Friday, September 9, 2022

I'm so happy today to be hosting author
Kathy Manos Penn

and helping her celebrate the release of her newest book
Book 7 in the Dickens & Christie Mysteries 

A conference of crime-loving readers. A shocking discovery of a corpse. Can a sleuth and her charming four-legged sidekicks uncover the fatal twist?

Torquay, Southwest England. Leta Parker can’t wait to reconnect with her boyfriend. After a year of long-distance, she couldn’t be happier to join him at a literary crime festival. But on the event’s second night, she gets embroiled in a real-life murder mystery when a dead body is found…

With a cloud of accusation hovering over Leta’s best friend, not even she and her talking furry companions can untangle the confusing web of complex clues. Add a flirty and fiery redhead all over her boyfriend, and this super-smart snoop’s nerves are bubbling to a boiling point.

Can Leta and the Little Old Ladies’ Detective Agency expose the killer before another deadly page is turned?

Pets, Pens & Murder is the thrilling seventh book in the Dickens & Christie cozy mystery series. If you like classic amateur detective stories, delightfully well-educated characters, and a good dose of a stiff British upper lip, then you’ll love Kathy Manos Penn’s seaside whodunnit.

Getting to Know Kathy

LKBR:  Thank you for being here today, Kathy! Please tell us a bit about you, and your book/series.

KMP: Whenever I speak about my cozy mysteries, my opening line is “Never in my wildest dreams did I picture myself writing books!” Sure, I briefly taught high school English, and in my banking career, I was the go-to person for writing. Heck, I even wrote newspaper columns as an entertaining side job—but writing novels?  Nope.

The columnist job was a revelation to me. Suddenly, my day wasn’t complete if I wasn’t writing a column or a blog. Did I ever see that newfound passion morphing into becoming an author? No. But that’s what happened when I retired.

The characters in my Dickens & Christie series live in the fictional Cotswolds village of Astonbury, and most are in their 50s and older. They have a lot in common with me, my gal pals (as I call them), and my pets. That’s why books, food, wine, and walks are always included and why the cat and dog play such big roles.

My husband is quick to point out, however, that he is very much alive and well here in Atlanta. He hasn’t quite forgiven me for making my main character a widow.

As for Leta, she’s working through her grief as an expat in the Cotswolds. As she says in Book III, she’s making new friends and making her way. Of course, stumbling across dead bodies wasn’t part of the plan.

LKBR: Any hints or spoilers you can give us about your next book?

KMP: No spoilers allowed, but I can tell you that Pets, Pens & Murder may be my most complex mystery so far—at least that’s how it felt while I was writing it. Leta, her sleuthing partners (both two- and four-legged), and her beau are attending a literary festival in Torquay—the birthplace of Agatha Christie. The conference features the works of Golden Age authors, so my readers who comment that they love the book tie-ins regularly included in the series should get a big kick out of this one.

I’m quite tickled that real-life mystery author Kate Ellis graciously allowed me to put words in her mouth as a speaker at the conference.

LKBR: Have you ever written a scene that you loved but had to remove it for the sake of the story?

KMP: Yes. I started Pets, Pens & Murder with Leta and Wendy taking a side trip to Glastonbury on their way to Torquay for the Poison Pens Literary Festival. They’re both huge King Arthur fans, and it was fun describing what they enjoyed on that visit. Unfortunately, the scene didn’t move the story along, and it had to go.


LKBR: Have you ever gotten reader’s block? Just find it hard to get into reading because you are so into your writing?

KMP: Oh my gosh, yes. And, as someone who reads two-three books a week, it’s painful. I’m unable to focus as my mind drifts to my writing. Sometimes, grabbing a book by a favorite author will help, but not always. That’s when I turn to something like “Agatha Christie: First Lady of Crime.” I can manage to digest a short essay or two, but not much else.


LKBR: Are there any magazines/publications that as a writer you subscribe to? Are these or others something readers could also benefit from?

KMP: Would it surprise you to hear that the answer is no? I follow a few bloggers but that’s about it.  I’m old school, and my bookcase is packed with books about character development, plotting, dialogue, and punctuation. I jot notes and use sticky notes as reference points.


LKBR: Is there anything you would give up if you thought it would make you an even better writer?

KMP: Ha! Maybe cooking dinner? Maybe reading the Wall Street Journal and playing Words with Friends for an hour or two each morning? That would free up more time to devote to improving my craft. On a serious note, though, I like to think that those pastimes somehow inform my writing, so I can’t think of anything. (And now you know why Leta cooks, reads the WSJ, and plays WWF.)

LKBR: Any new projects in the works?

KMP: Candy Canes, Canines & Crime comes out November 3, and there will be at least two more books in this series, likely in 2023. I’ve been told I need to write another series, but whenever I think about a new character and series, I spend untold hours jotting notes and end up coming back to my old friends in the village of Astonbury.

LKBR: If you could ask your readers 3 questions, what would they be?

KMP: 1. What is the one thing you enjoy most about this series?

            2. If I were to write another series, would you prefer

                a. A spin-off or

               b. A brand-new series with new characters and a new location?

           3. How important would it be for it to

                a. Include talking pets?

                b. Be set in England?

LKBR: Where can readers go to learn more about you and your books?

KMP: A visit to my website will provide all kinds of information about me, my pets, my travels, and my books

 I think the map of the village is a special touch.  They may also enjoy following me on BookBub where I regularly review books I enjoy.

LKBR: Thank you so much, Katy for letting us get to know you better!

KMP: Thank you, Lisa.  It’s always fun to talk books and to take a bit of a breather.

As always, please leave a comment and 
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  1. Thanks, Lisa (and welcome back)! Book 7, but Kathy is a new (to me) author. Wow!
    Happy Friday!

    Pat T

  2. I do hope this means you are feeling a bit better?