How are these North Carolina stories?
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.
Did you find some characters developing in unexpected ways?
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 climbing.
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 fun!
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.