Please welcome Terri L. Austin, author of Diners, Dives and Dead Ends.
What’s your idea of a perfect day?
For years my family and I have gone to an apple orchard/pumpkin patch out in the country. The leaves are the most colorful in mid-to-late October. We take pictures and drink hot cider. And even though my kids are in college now, if I can still get them to go to the petting zoo with me, I’m a happy mom.
Do you have a signature accessory, color, fragrance, phrase, or meal?
I like watches. I collect different ones, none of them expensive, but all of them are colorful or a little funky.
Excluding family, name three people who either inspired you or influenced your creativity.
I started reading obsessively when I was pretty young. I liked Agatha Christie. Not only did I enjoy her mysteries, but I loved to see the progression of England through her books, from post WWI to the early seventies—each book was like a time capsule and I thought that was pretty cool. My twelfth grade English teacher, Ms. Thompson, who encouraged me to write with humor. And I think a big inspiration was the fact that I grew up with only four television stations. I could either use my imagination or watch The Wild World of Sports. The stories in my head were much more entertaining than professional bowling.
Do you listen to music when you write?
No music, just white noise. Otherwise I get too distracted and…oooh, the crystals on my watch are so shiny.
If your latest book were chocolate, what kind would it be and why?
Milk chocolate with nuts. My characters are sometimes a little crazy.
What made you interested in writing this particular story?
I always root for the underdog and Rose fit the bill. She’s behind the eight ball of life, but she manages to keep her humor and grace. And when her friend Axton goes missing, she won’t stop until she finds him.
What themes do you regularly (re)visit in your writing?
I tend to write about people who are alienated in some way. I think it’s interesting how a character deals with living on the fringes of society or a family and what brought them to that point of alienation.
Tell us about your main character’s psyche or personality. What led her (or him) to be the person s/he is today?
Rose Strickland is the black sheep of her family. She made a very difficult decision to walk away from her parents’ wealth and status. She doesn’t always get it right, but she keeps trying, and that’s what I admire about her.
Describe your protagonist as a mash-up of three famous people or characters.
Rose is a combination of Nancy Drew and Veronica Mars, with a dash of Daria thrown into the mix.
If you could host a mystery-author dinner party, who are the six writers (living or otherwise) you’d include?
First of all, Jane Austen. She’s not a mystery writer, but I would totally cheat and invite her anyway, despite the probability that she’d have severe culture shock. Charlaine Harris because she’s awesome. Agatha Christie—my aforementioned inspiration. Ann Charles would be hilarious and full of witty repartee. Janet Evanovich–I would pepper her with questions all evening long and probably freak her out with my level of hero worship. And Deanna Raybourn because Lady Julia Grey is one of my all time favorite heroines.
What’s next for you?
I’m working on my next Rose Strickland book. The town of Huntingford is full of mysterious shenanigans and Rose is up for the challenge.
Thanks so much for having me on your blog. And thanks to all your readers.
Terri L. Austin lives in Missouri with her funny, handsome husband and a high maintenance peekapoo. She’s the author of Diners, Dives and Dead Ends—a Rose Strickland Mystery. “Austin’s debut kicks off her planned series by introducing a quirky, feisty heroine and a great supporting cast of characters and putting them through quite a number of interesting twists.” Kirkus Reviews
Special note from Terri: Want to win a copy of Diners, Dives and Dead Ends? Leave a comment along with your email address, and I’ll enter you to win on of three copies. Drawing takes place on August 31, 2012. Continental US only. The book is available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble. You can catch me on TerriLAustin.com, Twitter, Facebook, and GoodReads.