by Sandra Murphy
This week we have a review of A Murder Between the Pages By Amy Lillard along with an interesting interview with Amy. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the book, and a link to purchase it from Amazon and an indie bookstore.
A Murder Between the Pages by Amy Lillard
Review by Sandra Murphy
Arlo and her friend, Chloe, have opened a bookstore and coffee shop. Arlo is in charge of books, while Chloe takes care of the coffee drinks. Anyone who’s tasted Arlo’s coffee, appreciates Chloe all the more.
Arlo pictured a book club of thirty-somethings, debating the merits of beloved books. Instead she got Camille, Fern, and Arlo’s guardian, Helen. They are in their eighties. A few months ago, an author died in front of the store, and the trio was instrumental in finding the killer. Now, they fancy themselves as amateur detectives.
They finagle a way to tag along when Arlo is summoned to Lillyfield mansion to pick up donated books. Judith Whitney, owner of Lillyfield, had a stroke a month ago. The ladies want to see if she’s well enough to talk. They’re reading Missing Girl written by the dead author and are sure it’s the story of Mary Kennedy who disappeared fifty years ago and was presumed dead. This could be their last chance to find out what really happened.
They have an added connection. Haley, the sister of Chloe’s helper in the café, works at Lillyfield. They’ll simply ask to see her and go from there. Unfortunately, when Helen comes to the top of the second floor stairs, she falls and is dead on arrival at the bottom of the steps. Surprisingly, she was already dead when she fell. The ladies agree not to interfere in an active investigation but have no qualms about investigating Mary Kennedy’s disappearance, believing the two cases are linked.
Add in a new boyfriend for Camille, Sam the upstairs private detective who may or may not be interested in Arlo, and a confession, it’s a wonder Arlo can keep track of the trio. They are a wily bunch.
This is the second book in the series. Arlo is a sensible woman, at least when away from the three older women. Camille, Fern, and Helen have no inhibitions about barging into the Sheriff’s office to tell him how to handle a case or into a suspect’s home. They may be older but have hidden depths—and are a delight. The uncertainty between Sam and Arlo will keep readers wanting more.
Lillard also has written eight other mysteries including the Kappy King Amish series, contemporary, Amish, and historical romance books, totaling thirty-four romances.
Interview with Amy Lillard:
KRL: How long have you been writing?
Amy: I actually starting writing in the stone age, aka the nineties. In the early nineties my husband and I got the opportunity to live in the Caribbean, which of course we promptly jumped upon. He had a job down there, and I ended up with a lot of time on my hands. Everyone said I would get bored without a job to keep me busy, and I suppose they were right – I got bored enough to write a book. ?
KRL: When did your first novel come out, what was it called, and would you tell us a little about it?
Amy: My very first novel came out in 2011. It was called Brodie’s Bride and was a short contemporary romance, fish out of water, marriage of inconvenience story. A couple wakes up married in Vegas and must navigate each other’s very different lives in order to wait out the annulment, and of course they fall in love for real long before that!
KRL: Have you always written mysteries/suspense and if not what else have you written?
Amy: Mystery/Suspense is actually a fairly new genre for me, but I find it both a challenge and great fun. I first started writing historical romance (sexy) then went to contemporary romance (sexy). Somehow I found my way to Amish (Christian), then to Amish Mystery (Christian) and on to mysteries, contemporary and clean (for the most part). I love writing all the different types of books. Because I tend to write several books a year, it helps to spread myself out. It keeps my ADD-right brain from getting bored.
KRL: What brought you to choose the setting and characters in your latest book/series?
Amy: My editor had asked for a series around a book club and from there…well, I enjoy the older generation. I can’t really say where Helen, Fern, and Camille actually came from. One minute I’m staring at a blank a page and the next I have living, breathing characters. It’s quite remarkable.
KRL: Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to take away from your work?
Amy: I write primarily to entertain, but I do hope that readers come away from my books with a little something more. Even if it is the ability to see the world from someone else’s point of view.
KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just write whenever you can?
Amy: I do schedule writing time. I get up at five each morning, which in itself is a feat since I am not a morning person. Even though I like to sleep in, I am more productive in the morning. There are just too many distractions as the day wears on. When my son was younger I used to stay up and write after I put him to bed. Since he’s twenty now, it’s hard to enforce that 8 P.M bedtime.
KRL: Do you outline? If not, do you have some other interesting way that you keep track of what’s going on, or what needs to happen in your book when you are writing it?
Amy: I outline like there’s no tomorrow! Seriously I like a plan. Truthfully I like a plan in every aspect of my life so it only stands to reason that I would plan my writing out. I guess I’m a little too ADD to write any other way! That’s not to say that I always stay true to my plans. Sometimes I spend all that time mapping out a story then sit down to write and my characters decide that’s not how the story should go at all. Thankfully, this doesn’t happen often, and these are usually my romances. I find that mysteries need to be planned out so that I can see the clues and make sure all the red herrings, evidence, and nuances are in place.
KRL: If you had your ideal, what time of day would you prefer to write?
Amy: My heart says all night long, but I suppose in truth the best time for me to write is earlier in the morning – 5 A.M to about 11 A.M is peak creative time for me.
KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning?
Amy: Yes. Sorry to say it but it was very difficult for me to first get published. Unfortunately, and fortunately, writing is subjective. What one person thinks is fantastic another hates. It’s the same with editors. The stars have to align just right before most of us see that first contract. The trick, I suppose, is to keep on reading, writing, and submitting and never give up if it’s your dream.
KRL: Do you have a great rejection/critique or acceptance story you’d like to share?
Amy: When I signed with an agent it was for a long contemporary romance. She shopped it for a year and would forward me the rejection letters as they came in. It wasn’t long (especially since I was still working full time in retail) before I lost track of where she had sent my manuscript, who had read it, and who still hadn’t responded. So, I gathered up all my courage and called her directly. I had planned it all out in my mind – how her assistant or secretary would answer the phone, how I would leave a message, and that would be that. I got my agent on the phone right off and started to ask her about my work! It was during this conversation when she told me that I should write an Amish romance. At first I thought she was joking. Then I said something to the effect of “How am I supposed to write a book about the Amish?” She said to me, “You’re a writer. Write it.” Funnily enough, she didn’t remember saying those words to me, but they changed my life. I did write an Amish book. In fact I’ve written about twenty which led me to eventually writing mysteries. It’s so strange to me how we can say something to a person and not realize the impact it might have on them. This surely impacted me.
KRL: Most interesting book signing story-in a bookstore or other venue?
Amy: I did a signing a couple of years ago at Aaron’s Books in Lititz, PA. (Greatest bookstore ever!) It was the best, but I had met a bunch of readers for an early supper beforehand and they followed me to the signing. I believe there were eleven of us total which was great when we all arrived together. It looked like I had an entourage. So much fun!
I love to connect with readers, so I try to let people know if I’m going to be in an area (pre COVID-19 of course). I love meeting with women’s groups, book clubs and the like. I find that much more satisfying than book signings.
KRL: Future writing goals?
Amy: Tons! I have to say that I have an overactive muse and I have more stories to tell than I believe I will have time to tell them. I would love to continue writing mysteries and use those skills to write chick lit with a small mystery flair. I have children’s books that I would love to see available and more cozies and romances that you can shake a stick at.
KRL: Writing heroes?
Amy: I always cheer for the underdog, so I love a good “overnight” success story. That said, I so admire Stephen King who didn’t even have a home phone when the movie deal came in for Carrie. I love JK Rowling who was on welfare when Harry Potter was finally signed. On a more personal level, I admire Denise Grover Swank who managed to self-publish and make a NYT Bestselling career while being a single (widowed) mom of six kids – three of whom were adopted from different countries after her husband’s death. Simply amazing, and all simply beautiful!
KRL: What kind of research do you do?
Amy: I love doing in person research. There’s nothing like visiting a place to get a feel for it. Of course, with COVID-19 running rampant, those research trips have been seriously curtailed. My research for the Main Street Book Club is a completely personal experience. I grew up just on the other side of Corinth which is mentioned several times throughout the series. The last research trip I took with my best friend was to Yoder, Kansas, to visit the Amish community there. The Sissy Yoder/Sunflower Café mysteries will begin releasing sometime in 2022.
KRL: What do you read?
Amy: I read all over the place. I love Stephen King and Dean Koontz and Agatha Christie, but I also love romance, chick lit, and women’s fiction. I love suspense stories and who-dun-its. I’ll read pretty much anything once.
KRL: Favorite TV or movies?
Amy: I watch a lot of true crime documentaries and movies. These days I seem to gravitate toward series. Making a Murderer, Filthy Rich, anything about the West Memphis Three. And I love shows about serial killers. Which is very ironic seeing as how I can’t watch the news because it’s too depressing and fills me with anxiety.
KRL: Any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?
Amy: Publishing is changing rapidly. Currently I hear that there are over EIGHT MILLION books listed on amazon. Eight. Million. So my advice is to decide why you want to write. Do you want to tell one story, e.g. a family tale that you want to share? Do you want to entertain the masses? Do you want to make a certain best seller list? Have fame and fortune? Writing for money (as in writing is your full-time job) is a different animal than writing because you want to tell Grandma Sadie’s adventures on the Oregon Trail. Neither one is right or wrong, but knowing why you are going into the field will help you navigate from the start. Writers who write for a living don’t always get to tell the story of their heart and more often write for the reader more than for themselves.
KRL: Anything you would like to add?
Amy: Reviews are more important than the average reader believes, even the negative ones. I find that when I’m looking at books, I read the best and the worst of the reviews. The positive ones for obvious reasons, but the one-star reviews because here is where you’ll find out about pitfalls and various parts of the plot that might key you into something in that book that you yourself might not like or understand. So, leave reviews even if the book fell short for you. Just keep in mind that someone took the time to write that book and send it in to be edited. It’s the words of someone’s heart or at the very least their hard work and treat it as such.
KRL: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Amy: Hmmm…this is always a hard one because I feel like I’m an open book. I suppose the fact that I’m a rabid pro football fan might come as something of a surprise. My husband and I are KC Chiefs season ticket holders. I also love watching the NFL games on television and I have been known to yell at the TV from time to time – but I only yell if the Chiefs are playing. Usually. 😉
KRL: Website? Twitter? Facebook?
Amy: www.amywritesromance.com (Yes, I know. I tried to keep up with an amywritesmysteries site, but it was too much with my work schedule.)
To enter to win a copy of A Murder Between the Pages, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “between,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen January 23, 2021. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If you are entering via email please include you mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted after the contest. You can read our privacy statement here if you like. BE AWARE THAT IT WILL TAKE MUCH LONGER THAN USUAL FOR WINNERS TO GET THEIR BOOKS DUE TO THE CURRENT CRISIS.
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