Monday, August 27, 2012

TBR welcomes Lesley Diehl

TBR: Welcome to TBR, Lesley. Will you share a little bit about yourself?
Lesley: I retired from my life as a professor of psychology and reclaimed my country roots by moving to a small cottage in the Butternut River Valley in upstate New York.  In the winter I migrate to old Florida—cowboys, scrub palmetto, and open fields of grazing cattle, a place where spurs still jingle in the post office, and gators make golf a contact sport.  Back north, the shy ghost inhabiting the cottage serves as my writing muse.  When not writing, I garden, cook, and renovate the 1874 cottage with the help of my husband, two cats, and, of course, Fred the ghost, who gives artistic direction to our work. 

I am author of two mystery series, both featuring country gals with attitude: the microbrewing mystery series set in the Butternut Valley of upstate New York—A Deadly Draught and Poisoned Pairings—and my old Florida, Big Lake Murder Mystery series—Dumpster Dying and Grilled, Chilled and Killed.  Untreedreads publishes my short stories as well as a novel length mystery, Angel Sleuth.   

TBR: Tell us about Poisoned Pairings and where it's available.
Lesley: My newest release is the second in the microbrewing series, Poisoned Pairings.  You can purchase it on Amazon at this link:   

TBR: Please tantalize us with a story blurb or excerpt.
Lesley: A student helping set up for a beer and food pairings event in Hera Knightsbridge’s microbrewery dies there under suspicious circumstances.  At first the death looks like a suicide, but the medical examiner determines it is murder, and Hera and her lover, Deputy Sheriff Jake Ryan again find themselves partners in searching for the killer.  Not only does murder threaten the community, but something more explosive has come to the valley—hydraulic fracturing or fracking, a controversial gas drilling technique whose proponents say can take the poor families of the region out of debt.  Hera and her fellow brewers are convinced it will contaminate the water supply, as it had in other places, and change forever the pristine beauty of the valley.  Connections among the student, the family of a dead brewer, a religious leader and the gas companies lead Hera and Jake into a maze of confusing and conflicting clues.  Before the two can unravel the case’s tangled threads, Jake is called away to another job, leaving Hera alone to uncover the identity of the killer before she becomes the next victim.

TBR: What inspired you to write about the theme?
Lesley: When I began the first in the microbrewing series, I wanted an unusual occupation for my protagonist, something others had not done before, so I chose brewing.  More men than women brew craft beers, so I knew the position of being in a minority would be an interesting hook for my female sleuth.  In my second in this series I decided to give my reader a little more information about pairing beer and food so readers could see beer as an interesting accompaniment to food much as we see wine and food paired.  I added the controversial gas exploration of hydrofracking as an environmental backdrop because of the current controversy in the valley here and because it has implications for the quality and quantity of water so necessary in making fine craft beers.

TBR: Are you a plotter or pantser?
Lesley:I am a pantser.  Sometimes I may know the ending scene between my killer and my sleuth, but I often do not know who committed the murder.  I do adhere to some general elements of plotting: plot point one, plot point two, the dark moment, resolution.

TBR: How do you develop your characters?
Lesley: I do that as freely as I plot.  I have a general idea of how I wish a character to be.  I know what the person looks like, what the core set of values is, family background, education, then I fill in by creating difficult situations, contact with people who care about the person or others who fear or hate the individual.  Once I have a situation I can place a person in, I determine what behavior I want.  Enough of these events, and I have a character who emerges with strengths and weaknesses, qualities the reader may identify with or hate, and desires, passions, intellectual stances I decide would work for this particular character.  Most of this I do almost unconsciously, but I am bound by needing t make the character grow and develop throughout the book.  This is true of the protagonist and the villain as well as other characters also.  As much as the plot drives what my characters do, my characters must do the things that shape how the plot evolves also.  And, of course, this is quite fluid as I may need to make a bad guy a bit nicer and a goodie two-shoes a bit more believable as I the story line unfolds.

TBR: Do you have a favorite quote you’d like to share?
Lesley: To paraphrase Mark Twain - Humans are the only animals that blush or need to.

TBR: Which of your characters would you most/least like to invite to dinner, and why?
Lesley: I have a real bad boy character in my Florida series.  I think he would be an interesting dinner guest, perhaps not a very polished one.  He chews tobacco, so one would either have to tolerate that and set a coffee can at his feet or order him to go outside.  I continue to explore how he thinks when I write about him.  For example, he believes the county would be a whole lot better off if he could simply sit in his police cruiser under a palm tree and snooze away the afternoon.  He also considers most of his bad luck as due to the uppity Yankee women he encounters.  His deductions about life are not bound by either truth or reality, but by how he believes his world to function.

TBR: While creating your books, what was one of the most surprising things you learned?
Lesley: I was always a scotch and wine drinker, but needing to research microbreweries, I spent time touring some of the breweries in Florida and New York State.  I was certain I didn’t care for beer.  I never drank it even in college when everyone went to keg parties. To my amazement, I found craft beers so unlike beers from large breweries, and I now have some brews.  It’s this knowledge I hope to convey in my microbrewing series, to let people know they’re in for an unusual taste experience.  While many men seem to find microbrews interesting, it’s a hard sell to get women to try them.

TBR: Tease us with one little thing about your fictional world that makes it different from others.
Lesley: Murder in a brewery?  The smell of malt and yeast and foamy ales?  High ceilings with towering shiny vats containing IPAs, stouts, porters?  A very different world for a murder.  Who knew a brewery could be such an enticing, yet threatening place?

TBR: What's next for you?
Lesley: My publisher will release the second in my Florida Big Lake series this fall/winter.  This one is entitled Grilled, Chilled and Killed.  Poor Emily Rhodes.  She’s always tripping across dead bodies. This time she discovers a contestant in the local barbeque cook-off covered with sauce, an apple stuck in his mouth, in a beer truck. 

TBR: Any other published works?
Lesley:   If the reader likes something more “heavenly”, Untreedreads publishing released Angel Sleuth in April.  You can find out why my protagonist needs two guardian angels, a pool shark, a detective and a pot-bellied pig to help her find a murderer.

TBR: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Most rewarding?
Lesley: The most challenging part is rewriting, editing.  It’s so difficult to keep at it, but I know it needs doing.  The most rewarding?  When I write something that even I find funny enough to laugh out loud.

TBR: What’s the most interesting comment you have received about your books?
Lesley: Someone said my plots were as complicated as P. D. James’.  I write nothing like her, and, as I said above, I’m a pantser in plotting, so I take that as something of a compliment.

TBR: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
Lesley: I love Robert Parker, Agatha Christie, P. D. James, Martha Grimes, Elizabeth George, Janet Evanovich, Lisa Scottoline, Harlan Cobin.
Right now I’m on the fourth book in the Harry Potter series.

TBR: Where can readers find you on the web?
Lesley: and

TBR: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Lesley: How do you find books to read?  Do you use social media, internet book sites, Amazon, word of mouth?  And what makes you pick up a book by a writer who is new to you?

TBR: Readers, Lesley will give away a copy of the first in my microbrewing series, A Deadly Draught, to one lucky commenter. She'll pick a winner next week and announce the winner here. Be sure to leave your email address so she can contact you.  I’d like to give away.

Thanks for visiting TBR, Lesley! All the best to you.


  1. Welcome to TBR, Lesley! What a fun idea for a series.

  2. This looks to be a fun series. . i'll bet you have received a lot of kidding about your supposed 'research' at microbreweries. Or at least the perceived 'research.' lol. But, like the adage says, write what you know. If you don't know a subjectyou have to research it. At least yours was about beer. My first detective novel centered arund child prnography. Don't think that wasn't a fun call to the FBI. lol Congrats and keep writing!

  3. I loved Lesley's "Dumpster Dying," the first in her Big Lake Murder Mystery series. The sequel to it and the novels in her microbrewing series are all on my TBR list!

  4. I also loved "Dumpster Dying", Patricia.

    Thank you for a great interview, TBR and Leslie. No need to send me a book, though. I am already reading "Poisoned Pairings" and enjoying it very much. I can alternate between my signed hard copy and my e-book, which I purchased a few weeks ago when I bought my Ipad.


  5. Like you, Lesley, I used to drink Scotch and wine. Now I may have to give microbrewery beers a chance! Great interview.

  6. As a beer enthusiast and a mystery writer, I couldn't pass this up. Poisoned Pairings was a blast!

  7. Lesley, I'm fascinated! My daughter's Joe crafts beers! My daughter introduced me to a microbrewery when she was in grad school. First time I really really enjoyed beer. I hope your research included the traditional St. Patrick's day Pub Crawl!

  8. Great interview, Lesley. And while they all sound like terrific books, I must say that Angel Slleuth has to grab everybody's attention.

  9. I've met more and more people doing their brewing or making wine. Great idea to use it in your series.

  10. It's really great to hear about all you microbrew fans. It was a fun series to research. My husband never said no when I asked him if he wanted to come along on one of my microbrewing trips. And thank thsoe of you who plugged my other books too. It's like being the mother of a brood of four and pregnant with the fifth (the sequel to Dumpster Dying should be out this fall/winter. As a proud parent I don't want to neglect any of my book children.

  11. Great interview, Lesley. You asked about picking out books to read. I never thought I'd say this, but I've bought several books lately because of blogs written by the authors. In fact, I recently read Angel Sleuth because of a blog you did, and enjoyed it very much. Of course, word-of-mouth is a huge factor.

  12. I've been doing the same, Marja. I like to read blogs that feature an author in some way, interview or guest blog. If I find something in the blog that draws me to the author, I buy the book. I've not been disappointed yet, but many of my buys have been OTP authors. How can one miss?

    Glad you enjoyed Angel Sleuth. There's quite a story behind that book. I may talk about it someday on a blog.

  13. Great article, Lesley! Looking forward to "Grilled, Chilled and Killed." I've thoroughly enjoyed all of your books to date. The strong heroines who aren't afraid to show that they've got brains make for great reading.

  14. Like my female cat, all these gals got 'tude and smarts.

  15. Lesley, I enjoyed reading a Deadly Draught so much! Since I read mostly cozy mysteries these days, I find most of my books either on Amazon or by browsing in B&N. I'd love to read Poisoned Pairings!


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