Interview with Mystery Author Penny Warner/Book Review & Giveaway

Dec 11, 2010 | 2010 Articles, Marilyn Meredith, Mysteryrat's Maze, Pat Browning

by Marilyn Meredith
& by Pat Browning

Interview by Marilyn Meredith, book review by Pat Browning, and a contest to win an autographed copy of How To Crash A Killer Bash by Penny Warner at end of this post:

Penny Warner

Marilyn: Hi, Penny, I’m so happy to finally be catching up with you. First off, please tell me and the readers a bit about your background before you started writing mysteries.

Penny: I got my degrees in early childhood and special education and began teaching at the college level. With my background in ECE, I started writing non-fiction books on childcare and parenting — books like Healthy Snacks For Kids, Happy Birthday Parties For Kids, and so on. I’ve written about 40 books on the topic, over the years.

Marilyn: What led to you writing mysteries?

Penny: My kids became teenagers … and I started thinking about murder. Seemed like a good way to channel that “energy.” I’d read a lot of mysteries and loved the ones featuring amateur female sleuths.

Marilyn: When I first met you, you were writing about a deaf woman who ran a newspaper in a mountain community. I loved that series. What happened to it?

Penny: My first book in the Connor Westphal series came out 13 years ago! Amazing. She lasted through seven books, and at that point it seemed like the series had run its course. She was about to get engaged, and once you’re married, you know ….

Marilyn: I know you’ve written all sorts of things since then, what came next?

Penny: The Official Nancy Drew Handbook was the most fun to write. I got to reread the first 50 books in the series and remember everything I’d learned from reading the series. Nancy was quite a heroine to many of us. She gave us a sense of power, that we could do anything if we wanted to, and we didn’t need the Hardy Boys to help us.

Marilyn: And then? What is your latest book?

Penny: The party-planner series is my latest adventure. There are two books out in the series, How To Host A Killer Party, set on Treasure Island and Alcatraz, and How To Crash A Killer Bash, set at the de Young Museum. I’ve just finished the third, How to Survive A Killer Séance, set at the Winchester Mystery House, which comes out in March, and am working on the fourth, How To Party With A Killer Vampire, set in Colma, home to fourteen cemeteries. The books offer party tips throughout, and a full party plan at the back.

Marilyn: I know you do lots of other things besides being an author. Do you want to tell us about some of them?

Penny: I teach child development at Diablo Valley College, write for the local newspaper, have a blog (Lady Killers), read, travel in the RV (to Fresno this weekend!) and enjoy my grandchildren.

Marilyn: Where can we purchase your books?

Penny: My books are available at most bookstores and online.

Marilyn: What’s up next for you?

Penny: I have a new middle grade series coming out next year, called The Codebusters, filled with puzzles and codes to solve along with a mystery. Must be my Nancy Drew roots.

Marilyn: What else would you like the readers to know?

Penny: I think you’ve covered everything! Thanks, Marilyn! Hope to see you soon!

Marilyn: Thank you, Penny. That was fun.

Marilyn Meredith is a Springville, CA mystery author and an ongoing contributor to our Local Literary section. Be sure to visit her website;

Review of How To Crash A Killer Bash By Penny Warner & Review & Book Giveaway!

Review by Pat Browning

Penny Warner’s party tip at the beginning of Chapter 1 sets the tone for How To Crash A Killer Bash. She cautions against using real weapons as props because some of the guests might find a use for them.

Now we know we’re in for a mystery with humor and an edge – murder. A professional party planner, as well as a veteran mystery writer, Warner makes good use of both talents to craft this saucy story of a murder mystery party gone awry.

Presley Parker is hired to stage a fund-raiser at San Francisco’s historic de Young Museum. Hard experience has taught her if anything can go wrong, it will. For starters, socialite Mary Lee Miller, a major money-raiser, demands that her son, Corwin, and other employees of the museum be cast in the play, with herself playing the “victim.”

Miller has a nasty encounter with Corwin and his girl friend, Del, who is Presley’s best friend. Then there is Presley’s mother, a constant worry. She’s in the early stages of Alzheimer’s and most of Presley’s party planning profits go for her mother’s care. Presley casts her in a bit part to keep her happy, enlisting Brad, a crime scene cleaner, to keep an eye on her.

“Murder at the Museum” gets off to a colorful start. Guests arrive in costume as famous mystery characters such as Nancy Drew, Sherlock Holmes, Jessica Fletcher and James Bond. Champagne flows freely, and Murphy’s Law kicks in. Del’s scripted scream is the real thing. “Victim” Mary Lee Miller is discovered lying in a pool of real blood with the phony dagger sticking out of her back.

Horrified when Del is arrested and hauled away in handcuffs, Presley gets out her party planning guide, modifying it to plot a way of finding the real murderer. Theme, timing, location, guests, surprise – she ticks off all the elements and ends up with 200 suspects.

Undaunted, Presley begins an old-fashioned gumshoe-style investigation. Under the watchful eye of Brad, who seems to be in cahoots with an obnoxious detective named Melvin, she deals with yet more murders, bugs people with questions, uncovers dark secrets and puts herself in great danger along the way. The ending is a nail-biter.

In the back of the book, Warner includes a list of instructions for hosting a Killer Murder Mystery, and a sneak preview of her next book, How To Survive A Killer Séance, due out in March 2011.

To learn more about Penny and her books you can visit her website.

To enter to win a copy of How To Crash A Killer Bash, simply email KRL at with the subject line “Penny’s Book”, or comment on this article. U.S. residents only please. A winner will be chosen next Saturday.

Pat Browning is one of our Editors. She spent many years in the Valley working at various newspapers. Also a mystery writer, and contributor to our Mysteryrat’s Maze mystery section, you can visit her blog.


  1. a good read

  2. The book sounds really good. Would love to read it after this busy season. HAPPY HOLIDAYS

  3. A party-planning sleuth — sounds like a fun read.

  4. This sounds like a book I would enjoy! Thank you for the giveaway!

  5. I’m also an avid reader of mysterynovels.This title caught my interest.

  6. I’ve been reading Penny’s books since the first book in the Connor Westphal series and am looking forward to reading the party planner’s series too. Great interview – thanks.

  7. You totally got my attention with the Nancy Drew Handbook. That is one of those series that not only endures generation after generation, but I don’t think they are just young adult books. While as adults we may think the solutions are easy to figure out, they are still such great reads. I was looking at the collection at my local library a week or so ago and decided when I finish my current reading gift to myself (reading through all of Alexandre Dumas’ books) I would start on the Nancy Drew mysteries. Now I need to add your handbook to my list!

    Congrats on your current release!

  8. Love the murder mystery party planning tips idea.

  9. Sounds like a fun book. I also need to check out the Westphal books. Love me a good mystery!

  10. Sounds great! Count me in, please!

    PS – Read about the contest on Cozy Mystery Korner Yahoo Group.

  11. As a trained sign language interpreter, the Connor Westphal series was one of my favorites as they came out in the tailed of my college education. I’ve missed them so much but would love to give Ms. Warner another read!

  12. Ed is the winner of Penny’s book! Thanks to all who entered-keep checking back for more.
    Lorie Ham, Publisher

  13. Since I did not hear from Ed, we have picked another winner. Ed, if you are out there and get back to me soon I can probably get another copy for you!
    Thanks all, please keep coming back and spread the word.
    Lorie Ham, Publisher

  14. Thank you ALL for your kind comments!
    And for the interview, Marilyn! Great questions.
    The Connor Westphal series was a pleasure to write.
    It’s on hold for now, but I hope to return to Flat Skunk
    and pick up where Connor and Dan left off.
    HOW TO SURVIVE A KILLER SEANCE will be out in March.
    Hope to meet some of you at a signing.
    I just finished HOW TO PARTY WITH A KILLER VAMPIRE, due out next fall. On to the next one…HOW TO DINE ON KILLER WINE, set in the California Wine Country.
    You’ve really got a great mystery section here, Lorie.
    I’ve already found several books I plan to get as well.
    Keep up the GREAT work!
    And party on!

  15. How to Survive a Killer Seance sounds like my kind of book. I hope you will post when it comes out!



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