Books · Heroine Interviews

SRP Heroine Interview: Antonia Bingham from Death on West End Road

death on west end road banner

Visiting us today is Antonia Bingham.

death on west end road1. Please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life?

In August 1993, Long Island’s East End was shocked by the murder of 16- year-old Susie Whitaker at the oceanside mansion of one of its wealthiest residents: billionaire pharmaceutical heir Ambassador Gerald Framingham. Susie was found bludgeoned to death on the tennis court, her head pounded by a tennis racket, her body crumpled. The number one suspect? Susie’s best friend Pauline Framingham, the Ambassador’s daughter. Money, clout, power and prestige caused this case to disappear, and Susie’s murder to remain unsolved. Until now.

I’m Antonia Bingham, and I plan on finally bringing Susie’s killer to justice 24 years after her untimely demise.  After two bouts of crime solving (DEATH ON WINDMILL WAY, DEATH ON LILY POND LANE) I thought my days dabbling in death were behind me. But how can I resist stepping back in time and uncovering the truth when the number one suspect in the case—Pauline Framingham—hires me to do just that? As I set out to investigate the case—with the help of my trio of friends: critically acclaimed novelist Joseph Fowler, crime beat reporter Larry Lipper, and store manager Genevieve Dwyer—I discover that life amongst the rich may not be all it’s cracked up to be. Working through the list of suspects, one keeps coming to the forefront as the leading one: Pauline Framingham. Did she only hire Antonia to amuse herself? Or is she innocent? Do rich people have to play by the rules? I’ve got to find out.

2. What made you decide to take on such a risky endeavor?

First and foremost I felt a lot of compassion for the victim, Susie Whitaker, who was killed when she was only sixteen years old and the crime was never solved. I felt for her family and her mother who is now dying and wishes to see her daughter’s killer brought to justice. Additionally, once I have been challenged to solve a puzzle it is very difficult for me to back down. I’m an inquisitive person (okay, some would say nosy) so I am pretty relentless in interviewing people until I receive the information I need. I like to think I have a soft touch, though. Just keep people talking and eventually they will tell you what you want to know. That’s how I investigated this crime. 

3. Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?

Not at all! But then, my life has taken many twists and turns that I didn’t expect. I married a strong handsome police officer many years ago and had no idea that he was a violent and abusive person. I was confused and never thought I would have the strength to walk away but I did. I think sometimes you don’t know what grit you are made of but once you really test yourself to do something difficult and challenging you can do anything. And for me, attempting to solve crimes is totally based out of a naïve belief that I can do anything. I have no formal training, I’m not a cop, the closest I am is a fan of crime fiction, but what do you know, I already have a few solved cases under my apron. 

4. Who would you say is the least pleased about your additional career choice of amateur sleuthing? Or is detective work your only career?

The least pleased are probably the local police who would like me to mind my business and stay out of theirs! I am an innkeeper and I also am the head chef of the restaurant in the inn, so sleuthing is a part time gig. I’d like to say that my kitchen staff would prefer to have me in the kitchen but they actually do pretty well without me!

5. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I like to start with the positive so I will say I think I’m a good listener. I like to hear people’s stories; I like to chat with people and meet new people; that’s why I really enjoy owning an inn and running a restaurant. I’m an extrovert. I think I probably meddle too much in things that have little to do with me and I can be quite nosy sometimes so that is definitely a weakness. I also have no self-control when it comes to food, particularly sweets and carbs, and oh yes, a nice gooey cheese platter. 

6. Describe what being a self-rescue princess (a strong, confident woman) means to you.

I would like to think of myself as a self-rescue princess! When I was in my bad marriage it really was up to me to pull myself out of it, and I finally did. Even though I had a great family and friends and a real support system, it was only me who could ultimately save myself. I guess when I hear the word ‘rescue’ I think of it as one person helping another, so I probably would be a self-save princess. And you don’t become a strong, confident woman overnight. I had to work on myself and believe in myself—that I was worthy of love and friendships; that I was a good enough cook to own a restaurant—before I became that woman.

7. What one advice/wisdom would you like to pass onto young women?

Be a mentor. It’s important to help other women—or men—rise up in the profession you have chosen. Sheila Widnall, who was the first female Secretary of the Air Force once said in a commencement address: “As you make your way up the corporate ladder, don’t pull it up behind you.” I find that to be very sound advice.

8. What was one lesson you learned during this challenging time in your life?

During my latest attempt at crime solving I realized that I had made some truly great friends in East Hampton, the town I moved to only three years ago. From my friend Joseph, the acclaimed historical novelist, to Larry Lipper, the annoying but dogged crime reporter for the local newspaper, to my staff at the inn, there are people I can rely on who really care about me. 

9.  If your story or life had a theme song, what would it be?

“I will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor. I have survived a bad man and some bad times so it has given me hope. It’s such a positive message, and with all the murder I’m getting mixed up in, it’s a good mantra.

10. Do you plan on dabbling in amateur sleuthing in the future, or have you hung up your detective hat?

I always say the next case is the last, but I know I’ll be solving crimes in the Hamptons until they stop happening.

 

Heroine Interviews · Uncategorized

SRP Heroine Interview: Bridget Sway from Beyond Dead

beyond dead   large banner 640A huge thank you to Bridget for stopping by today to chat with us.

BEYOND DEAD COVERPlease tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life? 

Well, I’ve just died so that’s kind of a big deal for me. I also have a new job that I don’t get paid for, a considerably unflattering mauve jumpsuit for a uniform, a parole officer and a Ghostly Acclimatisation meeting to attend every night to help me adjust to my new (after)life. Sounds pretty bad, right? Like, can’t-get-any-worse bad? I thought so too. And then I found a dead guy in my locker on my very first day at work.

Since the idiot police are trying to pin his murder on me my new best friend, Sabrina, thought it’d be a great idea to solve the murder ourselves and clear my name. Personally, I’m a little hesitant about getting involved as I don’t know the first thing about solving murders (I was an event planner in life) and I don’t really want to catch the murderer’s eye and be the next dead body shoved in my locker.

Yeah, so that’s what happening with me right now.

Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?

 Nooooooo. I’m not really a fan of group activities or the type of person who gets involved in these types of ridiculous situations. I mean, what type of rational person tries to solve a murder?

Whilst it’s true in my alive job I did have to deal with some exceedingly unpleasant predicaments I mainly planned weddings so murder was never really something I came across. Theft? Sure. The odd slap fight? Absolutely! But no one ever murdered anyone. Like I said, I mainly planned weddings so those types of threats were made all the time but no one ever followed through on them. At least not at my events.

And to be fair, I don’t really fight crime, pre se. It just sort of happens around me and then Sabrina convinces me that it’s important we get involved. 

Who would you say is the least pleased about your additional career choice of amateur sleuthing? Or is detective work your only career?

No, detective work is absolutely not my only career. I’m unhappily unemployed as a facilitator of pre- and post-life affairs which basically means I spend all day moving stuff around without alive people knowing. For example, if you could swear you put your lip balm on your desk but you find it in the bathroom then, yep, a facilitator probably moved it. Or you’re just really forgetful.

As for who is least pleased with my sleuthing I’d say it’s pretty much a draw between everyone, including myself. Except Sabrina. Sabrina used to be a private investigator in life – in the afterlife she’s relegated to a career as a filing clerk – so she’s super happy that dead people keep falling out at me. I think it makes her feel like her afterlife has some purpose.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I would say my strengths are my confidence and my comebacks. Although dying has dulled the awesomeness of them somewhat but I’m working on it! Probably my biggest weakness or fault is that I can be a little self-involved and dismissive of other people sometimes but in the afterlife so many people are deeply stupid so …

That said, I’m finding the longer I’m dead the more important other people are becoming to me. It’s odd how dying changes your perspective on things. 

Describe what being a self-rescue princess (a strong, confident woman) means to you.

It means being who you are, unashamedly so, and not worryingly about whether other people will like you. Whether that’s regarding your opinions, how you dress or anything and everything in between. The only person you have to be concerned about liking you is you. 

What one advice/wisdom would you like to pass onto young women?

To not let the negativity of others infect your positivity. In life there are people who will support you and invest in your dreams and those that will try to tear you down. You only have a finite number of Friday nights/Tuesday mornings/Thursday afternoons in your life – don’t waste time on those who don’t enrich your life in some way.

What was one lesson you learned during this challenging time in your life?

That I couldn’t identify a murderer at twenty paces! That’s probably the biggest thing. And I used to think I was good at reading people. 

Do you plan on dabbling in amateur sleuthing in the future, or have you hung up your detective hat?  

I had no plans to dabble in this initial bout of sleuthing so I have absolutely no intentions for further sleuthing. At all. Unless someone shoves another dead ghost into my locker and Sabrina finds out about it.  But come on, what’s the likelihood of that?

 

Books · Heroine Interviews · mystery · Uncategorized

SRP Heroine Interview: Amy Flowers from the Calamity Cafe

CALAMITY CAFE  large banner640Today, I’m chatting with Amy Flowers. How are you today? Please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life?

The Calamity Cafe (1)I’m so excited to be opening up my own café! Right now, we’re undertaking some major renovations—we being me, my cousin Jackie, one of our favorite regulars, and my lifelong friend Roger and his construction crew. When we get done, the Down South Café is going to be beautiful!

What made you decide to take on such a risky endeavor?

Well, I’d been dreaming of opening my own café for a long time. When my nana died last year, she left me enough money to make my dream come true. After culinary school, I came back home to Winter Garden because Nana was sick and I wanted to be close in case she needed me. I went to work at Lou’s Joint (the café I bought and am renovating), but that woman was a horrible bully. I was eager to get myself and my cousin out of that place as soon as possible.

Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?

Never. In fact, I don’t suppose I’d have ever even considered it had I not gone in the café that evening and found Lou Lou Holman—my former boss—slumped over her desk. I didn’t realize it at first, but she was dead. Now, of course, I’m a suspect in her murder, so I have to find out who really did it or I—and my new café—are toast!

Who would you say is the least pleased about your additional career choice of amateur sleuthing? Or is detective work your only career?

I don’t imagine my mother is very thrilled about it. And, come to think of it, Deputy Ryan Hall—who’s very easy on the eyes, by the way—doesn’t seem to like my poking my nose in where he doesn’t think it belongs either. But how else am I going to find out who killed Lou Lou? Deputy Hall says to let the police do their jobs, but where’s the harm in my helping out? Besides, criminals get defensive around police officers. They’re more likely to open up around us “normal” people.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I’m a hard worker, an excellent chef, a devoted friend/family member, and I’m dedicated to the café patrons. I’d say my biggest weakness is that I have a tendency to take in strays. I’m not sure I’d call that a weakness, though. Jackie thinks I’m a pushover. But I only have the one dog…and the cat—who technically belongs to Mom and wasn’t a stray.

Here’s the thing: the morning after Lou Lou was killed, the café was closed while the police investigated the crime scene. Well, poor Homer Pickens comes in every morning at ten o’clock to get his sausage biscuit; so when the café was closed, he came to my house and asked me to fix it for him. Then Dilly Boyd heard the news and she came to the house to ask if I’d make lunch. So I made lunch for her and a few of her friends. But that’s not being a pushover, right? That was learning firsthand what it would be like to cook for a group of patrons—not friends or family. And it was giving a few older people their daily social interaction. They need that.

Describe what being a self-rescue princess (a strong, confident woman) means to you.

It means you can do whatever you put your mind to. Set your goals, write them down, revisit them on a regular basis, and make them happen.

What one advice/wisdom would you like to pass onto young women?

Don’t let anyone tell you what you can or cannot do. You can—and will—achieve your dreams.

What was one lesson you learned during this challenging time in your life?

I’m stronger than I realized I was.

If your story or life had a theme song, what would it be?

“Walking on Sunshine”

Do you plan on dabbling in amateur sleuthing in the future, or have you hung up your detective hat?

I wasn’t planning on it, but I have a bad feeling that something bad is going to happen to Mr. Lincoln. He’s the Chamber of Commerce president, and he stirs up trouble everywhere he goes. (Stay tuned for book two—SILENCE OF THE JAMS!)

 

Books · Heroine Interviews · mystery · Uncategorized

SRP Heroine Interview: Winnie Johnson from Eclair and Present Danger

ECLAIR AND PRESENT DANGER    large banner640I’m excited today to have Winnie Johnson joining us at the Self-Rescue Princess.

ECLAIR AND PRSENT DANGERWinnie, please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life? 

For as far back as I can remember, all I’ve ever wanted to do was bake.  The process of mixing ingredients together to make something delicious was pretty amazing all on its own. But when your creation got a moan of delight out of someone? That was the best. So you could say it was the realization of a lifelong dream when I opened my own bakery, Delectable Delights.

Things were going great until Nick Batkas, my bakery’s landlord raised the rent so high there was no way I could stay in business.

That is until I got word that my dear sweet neighbor, Gertrude Redenbacher named me in her will.

Yes, I admit I was imagining an envelope of cash—just enough to keep my dream alive.

But Gertie didn’t leave me money.

Instead, she left me her cat, Lovey (who loves everyone but me), and the vintage ambulance her late husband was restoring prior to his own death.

So yeah, good bye lifelong dream.

As you can imagine, I was rather down in the dumps when I left the bakery that last day, but I had to keep my emotions at bay until I made good on a promise to another late friend. You see, once a week, I make and deliver a peach pie to Bart Wagner, my neighbor across the street. He’s been having a tough time lately on account of losing his wife of nearly fifty years.

So I made the pie.

And walked it across the street and into Bart’s house.

I hated going into his house like that, but when he didn’t answer, and the door was unlocked, I went inside. You know, just to make sure he was okay.

That’s when I found him on the floor—dead, suffocated with one of his own pillows.

I have to do something, don’t I? About my bakery and Bart.

What made you decide to take on such a risky endeavor?

Bart and his wife, Ethel were my neighbors and my friends. Losing Ethel was hard. She was like a second grandmother to me. I promised her I’d look after Bart with a peach pie every week. And I was doing that. Just like I promised. But seeing him like that? Murdered in his own home? It made me mad (after I screamed, of course).

I live on a street of elderly people—elderly people I adore. And to see them afraid for their life because a murderer is on the loose, isn’t okay with me.

Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?

Um, no. I’m a baker, not a fighter.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Hmmm…

I would say my strength and my convictions go hand in hand. I know what I like and I don’t change that for anyone. I’m loyal to a fault (as evidenced by the cat who is now living with me) and I’m respectful of the fact that I need to bake. It makes me whole.

As far as my weaknesses, my confidence (in terms of dating) isn’t too high. I think I’m just content with the company my elderly neighbors and my best friend, Renee provide. Or maybe that’s just a cop out…

Describe what being a self-rescue princess (a strong, confident woman) means to you.

For me, being a self-rescue princess means not needing a man to complete me. It means listening to my gut. And it means believing in myself and my abilities.

If your story or life had a theme song, what would it be?

Right now? I’d have to say that old song, Roll With It Baby by Steve Winwood. Because right now that’s exactly what I need to do in regards to my career, my life, and this promise I made to my friends that I will find Bart’s killer.

Do you plan on dabbling in amateur sleuthing in the future, or have you hung up your detective hat? 

I wish I could say I get to hang up that hat, but I don’t.

Because next March (in Silence of the Flans), a student at the local college is going to be poisoned. And, seeing as how it’s one of my desserts she’ll be eating when she keels over, I kind of sort of need to get to the bottom of things if there’s any hope of keeping my Emergency Dessert Squad on the road…

 

Books · Excerpt · Heroine Interviews · mystery

Self-Rescue Princess Interview: Lizzie Crenshaw from Death Vetoes a Chairman

death vetoes the chairman1. Please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life?

I agreed to attend a fancy fundraiser as a favor to Jake Mathias, and it completely turned my life upside down. It sends me on an emotional roller coaster that also affects my family and friends. When there’s a murder, our investigation takes us to Jake’s hometown in Virginia, and some deep, dark secrets are brought to the surface. Before everything is said and done, someone close to all of us dies.

  1. Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?

No, I never expected to become so involved in murder. And this certainly isn’t my first rodeo, as we say here in Texas. But given the circumstances, with the victim being accused of harassment and assault, it’s a little more personal this time.

  1. Who would you say is the least pleased about your additional career choice of amateur sleuthing? Or is detective work your only career?

My boyfriend, T.J.; Jake; my mother; Owen, who’s the sheriff; Gladys, the busybody, but then again, she hates anything I do. And no, detective work is not my normal career. I work for our local newspaper, so I’m naturally going to ask questions about any kind of crime that happens in our town.

  1. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Being able to take care of myself in tough situations; willing to help out my family, friends and neighbors (even those who don’t deserve help, like Gladys). My major weakness would be not asking for help for myself when I need it.

  1. What was one lesson you learned during this challenging time in your life?

That when I was at my lowest, my friends were there, and when I’m ready to ask for help, they’ll do what they can for me.

  1. If your story or life had a theme song, what would it be?

“Oops, I Did It Again” by Britney Spears. That would cover me sticking my nose into other people’s business (hazard of the job), as well as any new injury I might incur during the course of my investigations.

  1. Do you plan on dabbling in amateur sleuthing in the future, or have you hung up your detective hat?

Things are never quiet for long in Brookdale, so I’m sure I’ll be sticking my nose in where it doesn’t belong soon!

Lizzie had to leave as she got a call about a potential hot story happening in her town. I’m going to finish up the interview by asking a few question to her autobiographer Teresa Watson.

  1. What made you decide to take on such a heart-wrenching topic?

When I started writing this book, it wasn’t my intention for it to become so serious. But one of my beta readers/editors started talking to me about her experiences, and I realized that this was a story that needed to be told. There is such a stigma attached to sexual harassment and sexual assault that no one wants to talk about it, nor do they want to acknowledge that it even happens. But it does happen. The numbers are staggering. What’s even more aggravating is that 98% of the time, the abuser never spends a night in jail or prison. That’s something that needs to change.

  1. Describe what being a self-rescue princess (a strong, confident woman) means to you.

A strong, confident woman knows when she can handle things by herself, and when she needs to ask for help. Just because you ask for help doesn’t make you weak; it just means that you realize the situation is beyond what you can normally handle. We all have those moments in our lives. It’s how we handle them that defines us.

  1. What one advice/wisdom would you like to pass onto young women?

If you have found yourself in a situation like Lizzie went through, it’s not your fault. Do what you can to remove yourself from harm when it is safe for you to do so, and not before. There is help out there, way more than you realize. Yes, you will feel like a victim for a while, but the important thing to remember is YOU ARE A SURVIVOR. And that makes you stronger than anyone else.

Books · Heroine Interviews

SRP Heroine Interview: Cam Shaw from Who Killed the Ghost in the Library?

Today on The Self-Rescue Princess, I’m speaking with Cam Shaw from the book Who Killed the Ghost in the Library.   who killed the ghost

1. Please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life?

I put an ad in the newspaper, hoping to find some work as a ghost writer. When someone answers the ad, my new client turns out to be a real ghost, who wants me to solve their murder. But someone doesn’t want the truth to come out, and they are willing to do anything to stop the investigation…even if that means killing me!

2. What made you decide to take on such a risky endeavor?

Curiosity, for starters. I’ve always loved a good mystery, and I enjoy the challenge of trying to figure out whodunit. Throw in the police chief telling me repeatedly to butt out of his investigation…why, my stubbornness got the best of me. And someone tried to kill me. That’s more than enough to make me see things through to the end.

3. Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?

Oh good heavens, no! I’m perfectly content being a writer, working in my best friend Randy’s bookstore (a book lover’s dream job!), and helping my parents run their coffeehouse. The closest I ever got to fighting crime was figuring out who stole my bike when I was twelve (it was Randy – he took it for a joyride, and brought it back in pieces).

4. Who would you say is the least pleased about your additional career choice of amateur sleuthing? Or is detective work your only career?

The least pleased? You mean besides the police chief, Mike Penhall? Probably my mother, because I involved Grandma Alma. But I know she doesn’t want to see me get hurt.

5. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Sometimes my strengths can also be part of my weaknesses. It’s good to have an inquisitive mind, and the determination to see things through to the end, regardless of the obstacles that get in your way. But sometimes wanting to know all the answers and being too stubborn to stop when things get dangerous and deadly can have dire consequences.

6. Describe what being a self-rescue princess (a strong, confident woman) means to you.

It means that I have enough faith in myself to do the right thing when the situation calls for it. If a friend is in danger, I know I’m going to grab my Sig Sauer and be right there by their side fighting. And I’m strong enough to realize it’s okay to ask your family and friends for help. Asking for help doesn’t make you weak; it makes you stronger because you’re not alone.

7. What one advice/wisdom would you like to pass onto young women?

If a man you’re dating is holding you back, isn’t supportive, or just flat out dismissive of you and your dreams, drop kick that dead weight out the door!

8. What was one lesson you learned during this challenging time in your life?

I learned that love can happen when you least expect it, and from the most unlikely person. And it’s a wonderful thing if that person is willing to let you be a strong, confident woman without feeling threatened. They are to be treasured and cherished.

9. If your story or life had a theme song, what would it be?

Ever since I solved this case, my friends have been singing the theme song to “Ghostbusters” by Ray Parker Jr. Someone (I think it was Randy or Jo) changed my ringtone to that song! Being technology challenged, I haven’t figured out how to change it yet!

10. Do you plan on dabbling in amateur sleuthing in the future, or have you hung up your detective hat?

Well, I’m fixing to attend a ghost writers’ convention in Dallas, not far from my home in Waxahachie.