Interview: Marla Cooper

Please welcome Marla Cooper, author of Terror in Taffeta.

What’s your idea of a perfect day?
Snuggling with my cat and a good book, then snorkeling in Hawaii, then traipsing around lower Manhattan. The logistics would be difficult, but it would be totally worth it!

Do you have a signature accessory, color, fragrance, phrase/expression, or meal? I adore the color red. I have a red dinette set, red cowboy boots, Terror in Taffetaand a laundry basket full of red clothes. The last time I was in San Miguel de Allende, I spotted a gorgeous woman in her seventies dressed entirely in shades of red—everything from her clothes to her handbag to her glasses. I want to be her when I grow up.

Which books/authors inspired or influenced you the most?
The book that made me want to write a mystery was Dim Sum Dead by Jerrilyn Farmer. It’s smart, sassy, and set in Hollywood, and since the main character is a caterer, she gets to go to all the best parties. I also love to read Laura Levine’s books, because her main character and mine would probably be BFFs.

Do you listen to music when you write?
I get too easily distracted to listen to music! I’d probably start singing along and then end up Googling the band to see what ever happened to them, then I’d notice a link to an article about something unrelated and… well, you get the picture.

If your latest book were chocolate, what kind would it be and why?
A spicy Mexican chocolate with a hint of chili and cinnamon. Each book in my series has a different setting, and the first one is set in San Miguel de Allende, a colonial town in central Mexico. Aaaaannnd…. now I want chocolate.

What made you interested in writing this particular story?
Several years ago, I got a job ghostwriting a nonfiction book with a destination wedding planner. While she was telling me about her job, which entails flying off to foreign countries with people she doesn’t know and dealing with family drama, I realized it was the perfect setup for an amateur sleuth.

What themes do you regularly (re)visit in your writing?
Keeping your sense of humor no matter what’s going wrong around you.

Tell us about your main character.
Kelsey McKenna is a destination wedding planner, so her job is to step into a group of strangers and make sure everybody has a good time, all while wrangling petulant bridesmaids, picky bride-zillas, and demanding mothers-of-the-bride. She’s organized, resourceful, and good at improvising, which comes in handy when anything goes wrong. (And at a wedding, something always goes wrong.)

Describe your protagonist as a mash-up of three famous people or characters.
Kelsey is a sassy mix of Jennifer Lawrence, Cristin Milioti and Brenda Leigh Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick’s character on The Closer).

If you could host a mystery-author dinner party, who are the six writers (living or otherwise) you’d include?
Sue Grafton, because she’s funny and awesome. Raymond Chandler, so I could ask him to explain The Big Sleep. Agatha Christie, because if I didn’t everyone would say, “Why didn’t you invite Agatha?” Josh Stallings, because he spins a great yarn. Catriona McPherson because she never fails to make me laugh. And Lawrence Block, because it would be fun to get him in the same room as Agatha.

What’s next for you?
Now that launch week for Terror in Taffeta is behind me, it’s time to get back to Book Two—not just revising it, but committing to a title so I can stop calling it “Book Two.”


MARLA COOPER is the author of Terror in Taffeta, a humorous cozy mystery about a destination wedding planner that is the first in a series. As a freelance writer, Marla has written all sorts of things, and it was while ghostwriting a guide to destination weddings that she found inspiration for her first novel. Originally hailing from Texas, Marla lives in Oakland, California, with her husband and her polydactyl tuxedo cat.

You can find Marla at, Facebook or Chicks on the Case.




13 thoughts on “Interview: Marla Cooper”

  1. Welcome, Marla! Based on your personality, I think you could totally be that old woman in red. And destination wedding planner – the drama in weddings is a good enough setting for murder. Throw in an exotic locale and you’re really set!


  2. Welcome, Marla, and congrats on Terror in Taffeta (fabulous title, BTW!)! The premise of your book sounds so fun–can’t wait to check it out!


  3. Can’t wait to check out your book! It has all the elements I love, especially setting. My daughter had a destination wedding in Peru, and what fun. Of course nothing went wrong… Good luck with sales!


  4. What a great premise! I must confess, I was once the MOB. I had a lovely wedding planned in an elegant venue here in Anchorage, Alaska. The groom and bride got so wound up they called the wedding off, canceled the venue and then reconciled. So — I’m not making this up — we had the wedding in a soccer field edged with bear scat (brown bear scat) and in the middle of the reception, a baby moose came screaming through with eyes like saucers. Everyone’s heads swiveled to the direction from which he came, waiting for the bear. It didn’t come. And the cake showed up 5 hours late. There’s more but discretion is the better part of something…Can’t wait to read your book!


  5. Hi, Marla! I love this cover so much. I have two Catrinas at home and I’ll buy anything with calaveras. Viva Mexico! I can’t wait to read your book. Best of luck with your launch!


  6. Hi, everybody, and thanks for stopping by!

    Kait — Thanks, and congrats on your new release, too! I love the Keys and look forward to reading yours as well!

    Lisa — Ohhhhh, the fun I could have with that…

    Mary — I wish I’d thought to ask her if I could take a picture of her. I have so many questions. Like, is it always red, or is it sometimes purple?

    Peg — Oh, how I wish someone would invite me to a wedding in Italy! That’s on my list of destinations I’d love to write about.

    Kate — Thank you!! It took a while to come up with the title, with dozens and dozens of “maybes,” but when that one popped into my head, I knew it was the one!

    Sue — Peru! Wow, that sounds fascinating! Were there llamas? (Please tell me there were llamas!)

    Keenan — Wow! Of all the wedding stories I’ve ever heard, yours is the first with a baby moose crashing the reception. Thanks for sharing!

    Kimberly — Thank you, my book birthday sister! I love Catrinas, too. I really want to go to San Miguel one year for Dia de los Muertos.


  7. I just bought your book last week; and literally couldn’t put it down! The action is so fast-paced, you don’t want to stop reading and miss something. And the descriptions of the beautiful Mexican locales, and the food, made me want to visit and enjoy for myself.


  8. Hi Marla: I am reading Terror in Taffeta right now, and it’s wonderful. I can’t wait to see what Kelsey figures out (while having to deal with the overbearing Mrs. A). You are so FUNNY. Every few sentences, I’m laughing. 😉 Thanks for visiting us here today…what a great interview! Excellent mash up.

    ps: Keenan, that moose with eyes like saucers and waiting for the bear moment needs to be in your book!!!


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