Anna Gerard is the pen name used by New York Times bestselling author Diane A.S. Stuckart to write the Georgia B&B Mystery series. Diane is also the author of the award-winning Leonardo da Vinci historical mysteries. Peachy Scream is second book in the Georgia B&B Mystery series.
Cozies with substance
Diane said she has a goal with her contemporary mysteries. She wants to show readers—especially the naysayers—that cozy mysteries are a legitimate sub-genre of the mystery novel genre. “Cozies are not just ‘Murder with Recipes’. Sure, the stories are more lighthearted reads than traditional mysteries, but that doesn’t mean important issues don’t crop up in them. My books’ overall themes address the value of friendship, and the struggles of finding one’s place in a new venue or at a new stage of life. But, most importantly, I show how a violent death disrupts the fabric of a community, and how good people band together, repair that tear, and somehow move on.
“In many thrillers and suspense novels, the murder victims are often simply faceless and nameless cyphers with no other purpose than to inflate the book’s body count. The victims in cozy mysteries have names. And, love them or hate them, they matter to their fellow characters…and, hopefully, to the readers.”
Diane added that she cares about her readers, and wants to give them the very best story she can. “I am proud of writing cozy mysteries and greatly respect the fans who read them. Nothing is more thrilling to me than to receive an email—and sometimes actual mail!—from someone who found my stories more than simply a light read. If my books have made someone’s day better, if I have helped them forget for a moment the passing of a dear family member or loss of a beloved pet, then I have done my job as a writer.
Theater’s influence on Peachy Scream
Diane said she’d long been interested in the Shakespeare authorship question. (One theory is that Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, wrote the plays and poems traditionally attributed to William Shakespeare. She does classify herself as an Oxfordian.
“Peachy Scream originally had a major subplot addressing that subject. Sadly, word count won out over author preference. But the rest of the book fulfills some of those fantasies that many of us have…running a quaint B&B—I haven’t given up on that one yet—and acting onstage in one of the Bard’s most famous plays.
“While much of the theater and stagecraft in Peachy Scream came from good old-fashioned research, I did tap into my own brief foray into the theater world, which began and ended in Junior High as a member of the Junior Players Guild. I remember portraying the leader of a band of thieves, Roque Guinart, in a presentation of Don Quixote. And I was cast as the King in a truncated version of A Midsummer’s Night Dream. Kind of the reverse of the usual trope, as I was a girl playing men…mostly because we didn’t have too many boys in the troupe. Obviously, I was not overly inspiring as an actor because here I am writing instead!”
A rattlesnake what?
“Time constraints of a full-time day job mean I’m mostly an armchair researcher,” Diane said. “However, in the past I’ve managed to coordinate a few vacations that served as research. One of my favorites was a long-ago trip to Arizona, setting of my historical romance Desert Hearts, which were also written as Anna Gerard. In addition to visiting Tombstone and a few mining towns, my husband and I stumbled across an odd and now defunct place in the middle of nowhere called Rattlesnake Crafts.
“The name explains it – everything for sale was made of rattlesnake skins, rattles, bones, fangs. The shop was set up in an unoccupied trailer, and payment was on the honor system. Choose what you want and drop the cash in the box by the door. The shop didn’t make into my historical romance for obvious reasons, but I did use one thing in a later contemporary short fantasy tale. That was the display of dozens of “found” metal discards—shovels, buckets, even a tricycle—rescued from the desert and hung from an old clothesline to clank in the dry breeze like a giant wind chime. The resulting sculpture was both beautiful and eerie, and I hope that even with the trailer store long gone this mesmerizing work of art still remains.”
Learn more about Diane at dianestuckart.com.a Rafflecopter giveaway