Besides being set in the Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina, they capture the spirit of southern life, particularly
those folks from back in the hills. For example, the local characters display being poor in money but generous in helping
others and loyalty to kin but a cautious welcoming of newcomers.
Yes, Aunt Alma was not a cantankerous as I pictured her in the beginning. She’s an import to the mountains, but embraced
the hard working attitude as soon as she arrived. The softening of her single-hood surprised me.
Unlike many romances and mysteries, why do older adults play important roles in your novels?
Southern culture embraces family history. People remain involved with their kin and often live nearby. Many older people
live alone by choice but loved ones keep an eye on them. The idea of someone over sixty with the capacity to flirt, even fall
in love, is enchanting to me. Love in all forms can grow stronger as life progresses.
Why do you include sports in your mysteries and romances?
Life as is writers is solitary and sedentary. If I didn’t involve myself in an outside activity, my blood would become
sluggish, my brain would coagulate, and my imagination would stall. Hiking in these mountains renews my connection to the
earth, trees, other animals, clean air, sparkling streams–everything that enhances a person as a whole. If a person
is too busy to break away and do something away from concrete, a short break through my novels will help. I did a five-day
backpacking trip like in Appalachian Paradise. I love to ski and was a ski patroller at Sugar Mountain like in Emeralds in
the Snow. Some of my fondest memories with my husband were on dude ranches so I set Murder at Blue Falls at an imaginary ranch
in my valley near Triplett, NC. I also enjoy swimming and golf. The forth novel in the Appalachian Adventure series involves
Why do you include real people in your novels?
Jane Wilson, author of the cookbook, Mountain Born & Fed, inspired me to use real people like she did in writing
up stories about her recipes. It started in the second novel when I wanted to include fellow ski patrollers who are also my
parents, Pearle and Lyle Bishop, mountain manager Gunther Jochl, and mountain groomer Joe White. Joe White’s real job
is shoeing horses which fits into the dude ranch story. He gave me permission for him to be a suspect. I list the real people
in the acknowledgments, everyone else is pure fiction.
Since the male lead characters in the four Appalachian Adventure novels are cousins, how do you keep track of the relationships?
I made a family tree which meant I had to create characters who will never be used in my novels but were necessary for
me to understand who connected these four cousins. Plus, I had to keep track of siblings mentioned in various novels. This
technique is commonly used in broad sweeping historicals but is not necessary for most contemporary fiction. Besides, it was
Do you plot in advance?
Not much. I have the setting, current day in the mountains near Boone, NC. I decide the sport and I know the name of the
male cousin involved. In Murder at Blue Falls, Detective Tucker came to me while on a beach trip with my parents. We stayed
at a place with no TV or phone in the rooms. Around 6 am, I sat on the deck overlooking the ocean and a small deer walked
by. A few minutes later, a bobcat followed the same trail. Unbeaconed, Detective Tucker sprang to mind, full blown, and I
started scribbling on a notepad. Since he was a detective, he needed a puzzle to work on. The one novel I did plot in advance,
I destroyed. My sense of discovery was gone. I prefer to have the story come to life as the characters become active.