Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Barbara Jean Coast......by Joyce Oroz
Today I am happy to introduce a spunky couple of writers, Andrea Taylor and Heather Shkuratoff, who share the pen name, Barbara Jean Coast. They have co-authored STRANGLED BY SILK, a retro-cozy mystery published by Cozy Cat Press. It is the first novel in the Poppy Cove Mystery Series, set in fictional Santa Lucia, Ca (eerily similar to Santa Barbara) circa 1950's/60's. Now I will share the visit I had with these interesting authors. They have kindly taken turns answering my questions.
Was there someone, something or an event in your life that set you on the road to being an author?
HS: I've always been a reader and love pretty much every genre. Cozies have a special appeal to me with their sense of place, rich characters and details. I have always sewn, from the age of seven (first garment was a yellow tube top for Barbie) and carried on to become a professional seamstress with my own design shop. My part in the Poppy Cove series came to me from the idea of telling the story about a dress shop and its people.
AT: I remember always making up stories, usually as plays and mysteries. As soon as I could pick up a pencil, I wrote stories, poems, dialogues. I read the Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys and played at being a sleuth myself. It was only natural to want to develop characters and stories I could return to time and again. That's where I find that writing a Cozy is really ideal for me.
What do you like about writing and what bugs you about it?
HS: I love telling the stories, painting the pictures of words and characters through descriptions and being able to create a visual presence with words. What I don' like is when the words don't come, or when the mundane elements of real life take over the time that I would like to spend writing!
AT: I love the research, character development, plotting and then getting into a flow with story. What I don't like is when I feel I've lost the plot and the ideas aren't coming. Also when I am on a roll and other parts of my life have to be seen to.
How long have you been writing books and what other writing do you do?
HS: We've been writing this series, shaping the ideas, developing and plotting the stories out for ten years! We came across a piece of paper on June 14th of this year at the bottom of this wooden crate that we had been using that was dated June 16th, 2003. It was all about the main series plots and ideas. It was amazing to see it come to fruition. During that time, in the beginning, we had set it aside for a year or two, just casually talking about it & then we decided to see it through. Then we stuck in, finished writing, re-writing, put it aside a bit, then went back to it and went through the process of submissions to get published, with the usual hopes upped, dashed, persevering and then happily published.
AT: In addition to working with Heather on our Poppy Cove Mystery Series, I have been writing my own blog about creativity and a poetry blog for just over a year. I have also written many articles about fashion, childcare and current events. I am working on a project that is set in the 1800's that is not a mystery set in Chicago and Istanbul. I have many more ideas and time periods I'd like to write stories about. I love creating worlds.
Tell us about your protagonist. Is she a lot like you? What are her assets and weaknesses?
HS: Our two protagonists -- Margot Williams and Daphne Huntington-Smythe, maybe reflect the qualities we'd like to possess. Margot's more introspective and contemplative with a secretive, private and slightly mysterious side to her background, whereas Daphne is more flirtatious, free-spirited and an open book. We'll develop more about them as the series moves on about their pasts and futures -- we have details about those girls! I guess I'm more like Margot and Andrea's more like Daphne.
AT: I really enjoy our characters and feel that my own sense of fun has come out more since we've been playing with these two girls and our Barbara Jean alter ego as well. My carefree nature takes over at times and when that happens, I write better.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
HS: When I'm not writing, I'm reading, studying art courses (worked through history, modern and now on contemporary), love sewing and working on my sketching skills. I also love to cook and eat (!), traveling, walking, yoga and meditation to balance out my busy days.
AT: When I'm not writing, I enjoy reading poetry, fiction, non-fiction, anything I can get my hands on. I am actively involved in the Goodreads community and Pinterest. I love baking, cooking and traveling. I also study courses of interest such as history and English literature. To fill my well of inspiration in life walking, running, yoga and meditation help. I also enjoy listening to music such as opera, pop, jazz and classical. The cello is my favorite instrument to listen to. Two of my favorite cellists are Yo-yo Ma and Zoe Keating.
Where can we find your book---and anything else you would like to tell us about--such as a website or blog.
HS and AT: You can find STRANGLED BY SILK on Amazon and Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Strangled-Silk-Poppy-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B00B8YKKBG/ , as well as Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Chapters, and Indiebound to name few, in both paper and e-book formats. We have a blog: http://welcometopoppycove.wordpress.com/ , tweet: https://twitter.com/BarbaraJCoast , and Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/bjcoast/ . A website is in the works, but finishing the second book in the series is more of a priority at the moment. You're all welcome to drop by Facebook anytime and "friend" Barbara Jean Coast and "like" Poppy Cove Mysteries.
Toodles, from Barbara Jean aka Andrea & Heather
Thank you, Andrea and Heather for giving us a look into your busy lives.