I have been drinking waaaay too much coffee lately. But at least I’m not the character in Linda Gerber’s Death by Latte who turns up dead in a coffee shop. The book is a modern-day romantic mystery/suspense in the tradition of Victoria Holt and Philippa Carr.
Aphra Connolly, who had been living a quiet existence on her father’s secluded island resort, until Seth Mulo turns up and steals her heart… and provides information that leads her to find her mom in Seattle. But the reunion isn’t quite what she expected. Aphra’s mom, Natalie, doesn’t seem happy to see Aphra, and Natalie’s boyfriend, Joe, insists that Aphra go home. Even worse, Seth shows up, only to ask her to return the ring he had given her that summer. At least Natalie’s good-looking neighbor is sympathetic. But when Joe is found dead at a nearby coffee shop, Aphra discovers her whole trip to Seattle has been based on a lie. And now someone just might be trying to kill her. . . .
I asked, Linda answered
A. What's the scariest thing that's ever happened to you? Bonus question: have you used it, in any way, in a book?
L. My mom won't read this, right? When I was in high school, my family was going on a trip and I didn't want to go. I had a job and drill team practice and I talked them into letting me stay behind. I was supposed to sleep at a neighbor's house but that was really awkward, so I lied and told the neighbor I was sleeping at a friend's house one night and went home. I had to be careful not to turn on any lights so the neighbor wouldn't know I was there. In the middle of the night, a noise woke me up and I realized someone else was in the house. The phone was clear on the other side of the room and I didn't dare move for fear that the person would hear me and come upstairs. But on the other hand, I reasoned, they might come upstairs anyway and I would be helpless. I eased out of bed and although I tried to be silent as I tiptoed toward the phone, the house was old and the floorboards squeaked. Fortunately, whoever it was took off when they realized someone was home instead of getting aggressive. They ran out the front door, leaving it wide open. I remember sitting at the top of the stairs, shaking, looking at that front door and trying to work up the courage to go down and shut it.
I haven't used that experience in a book. Yet.
A. Mystery writers often give their characters an unreasoning fear - and then make them face it. Do you have any phobias, like fear of spiders or enclosed spaces?
L. I don't know what my phobia is called. I'm not exactly afraid of heights, but I am afraid of falling from heights. I've had dreams where I'm on an elevator with no walls or on a steep staircase with no railing or on this certain looong, steep escalator in the Tokyo train station, and it terrifies me. Any dream interpreters out there? What does that mean?
A. Do you have a favorite mystery book, author, or movie?
Get Shorty by Elmore Leonard - book and movie. Great stuff.
A. At its heart, every story is a mystery. It asks why someone acts the way they did - or maybe what will happen next. What question does your book ask?
L. A recurring question in DEATH BY LATTE is – who can Aphra trust? And - who is the Mole and what does he really want?
A. Is there a mystery in life that you are still trying to figure out?
L. Yeah. Why do I still procrastinate when I know it's just going to stress me out? Ongoing theme in my life!