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Paranormal museum owner Maddie Kosloski thinks she has the perfect paranormal exhibit for the harvest festival—a haunted grape press. But when she’s accused of stealing the press, and her accuser is found murdered, all eyes turn to Maddie.
Maddie knows well the perils of amateur sleuthing and is reluctant to get involved. But her mother insists she investigate. Does her mom have a secret agenda? Or is she somehow connected to the murder?
Facing down danger and her own over-active imagination, Maddie must unearth the killer before she becomes the next ghost to haunt her museum.
Kirsten, thanks for stopping by Island Confidential. Can you tell us a little bit about your protagonist, Maddie Kosloski?
KW: Maddie’s greatest strength and weakness is her big imagination. It serves her well coming up with promotional schemes for the paranormal museum she manages. But it gets her into trouble too, because she tends to blow threats out of proportion. This makes her great fun to write.
How much do you have in common with Maddie?
KW: I returned to California after working abroad for years and really floundered, trying to figure out where I “fit”. It didn’t help that it was a tough economy, and I had a hard time finding work. But I got creative and eventually figured it out, becoming a full-time writer. In the first book in the series, The Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum, Maddie is in the same situation – she’s back from overseas, can’t find work, and is really struggling. So we definitely shared that situation.
Do Maddie and the other characters change and evolve throughout consecutive books in the series?
KW: Definitely! Stagnant characters are boring. Over the course of the series, Maddie’s arc involves both figuring out what she truly wants and becoming part of a community. The people around her grow as well. Her mother re-learns how to relate to her grown daughter. Her friend, Adele, learns to lighten up. They’re still the same people, but they’re evolving, and I think that keeps things fresh.
Have you ever thought of killing someone that you know in real life–on the pages of a murder mystery, I mean?
KW: What mystery writer hasn’t? But I’ve managed to resist it so far.
How realistic is your setting? Do you take liberties, or are you true to life?
KW: I based the setting on Lodi, California, though I made up a town for the series called San Benedetto, because I wanted some freedom to make changes. If you’ve been to Lodi, you’ll probably recognize quite a bit in the books – like the adobe arch that marks the entrance to downtown, the landscape, and especially the Wine and Visitors’ Center.
When the movie or TV series is made, who plays the major parts?
KW: My dream is to get this cozy series onto the Hallmark Mystery channel! But I confess I haven’t visioned much beyond that to who plays the parts. That said, I could easily see Isaiah Mustafa as Detective Slate.
What’s the worst and best advice you’ve heard or received as an author?
KW: Best advice: keep writing. Worst advice: replace the word “said” with other dialog tags. Yes, the word “said” is used a lot in a novel – he said this, and she said that. But people’s eyes glide write over it. I’m not averse to occasionally switching it up. But ironically, it’s when you frequently switch it out for other words like, “he growled” or “she groaned” that it starts to jar on the reader. I heard someone tell a budding author that recently and winced.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Kirsten Weiss grew up in San Mateo, California. After getting her MBA, she joined the Peace Corps, starting an international career that took her around the fringes of the defunct USSR and into the Afghan war zone. Her experiences abroad not only gave her glimpses into the darker side of human nature, but also sparked an interest in the effects of mysticism and mythology, and how both are woven into our daily lives.
She writes paranormal mystery and suspense, blending her experiences and imagination to create vivid worlds of magic and mayhem.
Kirsten has never met a dessert she didn’t like, and her guilty pleasures are watching Ghost Whisperer re-runs and drinking good wine.
Follow her on Twitter @KirstenWeiss, on her Facebook page, or at her blog.
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