ROSES ARE DEAD, MY LOVE is the second book featuring the ever-curious and entertaining sisters, Rose and Daisy Forrest. These cozy mysteries offer a host of plot twists, intrigue, and enjoyable characters, notable among this last group being the sisters’ feisty, quirky, yet insightful mother, Angela Forrest.
In this second instalment of the series, Daisy and Rose have enjoyed a quiet six months until strange things begin happening in Old Towne once again. With a local jogger engaged in obscene indiscretions, mysterious mail mishaps, and a host of other misfortunes, ROSES ARE DEAD, MY LOVE promises to lead the reader on another “Nancy Drew”–type investigation.
“The ladies do have quite a bit of fun breaking and entering, or ‘opening and entering’ as they see it,” says Penny Clover Petersen. “And Angela’s prowess with her new Super-Shooter is rather entertaining.”
Not to mention “the secret Rose’s new boyfriend, Peter Fleming, is hiding,” adds Petersen. “He appears to be a nice, regular sort of man, if a little pretentious, but not all is at it seems.”
Sounds like the start of an excellent adventure, worthy of a cozy chair and a good cocktail, right? Check out Petersen’s website for Forrest-approved recipes. The sisters appear to have a “drink” for everything.
An avid reader and lover of well-written, engaging books, Petersen admits that a run of “bad” books was the primary motivator for her putting pen to paper. “At one point about seven years ago, I had been reading a string of really awful books and complaining loudly that ‘I could write better than this.’ My husband suggested that instead of whining, I should just write one.”
While Petersen originally expected writing to be a hobby, as her story progressed and she realized she liked the results, she became more serious about the process. That process led to her writing the Daisy and Rose mystery series, as well as three children’s books, which she primarily wrote for her own children as they struggled with difficult events in their lives.
Throughout the years, Petersen has drawn inspiration from a host of literary sources. She praises the poetry of Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird: “The sounds, the smells, the ‘feel’ of Maycomb became so real that I can’t put it down, even at the twentieth reading.” She also notes how closely she has come to know J. R. R. Tolkien’s characters. “If I were to meet Bilbo Baggins, for instance, I would probably just say hello and offer him a seed cake.”
The mystery genre “masters” Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle also top Petersen’s inspirational writers’ list. Petersen has just finished reading The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley, and Kerry Greenwood’s Unnatural Habits is currently on her nightstand.
When asked about her writing process, Petersen admits that a planned schedule usually holds for about a day, and that most typically she writes “in spurts” and that she relies on a loyal reader to keep her on track most of the time. She offers sage advice for new writers. “Read a lot,” she says. “Read the genre you’ve chosen, dissect it. Don’t push it. If the idea isn’t there yet, it will come.”
And of course, she adds, “Write what you know.”
Petersen has clearly taken her own advice, as the characters within the Daisy and Rose mysteries bare a strong reflection to her life. “I mentioned to my son how much I liked my main characters and he laughed. ‘Of course you do. They’re you and [your sister] Chris.’ But I’m actually a Daisy wannabe. I prefer to think that I’m Daisy, but in reality I am much more like Rose.”
Petersen’s favorite character, Angela Forrest, is a reflection of several important women in Petersen’s life, with the initial inspiration coming from a dear friend, Mary Garrison, who passed away last year. “She was such a positive woman who managed to find something good in almost every situation,” Petersen says. “She often heard the beat of a different drummer, albeit sometimes a rather peculiar drummer. I don’t think Angela has changed too much as a result of losing Mary. If anything, she has simply expanded her ability to take life as it comes and have a good time doing it.”
With ROSES ARE DEAD, MY LOVE out this month, Petersen has moved on to the next Rose and Daisy Forrest adventure. “In the book I’m writing now, the ladies are looking for some priceless Revere silver at a historic mansion where Daisy is a docent and she has been seeing ghosts!” Petersen says. “Angela’s ex-husband shows up out of the blue and Daisy meets a new man while practically standing over a dead body.”
And, while she hasn’t written a children’s books in a while, Petersen says she is now “collaborating on a picture book with my sister, Chris, who is an artist. But this takes an enormous amount of time and who knows when we’ll finish. Writing for children is harder in many ways than writing for adults,” she says. “I feel you need to be so much more careful to use exactly the right words and be very clear with the message you want to convey. The stories need to be interesting and challenging, but readable. It’s hard work.”
As a reward, Petersen enjoys a good cocktail—much like her characters, Daisy and Rose. “For sitting on the deck before dinner in the evening, I enjoy a vodka and tonic. Weekends with my sisters usually call for a Cosmos or, maybe, a Bees Knees.”
Which all sounds perfectly appropriate for a weekend reading ROSES ARE DEAD, MY LOVE.
Penny and her husband live with three feral cats in Bowie Maryland. In addition to writing, she enjoys time with her children, grandchildren and large extended family. She likes to travel when possible, refurbish old furniture, and collect family stories and recipes for the ‘family cookbook.’ She also loves historic homes and is a docent at Riversdale Mansion in Riverdale Maryland.
To learn more about Penny, please visit her website.