featuring guest authors; crafting tips and projects; recipes from food editor and sleuthing sidekick Cloris McWerther; and decorating, travel, fashion, health, beauty, and finance tips from the rest of the American Woman editors.

Monday, August 7, 2017


Gilian Baker is a former English professor who has gone on to forge a life outside of academia by adding blogger, ghostwriter and cozy mystery author to her C.V. Gilian lives in Flagstaff, Arizona with her family and their three pampered felines. In her next life, she fervently hopes to come back as a cat, though she understands that would be going down the karmic ladder. Learn more about Gilian and her books at her website.

I Prefer Murder in a Pottery Studio, Not a Quilting Circle
Are you wondering why I didn’t set my second Jade Blackwell cozy mystery in a quilting circle instead of a dusty ole’ pottery studio? The simple answer is that I used to be a potter, but I’ve never added a single stitch to a quilt. The longer explanation is that there are lots of gruesome ways to kill off characters in a pottery studio, and since I’ve spent a great deal of time in them, I should know.

Pottery requires some wicked-looking tools, including the one used to kill off “innocent” members of the little village of Aspen Falls, Wyoming. Or, perhaps you’d rather drown a character in glaze, which is typically stored in industrial sized trashcans. Otherwise, if you have a bit more time or want to ensure the disposal of the body and trace evidence, you could conk your victim over the head and incinerate him or her in the huge electric kiln found in pottery studios.

I actually came up with the idea for the murders in my new book, A Time to Kiln, many years ago, when I was a pottery student—long before I knew I’d be writing cozy mysteries one day. And while I’m not going to spoil it for you by telling you exactly what happens, I will say it’s very plausible and not nearly as messy as some ways you could commit murder.

So, where does the “kiln” in A Time to Kiln fit in? That’s just what my protagonist, Jade Blackwell can’t figure out. And before you ask, a body can be incinerated in an electric kiln—it’s been done! One of my favorite parts of being a cozy mystery author is getting the chance to research wacky stuff like that.

·               How hot does an electric kiln get?
·               How long does it take to reach a kiln’s highest temperature?
·               At what temperature does a human body burn (or rather, melt)?
·               Can forensics get DNA from ash?
·               How long does it take a body to burn at 2550 degrees?
·               Would any larger bones be left after the kiln cooled?
·               If so, would forensic tests be able to find DNA after the bones had been in that high heat?

Now, I may be biased, but I think there are simply more grotesque ways to get rid of an enemy (fictitious, of course) in a pottery studio than in a quilting circle.

Though I don’t quilt, and don’t plan to start, I do knit. So who knows? Maybe at some point I’ll have Jade join a Witch n’ Stitch club where ghastly murders occur. But I can’t promise anything. Until then, you’ll just have to make do with death in a pottery studio.

A Time to Kiln: A Jade Blackwell Cozy Mystery (Book 2)
Disenchanted with life after solving her first real case, Jade Blackwell, successful blogger and amateur sleuth, throws herself into a new hobby…until murder rears its ugly head.

But when Jade attempts to ferret out the killer of local pottery teacher, Paula Hexby, she comes up short and suspicion begins to descend on her daughter’s former boyfriend. Evidence and bodies are stacking up, as Jade finds herself caught between an untrustworthy client and her beloved community.

Now at a personal and professional crossroads, Jade must once again jump into the breech, along with partner Gabrielle Langdon, to uncover the truth behind this string of horrific murders. Is she really cut out for this life of sleuthing and danger? Has Jade been defending the real murderer all along? Or is there something much more sinister afoot?


Angela Adams said...

"three pampered felines" -- adorable! Will they show up in a future novel?

Gilian Baker said...

Well...there are 2 pampered felines in the books--Tommy and Tuppence, named after Agatha Christie's Partners in Crime. :) And those two kitties are definitely based on our real-life cats. Tommy and Tuppence show up in each book...usually causing mischief. :) Thanks for stopping by! I hope you enjoy the books!