Today, I welcome author HL Carpenter to Into Another World.
Hi, HL! Please tell us a bit about yourself.
Hi, Susan! First we’d like to say thank you for offering to share your blog space with us. We appreciate your generosity.
To answer your question, we’re Helen and Lorri Carpenter, a mother/daughter team, and we use the pen name HL Carpenter. We write from our studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like our stories, is unreal but not untrue.
Carpenter Country sounds like a great place to be creative. Please tell us about your current release.
Our latest release is a cozy mystery.
A Cause for Murder features Emma Twiggs, a septuagenarian sleuth. Emma thinks her neighbor’s death was an accident—until her friend Arnie says he suspects murder. Arnie is convinced he knows the killer’s identity. He wants Emma to prove it. Is Arnie right? And is he right in his belief that Emma’s best friend is the killer’s next target? As Emma navigates madcap mayhem, multiple mysteries, and murderous motives, she discovers that more than one person is hiding deadly secrets. The question is, who has a cause for murder?
We’re trying out a new launch venue with this book. A Cause for Murder is entered in the initial roll out of the Amazon Kindle Scout program. This is a crowd-sourcing concept—that is, authors post their book covers and excerpts, and readers nominate the ones they like. The nominated books are in the running for a publishing contract. If the book gets a contract, the readers who nominated the book get a free copy.
What inspired you to write A Cause for Murder?
We were going to say we like mysteries. But that’s not the whole truth. We like solving mysteries. We learned that last spring, when an avian murder took place in Carpenter Country.
The backstory for the mystery that turned us into amateur sleuths began in April when two bluebirds met at the garden fountain. Their courtship quickly winged its way to nest building, then egg laying.
All went according to nature’s plan until the morning Mr. B began flying from the roof of his house down to the entrance and poking his head inside. Then he would hop back and fly away, only to return moments later to repeat the process. All the while he called Help, Help! in a shrill voice.
We rushed outside and peered into the box’s opening. The nest was empty! Mrs. B and her five eggs had vanished during the night with not even a stray feather left behind.
We did have a few clues. The bowl-shaped grass-woven nest inside the box was untouched. No broken eggshells were in evidence. The ground beneath the raised nest box was grassy and revealed no tracks.
Who would have committed such a gruesome deed? We considered the usual suspects.
The neatness of the murder scene meant the killer could not have been Mr. Raccoon. While he was fastidious about washing his food, he would have left the eggshells behind.
Mrs. Possum might have been willing to commit murder to feed her youngsters, but she was not neat by any stretch of the word’s definition. Feathers, pieces of eggshell, and a demolished nest would have resulted from nefarious activity on her part.
Ms. Fox was also raising a family. She would have been happy to gobble the eggs complete with shells, and swallow Mrs. Bluebird as afters. But the nest box was high off the ground, perched on a post with a tiny entrance designed to deter fox-sized predators.
Mr. Snake—hmmm. We circled the nest box in a widening search pattern and found Mr. Snake sleeping peacefully on a sun-warmed flat rock beneath a fence post. Egg-shaped bulges in his otherwise sleek body gave away his villainous act.
In cozy mysteries, this is the point where the police haul the suspect away in handcuffs. Unfortunately, the wildlife police force was not on duty to help with this particular arrest.
As if feeling the weight of our judgment upon him, Mr. Snake awoke, spotted us and slithered off the rock, escaping through the tall grass. Letting him get away with murder hardly seemed fair. But what could we do?
While we pondered suitable punishment, Mrs. Hawk plummeted from the sky, thrashed in the grass for a moment, then rose in a rush of feathered wings. She flapped into the clear blue sky, Mr. Snake writhing in her talons.
We’d been wrong. The wildlife police force was on the job.
We went back to the birdhouse. Mr. B sat on the roof of his once happy home, his head drooping. We couldn’t heal his heart. But we could thoroughly murder-proof his home to avert future tragedy.
A week later, Mr. B brought a new bride to his remodeled bungalow. She inspected the shiny five-foot stovepipe baffle beneath the box, cocking her head at the clang, wiggle and sway as if deciding whether the improved security would throw intruders to the ground. She came to the conclusion it would and set to work building a nest with Mr. B’s help.
The newlyweds’ first clutch of three hatched fourteen days later.
That was quite an inspiration! Have you begun your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about what you’re working on?
We have and we can. In addition to thoughts of future cozies starring Emma Twiggs, our septuagenarian sleuth, we always have one or two projects in the works, generally in different stages. Right now, we have a themed collection of short stories in the draft-one writing stage. We also have a middle grade/young adult novel in the final stages of editing, and another still in revision.
You sure keep a busy schedule. Just for fun and to wrap up the interview so you can get back to work, tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.
We once shared Carpenter Country with a horse whose sire was a movie star. But that’s a story for a different day.
We’ll look forward to reading it. Thanks for stopping by.
You’re welcome. Thank you for inviting us. Now that we’ve met, we invite you to visit us in Carpenter Country any time.
Arnie is convinced he knows the killer’s identity. He wants Emma to prove it.
Is Arnie right? And is he right in believing the same killer has another victim in mind—Emma’s best friend?
As Emma navigates madcap mayhem, multiple mysteries, and murderous motives, she discovers more than one person is hiding deadly secrets.
The question is, who has a cause for murder?
About the Authors
HL Carpenter writes sweet, clean fiction suitable for your entire family. Visit HLCarpenter.com for gift reads and the latest Carpenter Country news.
HL Carpenter’s cozy mystery, A Cause for Murder, is currently enrolled in the Amazon Kindle Scout program. You can read an excerpt and a brief author interview here.