Lesley retired from her life as a professor of psychology and reclaimed her country roots by moving to a small cottage in the Butternut River Valley in upstate New York. In the winter she migrates to old Florida—cowboys, scrub palmetto, and open fields of grazing cattle, a place where spurs still jingle in the post office, and gators make golf a contact sport. Back north, the shy ghost inhabiting the cottage serves as her literary muse.
When not writing, she gardens, cooks and renovates the 1874 cottage with the help of her husband, two cats, and, of course, Fred the ghost, who gives artistic direction to their work.
She is author of several short stories and several mystery series: the microbrewing mystery series set in the Butternut Valley (A Deadly Draught and Poisoned Pairings) and a rural Florida series, Dumpster Dying and Grilled, Killed and Chilled (to be released late in 2012).
Several of her short stories have been published by Untreedreads including one (Murder with All the Trimmings) in the original Thanksgiving anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry and another (Mashed in the Potatoes) in the second anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: A Second Helping.
And now from the author herself:
Getting the Gals Together
Three women enter the room, two are blondes, but very different in looks from each other. One, Hera Knightsbridge, the owner of a microbrewery and protagonist in the microbrewing murder mystery series (A Deadly Draught, Poisoned Pairings) is tall and slender. She wears a sleeveless shirt which shows off muscular arms from hauling sacks of malt and barley in her brewery. The other blonde, Emily Rhodes, is short, not quite five feet, but she too is trim and somewhat muscular, probably from toting beer kegs in her job as the bartender at the Big Lake Country Club.I was wondering what would happen if I invited all my protagonists over for tea one afternoon. Would they like one another? Could they find anything to discuss? What topics might interest them? So let’s see what happens.
Chasing kids around as a former preschool teacher has only added to her fitness. She’s the protagonist in the Big Lake murder mystery series set in rural Florida (Dumpster Dying, Grilled, Killed and Chilled). Kaitlin Singer, the final member of the group is average height and has experienced some ups and downs with her weight over the years. Right now she’s got her weight under control. She about 5’5” and has brown hair. It looks as if she once had red highlights in it, but most of them have grown out. She’s the protagonist in Angel Sleuth, the gal with the uninvited houseguests.
Writer: I wanted to get all of you together on a page. You’re my creations, but I’ve never had the opportunity to introduce you to each other. This seems like a good time.
The women eye each other, but say nothing.
Writer: So maybe we can begin by talking about how you feel about finding bodies and solving murders?
Kaitlin: Like everything else with the exception of my writing children’s stories, this amateur sleuthing thing was not my idea.
Hera: Mine either.
Emily: Or mine. I keep on stumbling onto dead bodies in the most unusual places. First a dumpster, then a beer cooler truck.
Hera: That’s not as bad as having them in your own brewery. Or in your next door neighbor’s brewery. That’s hitting too close to home. It creeps me out.
Kaitlin: So far, I’ve only been involved in solving one murder and I was fortunate not to have discovered the body. I don’t think I could stand it if another one happened and I was forced to get involved again.
Writer’s Note: Oops. Perhaps I should tell Kaitlin I have another murder for her. Later, maybe.
Writer: Do all of you feel you’ve been forced to pursue the killer?
Emily: Well, it’s not like I woke up one day and said “I think I’ll get into the crime fighting business,” but that Detective Lewis you put on me as a love interest is so annoying, sometimes I feel I just have to set him straight.
Writer: You mean he hasn’t a clue about who the killer was?
Emily: Oh, he has clues, but they’re the wrong ones.
Hera: Jake, my lover and the deputy sheriff, would prefer I not get involved in tracking down the murderer and I try hard not to, but pieces of the puzzle seem to fall into my hands. People sometimes prefer to talk to me and not to the cops, so I find out what going on. I usually tell Jake, though.
The writer coughs.
Hera: Most of the time I do tell him. Sometimes I have to keep information to myself to protect a person I know is innocent.
Kaitlin: But sometimes you’re wrong too, aren’t you? (Hera looks down at her cup and nods.) At least you’re not saddled with a roomie like Mary Jane who thinks she knows everything.
Emily: But she does know some things you don’t. Right? She is after all a guardian angel. They must have special powers and all.
Kaitlin: So she says, but I’ve never seen those powers in operation. She seems the same as you and me. (Kaitlin pauses) Although she seems to be able to read my mind.
Writer: So you all are reluctant sleuths? (Three heads nod.) Aren’t you glad you have pals who can help you in getting the bad guys and gals?
Kaitlin: You mean the guys you paired us with who are cops? I agree with Emily. They can be annoying. My detective is a know-it-all too. But he is kind of cute.
Hera: They’re all kind of cute. And smart too.
Writer: I gave you women friends, too. Aren’t they helpful?
Emily: Oh yes. They’re the best. There’s nothing like a gal pal to come along when you’re doing something a little shady.
Emily: When they find out we did something just a little this side of the law, boy do they get all out of sorts. That’s why it’s best not to tell them and to take another gal along for back-up.Kaitlin: Yeah, you know. Not quite legal. The guys would never let us do that. And when they find out about it…
(They all nod.)
Hera: Well, this has been nice, but I’d prefer one of my fabulous microbrews to this tea.
Kaitlin and Emily nod their heads in agreement.
Hera: Why don’t we hop down the road to my brewery? I’ll give you a tour and we can sip one of my hand craft brews.
Emily: No dead bodies?
All three look at the writer.
Kaitlin: If we leave her here, I can promise there will be no bodies.
They get up and thank the writer who remains seated looking despondent.
Writer: If I promise not to introduce a murder, can I come too?
Hera: Fine, but if I so much hear the word ‘mystery’, I’ll throw you in the cooler.
Emily: Hey, that’s where I found my second dead body.
What fun! Thank you, Lesley. It’s been great having you back.
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