Interview: Mary McHugh, author of Cancans, Croissants, and Caskets (A Happy Hoofers Mystery)

You can’t tiptoe when murder’s afoot…

It’s Bastille Day in Paris. The Happy Hoofers—Tina, Janice, Pat, Mary Louise, and Gini—are all set to kick off the fete by dancing the cancan on a beautiful sightseeing cruise down the Seine. As the leggy ladies soak in the magic of the city of lights, everything is magnifique…until a very important patron goes belly-up on the top deck.

On the heels of their French debut, murder takes center stage. The five daring dancers will need to step lively to stop the crafty killer fast…or their grand finale will turn out far more explosive than the fireworks over the Eiffel Tower…

Includes Fashion Tips And Tasty Recipes


Author Mary McHugh stopped by to chat about her latest mystery,Cancans, Croissants and Caskets.

cancans

Q. Cancans, Croissants and Caskets is the third installment in the Happy Hoofers series. Can you tell us what the series, and the newest book, is about?

A: The Happy Hoofer cozy series is about five gorgeous women in their fifties who tap dance on cruise ships, luxury trains and resorts and solve murders in between dances. Each book takes place in a different country and is narrated by a different dancer: The first one, Chorus Lines, Caviar and Corpses takes place in Russia on a cruise from Moscow to St. Petersburg and is narrated by Tina, a travel magazine editor: The second one, Flamenco, Flan and Fatalities, takes place on a train traveling across northern Spain and is narrated by Gini, a documentary film maker. The third, Cancans, Croissants and Caskets, comes out in September and takes place in Paris, my favorite place in the world, And is narrated by Janice, an actress and director. The fourth is Bossa Novas, Bikinis and Bad Ends, and is in Rio, narrated by Pat, a family therapist. And the fifth one is called High Kicks, Hot Chocolate and Homicide, takes place in New York City, and is narrated by Mary Louise Temple, a housewife.

Q: I love those titles. So you’ve been a writer and editor for Cosmopolitan, Women’s World, The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, and Family Circle–to name a few. What have you learned from those experiences about drawing in readers and keeping them engaged?

A: The most important thing is to do your homework! I did a lot of research for all the articles I wrote and the ones I edited. Now I can just google what I want to know, but when I worked on those magazines, I found articles and books that helped me make sure my facts were correct. I chose subjects that I was sure would be appealing to my readers — mostly women — and I included personal stories that my readers could identify with.

Q:  What are the big differences between writing articles and writing a novel?

A: I don’t have to do all that research when writing fiction. I make sure my facts are correct and that the details about each country I write about are up to date by watching youtubes about each country, even though I’ve been to all those places. It’s much more fun to write a novel because I can just let my mind go wild and imagine all kinds of things. I never thought I would have so much fun writing about killing people.

Q:  How did you get involved in tap dancing? Would you recommend it to others? Convince me that I should try it. 

A: You absolutely have to try it! It’s the most fun and the best exercise and a great way to lose a few pounds if that matters to you. My mother took me to tap dancing class when I was a little girl because of Shirley Temple. She was the most adorable child in the world and all the mothers wanted their daughters to tap dance too. I wasn’t crazy about it then, but when I grew up and had children, my best friend and I went to tap dance classes because it was the most fun way to exercise. Now, believe it or not, I do a tap dance at the end of speeches I make to groups of people. They love it!

Q: OK, you’ve convinced me to consider tap dancing. Now, this is your third book in the series. Where do you allow your characters to evolve, and what will you keep constant?

A: Their personalities stay the same, but they all are in relationships that evolve. There’s a lot of romance in these books because they’re cozies. As I’m sure you know, you can put lots of fun things in cozies — dogs, cats, love affairs, recipes, travel tips, fashion tips, cooking tips, photo tips. My books have all these things. They’re fun — and funny!

Q: Do you ever travel back to Paris? Where do you most love to travel? 

A: I go back to Paris every chance I get. The last time was two years ago and I had a great time. I bought this hat there.

CanCanHat

It was still the same beautiful city I remembered from when I studied there. I love to travel everywhere but my favorite places are England, Scotland, Ireland, Italy, Australia, Spain, Thailand, and of course, Hawaii.

Q: That is a fabulous hat. So you have visited Hawaii then?

A: I have been to Hawaii three times and I loved it. The weather is perfect, the people are warm and welcoming, the hotels are superb, the food yummy. It is the most relaxing place on earth and I wish it weren’t so far away so I could go there all the time. Do you live there, you lucky person?

Q: Yes I do, and I agree with your assessment 100%! The next time you’re out here we’ll have to go out for a loco moco lunch. And speaking of travel,  How do you fit writing in with travel and other things? Do you have any hints or advice about being more productive?

A: The main thing about writing fiction is that you can’t wait until an idea hits you. You have to sit down every day, and start writing. You’ll be amazed at the ideas that pop up when you do that. I never knew I could be so evil until I started writing murder mysteries. I’ve always been this nice little person. I try to put my 1000 words a day goal first. I make breakfast for my husband, do the New York Times crossword puzzle, put the dishes in the dishwasher and when I’ve run out of ways to procrastinate, I go into my room, turn on the computer and write until my thousand words are done. Usually about three hours. After that, I do all the other things that need to be done around here, and meet friends, run errands and have fun with a free conscience because my work is done. I don’t work when I’m traveling. I just enjoy every minute of time away from my computer.

Q: Where can readers find you?

Website / Facebook/ Goodreads/ LinkedIn / TwitterB & NAmazon

CanCanAuthor

About This Author

Mary McHugh graduated from Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, with a B.A. in English literature and studied at the Sorbonne in Paris. She is the author of The Happy Hoofers series, 19 nonfiction books, and two other novels. She was a contributing editor for Cosmopolitan, an articles editor at Woman’s World, Travel Holiday, and Bridal Guide, and has written articles for The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, and Family Circle.  She loves to tap dance and to travel—two passions that inspired her to write the Happy Hoofers series. She lives in the New York area.


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