Welcome to the Summer Edition of the FRIENDS of HALLIE newsletter!
One of the best things about being a published author is the opportunity to meet other authors. While it's true we spend the majority of our time alone with our characters, on occasion, we DO get out of the house.
Book festivals, author panels, and book clubs are always a great way to meet fellow writers, but just like any other small business shindig, things don't always click. But when they do....hallelujah, the flood gates open and soon we're rambling about plot lines, marketing woes, disappointments, triumphs, and everything in between.
And if we're really lucky, this shiny, remarkable human being who totally "gets us" lives close enough to continue the conversation.
Michelle Bennington is a prolific writer in the vein of Janet Evanovich and Rita Mae Brown. That's right. I said that. She's that good. Her cozy mysteries are overflowing with surprises and twists, peppered with romantic tension, and chock-full of relatable, quirky characters.
Amid all that feel-good fun, Michelle manages to weave page-turning stories that grab ahold and don't let go until the very end, at which point, you want more. As I said, she's that good.
FRIENDS of HALLIE, please meet my friend, Michelle Bennington.
Hallie: As you know, I'm one of your biggest fans, and I could talk books with you all day long. Oh wait, we've already done that, haven't we? Ha! Before we get into your Small Batch Series, would you tell my readers a little about yourself?
Michelle: You're so kind. You are not only one of my favorite authors, Hallie, but you're one of my favorite people! So, a little about me. I grew up very blue collar in rural Kentucky--catching crawdads and lightning bugs, playing in creek beds and such--and I'm so thankful for that foundation. But I was also a bookworm and loved reading. When I was thirteen, I decided I wanted to be an author and I began writing as much as I could.
Long, circuitous journey short, here I am. Still reading, still writing. It took me a long time to gain the confidence to pursue publication seriously. I still struggle with confidence and reckon I always will, but in my forties, I had finally come to the realization that my one life is getting shorter each day. I had to try and see what happened.
Hallie: We have so much in common. I was also drawn to the power of the written word at a young age. And I collected lightning bugs. However, down in Louisiana, we call them crawfish, not crawdads. LOL. Have you ever been to a crawfish boil?
Michelle: No I haven't, but I've heard of them and would LOVE to. I love trying new things--especially food and beverages. The closest I've come to one is eating at The Stormin' Crab in Lexington where they serve a seafood combo boiled in a bag and I think I got crab legs.
Hallie: Ha! We haven't been to the Stormin' Crab yet, but next time we do a Crawfish Boil at home, we'll give y'all a call. Now, when you're not writing, what do you do for fun?
Michelle: When I'm not writing I'm buzzing around involved with family and friends. I love to travel, even regionally and locally; love to dance and get involved in a wide variety of arts and crafts; love doing tours of old houses, distilleries, or anything of historical significance. And I love hanging out with my husband and my sweet-n-sassy cockapoo pup, Miss Maple.
Hallie: Okay, here is where I should confess to my readers that Miss Maple was, in fact, the one that brought us together. While researching "who-was-who" for an upcoming author signing we were both attending, I perused your Facebook page and found Miss Maple. It was love at first sight. Thanks for her Insta handle. I know my readers (and I) would like to see more pics of Miss Maple and you in your Dance Duds. Please tell us more about that :)
Michelle: I've been dancing since 2011 (off and on because life often gets in the way). I do international dance. I started with Middle Eastern folkloric, cabaret, and fusion style dances, which most Americans know as belly dance.
Hallie: Wowzer, that's quite a pic!!! And you don't look half-bad yourself! LOL! Okay. So, tell us about the Small Batch Series.
Michelle: Well, first I've always been a big fan of mysteries and thrillers, Forensic Files, Law & Order: SVU, and true crime documentaries. Then several years ago, I'd gone to Buffalo Trace for a distillery/ghost tour, which was a lot of fun. But then the ghost stories worked on my imagination and because of my interest in true crime, I began to wonder: "What if the tour operator stumbled on a dead person while giving a tour?" And a story began to unfold in my head. Then soon after, I read a newspaper article about the Pappy Van Winkle heist back around 2013 and, for anyone who understands bourbon, that was a HUGE ordeal.
Hallie: It really was! Pappy is way $$$$$! When my husband "retired" someone gave him some Pappy. Last Christmas I made a Bourbon pie and as he was eating it, I asked if he liked it. When he said he said yes, I told him I'd used the Pappy.
(Just kidding.) Okay. Tell us about Devil's Kiss, book 1 in the series.
Michelle: In Devil's Kiss (which is the name of the rare bourbon) Rook Campbell is struggling with an ex-husband and sick grandma when she lands a job at a distillery. Soon after, someone dies, and some rare bourbon goes missing. Rook becomes entangled in figuring out who's committing the crimes before she's the next to die.
Hallie: First, can I just say that I loved that you wondered, what would happen if a tour operator stumbled onto a dead person while giving a tour? LOL! Also, I want to tell my readers that I straight-up, totally, and absolutely loved this book. Sometimes when reading a writer-friend's work, I find myself looking for my friend's mannerisms and personality in their fictional characters, and it can be distracting. However, while reading Devil's Kiss, I totally forgot all about you. Sorry. Ha! Seriously, I was consumed with your characters and their drama, as well as the mystery.
Hallie: I seriously loved it so much, and now, I'm counting down the days for book 2. What can you tell us about it?
Michelle: In the second book, Mermaid Cove, Rook and her friends from the Mermaid Cove distillery are in a bourbon contest. But when one of Rook's friends from Mermaid Cove goes missing, Rook is determined to find her--or die trying. My main goal in writing these books was to not only honor my home, Kentucky, but to write clean, entertaining mysteries that practically anyone could read. Mostly, I wanted to write books my mom would be proud to read.
Hallie: I cannot wait for this book, and because I know many of my subscribers personally, I'm sure they will love the series! I mean, who wouldn't love hanging out at a Kentucky bourbon distillery? By the way, you paint a wonderful picture of the Bluegrass State in your books. Okay, please tell us what else you're working on.
Michelle: My current projects are to finish up the Small Batch Series. I'm working on the third book now. Then in June 2023, I'll have a short story in an anthology: A Sampling of Sleuths, which will feature Birdie Harper from my Hazardous Hoarding series. In October 2023, the first book in my historical mystery series, Widow's Blush, will be released.
Hallie: Wow. My head is spinning just thinking about all those projects. Tell us more about the Hazardous Hoarding Series. Birdie Harper sounds like a great character! And I love the title of the first book: Dumpster Dying. Classic! It sounds a lot like the Small Batch Series.
Michelle: Yes, it's definitely set in the same universe as the Small Batch Series and it's about a hoarder, named Birdie Harper, who lives with her husband's ghost and gets caught up in solving mysteries. I wanted to write a cozy that had elements of Southern Gothic. Who knows where I got that notion or why. LOL.
Hallie: I love it! I really do see shades of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum in your work. Or even Rita Mae Brown's Mrs. Murphy series. I'm a fan of both of those authors, who are up to at least thirty or so books in their respective series. Are you up for that?
Michelle: Oh, mercy! I don't know about that. I love my characters and of course I would want them to live on, but I don't know that I would have the patience or focus to write a dozen or more books in the same series.
Hallie: Michelle, I'm simply in awe of you and your talent. Thanks taking time away from all your projects to visit with me and my FRIENDS.
Y'all, I promise, you'll love Michelle's books! If you need one more nudge, check out this super interview she did with local TV station, WKYT. Interview Here!
For more information on Michelle and her fantastic books, visit her at www.michellebennington.com -->Click here
You can purchase her books anywhere books are sold.
Amazon links to buy: Small Batch Series or Hazardous Hoarders Series
Find her on Facebook
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Until next time,
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