Europe before settling down to a ‘nine to five’ back home. I had some adventures then but nothing prepared me for what was to come. I was working in London at an accounting firm and thinking of going back home to Melbourne, when I received an invitation to visit my Great Aunt Jane in Milford, a small village just outside of Bath. I’d always wanted to visit that Georgian City - I’m a fan of Jane Austin - and it seemed a good idea to meet my father’s Aunt and check out the city at the same time.

But when I called at the Milford cottage I discovered my Great Aunt dead at the foot of the stairs. Well, tell me about it!  I’d never met the poor old lady and here she was, dead at my feet. The police decided it was an accidental fall which killed her, but soon after, I received a letter from her posted after her death. That was truly weird and gave me Goosebumps, not to mention a few sleepless nights. It hinted at a secret she wanted to reveal to me. The cottage was left to me in her will, why I don’t know, I guess she wanted it to go to family, even a distant one. So, not looking a gift-horse in the mouth, I decided to remain in Bath and follow up on my suspicions that Aunt Jane’s death was not accidental, but murder. A number of locals - with varying degrees of peculiarities - showed extreme interest in the cottage and more particularly in the old garden. It was this that caused me to investigate so, by accident, I became a sleuth and eventually tracked down the killer. All in all, a pretty dramatic affair.

More recently my last murder investigation was back in Melbourne where I was staying at my parents’ house while they were on a cruise. I met an old school chum who was lecturing in film and she invited me to attend a private screening run by retired cinema projectionists and staff, who had regular screening of films they had collected over the years. And an odd bunch they were. Old projectionists who loathed digital film and clung to the last shreds of celluloid film, film buffs, and an age defying cinema usherette (remember them?) who gave Marie Antoinette heavy competition with elaborate hairstyles. All of them obsessed with a missing film.  Whilst at the screening a young film enthusiast burst in announcing that the owner of the private cinema had been murdered. As I was there at the time of the crime, the police considered me to be a potential murderer, along with the others who attended the screening. So I began my sleuthing as a way to prove my innocence and got to know the members of the group, all of whom it seemed had a motive for murder, eventually tracking down the killer, who was intent on killing me! I was saved by a friend, and so lived to tell the tale. But let me tell you, it was a close shave.

And did you choose to become a detective? Or didn't you have a choice?

Much like my Aunt Jane’s fall down the stairs, I fell into it.  Initially to solve her murder but as time went on I became involved in dealing Antiques and with that came situations that involved crimes and killings associated with items of historical interest. I suppose my natural curiosity, plus the buzz from solving my Aunt’s murder, drove me to solve mysteries which involved an ancient tapestry, a murder in a haunted manor house, death over a missing political item, rediscovered bones of Saint Thomas Beckett, and Nazi spoils of war. I had developed a taste for sleuthing and enjoyed the challenge.

This is incredible! Tell me, who do you see yourself closest to: Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple or Sam Spade?

In lots of ways I could be described as a mixture of Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. Miss Marple because I rely a lot in instinct and go about my sleuthing quietly, learning as much as I can about suspects and putting two and two together. Instinct, as I said, has a lot to do with it; my assessment of individuals based on their persona and body language.  Hercule Poirot, because I am an outsider in England, as he was, so as an Australian I can view suspects from a different point of view. Also, considering each mystery from every angle, every possible reason, every detail. So a mixture of those techniques comes naturally to me and is a great advantage.

It must be hard doing all of that by yourself. Do you have anyone helping you in your investigations? Tell us more about them.

In lots of ways I’d lost without Hazel Whitby by my side when investigating a murder. Hazel and I first met after my Aunt Jane’s murder. Hazel had come to meet me in Bath because she has heard rumors of a secret that had been spread around about the cottage garden. At first I considered her to be a suspect in my Aunt’s murder, but it became apparent that she was innocent and was just curious so learn what the garden’s secret was. We became friends and I joined her in her Antique dealings from her tiny shop on Pulteny Bridge and her furniture shop in Wells. I learned a lot about antiques and together we have traveled around the world pursuing antiques. Hazel is older than me, much more world weary, amusingly cynical, and given to the charms of a handsome male. Her romantic life tends to be chaotic; mine more stable, or at least it was. Hazel has a real ‘down to earth’ approach to solving mysteries; things are much more black and white and her observation of human nature is not as generous as mine. We make a good team. Balance.

Let's wrap it up with  a quote. Do you have a favourite one?

As always, when in doubt, I turn to Oscar Wilde.  I love this quote from The Importance of Being Earnest, attributed to Miss Prism when admitting to having written a three volume novel. “The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what Fiction means.”

I couldn't have said it better myself!

Neither could I! It was delightful to have you in my blog, please come back at anytime!

Monday, August 12, 2019

A chat with with Zoe Clarke of Moon Grove!

Zoe Clarke is a character created by Lily Webb

It's not Halloween yet, but we are interviewing a witch here at my blog! Zoe Clarke, tell us: what was the first investigation you ever did? What was the last? Do you expect to do more investigations in the future?

The first investigation I ever did was into the murder of a witch journalist, Harper Woods, my predecessor at the Moon Grove Messenger. Harper was investigating a shady quid-pro-quo deal for power between an influential witch and the king of the vampires and someone wasn’t happy about it, so they had her silenced — forever. Given that I replaced her at the paper and I could’ve been next to catch a stake in my heart, I had to investigate. Since then, I haven’t been able to stop sticking my nose where it doesn’t belong! Such is the life of a mind-reading journalist, I guess. As a matter of fact, I’m starting a new investigation right now. There’s rumors swirling about a string of disappearances and no one seems to know who’s behind them or why. I should probably just let the cops handle it, but c’mon… What fun would that be?

No fun at all! But it doesn't always pay the bills. Tell me, what’s your daytime occupation? How does it relate to your investigations?
Well, until recently I worked as a reporter covering the City and Government beat for the Moon Grove Messenger. But since I got elected as Head Witch, one of the most powerful positions in our magical town, I spend most of my days solving problems for the paranormal populace and drafting up new laws and regulations to protect them — from each other and from themselves. Keeping the peace in a town of half a dozen or more paranormal species isn’t easy, but I try my best. To that end, my new position touches every aspect of my life, including my investigations. The only difference is that now it’s an official part of my job description — and I get paid to do what I was doing illegally and for free before. Win-win!

That's a dream come true for any cozy detective. What can you do that the police can’t?

I can use magic and read people’s minds, for starters, though whether or not I’m any good at either of them is up for debate. Even so, nobody is better at spotting a liar than me, though sometimes that comes back to bite me in the rear. But I think I’m also just better at talking to people in general, which is probably a result of my background in journalism. Though these days it’s getting harder and harder to get people to talk, no doubt because pretty much everyone in Moon Grove knows who I am — I’m Head Witch, how couldn't they know? And then there’s that whole little “I-can-read-all-your-deepest-and-darkest-thoughts" thing. That probably doesn’t help. 

Being a good listener is essential in this business - and a little magic surely helps! Do you have anyone helping you in your investigations? Tell us more about them.

I have a huge support network of friends and family here in Moon Grove, paranormal and otherwise, but my number one supporter is Grandma Elle. When I was a little girl, my parents died in a car crash and Grandma Elle has raised me ever since. She’s a no-nonsense, take charge kind of gal who’s as untamed as the North Carolina farm she was born and raised on. She isn’t afraid to say or do whatever she needs to do to get to the truth, which is a bit of a double-edged sword. As much as I appreciate her help, she often gets me into more trouble than usual — because of her big southern mouth! Still, I wouldn’t have her any other way. She’s the best kind of Grandma anyone could ask for and I wouldn’t be the hard-nosed gumshoes I am today without her influence. But I’d be a total loser if I didn’t also mention my best friend Mallory Crane, who I met during my brief period of study at Veilside Academy of Magic. She’s the smartest, most resourceful witch I’ve ever met in my life and I wouldn’t have half the track record I do now if she hadn’t been around to help me piece together some of the toughest puzzles I’ve ever come across. And last but certainly not least, there’s my boyfriend, Beau Duncan, who just so happens to be able to turn into a golden retriever when he needs to. You’d be amazed how useful a nose like his can be, and he’s just as loyal and charming a boyfriend as he is in his dog form. 

Would you ever do something against the law to help your investigation? 

You ask that like I haven’t already! Look, while I’d never encourage anyone to break the law — I’m Head Witch, I have to support some kind of rule of law, right? — sometimes the ends justify the means, you know? I’ve been known to trespass, break into homes, and steal evidence when it was necessary — but it was always in the interest of solving a murder and because I had access that the police didn’t, and I’ve always turned over everything I’ve found to the cops in the end anyway. Our werewolf Police Chief, Berric Mueller, knows me by name and while he and I have a, well, complicated relationship, I like to think he’s finally grown to respect my endless curiosity and penchant for reckless endangerment. Or at least I hope he has. I bet if you asked him, he’d probably have something much different to say, but there’s always two sides to every story, right? Joke’s on him though because I’m Head Witch now so I could probably fire him if he tested me too much. I mean, not that I would, but it’s good to know I have the option. 

Thank you for your honest answer, most people are afraid of that question. That's it for today, but my readers can expect a new interview very soon! Kisses from Grandma!


Lily Webb lives in the Pacific Northwest with her two cats, Hilda and Zelda, where she spends her time reading and writing all things paranormal. An aspiring witch herself, Lily's always been fascinated by the magical powers of the written word. To stay up-to-date with all things Lily Webb and Moon Grove, sign up for Lily's Moon Grove Messenger newsletter here:

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

A chat with Chelsea from the Apple Orchard

Chelsea is a character created by Chelsea Thomas

Anyone care for a slice of apple pie? Don't mind if I do! Today we're interviewing Chelsea, a detective who can bake some delicious goods. Tell us, Chelsea, how did you start in this detective life? What were your first and your latest investigation?

There was a murder on my family’s orchard. I’d moved home to be close to family while I mended my broken heart, and then there was a murder. The latest investigation involved the murder of a very… interesting woman.

Did you choose to become a detective? Or didn’t you have a choice?

I got swept into it. It wasn’t by choice. I was hesitant to delve into investigating a murder, but my aunt, Miss May felt protective over our orchard — she wanted to know “whodunit” and she wanted to make sure they didn’t do it again.

So you just fell in the middle of it! That happens to a lot of the people I interview here. And how do you handle investigating when people don’t believe in you?

As long as I have Miss May and Teeny by my side, I can get through most challenges that come
along with being an amateur detective. But we’ve definitely had to deal with a lot of doubt — I guess a sense of curiosity and justice drives all of us toward the truth.

And what about the authorities? How do you deal with them while doing your investigation?

While Detective Wayne Hudson is… great to look at, he likes getting in the way. A lot. The easiest way to deal with Wayne (and his boss, Chief Flanagan) is avoidance. We try to stay out of his way and off his radar as much as possible. Sometimes that works better than others.

Is there anything you don't like about investigating a murder?

While unraveling a mystery is interesting, I don’t like the fact that somebody is dead. When talking to the victim’s family or friends, it’s a reminder that they’ve lost somebody. Even the meanest, rudest person in the world doesn’t deserve to be murdered. 

Thank you for your interview, Chelsea! Come back anytime, and bring more pie!


Chelsea Thomas

Everyone loves a secret. 

So here's a good one...

...Chelsea Thomas is technically two people, married writing team Chelsea and Matthew Thomas. 

Matt and Chelsea write cozy mysteries set on an apple orchard in upstate New York. They also write television and film. As screenwriters, they have worked with several studios, including Nickelodeon, SONY and CBS. 

Chelsea and Matt are graduates of Duke University and they are members of the Writers Guild of America. 

Chelsea enjoys spending time with animals and practicing yoga. Matt loves playing music. They both enjoy spending time near the water.