Heather Day Gilbert is an award winning author who writes contemporary mysteries and Viking historicals. Her novels feature small towns, family relationships, and women who aren’t afraid to protect those they love. No Filter is the first in her Barks & Beans Cafe Mystery series.
A new type of cafe
“It was important to me to set No Filter in small-town West Virginia,” Heather said. “It’s actually set in Lewisburg, a well-known town not far from me. West Virginia gets some bad press (ever heard those hillbilly jokes?), so it’s important to me to portray my home state as it truly is. Yes, the drug epidemic is mentioned because it’s literally everywhere in my state, but I tend to focus on the strong family and community bonds you’ll find here, not to mention the beautiful mountainous landscape and unique tourism opportunities, like the Greenbrier Resort.”
Heather loved the idea of a cafe where customers could pet shelter dogs, hopefully leading to pet adoptions. She said, “Lewisburg seemed the ideal quaint town for such a cafe. My husband and I have visited it many times, and we always enjoy researching the locale. I already have quite a few West Virginia readers who enjoy my Christian mystery series (A Murder in the Mountains) that’s set here, and many of them have contacted me to tell me they’ve been to Lewisburg and they’re looking forward to the Barks & Beans Cafe cozy series, too.”
Keeping it clean and unpredictable
Heather said that because she grew up reading Agatha Christie books, she believes it’s important for her to write mysteries with unpredictable twists. She said, “Sometimes, they’re even unpredictable to me! I tend to get reviews saying that readers never saw the killer coming, and those reviews make me feel I’m doing something right. Books that surprise me in some way while portraying realistic family relationships always stick with me, so that’s what I strive to write. I also write clean mysteries, so there’s no swearing or graphic scenes because I want books my kids and teen nieces can read.”
The big dog problem
Heather decided to feature a Great Dane in this series, and that was a challenge. “I definitely had to do my research as far as Great Danes. I’ve talked to Great Dane owners, and I even re-watched The Ugly Dachshund to make sure I was capturing this dog the right way. I’ve had a large dog—she was a 115-pound Shiloh Shepherd—but Great Danes are something else entirely.”
You did what?
Some writers like to do their research online, or talking to people, or other sane things. Heather prefers her research to be more…personal. “I’ve had my daughter close me in the trunk of a car to check how dark it was and if I could see anything. I’ve also had my kids duct tape my hands in front of me to see if I could break the tape (I did, using a method I watched on YouTube). Most enjoyable would be going shooting with my husband for research, as well as staying overnight at the Greenbrier Resort for an anniversary so I could write about it properly.”
Learn more about Heather at heatherdaygilbert.coma Rafflecopter giveaway