I’m pleased to have author Caroline Fardig from Indiana here to speak about her writing and new release, the first of her Southern B & B cozy mystery series, Southern Discomfort, which is on blog tour with Escape with Dollycas Into a Good Book.
Welcome, Caroline. Please tell us how long you’ve been published and what titles and/or series you write.
I’ve been traditionally published since 2016 with Random House.
Java Jive series
Southern B&B series
I’ve been self-published since 2013.
The Lizzie Hart Mysteries series
Ellie Matthews Novels
That’s great. Tell us a little bit about your books and your new cozy series.
My series are all mysteries, but all have their own personalities. The Lizzie Hart series and the Java Jive series are fun and modern, with sassy heroines and plenty of romance—not your mama’s cozy mysteries. The Southern B&B series is more traditionally cozy. My Ellie Matthews series is vastly different from anything I’ve ever written before. The books in that series are forensic police procedurals—dark and thrilling with a definite edge.
Southern Discomfort, the first book in the Southern B&B series was just released.
Wonderful. Best wishes with that. Can you describe your goals as a writer? What do you hope to achieve in the next few years? What are you planning to do to reach these goals?
I’d like to continue to keep writing as my full-time job and produce two to four books a year. My next project will be a psychological suspense novel, which will be a new genre for me. Right now I’m researching for that story and working on my outline.
Very nice. I’ve written a psychological thriller myself, Sea Scope, that I’m hoping to publish soon.
What type of reader are you hoping to attract? Who do you believe would be most interested in reading your books?
Mystery readers in general would be interested in my books, but I hope to reach a wider audience with my upcoming psychological suspense novel.
It’s always a good idea to reach a different audience. From my experience as a librarian, I know that there are many readers who enjoy several genres.
What advice would you give other authors or those still trying to get published?
Never give up. Write daily, and always strive to make your work the best it can be. Take constructive criticism from knowledgeable people and use it to make your writing better.
What particular challenges and struggles did you face before first becoming published?
First and foremost, I worried if my writing was good enough. I didn’t even want to tell my husband that I’d written a book! But as I let a few people I trusted read it and give me feedback, I realized I could do it and worked to make that dream a reality. On the business side of things, it was difficult at the beginning as an unknown author to get enough traction and interest to get my name out there and to get an agent.
I think most beginning authors and even those who have published such as myself struggle with both those issues, feeling confident enough in their writing and landing an agent. I’m currently querying agents for my new cozy series.
Do you belong to any writing groups? Which ones?
Yes, I’m a member of the Midwest Writers Guild and Evansville Local Authors.
I think writing groups are great for authors for support as well as constructive criticism.
What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?
I love to play guitar, sing, write songs, cook, travel, and watch movies.
Those are a nice variety of interests.
What do you like most and least about being an author? What is your toughest challenge?
I like creating characters most of all. I like marketing the least. My toughest challenge is trying to figure out what marketing approach works best to get my books noticed in the sea of books that are out in the world.
I think most authors would agree with that. Marketing is so time consuming, and it’s hard to pinpoint what works and what doesn’t. It also takes you away from the main work of creating.
What do you like about writing cozy mysteries?
I like creating characters with quirky traits and not having to be too serious.
Yes, I also like creating interesting characters and having fun with them.
Can you share a short excerpt from your new release?
“Do you realize that you put the lavender-colored sheets on the bed in the red room and the peach sheets in the blue room?” my sister Delilah asked.
I slapped my forehead. “Cheese and crackers. I’m sorry, D. I’ll fix it.”
She came over and plopped down on her stomach on my bed, facing me. “It’s totally normal for you to be off your game. It may take a long time to bounce back.”
“I know, but . . . I’ve actually got other things on my mind. Sort of.”
Cocking her head to the side, she asked, “What could possibly be bigger than finding a dead body?”
“Finding a way to get Drew out of jail.”
She snorted. “Short of a professionally planned jailbreak, I don’t think you’ve got much of a chance.”
I’d expected that kind of response out of my sister. She was the more pessimistic of the two of us, plus, as she’d alluded to before, she didn’t seem convinced of Drew’s innocence. But she always listened and offered great advice—and I could use some advice right about now. Granted, she might call me crazy and several other not-so-nice things for taking on this kind of dangerous endeavor, which was why I’d kept it from her until now. That aside, I knew she’d be in my corner once she finally came around.
I replied, “Actually, there’s another way I can help Drew, but I doubt you’re going to like it.”
“Let’s hear it.”
“Okay. Here goes. Yesterday Drew and I came up with a list of people who might have had a reason to want to kill Jason.”
“Okay . . . that doesn’t sound so bad. What are you going to do with the list? Give it to the police?”
“I tried that. No luck. Rufus wasn’t in a listening mood.”
She shrugged. “Oh. Well, I guess you tried . . .”
“I’m going to do more than that, and this is the part I think you won’t like. I know in my heart that Drew didn’t kill Jason. But since his money is all tied up in the restaurant and they’ve had to close the place, he has no way of making bail, or more importantly, no way of hiring a private investigator to look more deeply into his case.”
“So what can you do? Loan him some money you don’t have?”
“No, I can use this list, talk to people around town, and try to find the police a better suspect than Drew.”
Her face screwed up in confusion. “Are you saying you want to sleuth around like some kind of adult Nancy Drew or something?”
I stuck my tongue out at her. “It sounds stupid when you say it like that.”
“Quinn, I’m not belittling your attempt to help your friend. If you want to know the truth, I think it sounds kind of fun, in a dangerous way. But . . . what in the world do you know about investigating?”
“Nothing. In fact, I’m pretty terrible at it.” Ouch. That hurt to admit out loud. “Yesterday I managed to get some information out of a restaurant critic that Jason had fought with, but it was ugly. Today I tried to talk to Valerie, but that went horribly wrong. Then I tried to follow her, and she caught me.”
“Ooh. That couldn’t have ended well. That woman is a viper.”
“You’re telling me. I’ve decided to call that one a learning experience and work a little smarter from now on.”
“Right. And how do you plan to work smarter?”
I threw my hands in the air. “That’s what I have to figure out. And fast.”
She thought for a moment. “If you don’t mind me saying so, you can be a bit . . . gullible. Naïve. If you do decide to go through with this, when you go out and speak with people, you need to not readily believe everything you hear. It stands to reason that people would have things to hide in this particular situation.”
She wasn’t wrong, but it wasn’t something I liked to hear. Straightening in my chair, I said, “I can think more critically. Be more skeptical if I need to be.”
I could see her mulling this over, and just when I thought she wasn’t going to pull her big sister routine, her expression became strained. “Quinn . . . are you sure this is something you should take on? I mean, if Drew didn’t kill Jason, then someone else did. And that someone is still out there running loose. I don’t know if it’s a good idea to insert yourself into the situation. You could get hurt.”
“Drew could get hurt in jail. Who knows what could happen in there?”
“I appreciate that, and I think you’re an amazing friend for even considering taking this on. But you can’t forget about the danger aspect of it. At the end of the day, if it’s someone’s neck on the line, I’d rather it be his than yours.”
There was one more thing I needed to tell her that would eclipse everything else for her. I blew out a breath. “If I don’t figure out who really killed Jason, my neck could be on the line as well. There’s a possibility that the police could find some reason to charge me, too, if they decide Drew and I were in cahoots.”
“What?” she exploded, jumping off the bed so she could pace around the room. “How? Why would they think you’re in cahoots?”
“Because I found the body. And also because of my supposedly flimsy reason to be at a closed restaurant after hours, Detective Flynn told Drew that he thought either Drew and I were in on the murder together, or that I’m covering for him. It may not be just Drew that we need to worry about. Detective Flynn might not have any evidence on me, and I don’t even know that Rufus shares his hunch, but it’s still a valid issue to worry about.”
Delilah’s jaw dropped, and she stopped pacing. “How long have you known about this?”
“Since yesterday morning.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” she cried.
I looked down. “I didn’t want to worry you.”
Coming over to kneel in front of me, she took my hands. “Quinn, we’re sisters. We’re supposed to weather the hard stuff together.”
“I know. But . . .”
“No buts. I will not stand for my baby sister being accused of any wrongdoing, especially a freaking murder! We’re going to clear your name once and for all, and if we happen to clear Drew’s in the process, all the better.”
I stared at her. “What do you mean ‘we’? What are you saying?”
“I’m saying I’m going to help you find your suspect. I always have your back, and this is no different. You need a cynical sidekick who can think like a delinquent and talk her way out of a messy situation. I’m the perfect woman for the job. Besides, I could use a little excitement in my life. Don’t tell Papa Sal, but the monotony of B&B management has been getting to me lately.”
Tears sprang to my eyes as I broke into a smile. “You mean it? We’re going to do this together?”
She smiled back at me. “The Bellandini sisters are on the case!”
Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about you or your books?
I write original songs to go along with all of my Java Jive books, since the main characters are singer-songwriters. The sheet music can be found at the end of each book, and my recordings of those songs can be found at http://www.carolinefardig.com/music/.
What a great idea.
Please list your social media links, website, blog, etc. and include some book cover graphics and author photos if possible.
Thanks so much for the interview, Caroline. It was great meeting you, and I wish you the best on your new series and blog tour.