Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Welcome Back!

It's always fun to welcome back former visitors to My Writing Corner. It means they have a new book coming out, and I'm always excited to know there is something I might need to put on my TBR (To Be Read) list.

My guest today is Marla White, who is an award-winning novelist who says she prefers killing people who annoy her on paper rather than in real life. (Boy, can I relate to that!) 

Her first full-length mystery novel, Cause for Elimination, placed in several contests including Killer Nashville, The RONE Awards, The Reader’s Favorite, and finishing second in the Orange County Romance Writers for Romantic Suspense. Originally from Oklahoma, she lived in a lot of other states before settling down in Los Angeles to work in the television industry. She currently teaches at UCLA Extension and gives seminars about the art of script coverage. When she’s not working on the next book, she says, she’s out in the garden, hiking, cheering on the LA Kings, or discovering new craft cocktails.   Let's chat with Marla about her new book and then a bit later get to know more about her's book heroine, Mel O'Rourke.

Marla, what is your book that you will feature today and what was your inspiration to write it?

My book is Framed For Murder. I love murder.  Mysteries were always my favorite things to watch and read as a kid. Well, first horse stories. After I went through that section of the library, I moved on to mysteries. The ability to murder people who annoyed me without going to jail? Perfect.  

The location for the book was inspired by the very real and quirky town of Idyllwild. Although to be honest, what I thought was a babbling brook running behind my little cabin turned out to be a large koi pond 😀Who knew?

Mel’s story of what to do in her “second act” of life when her dream of being a cop was no longer available began in “The Starlight Mint Surprise Murder”. Her doubts of who she is if she can’t be the one thing she always wanted to be were inspired by my own journey hitting a fork in the road. Like most people, it took getting through it to realize how much better life can be on the other side of that mountain you think is in your way. I just had to hang on and enjoy the ride on my way to achieving a lifelong goal of being a published writer. 

Her foil in this book, cat burglar Poppy Phillips, was inspired by a weird event that happened when staying at a moderately tall hotel on the California coast. In the middle of the night, a random person parkoured across our balcony and onto the next one. Or was it a dream? Either way, in my head Poppy said “Yes, please!” and so the opening was inspired. 

My main goal in writing the stories I do is to entertain the readers enough that they forget about whatever troubles they might be facing. To laugh a little, to see a little bit of themselves in the characters, and hopefully be inspired even when life throws them curves.

Heat level – PG.   There’s only 1 fairly chaste kiss but some salty language sprinkled in. 

Fun facts

Something readers might find interesting about this book:

The quirky Babbling Brook Bed-and-Breakfast is loosely inspired by the Silver Pines Lodge in Idyllwild. Highly recommend staying there if you’re even in that neck of the woods. 

A fact about me that readers might find interesting:

I share Mel’s nearly debilitating fear of heights. Well, not to the same extent, I can climb a set of stairs, but looking down more than a few flights? No way 😀

There’s a scene where Mel does a singing bowl session. I’ve done that and honestly, it’s pretty cool!

I accomplished the dream of becoming a published writer in my late fifties after helping other writers craft their stories for thirty years.

Let's get a blurb:

Old enemies become allies to unravel a deadly mystery. 

Mel O'Rourke used to be a cop before a life-changing injury forced her to turn in her badge. Now she leads a relatively peaceful life running a B & B in the quirky mountain town of Pine Cove. That is, until her old frenemy, the charismatic cat burglar Poppy Phillips, shows up, claiming she's been framed for murder. While she’s no saint, Mel knows she’d never kill anyone and sets out to prove Poppy's innocence.

The situation gets complicated, however, when the ruggedly handsome Deputy Sheriff Gregg Marks flirts with Mel, bringing him dangerously close to the criminal she’s hiding. And just when her friendship with café owner Jackson Thibodeaux blossoms into something more, he’s offered the opportunity of a lifetime in New Orleans. Should she encourage him to go, or ask him to stay? Who knew romance could be just as hard to solve as murder?

Now let's talk to Mel O'Rourke:

Tell us a little about your background as a cop.  

I was a patrol officer for seven years with the LAPD. Eventually, I wanted to follow in my dad’s footsteps and become a detective, but I loved working the streets, getting to know the people on my beat. I’m proud to say during that time I was awarded the Commendation Ribbon with a Bronze Star, which means at least eighty people on my beat wrote in to say nice things about me. I’m also proud to say in all that time serving and protecting, I never had to fire my gun. 

Why did you leave the force?

Ugh, it was not by choice. My partner and I were chasing a robbery suspect over the rooftops in the jewelry district. The perp made the jump from one roof to the next, I tried to follow and didn’t quite make it. Remember that video of Tom Cruise breaking his ankle doing a similar stunt? Like that but much worse. The doctors rebuilt my ankle, but it meant retire or limited to desk duty. I opted to retire. 

What do you want out of life now?

At this very moment I would like to make a decent cup of coffee but after years of single living and eating out I haven’t mastered that task yet. 

All kidding aside, I came up to Pine Cove, a tiny village in the mountains just place my family used to come on vacation, to try and picture life outside of the LAPD. I couldn’t do a lot of hiking or anything at that point in time, so I strolled the streets of the quiet, quirky little town. Everyone was so…nice. It was weird. Then I saw the Babbling Brook Bed-and-Breakfast was for sale and I thought maybe the universe was sending me a sign. I talked it over with my family, who agreed to help financially and physically and voila, here we are.

So now I’m hoping for some peace, to help people enjoy their stay here, and work my butt off to make sure my family gets a return on their investment. We’re O’Rourkes, not Kennedys after all. And who knows, maybe romance? I never had time to date as a cop so maybe now that I’m taking time to smell the roses and all it might happen.

Tell us about your relationship with Poppy Phillips.

Remember that suspect I was chasing over the rooftops? It was Poppy, aka “The Ghost”. As a cat burglar, she was a pain in my butt. We could tie her to dozens of crimes, but she was always too good to leave any proof. 

She arrived on my doorstep a few days ago with a bullet wound to the arm, asking for my help clearing her name. I hope I don’t live to regret it, but she makes a fantastic breakfast spread so it’s a chance I’m willing to take. 

I hate to say it, and I’ll never tell her this, but as much as I love Pine Cove, it is nice to have someone from my old life around. Poppy gets me in a way I’m not sure my neighbors do. 

What attracts you to Gregg Marks?

As a fellow cop, Gregg and I just speak the same language. When I first got to town and word about my little issue with heights from nearly falling to my death got around, Gregg was the one person who didn’t treat me like I was fragile. I mean, he’s condescending as heck and keeps reminding me I’m not a cop anymore, but he’s also a good friend. 

Poppy thinks there’s more going on there, but I don’t know. Sure, the man has a six pack, crazy broad shoulders and such blue eyes but an attraction? No way. 

What is your relationship with Jackson Thibodeaux?

Complicated? He’s got a similar story to mine, except he gladly left his old life as a chemical engineer to come back to the little town he spent his high school years in and open his own café. We kind of bonded over finding a dead body in the Brook’s lobby last month, and both of us were nearly killed by my murder happy assistant. But there’s something more there, the way his eyes dance when he’s calling me “sweetheart” in that New Orleans accent of his that I’ve noticed comes and goes at will.  I’m just not sure either one of us is ready to examine whatever this is any closer just yet. 

Want more? Let's get an excerpt:

She made a wild grab at the next chalk mark. Her knees gave out and when her hand connected, her sweaty palm failed to get a grip. She expected to drop a few feet before the belay rope would halt her descent, but when she kept going she let out an involuntary yelp. Finally, four feet off the ground, her fall ended with a jolt.

Furious, she unclipped the rope and dropped to the floor. “Asshole,” she hissed at Jackson as she sat on the gym’s soft mats and yanked off the climbing harness. “You weren’t even paying attention. You know what I’m dealing with, and you dropped me.” Humiliated, tears stung her eyes. He was one of the few people outside of her family who she’d trusted to tell about her fear of heights ever since a rooftop chase ended in a crushed ankle and early retirement. The fall and the fear were the biggest failures of her life, a weakness she hated to reveal to anyone, and he’d thrown away her trust like it was nothing.

He sunk down next to her, but she ignored him, her head bowed in defeat until he hooked a finger under her chin and guided her to face him. His solemn gaze met hers. “Emmeline O’Rourke, I would never let you fall. But sometimes you have to slip a little to learn you’re going to be okay.”

If you want even more, you'll have to get the book. Here are the buy links as well as Marla's social contact information:

Buy Links (WIP)

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Framed-Murder-Pine-Cove-Mystery

Barnes and Noble – https://bit.ly/3TKdPDu

Apple Books - https://books.apple.com/us/book/framed-for-murder/id6483932566

Social Media Links

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/TheScriptFixer

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marlawriteswords/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MarlaAWhiteAuthor

TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@marlaw825

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21467766.Marla_A_White

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/marla-a-white

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3MHIzkB

Substack: https://substack.com/@marlawhite?utm_source=edit-profile-page

Thank you, Marla, for being my guest today. Any questions or comments for Marla?

1 comment:

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