Interview with cozy mystery author Pearl R. Meaker

Welcome, readers!
I’m kicking of the new week with cozy mystery author Pearl R. Meaker. She’s
chatting with me about her novel, The
Devil’s Music.
This is the newest in her Emory Crawford mystery series
During her virtual book tour with Goddess Fish Promotions, Pearl will be
awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card (winner’s choice) to a
lucky winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To
increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and
enter there, too!
Bio:
Pearl R.
Meaker is an upper-middle-aged, short, pudgy homemaker, mother, and grandmother
who in 2002 became a writer. Initially writing fanfiction she soon tried original
fiction at the encouragement of her regular readers. She has been a life-long
lover of mystery stories and automatically went to that genre for her first
book, The Devil’s Music.
She and her
husband of nearly 40 years live in central Illinois. They both love bluegrass
music, playing fiddle and banjo and singing. Pearl also does many crafts – when
she’s not reading or writing – knitting, crochet, origami, needlepoint, and
cross-stitch among them. She also enjoys birding and photography and is a former
fencer.

Welcome, Pearl. Please tell us about
your current release.
Dr. Archibald
Finlay Dawson is an ethnomusicologist, bluegrass fiddler, best selling author
of The Devil’s Music: Murder and Mayhem
in Western Folk Music
, and the hottest thing in anthropology since Margaret
Mead. The Midwest Anthropological Studies Society was thrilled when Archie
agreed to be the keynote speaker for their annual conference being held at
Twombly College. Archie also volunteered himself and two friends, Dr. Jebbin
Crawford, chemistry and forensic science professor at Twombly, and his wife
Emory, to provide the entertainment after his speech: bluegrass renditions of several
of the murder songs he would be talking about.
It’s quite a
shock when Jebbin and Emory, on their way home from the performance, find
Archie’s murdered body in one of the gardens on the campus. The conference ends
in a week and most of the suspect pool will be leaving, Jairus Aiden
Merriweather Twombly VI, heir to the Twombly dynasty, tells the police and
Jebbin he wants the murder solved before the conference closes.
Emory has
been feeling a bit lost of late. Their youngest child will soon be off to do
her masters degree and Emory isn’t sure if her time volunteering at the Twombly
College library will be enough to distract her from missing her daughter.
But she gets
an idea.
She’ll help
Jebbin with solving the crime! She’s already met some of the conferees at the
college welcome table when they were registering. She’s a nice, friendly,
middle-aged lady that folks feel comfortable talking to.
When Jebbin
teases her about being Sherlock Holmes, she retorts, “No. I’m a young Miss
Marple.” With that inspiration, along with her knitting tote, warm smile and
gift of intuition, she heads off to be a crime solving busy-body.

What inspired you to write this book?
Cozy mysteries have been my “go-to” read for most of my life. My first favorite
author, when I was nine, was Agatha Christie. I started writing about three
years after the movie “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?” came out. My hubby and I
play bluegrass music and loved the sound track (as well as the movie itself)
and I particularly fell in love with the song the Sirens sing: Didn’t Leave Nobody But The Baby, by
writer/singer Gillian Welsh. One of the lines in the song is, “You and me and
the Devil makes three. Don’t need no other lovin’ baby.” The story developed
from that line. If you haven’t heard the song, you can listen to Gillian,
Alison Krauss and Emmylou Harris, the ladies who sang it for the movie, sing it
here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TuaRm2GbPC8. It’s creepier
sounding in the movie with what sounds like a musical saw playing in the
background.


Excerpt from The Devil’s Music:
Moments later a man and woman came around the corner. I had the voice right. Dr. Archibald Finlay Dawson, whom Jebbin and I know from jams at bluegrass
festivals, was at the registration tables in a couple
of strides along
with a perky-looking young lady. Currently he is anthropology’s biggest shining star since Margaret Mead and he looked the part. Archie’s a tall, broad, former football player whose resonant voice and size seem to fill any
room he’s in. I ducked behind the stand-up
poster with smiling Twombly
College students on it. Archibald is an all right guy, I guess, but he’s more Jebbin’s friend than mine and I didn’t really want to talk to him.
“Myra!” Archie’s voice echoed down the long hallway. “Myra, my M.A.S.S. conference
sweetheart. How are you?”
“Sweet of you to say, as always, Archie dear, but it’s hard to be your conference sweetheart when you always have another woman
with you. And how is your wife these days?”
“Sonya’s
home ill again. I’ll let her know you asked after
her. At any rate, women make everything better, Myra, you
know that.” He laughed heartily. “Oh!” He caught his breath. “Oh you do know how to charm us men. And, while we’re talking about charming women, let me introduce
my teaching assistant, Ms. Naomi
Malkoff.”
I peeked
around the stand-up poster
as he wrapped a muscular
arm around the shoulders of the tan and fit young
lady standing beside him. She didn’t seem entirely comfort-
able with the gesture, but she didn’t
move away either.
“Naomi, this is Myra Fordyce, the heart and soul of our annual conferences. She’s always at the registration table to make us feel welcome … and to see whom we’re with.”
Myra was beaming. “True. Very
true.” She didn’t let Naomi get a word in edgewise. “I must know who’s who
and with whom and everything else one can learn when you’re the first
person people see at the conference.” She handed
the young lady her badge. “Welcome Naomi, I hope you enjoy your first
conference with us.”
“Thank
you, Ms.
Fordyce. It’s so wonderful to be here
with Dr. Dawson.”
Naomi was a gusher. Everything about her screamed CHEERLEADER.
“Of course
it is, dear.” Myra turned back to Archie.
“Here you go, Dr.
Dawson
. I loved
your book and I’m looking forward
to hearing you speak about it.”
“Of course you are, I’m
the best speaker in the society.” Archie puffed himself up.
Myra shoved a map at him, pointed out
Oglethorpe Hall, and after a few more self-promotional comments
from Archie, the pair left.
“Pompous ass.”
I heard Myra’s
mutter and stifled my own
giggle. It was exactly what I was
thinking.
“He really is the
most arrogant man I know.”
The voice made Myra and I both jump. I knocked
over the stand-up poster, felt
myself blushing as I picked it up, made some
apologetic noises, and then busied myself arranging the already tidy items on the Twombly College table.
“Sorry, ma’am.
I didn’t mean to startle you.”
I looked at the woman. Straight, shoulder
length brown hair framed a pleasant
face
that showed
genuine concern. I glanced at her feet.
Birkenstocks peeked from beneath her long
moss-green shift dress. No wonder she’d
snuck up on us.
“No problem. Welcome
to Twombly College.” I smiled.
“We hope you enjoy your visit to our
campus.”
“Thank
you.” She smiled in return before turning to Ms. Fordyce at the registration table. I sat down and watched
them over the top of another brochure.
“Arrogant
barely scratches the surface of Archibald Finlay Dawson,
Cameron.” Myra lowered her voice just a bit. “He’s arrogant to the
point that he never notices how many people hate him.”
“People
don’t hate him.” The younger lady tucked a wisp of
hair behind her ear. “They
envy him.”
“I’m
not so
sure there’s a difference between the two, Cam.”
Cameron chuckled. “Well, they can produce similar results.” Her voice was lilting,
like delicate mezzo soprano wind chimes.
The two of them
chatted for awhile, then there was a long pause and I looked
up.
“Is there something wrong, dear?” Concern
creased Myra’s brow. “You’ve turned a
bit
pale.”
Cameron was staring at the large flower arrangement centered
on the right hand table.
I had noticed it earlier.
It wasn’t the usual florist-mix of carnations and gladiolus but rather was a huge vase of wildflowers,
some of which were artificial,
and herbs. I recognized the airy white
heads of Anise flowers and Queen Anne’s Lace, and the yellow ones of
Fennel, Marigolds and, oddly enough
for early summer, Holly leaves and berries. There were others I wasn’t sure of.
“This arrangement,
did you bring it, Myra?” Cameron
whispered.
Myra hefted herself off her chair to get a closer look at the
large bouquet.
“Lands no, girl!
It was already on the table
when I got here to set up. I brought a dried flower arrangement that is much smaller and rather bedraggled looking.” The heavy older woman reached awkwardly under the table, held up a droopy flower
arrangement in a cheap basket, and then stuck it back under the table. “I thought
this one was prettier
so I left it.” She
looked back at Cameron. “Why? What’s
the matter?”
“I’m
not sure about all of
them …” Cameron paused, taking
a breath to gather her composure. “I don’t know
them all but some I
recognize from my work with Revolutionary War
era folk tradition. They’re plants
that have to do with the devil.
Well,” she hastened to add, “for keeping the devil and evil away,
if I’m remembering correctly
that is.”
Myra’s
eyebrows went up. “Oh!
Oh my! Well at least they’re for
keeping him away instead of inviting
him to pay a visit.”
“True!
You’re right about that, Myra. It
could have been made of the sorts
of plants that represent him.”
She leaned in for a
closer look. “Still it’s odd that someone put it on our
registration table. Hope they aren’t saying
we need that sort of protection.” Cameron
looked relieved.
“At
least I don’t believe in such things. God or the devil and all that.” Myra shivered, making
her statement less convincing. “But I think I’ll send a text to a few of my Hutterite
friends. They are avid prayers and I do think that positive energy is a helpful thing. Everything connects
to everything, so to speak.” She plopped
back down in her chair at the middle
of the tables.
“Send a text?”
Cameron looked surprised. “I thought they
weren’t into phones, let alone cell phones.”
“The Schmiedeleut are
into technology. They have computers and everything well, tightly
controlled and they still
don’t have televisions, but there
is a lot they’ve embraced.”
“Who’d have thought it?” Cameron grinned, shook her head,
picked up the rest of her conference goodies and shoved
them into the tote. “Well, I’ll be on my
way. Oglethorpe dorm, right?”
Myra nodded.
“Okay.
You make sure you text your friends. Some positive
energy would be a good
thing, and prayer
is positive energy.”
 I believe that too, and said a short prayer of my
own. The bouquet was giving me that feeling
I often get before something goes wrong.
The odd shiver
up the spine like something’s run over my grave. Both my Grannies used phrases like that for the odd shiver that
sometimes crawls up one’s back, settin’ spine and skin to feelin’
prickly and sometimes making your whole body twitch. To them, it was a part of “gettin’
a knowin’” about something. A whisper in their soul about
somethin’ a comin’, be it good or ill, they knew. I tamped it down
like I always did when the whisper
of “a knowin’” would try
to sneak its way into me.
“I’m
calling
right now, dear. See you at dinner. Where is that dratted phone! You
should just carry a smaller purse, Myra Fordyce.” Myra spoke into the depths
of her large purse as she dug around for her cell phone.
What exciting
story are you working on next?

Actually, I’ll soon be starting work on the third Emory Crawford mystery. Book
two in the series, The Devil’s Hook,
is already in production with my publisher.
In The Devil’s Hook, Emory is teaching a
short, one month long, crocheting class for Twombly students in her home.
Jairus Twombly’s wife, Amy, and their youngest child, fourteen year old Madison,
are also taking the class. In class one morning, a couple of the girls mention
that red objects have started showing up in some of the students rooms in their
dorm, and isn’t it odd that things are appearing instead of going missing. Soon
a student from that dorm has been kidnapped and Jairus’ personal assistant has
been murdered. Emory and Madison team up to see if they can help Jebbin, the
police, and the sheriff’s department solve the crimes.
When did you first consider yourself a
writer?
I guess
toward the end of the seven years that I wrote fanfiction based on J.R.R.
Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.
In 2002, I
read a Tolkien fanfiction story and really enjoyed it. I’d never heard the term
“fanfiction” and had no idea it was so popular. I mentioned to that author,
Shirebound is her pen name, that I had thought up Hobbit stories for years,
just never wrote them down. She encouraged me to write one and put it on
FanFiction.net. She said, “You never know, people may like your stories.” So I
did and people did like my story, so I kept writing them. Eventually I was
writing at least one story a month for a challenge group and often working on a
multiple chapter story at the same time. I have around 200 stories on three
different archives. Everything from flash fiction to a couple that are novel
length. When readers started to encourage me to write original stories, stories
that I could try to get published, I started thinking “Wow! I guess I’m a
writer.”
I took a
couple of writing classes, worked with my writing coach, Mary Rosenblum, and
now I have a real book that’s for sale online.

Do you write full-time? If so, what’s
your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find
time to write?
Technically,
I write full time. But . . . I have ADD and chronic depression and am not the
most consistent person in the world. My workdays are irregular both in the days
of the week themselves and then also in how any given day itself is scheduled.
(I’m using “scheduled” loosely, I rarely schedule at all.) I work in bursts. I
might work one day from about 8:00 AM until I have to make dinner at around
6:00, then sometimes going back to it again until 9:00 or 10:00 at night. The
next day I might work just in the morning or just in the afternoon – or not at
all. Really, I’m amazed that I have two books finished.
Note to new
writers reading this: don’t work this way if you can avoid it. I wish I was
organized and able to stick to a schedule.

What would you say is your interesting
writing quirk?

I guess it
would be the aforementioned lack of a writing schedule along with having
learned to type with a cat moving around on my lap or laying on my shoulder. I
have four cats and two of them are cuddlers.

As a child, what did you want to be when
you grew up?

I was going
to be an artist or art teacher and a horsewoman. I was a good artist but not as
good as I needed to be to compete with other artists in college. I never ended
up living anywhere that I could own and keep a horse.
That said, I’ve
always done various kinds of art for hobbies and I’m cool with that. My life
took different turns than what I’d dreamed of, but I’m happy with how my life
has gone. I’ve done some things I never thought I’d do, been good at things I
never thought I’d be good at – like being a mom or fencing or playing fiddle or
writing stories. It’s all been more good than not.

Anything additional you want to share
with the readers?

Don’t be
afraid to admit there are things you can’t do, or can’t do well. Nobody can do
everything well, we all have things we can’t do. But focus on the things you
can do well and the things you enjoy doing. You never know where they’ll take
you.
Links:
Buy links for The
Devil’s Music
:
     
Thanks for being here today, Pearl!

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21 thoughts on “Interview with cozy mystery author Pearl R. Meaker

  1. Unknown says:

    Hi Mai,

    Thank you for your question. 😉

    Agatha Christie.

    I've read her autobiography and she was a fascinating person. Like me, she didn't start out thinking she'd be an author, she wrote her first book because, when they were young, her sister had told Agatha she could make up stories as good as any author they had read and that she should give it a try some day.
    She led an amazing life and I'd love to talk to her about it.

  2. Sandy says:

    thanks for the 'excerpt' and interview. Always a pleasure to meet the author.Congratulations on the new release.

  3. Unknown says:

    You're welcome, Sandy. 🙂 I'm enjoying getting to meet fellow cozy mystery readers. Thank you for stopping by and saying hello.

  4. MomJane says:

    I really enjoyed the blurb and then the great excerpt. What a fun and fascinating story and series this is.

  5. Unknown says:

    I enjoyed everything about this post! The longer description of the book in the interview and the excerpt in the interview were great! Hmmm! Maybe I should say the interview was great! Thank you!

  6. Unknown says:

    @ Ree Dee

    You're welcome and thank you! I'm so glad you enjoyed the whole post. Thank you for stopping
    by. 🙂

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