In her debut mystery, Motive for Murder, gutsy private investigator Erica Coleman proved that when it comes to sleuthing, she takes the cake. Now, the fast-talking, food-loving heroine is back, and she s sure her next assignment will be as easy as pie. . . .Erica and her family happily anticipate Grandma Blanche’s eighty-first birthday celebration in the picturesque town of Florence, Oregon. But when the feisty matriarch, a savvy businesswoman, enlists Erica’s help in an investigation of her company, things quickly get sticky. Before the investigation can begin, Blanche’s unexpected death leaves Erica with more questions than answers and it soon becomes clear that Grandma’s passing was anything but natural: she was murdered. When Aunt Martha, Blanche s reclusive sister, becomes the next victim of someone with a taste for homicide, Erica uses her flair for cooking to butter up local law enforcement and gather clues. As she narrowly escapes becoming the third victim, Erica is more determined than ever to solve the case before she bites off more than she can chew.
Why we need books and libraries.
I like this quote from Laura Bush; “I have found the most valuable thing in my wallet is my library card.” I still remember the first time I walked into the Church History Library in downtown Salt Lake City—I was awed. I felt such a welling up of joy that was indescribable. I wished I had my sleeping bag and a cooler of food because I wanted to stay there at least a week, breathing in that peculiar air that comes from aged books. Libraries are an essential part of civilization. People use words to navigate through our world and it is with communication that we link ourselves with others. People who cannot use words to speak and communicate and understand cannot exchange ideas and cannot communicate. Books can teach us these things. A library is a place that is a repository of information and the wonderful thing is that every person has equal access to it. It’s a community space. A haven from the world! Yay!
Literacy is more important than ever it was, in this world of text and email. We need to read andwrite and comprehend what we are reading. I think it’s so important to raise literate children and the easiest way to do this is to teach them to read, and to show them that reading is a pleasurable activity. Read to them when they are young and as they grow, take them to the library and help them find books that they enjoy. I loved doing this when my seven children were little. Libraries give them access to life-changing and life-shaping books. I say hurray for libraries and God bless them, everyone!
What conferences classes or books do you recommended for aspiring authors?
Each year there is an amazing writer’s conference held in either April or May; The LDStorymakers conference! It is so great. They have a tremendous variety of classes and you can pick classes from how to build a website, to getting that first chapter right, to characters, to plotting, and everything you want to know about writing. You can also meet with publishers, established authors and learn so much! I love it. Each year, the conference gets better and better and this year will be held in Farmington, Utah, and has Brandon Sanderson as a speaker. You’ll find a lot of great classes that will help you on your writing path. Everyone is so helpful and encouraging.
Favorite Girl Scout cookie?
Oh dear, can I admit I don’t buy Girl Scout cookies? Nobody ever comes to my house, but sometimes my husband brings them home from work. It’s been a few years and now I can’t remember what they’re called, but I like the ones with coconut and chocolate. I love Pecan Sandies from the store, too.
Ebooks or print and why?
In reading eBooks I miss gazing at a book cover. I love seeing the covers. When you slap the book shut at the end of a spell of reading, there’s that cover again, reminding you to come back soon! I also miss touching the pages to how far I’ve got to go. Yes, I know. I can look at the numbers at the bottom of the Kindle and all that. But with a book, you just know. If I’m reading a mystery, it helps me set my mind: The author is going to wrap this up SOON (or not). If it’s a novel, I know I’m going to have to tear myself away from beloved characters soon enough.
Printed books and eBooks both have their place, and it’s certainly handy taking my e-reader when I travel, but I doubt I’ll ever stop buying and reading printed books.I’d still rather read a book in print. It’s simply a more pleasurable experience. Shutting off a kindle doesn’t have quite the same satisfying feeling as closing a book.
Any events or signings coming up?
I will be signing at Seagull book in Salt Lake City two weeks before LDS general conference. It hasn’t been confirmed yet, but I think I’ll be at the store on Redwood Road and 5700 South. Also, I’ll be at a couple of Deseret Book on Ladies Night (and day!) and again the locations haven’t been announced.
What makes your mysteries standout from the crowd?
First, my books are ‘clean’ books, which means no swearing and no gratuitous sex or violence. Second, I like to keep the reader guessing. My novels are ‘whodunit’ mysteries that keep readers trying to figure out who the killer is. Many current TV shows focus on high tech prowess to solve the crime. I focus more on the psychological aspects—why this person did that, why that person didn’t do this. I try to delve into the killer’s psyche and show the psychological aspects that drive their behavior. I like to have a lot of fun and interesting characters. Third, I like to incorporate humor, because everyone likes to laugh now and then. Fourth, and last, I include plenty of intriguing plot twists and turns to keep readers turning the page. Each ending of every book has a surprising, final twist.
Any other books in the works?
I have two books that are awaiting publication. The first is Crooked House but my publisher always changes the titles so I don’t know what they will call it! Here is a short summary:
Someone is trying to kill Liz Johnson, and it is up to quirky private investigator, Erica Coleman, to find out who it is. With an authentic setting in Dover, Delaware and against a background of NASCAR racing, Erica works to stop the killer who has already survived two murder attempts. It’s up to Erica to pinpoint the killer before he can succeed. As always, ten delicious recipes are included.
My second book that is awaiting publication is called, A Home for Christmas. Here is a short summary; Kenzie has big plans—the only problem is she hasn’t told anyone about them. One of them is to buy the house she grew up in—the home her brother, Tom, recently put up for sale. When she arrives in Lake Forest for Christmas vacation, Kenzie is shocked to find that her brother has accepted an offer on the house she desperately wants to buy. Unwilling to give up her plans, Kenzie tries to wrest the house from the man who made the offer, a handsome widower named Jared Phillips. Although they find themselves attracted to each other, it’s impossible for Kenzie to even think about a relationship with the man who is taking away the house she desperately wants. Then, a surprising revelation works a Christmas miracle. As a special bonus, seven delicious cookie recipes are included.
I’m also working on another Erica Coleman mystery, called, Murder in the Black Hills. I’d also like to do a sequel to Gaze Into Heaven—Near Death Experiences in Early Church History, which came out last year.
Excerpt from A Death in the Family
“It’s hard to believe she’s gone,” Kristen said dolefully. “When I moved here, I thought I’d have years with Grandma. She was always so active—I thought she’d keep going for years.”
“And all the time, her heart was getting weaker,” Trent said glumly.
Walter commented, “The last time I saw her, Blanche said the doctor told her she had the constitution of a mule.”
There were a few smiles at this, but Martha’s brow furrowed in confusion. “But Mom’s death didn’t have anything to do with how healthy she was.”
“What are you talking about?” Trent’s impatient voice billowed out and filled the small room.
Martha squirmed but fluttered on, “Well, after what Mom said when she came to visit me, you know—about how something wrong was going on in the company—I worried
that something might happen.”
Her response reverberated around the room. Everyone went very still—as if they were holding their breath.
Martha’s eyes went from one to another. “I didn’t mean—oh, I shouldn’t have said anything,” she stammered. Her voice was pure distress. “It’s just that . . . well, we’re all family here, so it’s okay, isn’t it? I mean, no one else knows.”
“No one else knows what?” Trent said brusquely.
Visibly flustered, Martha’s hands twisted in her lap. “And . . . and Mother was very old and—and the police haven’t even come, have they?”
Erica wondered what Martha could be getting at. Everyone darted quizzical looks at each other, trying to make sense out of Martha’s confused chirruping.
After meeting blank looks all around, Martha blurted, “I mean, that’s good . . . isn’t it? For the family?”
The room remained deadly silent as Martha’s cheeks flamed red.
There was a rumble as Walter cleared his throat. “Why would the police come?”
“Why, to arrest someone.” Martha sounded surprised—as if he had asked something that was completely and absolutely self-evident. She stared at Walter, as if he and he alone could straighten everything out. “Isn’t that why they’re doing an autopsy? I mean, don’t they always do an autopsy when someone has been murdered?”
Marlene Bateman Sullivan was born in Salt Lake City, Utah and graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She is married to Kelly R. Sullivan and they are the parents of seven children.
Her hobbies are gardening, camping, and reading. Marlene has been published extensively in magazines and newspapers and has written a number of non-fiction books, including: Latter-day Saint Heroes and Heroines, And There Were Angels Among Them, Visit’s From Beyond the Veil, By the Ministering of Angels, Brigham’s Boys, and Heroes of Faith. Her latest book is Gaze Into Heaven; Near Death Experiences in Early Church History, a fascinating collection of over 50 documented near-death experiences from the lives of early latter-day Saints.
Marlene’s first novel was the best-selling Light on Fire Island. Her next novel was Motive for Murder, which is the first in a mystery series that features the quirky private eye with OCD, Erica Coleman.
One physical copy of A Death in the Family. US only.