Tag Archive for: #amateursleuth

Interview with Amateur Sleuth, Sarah Blair

By Lynn McPherson

Today on the Stiletto Gang, I’m interviewing Debra H. Goldstein’s protagonist in the Sarah Blair Mystery Series… Sarah Blair!
Can you tell us a little about yourself and where you’re from?

I was married at eighteen, divorced at twenty-eight, and all I got out of the marriage was my Siamese cat, RahRah. Starting over, having gone from a life of luxury to an efficiency apartment here in Wheaton, Alabama, the town I’ve lived in since I was born, is difficult. Luckily attorney Harlan Endicott have me a job as his receptionist/secretary, and I’ve got the support of my twin sister, Emily, and my mother. Family and friends are important to me.

I’ve read that you don’t cook. How did you end up owning a restaurant?
I find being in the kitchen more frightening than murder. My twin sister, Emily, is a gourmet chef. Between take-out and her cooking, I eat fairly well. When her boyfriend, Chef Marcus, and Chef Emily wanted to open their own white-tablecloth restaurant, their loan application was denied. It took time, but we got that straightened out. At that point, they needed a building from my late husband. The only way they would put their restaurant in my building, was for me to agree to be a partner. Believe me, they don’t let me anywhere near the kitchen.
Where did your cat, RahRah, get his name?
RahRah was rescued from the swirling waters after Hurricane Katrina be my now ex-husband’s mother. He was just a kitten. She named him RahRah in celebration of his survival.

What do you do for fun?

I have a bluff that I love to go out to and sit and meditate, looking at the beautiful water. I also volunteer weekly to walk dogs at the local animal shelter, plus I’ve been in charge of fundraising efforts for the shelter.

What qualities do you have that make you such a great amateur sleuth?
I don’t know that I’m a great amateur sleuth. I’m more of a plodder who goes by the facts.
Who do you turn to when you’re in trouble?
My family or my boss, Harlan Endicott. Mother, Emily, and Harlan are the people I’m loyal to who are my rocks. They are always there when things go bad for me–and they are the same people I turn to when things go right.

What’s next for you, Sarah?

Four Cuts Too Many, which features me, came out May 25, 2021. Five Belles Too Many, the tale of a New York sponsored television show wanting to throw a perfect Southern wedding by having a competition in Wheaton, Alabama will be out in June 2022. Look for Mother-Maybelle and George to be two of the finalists while I’m going to be Mother’s chaperone.

Debra H. Goldstein, author of The Sarah Blair Mystery Series.

The Benefits of Podcasts by Kathleen Kaska

Two years ago, I was asked to host a
podcast for a local business. Excited to take on something new, I prepared by joining
Toastmasters to improve my speaking skills, signing up for a one-day class to
learn the mechanics of podcasting, and taking a Creative Life class on
conducting podcast interviews. Always a big fan of NPR’s This American Life, I was happily surprised when that class was being
taught by Alex Blumberg, NPR’s producer and the show’s interviewer. Just like his broadcasts, he had me
hanging on every word. Saying his lessons were invaluable is an understatement.


Using what I learned, we recorded
and aired our first two episodes. One listener commented that they sounded like
NPR interviews. When I heard that, I knew that class had been worth it. Then we
got COVID-ed (metaphorically) while I was in the process of interviewing my
third guest, so the company pulled the plug on the podcasts. Needless to say, I
was disappointed because I loved being a podcast host. Even though that project
fell through, the lessons I learned about podcasting benefited me also as an
interviewee. Since many writers use this medium to promote their books,
learning the nuances of podcast interviews is just as valuable to podcast guests.

Here are
some tips:

1. Be
authentic. Don’t be afraid to look like an idiot. Laugh at yourself.

2. Pause before
punch lines, emotional moments, and important revelations.

3. As
interviewer, don’t ask yes-and-no type questions. Instead, ask questions that delve
into the subject. For example:

“Tell me
about the day you realized . . .”

were the steps that got you there?”

“How did
that, or they, make you feel?”

And my
favorite question-preface (used when the interviewee is not sure how to
proceed, is hesitant, or unsure of what to reveal): “I noticed in your voice .
. .”

Interview people with direct experience, rather than “experts.” It’s more
interesting to interview the passenger of a plane that’s been hijacked than the
airline’s official.

5. Once
you’ve chosen your topic and who you want to interview, create a two-statement
hook to grab your listeners’ attention. Example: “This is a story about a
family who sold everything to buy a boat and sail around the world. Then the
father, “abandoned ship,” returned home, and left the mother and three children
to fend for themselves.

Conduct a short pre-interview to get to know your interviewee and decide on a
course of action.

Keeping this in mind, as
interviewee, rather than giving synopses of all your books, talk about an
interesting story behind the reason you write, how you developed your
characters, or why you chose your setting. Your listeners are more likely to
stay engaged until the end. And by discussing the interview ahead of time and
giving thought to what you want to cover, you will help the podcast host move
the interview in the direction you want to go.


Here are two podcasters I highly
recommend: Laurel McHargue’s Alligator Preserve Podcast (
https://leadvillelaurel.com/). Laurel has hosted me twice, on February 18, 2021, and on
February 10, 2019. The links to each follow. Take a look and see how I improved
in the second interview, which occurred after taking Blumberg’s class. You
don’t even have to watch the entire interview to notice the change.




there’s Linda McHenry’s The Writer’s Voice: (

You can find my interview (Episode 36, on January 27, 2021)
by clicking on “Listen to All Episodes.”  


author Kathleen Kaska writes mysteries, mysteries trivia, nonfiction, blogs,
stage plays, travel articles, essays, and poems. Her latest release, 
The Sherlock Holmes Quiz Book, was reissued by Rowman and Littlefield (Lyons
Press). Kathleen writes the Sydney Lockhart Mystery Series and the Kate Caraway
Animal-Rights Mystery Series. Her first two Lockhart mysteries, 
Murder at the Arlington and Murder
at the Luther
, were selected as
bonus-books for the Pulpwood Queen Book Group, the country’s largest book group.

When she is not writing, she spends much of her time with
her husband traveling the back roads and byways around the country, looking for
new venues for her mysteries and bird watching along the Texas coast and
beyond. Her passion for birds led to the publication 
The Man Who Saved the Whooping Crane: The Robert
Porter Allen Story
Press of Florida). Her collection of blog posts for Cave Art Press was
published under the title, 
You Have a
 Catharsis Handy? Five-Minute Writing Tips. Catharsis was the winner of the Chanticleer
International Book Award in the nonfiction Instruction and Insights category.

Website     Twitter


Facebook    Good Reads 



Untitled Post


Write What You Know

by Saralyn Richard

Back in the day, there were certain rules a writer had
to observe. Show, don’t tell. Always use complete sentences. Write what you

The logic behind these rules was impeccable, and, all
innovation to the contrary, most writers still observe them today, at least
most of the time.

When my Detective Parrott Mystery series, including
readers assumed I was a part of the country’s top one percent. Otherwise, how
did I know so many of the details surrounding how the rich and powerful
dressed, ate, drank, and partied?

Truthfully, I did attend an elegant party in Brandywine
Valley, and that inspired the party in MURDER IN THE ONE PERCENT, but all of
the details about the one percent came from research. (Sorry to disappoint,
but, no, I do not have fifty pairs of Christian Louboutin heels in my closet.)

How did I portray all of the books’ characters and
home interiors so authentically? I observed, I asked questions, and I shopped
online at all of the most exclusive stores (without spending a dime).

I’ve been asked many times how I was able to depict
Detective Oliver Parrott so genuinely, since I am neither young, male, nor
African-American. That must have been a real departure from writing what you
know, right? Wrong.

As an urban high school educator, I’ve known hundreds,
maybe thousands, of young African-American males, many of them as intelligent,
ambitious, hard-working, and down-to-earth as Detective Parrott. I’ve known
their struggles, their families, and their dreams. I’ve celebrated their joys
and grieved their sorrows. I’ve listened to them speak and watched them perform.

Detective Parrott is an amalgamation of many fine
young men who have taken their places in society and who strive to make a
difference with their lives. He is definitely an example of writing what I

Similarly, I drew from my experiences as a teacher,
administrator, and school improvement consultant in urban high schools to write
the upcoming release, A MURDER OF PRINCIPAL. Although the story is fictional,
it pulls back the curtain on the joys and challenges within a large school
community, and the issues of gangs, grievances, sexual harassment, and race are
ever-so relevant today.

Whether I’m writing about billionaire playboys or disadvantaged
football players, whether I researched or remembered, I’m writing what I know. And
I hope my characters will resonate with you, too.

books have you read that transported you out of your own experience?


Award-winning mystery and children’s book author, Saralyn Richard has
drawn from her experiences as an urban high school educator to write A Murder of Principal. Her previous
books, Naughty Nana, Murder in the One Percent, and A Palette for Love and Murder, have
delighted children and adults, alike. An active member of International
Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America, Saralyn teaches creative
writing at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, and continues to write
mysteries. Reviews, media, and tour schedule may be found at http://saralynrichard.com.

A maverick principal comes to Lincoln High School with a student-centered agenda. Trouble ensues, and killing the principal is just the beginning. A MURDER OF PRINCIPAL is available for pre-order at https://www.amazon.com/Murder-Principal-Saralyn-Richard-ebook/dp/B08KWLZ9JP/ref=