“Bille Thomas strikes again, merging her signature with and uncanny knack for suspense that turns on a dime. I laughed, I cringed, I worried, I cheered. I only wish the author would write a little faster, because I’m already in withdrawal.”
– Amazon reviewer
A cheating wife in a classic car drives someone to murder.
Interior decorators turned amateur investigators, Chloe and Amanda Carstairs have spent the summer transforming their client’s creepy old castle into a luxury hotel. But before the first guest checks in, the owner’s wife checks out – with the help of a bullet to the head.
When Chloe’s dad is accused of the crime, there’s no time for the ladies to drown their sorrows in the hotel’s mini bar. Instead, they have to contend with a sneaky blackmailer, an unsolved murder from the past, and a cunning killer with nothing to lose.
The second Chloe Carstairs Mystery is filled with the same clever twists and hilarious mother-daughter relationship that made Murder on the First Day of Christmas such a fun, fast-paced read for an appreciative readership. The mystery will keep you guessing, but as any good decorator will tell you, even a beautiful setting can’t hide the ugly truth.
Q: Can you tell us what the book is about?
A: MURDER IN A TWO-SEATER is the second Chloe Carstairs mystery, and it takes place several months after MURDER ON THE FIRST DAY OF CHRISTMAS leaves off. Once again, Chloe and her mother Amanda are embroiled in an investigation when someone is murdered at a home they’re decorating. This time the home is a creepy old castle that they’re transforming into a luxury hotel. But before the first guest checks in, the owner’s wife checks out – with the help of a bullet to the head. When Chloe’s dad is accused of the crime, she and Amanda will stop at nothing to get to the truth, even if it means tanging with a sneaky blackmailer, a ghostly presence or two and a cunning killer with nothing to lose.
Q: There’s an unexpected and touching story behind Billie Thomas. Would you mind sharing that?
A: Billie Thomas is my pen name. My mom, Billie and I always traded mysteries back and forth and one day, out of the blue, I asked her to collaborate on writing one with me. I think I surprised us both. We had something of a rollercoaster relationship, but the idea of a fun, funny mystery with a mother-daughter relationship much like our own, appealed to both of us. After mom passed away unexpectedly at the end of 2011, getting MURDER ON THE FIRST DAY OF CHRISTMAS published was my top priority – it seemed like the perfect way to honor the mom who had given me a lifelong love of books and mysteries. I’m so thankful I have this series because working on it makes me feel close to my mom. Whenever hear that a daughter loved it and passed it along to her mom, or vice versa, saying “this is so us”, I’m thrilled. I bawl my eyes out but sometimes I do that when I’m thrilled.
Q: Was there a real-life inspiration for the castle-turned-hotel?
A: There are actually 10 castles in Alabama! I loosely based the castle in my book on Rocky Hill Castle, which also had a tower and was also thought to be haunted. I first learned about Rocky Hill Castle in “The Ghost of the Angry Architect”, by the fabulous storyteller Kathryn Tucker Windham.
Q: With a full time job, how do you make time for writing?
A: It’s a struggle, let me tell you! I work in advertising so a lot of my creative energy goes to that. Still, I try to be disciplined. I write every day unless work is out of control. When I’m really into a project, I get up early to write. It’s the only time I can truly call my own before the day spirals out of control.
Q: Do you have a target daily word count? Do you have a method, or are you a pantser?
A: A thousand words a day is my goal but I often do more if the story is taking off. And it never takes off if I’m not writing consistently. I keep a journal and scribble ideas all the time, so when I sit down to write every session is productive. And I definitely plot out my story before hand. That’s the control freak in me talking.
Q: Has working in advertising helped you learn how to hook readers?
A: I think it has. In advertising, you have to be very concise and choose every word carefully for maximum impact. Commercials are like very short short stories. And writing novels has definitely helped my advertising writing. Consumers are very savvy these days. They don’t like to be sold to, and they appreciate advertisers who get that.
Q: What’s next for Chloe and Amanda?
A: The end of MURDER IN A TWO-SEATER sets up the mystery in Book Three – the search for one of the recurring character’s missing sister. Chloe and Amanda will have to team up with Amanda’s nemesis to crack this case, so I’m sure there will be hilariously complicated for everyone.
Thank you so much, Frankie, for hosting me on your blog! I had fun with your questions.
About The Author
Billie Thomas is the pseudonym of a Birmingham-based author. After the real Billie passed away unexpectedly at the end of 2011, getting MURDER ON THE FIRST DAY OF CHRISTMAS, the first of in the Chloe Carstairs mystery series, revised and published was her daughter’s top priority as a way to honor the mom who had given her a lifelong love of books. In her real life, Ms. Thomas works at an advertising agency, which might explain why she’s constantly thinking up ways to kill people without getting caught. She has a really cute boyfriend and an even cuter dog. Like MURDER ON THE FIRST DAY OF CHRISTMAS, its follow up, MURDER IN A TWO-SEATER are both filled with mystery, romance, humor and decorating – because these are a few of her favorite things. Visit her blog at ChloeGetsAClue.com or connect on social media