I’m so excited to be a stop on the blog tour for author Abigail Keam and her new release Death By Drama. This is the eleventh book in her A Josiah Reynolds Mysteries Series. I read this one and really enjoyed it.
Death By Drama: A Josiah Reynolds Mystery
11th in Series
Worker Bee Press (July 24, 2018)
Paperback: 228 pages
Digital ASIN: B07FMQB68G
Josiah joins an amateur thespian group that puts on plays in quirky places like public parks and crumbling antebellum mansions. It is a way to socialize, and Josiah feels lonely when her friend Hunter stops calling. Since the new play is being staged at Hunter’s ancestral home Wickliffe Manor, Josiah sees this as a win-win situation. She gets to have fun and remind Hunter that she is still alive and kicking. Hint. Hint.
What could go wrong? Everything!
Hunter ignores the acting group including Josiah, and it doesn’t help when the leading lady, Madison Smythe, drops dead on Hunter’s antique Persian rug. To make matters worse, Franklin, Hunter’s brother, is arrested for her murder!
Josiah does the only thing she can. She sends an S.O.S. to her daughter Asa to investigate the murder. Asa must also discover why a love note from Hunter was found in the dead woman’s coat pocket. Josiah is ready for romance, but she doesn’t want to fall in love with a cheater . . . and possibly a murderer!
The characters are well developed and well rounded. Josiah is quite a character, she is quirky, bossy (in a good way) and she knows her mind, and does not like taking no for an answer. But she is also caring and loving and is very willing to help those in need, especially her friends. I like the fact that she was an older protagonist and I think it would be fun to spend time with her and her friends. There were a lot of characters to meet in this book, and at times I had a little trouble keeping them straight in my mind. That was probably because this was the first book that I read in this series, otherwise I would have already known them. And that is only my opinion and other readers may not agree with me. All of the characters added a lot to the story.
The writing style flows smoothly and the book is an easy read. It allowed me to get a better insight into the characters lives and thoughts. I thought the author gave enough descriptions of places and events without getting overly wordy. The mystery was well plotted and had enough clues to sift through and suspects to consider and it was not easily solved.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well crafted cozy mystery. I will have to read the other books in this series.
Abigail Keam is an award-winning and Amazon best-selling author who writes the Josiah Reynolds Mystery series about a Southern beekeeper turned amateur female sleuth in the Bluegrass.
Her first mystery novel, DEATH BY A HONEYBEE, won the 2010 Gold Medal Award for Women’s Lit from Reader’s Favorite and was a Finalist of the USA BOOK NEWS-Best Books List of 2011.
DEATH BY DROWNING won the 2011 Gold Medal Award for Best Mystery Sleuth from Reader’s Favorite and also was placed on the USA BOOK NEWS-Best Books List of 2011 as a Finalist.
Miss Abigail is also an award-winning beekeeper who has won 16 honey awards at the Kentucky State Fair including the Barbara Horn Award, which is given to beekeepers who rate a perfect 100 in a honey competition.
A strong supporter of farmers’ markets and local food economy, Miss Abigail has taken her knowledge of beekeeping to create a fictional beekeeping protagonist, Josiah Reynolds, who solves mysteries in the Bluegrass. While Miss Gail’s novels are for enjoyment, she discusses the importance of a local sustainable food economy and land management for honeybees and other creatures.
She currently lives on the Kentucky River in a metal house with her husband and various critters. She still has honeybees.
Josiah Reynolds Mystery Series
Death By A HoneyBee I
Death By Drowning II
Death By Bridle III
Death By Bourbon IV
Death By Lotto V
Death By Chocolate VI
Death By Haunting VII
Death By Derby VIII
Death By Design IX
Death By Malice X
Death By Drama XI
When did you know that you wanted to be an author? What things, if any, influenced that decision?
In the second grade, I wrote a two page short story about an event at my church. I called it Bobby Bobo Got Baptized At The Big Bone Baptist Church. I got an A+, and the teacher called my mother telling her, “Don’t be surprised if your girl grows up to be a writer.” That got me hooked but good but it would take me years to reach my goal of being a professional author. Life has many turns and twists. It is never a straight line, but I finally achieved my goal. Later I rewrote that two page story with the aim of crafting an autobiographical collection of short stories.
With so many cozies being written today, what makes your books stand out from the crowd?
The Josiah Reynolds Mysteries are somewhat dark cozies. My protagonist is a middle-aged female who doesn’t like children, is not particularly nice, and has serious health issues. Each book is a stand-alone murder mystery woven into this woman’s life, which threads throughout the entire series. There are also five recurring characters who interweave in and out of Josiah’s storyline in the books.
The Josiah Reynolds Mysteries take place in the Bluegrass region of Kentucky, which is a glamorous world of Thoroughbreds, oak-cured bourbon, and antebellum mansions, I interlace actual locations and history into each book, adding a bit of spice and authenticity to the stories. In fact, I had my first Josiah Reynolds Mystery Tour for readers in September. Readers from all over the US joined me to tour the lovely Bluegrass countryside and see many of the locations in the novels.
I released Death By Drama, my eleventh Josiah Reynolds Mystery, and I’m currently working on another one. I think the success of the Josiah Reynolds Mysteries relies on the reader’s ability to identify with Josiah.
Do you work from an outline or plot or do you just see where the characters take you?
I have never used an outline or a formula. I begin with a vague notion of a plot and then start tapping on the keyboard. I let the characters go where they will, and believe me, they take me on divergent paths. Many times I end up with a totally different book than what I thought I was going to write. I guess if I used an outline, I could write faster, but what fun would there be in that? I love it when my characters spring to life on the page for me. I’m all about the journey. I want to have fun, and I want the reader to have fun along with me.
Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you do anything special to get those reviews?
Yes, I read the reviews. I mostly receive very good reviews, but I’ve have my share of vicious ones especially with the first Josiah Reynolds novel – Death By A HoneyBee. However, I had enough positive reviews that readers took a chance on the next mystery – Death By Drowning – and they kept reading the series.
Reviewers should try to be constructive. The worst thing a reviewer can do is to undermine the confidence of a writer, especially young writers. After all, Hemingway wasn’t Hemingway at the beginning. He had to learn his craft and grow. So do all writers.
I never respond to good or bad reviews. I do ask for reviews in the back of my books and on Facebook. Occasionally I thank readers on Facebook who took the time to write a review. I am truly very grateful.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Get negative people out of your life fast. Cultivate people who have your back.
Do you think that the cover plays an important part in someone buying your book(s)? Who designs your book covers?
The cover is everything. Once the cover entices the reader to take a chance and pony up with some cash, then the writer has to deliver the goods. I have two designers – Karin Claesson, www.karinclaessonart.com, who does wonderful fantasy work. Cricket Press, http://www.cricketpress, who does my other covers.
Please give us an insight into your main characters. What do you think makes them special?
Josiah is a beekeeper who has a powerful connection to both her bees and her friends. There are strong emotional threads twisting throughout all the books with the main characters. I’ve tried to make Josiah’s friends quirky, funny, and absolutely human with all sorts of flaws and foibles. They give the books a rich emotive dimension, and I think, sometimes a haunting quality to the books.
I’m a beekeeper myself and made my living from selling honey at a local farmers’ market for many years, just like my heroine, Josiah.
What have you learned about yourselves since becoming an author?
Don’t tell me things you don’t want to end up in a novel. There is no situation or conversation sub-rosa with me. If it’s witty, naughty, or just plain strange, I’ll write about it – changing the names involved, of course. And the newspaper is full of delicious misbehavior by the locals. Most readers would be astounded to know how many conversations and events in my novels actually occurred.
Do you write full-time or part-time?
It’s how I make my living.
What do your plans for future projects include?
Currently working on the twelfth installment of the Josiah Reynolds Mystery Series – Death By Stalking – coming out later this year. I’m also in the first stages of conceiving a new mystery heroine.
What do you think the hardest part of writing is? What is the easiest?
Hardest part of writing is the isolation. I sometimes force myself to leave the house and interact with other people. It’s very easy for a writer to get caught up in their work. The easiest part is the writing itself.
What type of books do you like to read? Who are some of your favorite authors?
I read everything- biographies, history, poetry, short stories, newspapers, and magazines. I’m a big fan of Sue Grafton who was very kind to me when I started writing. My favorite writers are Allan Eckert, James M. Cain, Dominick Dunne, Wendell Berry, Willa Cather, Agatha Christie, Bobbie Ann Mason, Anne Rice, Eudora Welty, Raymond Feist, Janny Wurts, and Harper Lee. There are so many others I can’t list them all.
A writer should read outside their own genre. Otherwise, he/she is limiting their world.
What is the one thing you would like your readers to know about you?
I do my best to write an entertaining story for the readers, and hope they pick up a little knowledge about honeybees along the way.
Do you have anything specific you would like to say to your readers?
I’ve created a very specific world that is unique to the Bluegrass area of Kentucky. I write about a woman who is a beekeeper with limited resources, but with pluck and intelligence, always manages to land on her feet. It is my hope that these mysteries entertain with a little humor, a little history, and a whole lot of fun. Josiah is someone whom I would want to be my friend. I think most readers would want her to be their friend, too.
How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Web Site www.abigailkeam.com
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