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Interview with Ginny Smith

Captain's Log, Stardate 07.09.2007

Today I have an interview with Virginia (Ginny) Smith talking about her cozy mystery, Murder by Mushroom, which doesn’t release until August 1st!

Serving up murderous munchies at a church potluck social wouldn't win any popularity contests, as Jackie Hoffner discovered. Someone had laced the casserole she brought with poisonous mushrooms… and the deadly dish had fellow churchgoer and town fussbudget Alice Farmer pushing up daisies. Now the gossip-hungry townsfolk suspected Jackie of foul play. To prove her innocence, she decided to conduct her own murder investigation, and Trooper Dennis Walsh's helpful efforts and boy-next-door charm were welcome. Meanwhile, the town's mysterious poisoner seemed to have more victims in mind….

And now, here’s me and Ginny!

How did you come up with the storyline for Murder by Mushroom?

Several years ago, when I was still trying to figure out what sort of books to focus on, I dreamed up the idea of an Agatha Christie-style mystery involving a woman at odds with the church choir director over the style of music they sang. But then I sold Just As I Am and put all thoughts of mysteries aside. Then at the 2005 ACFW conference in Nashville I sat at Krista Stroever’s table for dinner. As we ate, she told us that she had seen some renewed interest in cozy mysteries, and had just offered a contract to someone involving a church choir and the controversy over the style of music.

Aaarrrggghhh! Don’t you hate it when that happens?

So I sat there quietly finishing my dinner while my mind raced. Cozy, cozy…what can I come up with? We were eating chicken in a mushroom sauce. So as I ate, I quickly rearranged my old idea. When we stood up to leave the table, I turned to Krista and said, “I have an idea for a cozy mystery. A kitchen klutz decides to bring something other than potato chips to a church potluck, and somebody plants poisonous mushrooms in her casserole to kill a gossipy old lady.”

She smiled and said, “I’d like to see that.”

The rest, as they say, is history.

Any fav church potluck recipes you want to share?

Sure! My church in Kentucky has a potluck the first Sunday of every month, and we all enjoy trying recipes on each other. This salad always goes over well. No mushrooms, though!

Broccoli Craisin Salad

Broccoli--a bunch :o)
3-4 T minced red onion
a cup or so of Craisins
1 cup or so salted sunflower seeds
6-8 slices of crisp bacon, crumbled

1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sugar
2 T apple cider vinegar

Cut the broccoli into bite-sized flowerettes, using about 1/3 of the stalk as well to add bulk. You should end up with approx 2 cups of broccoli. Add the onions, Craisins and sunflower seeds. If you make this ahead of time, store the bacon separately (so it stays crisp) and stir it in right before adding the dressing.

Mix mayonnaise, sugar and vinegar until smooth. You can make the dressing ahead of time and store it, sealed, in the refrigerator. Stir the dressing into the salad shortly before serving.

If you adopted a chimpanzee, what would you name it and why?

You always come up with the funniest questions! Let’s see. Hmmm. I’d name her Lucy, in memory of a monkey I once knew. When I was a kid, my aunt bought a spider monkey and named her Lucy. I loved going to visit Aunt Patti and Lucy. The monkey had her own room – the monkey room – and she was the cutest little thing I’d ever seen. I don’t know how much she cost, but it must have been a bunch because Aunt Patti had to take out a loan to buy her. But then poor Lucy got sick and died, and Aunt Patti still had to make Monkey Payments for many months after she was gone.

If you were an ice cream sundae, what flavors would you be, and what toppings would you have, and why?

I would be a banana split with a scoop of vanilla, a scoop of chocolate, and a scoop of strawberry, covered with pineapple and strawberries, drizzled with chocolate, and topped with a sprinkling of nuts. Why? Because I’m a complex woman, full of flavor and a little bit nutty. And my husband often looks at me, shakes his head, and says, “You’re bananas!”

If your husband suddenly turned into a piece of furniture, what would he be and why?

He’d be a Shaker-style table. Nothing fancy, but attractive and practical and durable and sturdy and made to last. One scene in Murder by Mushroom depicts a luncheon at a place called Shaker Village, which is located outside of Harrodsburg, Kentucky. It’s a restaurant in an old Shaker community that has been preserved for historical value. I’ve always loved going there, and I had a blast doing a couple of research trips as I wrote Murder by Mushroom. The restaurant is furnished with several pieces of authentic Shaker furniture, and I really like it.

What novel(s) are you reading right now?

I’m not, because I’m in the middle of writing two books of my own. I can’t read for pleasure while I’m writing because I get too distracted by someone else’s story. (I really throw myself into books!) But I recently finished Rene Gutteridge’s Snitch, and Sharon Hinck’s The Restorer. Excellent novels, both of them.

You're off the hotseat! Any parting words?

Just this – writing this mystery was so much fun, and totally different from writing a chick lit novel. I love both styles, and have been blessed with more contracts, so I intend to keep writing both genres. I’m really eager to hear what people think of my first mystery, so I hope they’ll send me an e-mail – And be sure to check out my website to see the fun contests and giveaways I’ll be running for the book’s general release in August –

Thanks, Camy! As always, being hosted on your blog is like a visit to a carnival fun house, complete with those weird mirrors that make you look at yourself and laugh!

Camy here: Thanks, Ginny!

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