Thursday Morning Breakfast (and Murder) Club
written by Liz Stauffer
published by Sartoris Literary Group
About the book – from Goodreads: When Clare Ballard sports a new bruise on her right cheek the day after a contentious town meeting, the ladies of the Thursday Morning Breakfast Club suspect her husband Roger of abusing her. That same day Hester Franklin, another breakfast club lady, is called to rescue her grandson Patrick after he is arrested for transporting drugs. Proclaiming his innocence, Patrick threatens that those who set him up will pay. Roger Ballard is high on his list. But it’s when Lillie Mae Harris, the club’s leader, discovers the body of the local drug dealer on the nearby hiking trail, that the community is upended. Roger Ballard, the primary suspect, goes missing, and when his body turns up in his own back yard, Clare Ballard confesses to his murder. No one believes she did it, but Clare insists she’s guilty and mysteriously refuses to talk to her lawyer, the police, or her family and friends. The Thursday Morning Breakfast Club ladies believe she’s protecting someone, and they vow to find out who it is. Charlie Warren, the town’s homegrown policeman, using unconventional means, collaborates with the breakfast club ladies to draw out the real criminal. But danger lurks. Alice Portman, the matriarch of the breakfast club, is struck down in her own yard and is sent to the hospital. Then others in the small community start to disappear-one after the other. As the ladies get closer to the truth, they get closer to the danger. With no time to cry over spilled coffee, they form a plan to capture the true culprits before someone else is murdered.
Every Free Chance Book Reviews is pleased to welcome Liz Stauffer, author of Thursday Morning Breakfast (and Murder) Club, to the blog today. She has answered the following questions for all of you.
Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book. Read Thursday Morning Breakfast (and Murder) Club because it is a book about life in a beautiful, friendly Appalachian village that will leave you feeling warm and cozy despite the murders!
Where did you get your inspiration for Thursday Morning Breakfast (And Murder) Club? I have a vacation house in Pen Mar, Maryland, a mountain village not unlike Mount Penn. And, there is a group of ladies who have been having breakfast together on Thursday mornings for many years. That’s the extent of anything real in the book. I did want to introduce a place like Mount Penn (Pen Mar) to the world, since it really is special.
I love close knit communities, and I believe we’re moving away from them in our very busy modern lives. Relationships in cyberspace have replaced relationships down the street. I’m guilty of my own complaint. I, too, love having friends all over the world, and Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter have given me far more pleasure than I ever dreamed they would. But I miss the small town community I grew up in, and the city based community where I raised my two sons.
I wanted to revisit those times, so I created a community where friends and family are of first importance, and technology is still used infrequently. I could do this partly because the area is rural, and in the mountains, and the infrastructure for the technology is still primitive.
Mount Penn is the best of all communities. People still accept and enjoy and love each other, despite their differences. In fact it’s often their differences that make them so lovable. The Thursday morning ladies automatically assume they have most things in common with each other, and they do. I’d like my readers to feel a part of this community when they read my book and maybe, yearn to visit it again, when they finish the last page.
I see you have travelled extensively. How has your travels influenced your fiction writing? Travelling has influenced my writing in several ways. It’s taught me that people are basically the same all over the world. Human nature is human nature. Understanding people has helped me to better create and understand my characters.
Travelling has forced me to be flexible and to cede control at times. This is a skill I’ve adapted to writing. I’ve discovered that I can’t control a book; I must allow my characters to do be who they are, and then the book happens.
Finally, I’ve written another series, my Bethany Barnes series, where each book is set in a different place outside the US. The series hasn’t sold yet, but it’s fun, and maybe one day it will.
Where is one place that you have visited that you would love to go back to? Why? The two places I travel to every couple of couple of years, or more often sometimes, is Argentina and the United Kingdom because I have really good friends in both places that I adore spending time with.
A place I fell in love with, where I know nobody, and would like to return to one day is Turkey. Istanbul is amazingly alive and vibrant, and the rest of Turkey is as magical as it is diverse. History steeps from every corner. And then, of course, Greece is not that far away and it is quite wonderful, too.
Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects? I’m currently writing my third Thursday Morning Breakfast Club mystery. My second one is in the done pile, and hopefully, will be released in 2014. I mentioned in an earlier question the other mystery series I’ve written.
My grand epic, not even nicknamed yet, set in 1920s Pen Mar, Maryland, against the advent of the mass produced automobile and the demise of the railroads, is under construction. Henry Ford is a central character. This book, based on a lost history, is going to be so much fun to research and write, and, I hope, equally fun to read.
What is your favorite genre to read? Traditional mysteries in the vein of PD James, Colin Dexter, and Agatha Christie are often my first choice when I’m getting ready to write a book. But I love reading about lots of different things, so I look for a book that captures my interest when I’m in a bookstore or at the airport. Most of the time, I pay little attention to genre when I choose a book, but rather focus on where I want to be or who or what I want to learn about.
Who is your favorite author? That is a hard question because I love to read and who I’m reading at the time is often my favorite author. This week it’s Margaret Atwood, since her latest book has just been released. Last week it was Barbara Nadel. The week before that it was Laura Lippman. There are so many wonderful authors out there, it’s impossible for me to pick just one to be my favorite.
In your opinion, what is one book that everyone should read? Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice – it is a microcosm of humanity.
Tell us three things about yourself that cannot be found on the internet…at least not found easily. I lift weights and can leg press 100 lbs. Not bad for someone my age.
I’d rather drink beer than wine. When I’m out somewhere fancy, I’ll ask for my beer in a wine glass – it looks cooler than a mug at a formal event.
I still over-pack when I go on trips. The airline bag charges have helped me to improve, though.
About the author: Liz Stauffer’s debut mystery novel, Thursday Morning Breakfast (and Murder) Club, described as cutting edge Cozy, is being published by Sartoris Literary Group, Jackson MS.
Liz has always written stories, but transferred her writing skills to the corporate world as a means of supporting her two young sons after a divorce. Moving between educational research and the computer world, she wrote everything from political encyclopedias and travel articles, to marketing literature and software manuals. But it wasn’t until she found herself stranded in a South Dakota winter, that she penned her first novel.
After a successful corporate career, Liz gave up that world to travel and to write, and in some cases, to combine both loves. Having lived in some fourteen states during her early adult years, she’s traveled to all fifty states, and to some forty countries on four continents, while writing mysteries. Currently, she lives with her two dogs, Mattie and Jake, in Hollywood Beach, Florida.
For several years after retiring, Liz spent six months a year in Pen Mar, Maryland, a small community nestled into the foothills of the Appalachians, straddling the Maryland/Pennsylvania border, her house just feet from the Appalachian Trail. Pen Mar, once the site of a grand summer resort built by the railroad in the late nineteenth century, is the inspiration for the site of her Thursday Morning Breakfast and Murder Club mysteries. She and her protagonist, Lillie Mae Harris, share some of the same interests. Both women love to talk, love their friends and family, but also love to meet new people, love to be outside, and love to hike. Lillie Mae would bike as much as Liz does, if the country roads she drives were supportive to biking. Liz also has a great love of the beach, but Lillie Mae finds the beach hot and tedious. Liz is vegetarian; Lillie Mae is not. Both ladies, however, love to cook.
Currently Liz is working on the third Thursday morning breakfast club mystery and is planning a grand historical epic that features the Pen Mar Park and Resort.
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Happy reading wherever you are and whenever you get a free chance!!!