It is my great pleasure to have as my guest author Gretchen Archer, the woman behind the Davis Way Crime Series. If you have not read the series, I cannot recommend the stories more highly if you enjoy mystery, intrigue, laughs or just a good story with interesting characters. This is generally a ‘romance’ blog and trust me, there is plenty of real romance in Davis’s life.
Let’s get right into hearing from Gretchen herself.
“Double Whammy”, the first book, derives its name from a casino game. In fact, the series around a casino, (or two).
Gretchen, what made you choose this venue for your stories? Do you have a background in casinos? How much research did you have to do,(and how did you do it)?
I knew I wanted to write a mystery series, and I knew I couldn’t stretch cupcakes or cats out for a whole book, much less a series. I chose the casino setting because at the time, there wasn’t a mystery series set in a casino—there are forty now—but nothing out there at all set in a Southern casino. My casino background? My husband took me to Biloxi for my 40th birthday. I was the one with the stroller—two teenage daughters, each brought a friend, and our son wasn’t even a year old. (Yes, I had a baby at 39. I don’t know what I was thinking.) We checked in, my husband took off for the blackjack tables, leaving me at the pool and kiddie arcade with four teenagers and a baby. Happy Birthday to me! DAYS later, feeling sorry for me, my husband passed me $200 and said, “Go to the casino. Relax. Enjoy.” I won $40,000. (Happy Birthday to me!) Now, that will give you a background in casinos. Too, the latest from the American Gaming Association reports there are 71.6 million casino gamblers in the United States, and 61% of them are slot players. That’s a nice setting for a series, a potentially huge audience. Research? Every chance I get. Just say the word.
Davis Way, your main character, has a great heart but a flawed background. How did you come up with her?
I wanted a character who led a real life, had mistakes to overcome, and challenges to face.
I love Davis and her family and friends. You have great taste in men! Do you base any of your characters on people in your life?
I get the most of Davis from my middle child, my redhead, who takes a zigzag path to where she’s going, but is so smart and lands on her feet every time. Davis is loosely based on her, and by loosely, I mean my daughter hasn’t been married even once, much less several times. Everyone else in Davis World is purely a figment of my imagination. One of the funniest questions I get, and often, is about Bradley Cole. Am I married to the real life Bradley Cole? HA HA HA!!! I wish!
In “Double Whammy”, the stories and characters are a bit gritty; you really keep us guessing as to whom we can trust. I have to say, I am usually good at seeing what’s coming, so I just love it when a writer can surprise me. One plot twist I would not have seen coming was unfortunately given away on the synopsis on the back cover; I would have been thrilled and caught off-guard. There are other ‘reveals’ including a big one at the beginning of “Double Strike”. Since obviously put great thought into building up to the scenes, does it upset you that the reveals are rather anticlimactic because of the spoilers? (The first one , in the jail, still brought me to tears!)
Huge pet peeve of any writer! You nailed it! Double Strike went out to reviewers months before release date, and of the first ten reviews posted, nine of them gave the big spoiler away. The backcover copy had been carefully written to keep the secret safe, but the secret was out for all to see way before the book was released. You got me on this one, it stings when all the book’s secrets are revealed.
In “Double Dip” things took a slightly different tone, a little lighter but still much personal drama. The returning characters seem warmer, and there is more humor. Had you planned this or did the characters evolve on their own? In other words, did you plot or pants these people?
My characters aren’t plotted or panstered, rather they’re planstered. I leave room for character and relationship changes everywhere—Davis and her mother, her work relationships, and I always let Bianca Sanders surprise (me) everyone. Two characters who don’t see much change, and I don’t suspect they will, are Davis’s ex-ex-husband, Eddie, and his mother (one of my favorite characters to write), Bea Crawford. I also like to keep Davis’s rocks—her father, No Hair, and Richard Sanders—stable forces in her life.
Where did you get the idea for Jeremy’s outrageous and constantly changing ties?
No Hair’s tie addiction started to draw attention away from his bald head. I think I wrote him heavily bearded, something I see often on balding men, but I quickly grew tired of writing anything at all about facial hair, so I switched to ever-evolving neckties because they were much more fun.
[My husband has a few Christmas ones I can loan him.]
How did you choose the name “Davis Way” and the jokes that she must field that are continually plaguing her? And the continual refusal of Bianca to get it right! I have that problem with some people no matter how long I’ve known them or how many times I correct them. Surely you haven’t had that problem yourself.
I was on I-65 South when I passed an exit sign for Pine Apple, which I thought was hilarious. Why wouldn’t it be Pineapple? And I wondered what it would be like to live somewhere that required constant explanation. It would be Double (Whammy, Dip, & Strike) Trouble if you had a confusing name. Thankfully, I don’t have the confusing-name-identity crisis problem often, even though my name isn’t all that common (lots of schnauzers named Gretchen, although we don’t run in the same social circles, so it’s fine), but it has happened to me often enough that I tried to avoid it for my children, who have all but one-syllable names.
Now that we know more about your characters, let’s hear more about you, Gretchen!
The floor is open…anything you’d like to share with us about your life?( I hope you know people like Davis’s Daddy, Richard and Bradley.)
I am so boring, but I’ll try. Little knows things about me.
1. I have all my original Nancy Drew books.
2. For my 50th birthday, I got a tattoo.
3. I work out six days a week to ward off writer’s butt.
4. My most prestigious writing award: I won a national essay contest. The subject was “The Stinkiest Pet in America.” MY dog and my essay won. (A year’s supply of canine odor neutralizer. It didn’t work.)
5. I’m from Texas.
6. I do know people like the ones we meet in Davis’s life. My husband is smart, loyal, and competitive like Richard Sanders, and has trouble figuring me out like No Hair. Still, though, I’m not married to Bradley Cole. He’s so perfect he’s almost my hardest character to write.
Thanks for having me, Tonette! I’d love to send one of your readers, who’d like to comment or ask me anything, a signed set of the Davis Way Crime Caper series. Go! (And as always, good luck!)
So, Friends, trust me, if you haven’t become acquainted with the Davis Way Mysteries, here is your chance…(if you don’t win, please go pick them up;You’ll thank me.)
Gretchen is giving a full autographed set of the first three Davis Way Mysteries, [Double Whammy, Double Dip, Double Strike]!
Leave a question or a comment for Gretchen,(who doesn’t sound boring at all). We’ll run the contest until Thanksgiving Day and on my Friday post, (Nov.28th), I will announce and contact the winner.
I thank Gretchen Archer for granting this fan this interview and the very generous giveaway.
Any comment? Anything you’d like to ask Gretchen?
[Added note: you have had a number of people come in to read and leave a comment on Facebook.Won’t you please take a moment to comment here? Thank you.]