Interview with Candice Miller Speare!
Susan: Today it gives me great pleasure to talk to one of our hosts, Candice Miller Speare, about her upcoming release, Murder in the Milk Case, coming to us in January from Heartsong Presents: Mysteries.
Murder in the Milk Case is a great title, and a great concept. How ever did you come up with it?
Candice: The original name of the book was Death in the Dairy Case (a title that Laurie Alice Eakes came up with). But after Susan Downs bought the manuscript, she said that she needed a different title because my book would be coming out in the same month as Chris Lynxwiler’s and hers had the word death in the title. (She got first dibs because hers was bought first.) Just a few word changes and there you have it.
The plot was born in 2002 when I was sitting in the family room of our home, brainstorming with my sister about book ideas. I wanted a novel place for a body to be discovered. Ideas came fast and furious, along with questions. Like, what IF someone found a body in the milk case? Was that possible? Then my brother, a grocery store manager at the time, took me on a tour of the back rooms of his store. That’s when the whole concept jelled.
Susan: Give us a little blurb about the book.
Candice: Finding the body of pharmacist Jim Bob Jenkins in the milk case of the grocery store is not on Trish Cunningham’s grocery list. Neither is becoming a suspect in his murder. But Trish had good motive to kill Jim Bob—a secret that she only discovered recently, and even her husband doesn’t know.
So, what's a girl to do? What else? Become a sleuth and proceed with her own investigation. Struggle with how to tell her husband. Collect clues from the people around her like her mother and a cast of small town characters. Trish doesn’t want to believe the killer is someone she knows, despite mounting evidence to the contrary. But the trail is definitely leading to her backyard—a hometown murderer who has nothing to lose by killing anyone in the way—including Trish.
Susan: It sounds like a fun read. Thinking about the way you chose that title again—I always seem to struggle with titles for my mystery/suspense books. Do you have a system?
Candice: That’s a good question. No, I don’t have a system. And yes, I struggle with titles, too. I think a lot of people do. Although a few books do sort of name themselves. Like the second in my series called Band Room Bash.
Susan: How is writing a series different from writing a standalone?
Candice: Writing a series means having to remember all the characters, what they look like, and their habits and relationships with each other. It also means remembering the colors of rooms in houses, the kind of furniture in the rooms, and the names of animals. It’s very difficult unless the author writes down the details as he/she goes along.
I guess you don’t need to ask me how I know that.
Susan: Right. Make and color of cars is another thing I always seem to be backtracking to check!
Heartsong Presents: Mysteries showcases quirky characters. Who is your quirkiest character, and what makes him or her quirky, not just weird?
Candice: It’s hard to put my finger on any one character in my book. I’ve tried to give all of them quirks of some sort or another.
In the first book, of my series, I would have to say three people together are my quirkiest characters. Those are my heroine’s mother and her doughnut store employees. One of them has some odd beliefs, like NASA staged the moonwalk.
Susan: Oh! I think I know that person. What writing project are you working on right now?
Candice: The third and final book in my cozy series called, Kitty Litter Killer.
Susan: Now, THAT’s a title!
You’re an official content reviewer for a publisher. Is there anything you particularly notice missing in the books you review?
Candice: Yes, definitely. Lack of conflict. Like Donald Maass said in his book, Writing the Breakout Novel, we have to have conflict in every scene.
Susan: What can we look for from you in the future?
Candice: Hopefully another cozy series after this one. I really enjoy writing cozy mysteries.
Susan: How can readers contact you and find your books?
My book will be available through Heartsong Presents: Mysteries website. That’s not up yet, so in the meantime, you can check out my website where I’ll keep my readers informed about when my book is available.
Susan: Thanks so much for joining us, Candice. We will be sure and let all of you know when the Heartsong Presents: Mysteries website is up and running!