by Lorie Lewis Ham
This week we have a fun interview with Daisy Pettles, the author of the Shady Hoosier Detective Agency series. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the latest book in the series, The Chickenlandia Mystery, and a link to purchase it from Amazon.
The Chickenlandia Mystery is Book 3 in Daisy Pettles’s Shady Hoosier Detective Agency cozy crime comedy series, which the Indie Reader terms: “Murder She Wrote meets the Golden Girls.”
Chickenlandia Mystery / PLOT SUMMARY: Pawpaw County, Indiana, is all atwitter about Ma and Peepaw Horton’s annual Chickenlandia Festival. The mood turns dark, though, when the Horton’s prize-winning rooster, Dewey, and his best laying hen, Ginger, vanish, leaving behind only a ragged trail of tail feathers. Also missing: Gertie Wineagar, local sourpuss and BBQ chicken cook-off queen. Senior sleuths, Ruby Jane (RJ) Waskom and Veenie Goens, suspect Hiram Krupsky, Pawpaw County’s self-proclaimed Chicken Wing King, of master-minding the crime spree in an attempt to sabotage the Horton’s free-range chicken ranch. The sleuths get an unexpected “in” when Hiram commences to court a reluctant RJ. Follow the Hoosier senior snoops as they attempt to sort the good eggs from the bad in this hilarious, small-town crime comedy.
Q: Your new mystery book, Chickenlandia Mystery, is book three of your Shady Hoosier Detective Agency series of crime comedies. Mysteries are often dark: murder, mayhem, betrayal, that sort of stuff. Why lace mystery and mayhem with humor??
Daisy: Life is chockfull of dark absurdities, beginning with the pesky little fact that we are all born to die. I believe that humor is the sunshine of the human mind. Whatever happens to you in this life you can either laugh or you can cry. I much prefer laughter. Crying just makes me cranky.
Good comedy is the only antidote for anger, frustration, death, and disappointment. Comedy helps all of us know that we are not alone. For all these reasons, I love to write comedy. As Monty Python’s Brian sings as he hangs on that inevitable cross. “Always look on the bright side of life.” That, too, is my motto.
Honestly, my one goal as a writer is to entertain. I feel great when I hear people laughing, even better when I know that I might be the cause of it.
Q: Both the lady detectives in your comic duo, Veenie Goens and Ruby Jane Waskom, are sassy seniors, ages 67 and 71. They have quick-witted comebacks to all of life’s setbacks. Literally nothing gets them down. Do you relate to them?
Daisy: A close friend recently confided to me that she enjoyed being a kid in the 60s a heck of a lot more than she is currently enjoying being in her 60s. “Touché!” I say. I turned 60 last year, and the shock that I am “getting old,” stomped across my chest like a rhinoceros.
In addition, being unexpectedly diagnosed with advanced cancer (now fully in remission) kicked every ounce of mirth out of me. I missed the sound of my own laughter, so I tossed my heart and my notebooks in search of the lighter side of life.
That’s how my detectives, a pair of aging gal pals who are A-OK with growing old, but not about to grow decrepit, came to life. Every time I wrote dialogue between these two best friends rays of sunshine beamed back into me. I began to laugh again.
Q: The Shady Hoosier Detective Agency Series is set in a small quirky town called Knobby Waters, in Pawpaw County, Indiana. Why set the books in such a funny place?
Daisy: In my head and heart there is such a place as Knobby Waters. It’s a tiny river town full of nosy neighbors, quirky characters, and kind-hearted souls. It’s the type of hometown that I think many of us are nostalgic for. It may not exist, but it darn well ought to.
It’s the type of small American town where everybody knows your name—unfortunately. And of course, there is an endless supply of snoopy neighbors, crazy cousins, husbands with hanky-panky pants, drunk wiener dogs, and mouth-watering, home-baked pies.
Think Mayberry, Petticoat Junction, and Green Acres—all those tiny towns that populated vintage 60s sit-coms—and you begin to see where Pawpaw County lies on the great comedy entertainment map.
Q: Book 3, The Chickenlandia Mystery, is coming out this month. What is Chickenlandia?
Daisy: Chickenlandia is a free range chicken ranch run by an eccentric elderly couple. The coops are fashioned out of scrap lumber to resemble the White House and the Senate buildings. It’s more of a village—a Chickenlandia—than a simple row of cages and coops. The name was inspired by the more urban, off-beat TV comedy, Portlandia. In tone, the Shady Hoosier mystery series is quite quirky.
Chickenlandia also features Ma and Peepaw Horton’s emergency Pie Shed. It’s an old tool shed that the chicken farmers have converted to a 24-hour self-serve, pick-up station for home-baked pies. Our crime fighting duo, Veenie and Ruby Jane, are constantly being sidetracked by drives out to the pie shed in an attempt to relieve life’s more stressful moments.
One of the theme songs of the comedy podcast that we are developing based on the Shady Hoosier Detective Agency books is: “Remember when you’re feeling blue, stop and eat a pie or two.”
Q: One reviewer wrote that The Shady Hoosier Detective Agency reminded her of the Golden Age of Hillbilly TV that dominated small screens in the 60s. Did you envision the books that way?
Daisy: Yes. I wanted to write something that celebrated the quirky, light-hearted side of small town life in America today.
The tiny river town I grew up in, Medora, Indiana, had a town drunk, a creepy, over-dressed funeral director, and a very incompetent deputy. It was a real Mayberry. The town also has a basketball team that hadn’t scored a single win in several decades. Since Indiana is often thought of as a basketball “Field of Dreams” this is very sad—also, very fun.
While the books are labeled cozy mysteries, their strongest element is humor. They are true crime comedies. My senior crime fighting duo, Ruby Jane and Veenie, are very much a vintage Lucy-Ethel or a modern Golden Girls gal pal team.
Daisy Pettles was born in southern Indiana, in the tiny river town of Medora. As a child, she was fed a steady diet of books, pies, and Bible stories. Her debut cozy series, the Shady Hoosier Detective Agency, crime comedies set in fictional Pawpaw County, Indiana, won the 2019 Gold Medal as Best Humor Book from the Indie Reader, The Next Generation Indie Book Awards, and the American Fiction Awards. Visit her anytime on her website.
To enter to win a copy of The Chickenlandia Mystery, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “chickenlandia,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen September 28, 2019. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address (so if you win we can get the book sent right out to you), and if via comment please include your email address. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Be sure to check out our new mystery podcast too with mystery short stories, and first chapters read by local actors. A new episode goes up this week!
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