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In eastern Kentucky, Miranda Trent runs a unique tour company called Paint & Shine, but sometimes the peaceful mountains play host to murder…

Miranda’s business—combining Appalachian adventure tours with art and a bit of moonshine—is the perfect place for an outdoor sporting goods company to hold an employee retreat.  It’ll be a challenge, but the money they’re paying will definitely help with building her new distillery.

Miranda has lots of teamwork-fostering activities planned, from sketching classes to Southern cooking, but the executive running things prefers a more competitive spirit. In fact, after the workers are split into teams, they’re told that only the winners will keep their jobs, and tensions begin to spike. Even after a participant is found dead, the contest continues—while Miranda starts drawing her own conclusions about the ambitious attendees. Now she just has to find the proof…

The Big Thrill caught up with author Cheryl Hollon to find out more about her latest mystery, DEATH A SKETCH:

Which took shape first: plot, character, or setting?

The eastern Kentucky setting crystalized first in the Paint & Shine Mystery series. It’s where my parents were born, raised, and now Rest in Peace. I spent a large part of my childhood summers running barefoot through the cornfields, wading the creeks catching tadpoles, and enjoying my grandmother’s Southern cooking.

Cheryl Hollon

What attracts you to this book’s genre?

The cozy mystery genre has been my comfort read since I discovered the Miss Marple books by Agatha Christie in our local library. I read widely, switching from biographies to westerns to thrillers to epic fantasy. The continuing challenging for the cozy author is to provide tension, pace, realistic characters and a sense of justice served without using profanity, on-the-page violence, or explicit sex.

What was the biggest challenge this book presented? What about the biggest opportunity?

This book involves a large cast of characters. The protagonist is challenged to provide a team-building workshop for a sportswear corporation to a group of employees who have the potential to be the next generation of management leadership. My opportunity was to orchestrate their character traits so that everyone had a distinct personality as well as a motive.

What authors or books have influenced your career as a writer, and why?

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott was the first book I owned in my life. I aspire to portray characters as clearly as hers. The Ngaio Marsh series introduced me to books where the fine arts exerted a strong influence on the atmosphere.


Cheryl Hollon writes full-time after an engineering career designing and installing military flight simulators in England, Wales, Australia, Singapore, Taiwan, and India. She lived in Bristol, England, for three years while serving as chief engineer for the Fast Jet Synthetic Flying School in Wales (HRH Prince William trained there). She is a past president of the Florida Gulf Coast chapter of Sisters in Crime and a board member of the Florida chapter of Mystery Writers of America.

To learn more about the author and her work, please visit her website.