Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday Spotlight on mystery/horror author Leigh Perry. Leigh will be at Annie’s on Small Business Saturday, Saturday, November 30th at 3:00 PM to read from and sign her latest Family Skeleton book (which happens to be a Christmas story).
I asked her to please tell us briefly a little about herself and her writing.
I’m actually two authors in one: Leigh Perry and Toni L.P. Kelner. (Toni is my real name, but I answer to either.) As Leigh, I write the Family Skeleton mysteries. As Toni, I wrote eleven mystery novels and a bunch of short stories, and co-edited anthologies with Charlaine Harris.
Where can people find your work? (Besides Annie’s Books Stop of Worcester –though they should totally check here first!)
My earlier books are available as used books in venues like Annie’s, and online as eBooks. The Family Skeleton books are available in the usual online and brick-and-mortar places, though of course the copies at Tower Books are the best.
How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?
My gosh, you can’t get away from me. I’ve got two web sites: LeighPerryAuthor.com and ToniLPKelner.com. I’m on Facebook, with author pages for Leigh Perry and Toni L.P. Kelner. I’m on Instagram as Leigh Perry Author and on Twitter as @Family_Skeleton.
For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write? What can readers expect from The Skeleton Stuffs a Stocking?
The Family Skeleton mysteries are about Georgia Thackery, an adjunct English professor and single mother who moves back home and has to confront the Family Skeleton, who is a Skeleton named Sid. Sid walks, he talks, and he tells bad bone jokes. Together, Georgia and Sid solve murders.
In the mystery world, these are referred to as woo-woo cozies, meaning cozy mysteries with a paranormal twist. (In this case, the twist is Sid.)
What kind of research went into writing this book? What is your favorite research story? What cool facts and findings didn’t make it into the book, but you loved discovering?
I’ve found out that a person’s bones weigh about 20 pounds, and that experts can tell if a skeleton is real or a good cast by licking it. (Bone is porous, and the tongue adheres to it just a touch.) I confess that while I would be willing to confirm the weight, I have not licked a bone to test that out. I did try to use a chicken bone on a phone touch screen to see if Sid could use one. (The answer is “no.”)
What is your favorite part of being a writer? Of the whole writing and publishing process? What do you think has been your greatest lesson in the journey thus far?
Absolutely nothing beats the twin joys of (1) seeing a book in print with a cover and my name, and holding it in my hand and seeing it on a bookstore shelf and (2) meeting a person who loves reading my stuff.
How important has the New England setting been to your writing?
I’ve mostly taken advantage of the huge number of colleges in New England. Georgia is an adjunct, which means she moves from college to college, wherever she can get a semester’s work. So far she’s taught at a liberal arts college, an art school, a business school, and a college that specializes in preparing people for academic careers. The weather plays a part, too, especially in The Skeleton Paints a Picture, which was inspired by a very snowy winter we had a few years back.
What are some of your writing-related hobbies, crafts, addictions?
I have so many skeleton items now: jewelry, toys, clothing, pocketbooks… I try to resist buying more, but I’m not overly successful.
While you’re writing, do you prefer music, silence, other? Please elaborate!
Silence, but I’m not wedded to it. Music distracts me, but I don’t mind people around if they’re not overly loud. Also, I’m hard of hearing, so if the world gets noisy, I just turn down my hearing aids.
Writers very often have furry or feathered or otherwise non-human companions to “help” them through their work. Do you? What do you have? How do they “help” (or, “not-help”) with your writing?
I have custody of a guinea pig named Clara. She’s technically my daughter’s guinea pig, but while the daughter is in college, I’m on deck for piggie care. Piggies don’t do much—they scurry, they poop, they eat. But when I hold Clara and she purrs, it’s very soothing indeed.
What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned, thus far, in your writing career?
That I know absolutely nothing about this business. I thought I did, but it all changes so quickly. So I think I’ve finally settled on this: be flexible and open-minded when it comes to opportunities.
Are there any groups, clubs, or organizations that you would recommend to other writers that have helped you in your career?
Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime both have programs for new writers, though I think SinC has the edge for people looking to get published because their dues are cheaper and they have a sub group called the Guppies (for the Great Unpublished) that is an amazing support group. Both groups have New England chapters, and many other US chapters as well.
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions, Leigh. We’re looking forward to seeing you at Annie’s on November 30th!