By J. H. Bogran
Weddings always make Marla Shore shed a tear of joy, especially when she attends her friend Jill’s affair as a member of the bridal party. Marla’s own nuptials are weeks away, and she’s been busy juggling bickering relatives, building a new house with her fiancé, and expanding her hair salon.
The South Florida stylist is following her To Do list just fine until an unexpected event unravels her carefully laid plans. At Jill’s wedding reception, Marla discovers the matron of honor—Jill’s sister Torrie—dead under the cake table, a knife embedded in her chest.
So hooked you want to start reading the book before the rest of the interview? Don’t worry, we have you cover with a BUY NOW link. On the other hand, if you’re one of those trivia-fans who-like me-invest time searching all extras on a DVD, then this interview is for you. Here you can see beyond the book and discover what author Nancy J. Cohen has to say about her new book.
What inspired the premise for SHEAR MURDER?
My fans wanted to know when the next Marla Shore mystery would be coming out, but my former publisher had cancelled the series. For a while, I focused on other projects. As the markets changed with the digital revolution, I decided to finish this book to give my readers the closure they deserved. So I really wrote it as a response to fans and in gratitude for their support. I was overjoyed when Five Star accepted the book. The theme involves weddings and new beginnings, a natural progression for the main characters.
As for the particular setting in SHEAR MURDER, it was inspired by personal visits to Harry P. Leu Gardens in Winter Park, FL. I love these botanical gardens. We’d often see brides there as it is a prime location for outdoor weddings. Besides the gazebo, they also have indoor facilities for receptions. It’s a beautiful venue. For the story, I turned it into a nature park called Orchid Isle and set it in Miami.
What’s new with Marla Shore?
Marla gets the happy ending that my fans have anticipated. Weeks away from her own wedding, she attends her friend Jill’s ceremony as a bridesmaid. At the reception, Marla discovers the matron of honor dead under the cake table. It puts a damper on her own upcoming nuptials, especially when the killer doesn’t like how close she’s getting to the truth.
Considering the book is a mystery, how much can you tell us about the antagonist?
Since the story is a whodunit, I can’t tell you much! Many people had reason to want Torrie, the matron of honor, dead. Torrie was the bride’s sister, and Jill had a secret past that Torrie had threatened to expose. How far would Jill go to maintain her sister’s silence? Then again, Torrie’s colleagues each had their own reasons to want her out of their way.
Meanwhile, Torrie’s husband inherits a piece of property that Torrie had jointly owned with her sister. How badly does he need the money from a property sale? And speaking of commercial property, Jill’s uncle and cousin were involved in a shady real estate deal with the owner of Orchid Isle. This man’s wife was Torrie’s friend. Did Torrie learn too much about his secrets? And so on. As you see, there are a number of suspects. You’ll have to read the story to figure out which one of them is the culprit.
What kind of research did you do?
I revisited Leu Gardens with notebook and camera in hand and made sure to note down the types of plants along the path and the layout of the park. Since orchids are the focus of Orchid Isle, I had to learn about the flower and its rarity and value. Marla’s trip to the Venetian Pool in Coral Gables is also based on reality. This lovely lagoon was created in 1923 from a coral rock quarry and holds 820,000 gallons of spring water from an underground aquifer. Today it’s a public pool and tourist attraction. Another scene takes place at the Biltmore Hotel, a historic landmark nestled amidst 150 acres of tropical landscape. But probably the most interesting subject I researched was horology. Horology is the study of time, timepieces, and timekeeping. Torrie’s husband owns a clock repair shop. He’s certified as a master clockmaker and master watchmaker. So I had fun with this topic when Marla visits him and observes his collection.
Since this is the tenth entry in the series, can it be read as a stand-alone?
All of the books in my series can be read as stand-alones.
Was it difficult to make it so?
Not at all. I only provide as much background info as is necessary for the current plot. Followers of my series have the benefit of watching the personal relationships develop. They’ll notice the character growth, but you can jump in at any point without feeling you’ve missed something.
Now I want to read the story leading up to this one! Where do I go?
To my Amazon’s author page.
Hair styling can be a fashion statement. Or so I’ve heard. 😉 But speaking of fashion, have you jumped into the book trailer fad?
Yes, I created the book trailer for Shear Murder myself and am quite proud of the result. See it on YouTube (or watch it at the end of this article).
Now about promotion, any presentations you will be attending in the next quarter?
I’ll be participating in several upcoming conferences: Space Coast Writers’ Guild, SleuthFest, and Malice Domestic. Plus I’ll be signing books at Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore on February 19th, and I’m doing a virtual blog tour beginning in January. I’m also being featured in SOUTHERN WRITERS MAGAZINE for the January/February issue. Visit the Appearances page on my website for a complete listing.
What are people saying about the book?
“It’s always fun to return to the Cut ‘N Dye Salon because Marla Shore and the gang always deliver a great story. SHEAR MURDER is another stellar outing in Nancy J. Cohen’s Bad Hair Day mystery series. Marla is a bridesmaid in her friend Jill’s wedding, but when Jill’s matron of honor–and sister–ends up dead with the cake knife embedded in her chest–hold the video! It’s a wedding to forget–not remember.” —Lorna Barrett, NY Times bestselling author of SENTENCED TO DEATH
What are you currently working on?
Right now, I’m waiting to hear on five completed books that my agent is circulating. Three are part of a paranormal romance trilogy based on Norse mythology. The other two books are for proposed new mystery series. I’ll either follow up with a sequel to one of these stories, or I may end up resurrecting Marla and friends for another adventure. I still have some revisions to do on book three in my trilogy, and then I will make the decision on which story to pursue next.
What advice do you offer to other authors?
Keep writing no matter how rocky the road gets, because around the next corner might be a smoother ride. Follow the 3 P’s: Persistence, Practice, and Professionalism. And remember why you started writing in the first place. Let that reason serve as your source of inspiration.
Nancy J. Cohen is a multi-published author who writes romance and mysteries. Her popular Bad Hair Day series features hairdresser Marla Shore, who solves crimes with wit and style under the sultry Florida sun. Several titles in this series have made the IMBA bestseller list, while Nancy’s imaginative sci fi romances have garnered rave reviews. Her next book, and her sixteenth title, will be SHEAR MURDER, a January 2012 hardcover release. Active in the writing community and a featured speaker at libraries and conferences, Nancy is listed in Contemporary Authors, Poets & Writers, and Who’s Who in U.S. Writers, Editors, & Poets.