by Kathleen Costa
This week we are a part of Tonya Kappes blog tour for A Ghostly Reunion. We have a review and a fun interview with Tonya. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a a Kindle and e-book copies of the first 4 books in this series, and a link to purchase Ghostly Reunion from Amazon.
Ghostly Southern Mystery series by Tonya Kappes
Review by Kathleen Costa
“Emma Lee Raines sees dead people,” not the most acceptable of talents. She had been hit on the head by a falling Santa decoration and then found herself being hounded by recent murder victims desperate for some closure. She needs to keep quiet about her new found ability, dubbed ‘Funeral Trauma’ for which she has been prescribed medication, since no one seems to sympathize. But that’s very hard when you have a very distraught ghost vying, often annoyingly, for her attention.
The now 5-book journey (book 6 in February) takes Emma Lee from the Eternal Slumber Funeral Home throughout the town of Sleepy Hollow, Kentucky, joined by her sister, a handsome sheriff, her vivacious septuagenarian ‘Granny,’ and a host of quirky residents, suspects, killers, and ghosts…
Book 5 A Ghostly Reunion earns 5/5 Jeweled Homecoming Tiaras!
High school doesn’t hold many ‘fond’ memories for Emma Lee after being dubbed “Creepy Funeral Home Girl” by Miss Popular Cheerleader Jade Lee Peel because of actually living at her family’s funeral home. So, in planning the ten-year high school reunion, Emma Lee found it difficult to even send an invitation to the now well-known reality television star. Sleepy Hollow seems all ‘gaga’ about their hometown star with her television crew shooting her new reality show, and everyone’s falling over themselves to get an endorsement or shout out. However, the ‘mishap’ at the Best Friend’s Spa throws Jade Lee into one of those ‘celebrity’ meltdowns.
Emma Lee has been beside herself reliving old feelings including jealousy and thoughts of getting even with her high school nemesis. She decides to make a grand entrance at the pre-reunion party to punctuate, especially to Jade Lee, that Jack Henry Ross, Sleepy Hollow’s sheriff, is HER boyfriend. But, her grand plans are scuttled… ”Did you say something?” Emma Lee hears a familiar voice… another ‘Betweener’ client needs Emma Lee’s talents… Noooo, not her!
Emma Lee begrudgingly sets off to help her nemesis find closure and move on. Jack Henry, the only one who knows about her ‘special talent,’ centers his investigation around the sketchy memory of the ghost. Emma Lee knows she can help with some of the informal interrogations as she also deals with competing funeral homes, her sister’s interference, Granny’s desire for her own reality show, a reporter who thinks the film crews have captured ghostly apparitions, and a multitude of suspects with very good motives for seeing the former ‘pageant’ queen dead.
This fifth book in the Ghostly Southern Mystery series is just as entertaining and engaging as the previous books, so fans will be delighted. But newbies will not be left out because the story provides enough little bits to bring them up to speed and encourage them to check out the whole series from the beginning. Tonya Kappes, a Southern Belle herself, shares with us her southern culture of manners, neighborly attitudes, and Granny’s southern sweet tea. The mystery, ok, murder, is clever and develops slowly—cathartic for those of us that had a ‘mean girl’ issue in high school. It gives you the time to invest in the characters, enjoy their lives, holler at some of their stupidity and selfishness, and enjoy the ins and outs of a murder investigation.
Our Guest…Tonya Kappes
Author of the Ghostly Southern Mystery Series
KRL: It is great to have with us Tonya Kappes, author of the Ghostly Southern Mystery series, celebrating her newest release. Book 5 A Ghostly Reunion, is a wonderful tale of Emma Lee Raines and her adventures dealing with a very curious and unnerving talent… malady? curse?
You have written so many wonderful and well received books. I count over 35. How long have you been writing? Is there someone or some moment that encouraged you to write? What motivated you to become a writer?
Tonya: 35! Really?? Wow! I had no idea that’s how many. Honestly, I just keep my head down and meet my deadlines. I had no idea how many books I have published.
This is like a lot of questions in one! I’ve been writing for publication for six years. My husband is the one who encouraged me to write. The motivation starts with my love for telling a story, but the readers keep me going.
KRL: Is there a reason you chose to write in the ‘cozy mystery’ genre? What is it about ‘cozies’ that interested you?
Tonya: You know…when I started out I honestly thought I was a romance writer. After a couple of those manuscripts had mystery in them, one of my writer friends asked me if I was sure I was a romance writer. She was right! I was a mystery writer. I love reading them and love trying to tie the clues together. My mind always wanders to the “oh, what if there was a dead body,” and it turned out to work for me.
KRL: Have you written books in another genre? Tell us about that departure. What can fans find in those books?
Tonya: I have written a couple of women’s fiction. The reason is because it helps clear out the killings in my head. Women’s fiction is so emotional by the time I get finished writing one of them, I’m ready to head back to my roots of humor and killing.
KRL: A Ghostly Undertaking published in February 2015, was the first book in this series. Can you give us some insights into how this series started? Tell us a little about Emma Lee Raines and the residents of Sleepy Hollow, Kentucky.
Tonya: I was trying to come up with a new mystery with something more than a normal ‘cozy’ heroine. I’d yet to read one where there was an undertaker so then my mind went there…and all the funny things that could happen popped up. Emma Lee and the gang moved into my head, and as we say in Kentucky, “It was all she wrote!”
KRL: I personally love the ‘sixth sense’ twist. So many of your series have a paranormal focus. Why? Have you personally had a ‘sixth sense’ experience?
Tonya: I have had a ghost haunt me before. Long story short and after some research, I found that she had died in the home and loved my kids, that’s why she wouldn’t leave. I had to take her back to her grave. Yeah….I looked CRaZy talking to the space next me when I drove her back to the cemetery.
KRL: I am hooked on your Magical Cures Mystery series, too, starting with “A Charming Crime.” How did this series come about? Tell us about your June Heal character and Whispering Falls, Kentucky.
Tonya: This is one of my favs! I love June. I wanted a series that was going to incorporate all the silly shows I loved in the seventies: Mork and Mindy, I Dream of Jeannie, Bewitched. And June and the characters all do that for me.
KRL: You started a new series this year starting with Spies and Spells. What is the inspiration behind Spies and Spells?
Tonya: I love spy novels and I love adding that piece of paranormal in the story. So it was just fitting for me to have both.
KRL: I think your characters are very realistic; they could be our neighbors, shop owners, family. Did you write your characters by taking real-life people and “changing the names to…,” you get my drift?
Tonya: All made up. Every single bit.
KRL: Kentucky? Kentucky plays a key role in your stories. Sleepy Hollow…Whispering Falls…The Derby…Honey Springs? Is there a reason?
Tonya: Because it’s where I live, and I have to have a sense of setting when I write.
KRL: You definitely have provided a great deal of entertainment for your fans, but is there something more you want the readers to take away from your work?
Tonya: I want them to escape. I’m not someone or try to be someone they read that blows their mind or leaves them scared to death. I don’t want to be that. I want my readers to laugh and enjoy a good whodunit.
KRL: I know the writing process is unique to each writer. Can you give us an idea about the Tonya Technique for Writing? Do you have a writing schedule, specific writing technique or time of day, outlines? Are there lots of Post-it notes on the wall?
Tonya: I get up at 5:30 a.m. and do all the marketing things for the day. I start writing around 7 a.m. with a cup of coffee in hand and don’t stop until I’ve written between 3-5k words. Then I take my dogs for a walk, more marketing, housework, and by the end of that, my family is home, and I cook!
KRL: How did you go about getting published? Did you try self-publishing or a publishing house? Do you have any anecdotes to share about getting your work published?
Tonya: I self published first. HarperCollins loved A Ghostly Undertaking and offered me a contract to stop self publishing that one and writing more for them. I still self publish and write for three publishing houses now.
KRL: Did you receive any ‘sage’ advice that you might share with an aspiring or beginning writer?
Tonya: Write every single day. End of story.
KRL: You didn’t include recipes in the Ghostly Southern Mystery series. I mean, really, what would a ghost cook, let alone eat? However, your website offers Members Only The Honey Springs Recipe Guide. Are you a cook or a budding chef? Or like me, do you just indulge in the final result?
Tonya: I cook every single day. I only post recipes that I make or that readers have turned in. I’m a pretty healthy eater, so I love when my family devours something.
KRL: We know you write, but what do you read? Is there another author who inspires you or one you might consider a professional or personal ‘hero’?
Tonya: I don’t have another author who inspires me. I read women’s fiction and cozy mystery.
KRL: So many authors speak of connecting with their fans. You definitely have some unique and fun ways to get together with your fans: scavenger hunts, hops, book signings, and conferences. Tell us about your recent Murder Mystery Reader Weekend. What are the plans for 2017?
Tonya: Readers always ask me when I’m coming to their neck of the woods. Unfortunately I can’t be everywhere, so I had an idea about a mystery weekend at different parts of the US each year, and that’s how I came up with the mystery train weekend. A ton of fun! 2017 is in Lockport, NY. I’m super excited about it, and you can find the details on my website.
KRL: You have various Facebook groups, too. Can you give us an idea of all the different ways fans can become part of the ‘Tonya Kappes’ universe?
Tonya: I’m everywhere! The best way to stay ‘in the know’ is signing up for my newsletter. It’s where I giveaway stuff, release new information first, and just have fun!
KRL: You also have Book Clubs, and not just for you and your own books. Can you talk about the new Facebook Club, Death Becomes Us Mystery Book Club, that readers can join? I loved the December event highlighting Killer Christmas by Harper Lin, and on January 12 Kate Dyer-Seeley’s Scene of the Climb. How else will we be ‘clubbing’ in 2017?
Tonya: I love to read mystery like I said, and I wanted to discuss the books I’ve been reading. Facebook is a great online place for that. I figured why not….300 members later…here we are! So fun!! The book club members pick what books we read, so I have no idea what else 2017 holds.
KRL: What can we expect from you in the future? I know you are releasing a new series in 2017, A Killer Coffee Mystery series. I’ve got to know all about this…The Bean Hive? I’ll have a cappuccino Grande, please…
Tonya: YES! Funny story…I wanted to write a non-paranormal mystery with another love of mine~COFFEE! It came to me around 2 a.m., and I sat up in bed with it all in my head. That’s how it was born. The Bean Hive is the heroine’s coffee house and I’m loving it!
KRL: I am one of the 619 members in the ‘Cozy Krew‘ and highly recommended all your fans and would-be fans to head over and join. Are you able to talk about your new series by Maymee Bell?
Tonya: Oh….that’s still a secret, but I can tell you that it’s not self published, and it will hit the shelves in 2018…so stay tuned.
KRL: So many authors say writing is all encompassing, but do you have any favorite movies you like to watch? Any television bingeing? What about music you enjoy or hobbies that take up what free time you may have?
Tonya: I like to have white noise on. I keep the Food Channel on TV or I listen to K-Love on the radio. Currently I have on Christmas music.
KRL: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Tonya: I’m scared of the dark. No joke.
KRL: This has been fun. We’ve covered so many topics. How about your YouTube Videos?
Tonya: I get so many questions about various things. I thought it would be fun to read and answer them in videos. If I pick your question, you win an Amazon gift card! Fun!!
Thank you, Tonya, for joining us and sharing a little about yourself and your books.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section.
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