Debut author Pamela Kopfler writes mysteries and cozy mysteries. Better Dead is the first book in her new B&B Spirits Mystery series. Learn more about Pamela and her books at her website and blog.
When did you realize you wanted to write novels?
I took the scenic route, as I often do. I was hosting a home and garden show on a local TV station and telling Southern anecdotal stories on a local NPR affiliate when I met Mr. Deluxe, my current husband. After a year of our long distance relationship, he popped the big question, but someone had to move. That someone was little old me. The only marketable skill that survived the move was my ability to write, so write I did.
How long did it take you to realize your dream of publication?
Ha! My first novel is cohabitating with the dust bunnies under my bed. There are a few false starts burrowed down in my hard drive, too. Then I wrote Better Dead. It won lots of writing contests, but didn’t sell right away. In the mean time, I entered Better Dead and other unpublished manuscripts in the Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® contest and became a finalist four times. My wonderful agent sold Better Dead first and here I am!
Are you traditionally published, indie published, or a hybrid author?
I’m traditionally published.
Where do you write?
Squirrel! I’m easily distracted. I write alone anywhere, but I must face a wall, wear noise-canceling headphones, and use a timer for sprints and breaks.
Is silence golden, or do you need music to write by? What kind?
My mind is so noisy that I need to quiet it down to write. I listen to ambient sounds—rain or surf—or Bach when I listen to music. If I listen to anything with lyrics, I find myself singing along in my head.
How much of your plots and characters are drawn from real life? From your life in particular?
My plots come in a flash from an experience that’s usually very subtle. It can be as simple as a smell, sound, or sight that triggers the magic. So far, there’s nothing autobiographical about my stories. Mercy! If I saw a ghost, I’d die on the spot. My characters are a steaming gumbo of everyone who has ever passed through my life, even if it was just for an instant. None of my characters are based on any single person I know.
Describe your process for naming your character?
My characters usually come with a name. I don’t know how they do that but they do. I do keep a file with interesting or pleasing names. I haven’t used it yet, but it’s a comfort to know I have names if a nameless character ever shows up.
Real settings or fictional towns?
Better Dead is set in a fictional town that’s a combination of many small Louisiana towns I’ve lived in or visited.
What’s the quirkiest quirk one of your characters has?
The cook is superstitious and goes to great lengths to avoid breaking any rules that may trigger bad luck.
What’s your quirkiest quirk?
I never end anything on the number thirteen. Sips of water. Minutes in the microwave. Pages written for the day. I go for an even dozen every chance I get. Donuts, anyone?
If you could have written any book (one that someone else has already written,) which one would it be? Why?
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flagg. Her stories feel so real. I want to believe the characters lived the life between the pages, and I could go visit their graves today. I love the way she mixes humor, drama, and mystery to shake it out in just the right amounts.
Everyone at some point wishes for a do-over. What’s yours?
I wish I hadn’t taken the scenic route on my way to becoming an author. Of course, every experience feeds the creative well. If I’d gone straight to writing, my well would not be as deep—but I’d have more years to write. Between my story ideas and my to-be-read pile of books, I need to live a very long time to reach THE END of either.
What’s your biggest pet peeve?
Stories that don’t have a happy ending make me want to throw the book across the room.
You’re stranded on a deserted island. What are your three must-haves?
Sunscreen. I sunburn walking to the mailbox. A cane knife. It’s quite a handy tool that’s used to chop sugar cane. It could be used to hack through a jungle, build a hut, wack open a coconut, and gut a fish. A bottle of bourbon would come in handy if I need a disinfectant…or a stiff drink.
What was the worst job you’ve ever held?
Proof operator at a bank. I hated that job with a pink and purple passion. I’m not a numbers person and if everything didn’t balance for the day, no one could go home. As you might guess, I wasn’t very popular at that job.
What’s the best book you’ve ever read?
Mercy! That’s just an impossible choice. I’ll go with a classic, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. The tale is quite short, but has endured through generations for good reason. I had the opportunity to see his draft of a Christmas Carol on exhibit at the Morgan Library in NYC. The manuscript was littered with notes, corrections, and scratch outs. It gave me such comfort to know that even Dickens didn’t get it right on the first draft, and yet he gave us the most memorable stories through his body of work.
Ocean or mountains?
Oceans. I love the sound of the surf and a warm breeze.
City girl/guy or country girl/guy?
Both! I love hanging out in New Orleans and in bayou country.
What’s on the horizon for you?
I just turned in Downright Dead (book two in the B&B Spirits Mystery series) and am writing Hog Wild Dead (book three).
Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and/or your books?
I’ve spilled enough about me. I just want to thank Lois for having me and thank all of you for reading this far. I’d love to keep in touch. Friend or follow me (Pamela Kopfler) at all the usual places on the World-Wide-Web or subscribe to my newsletter for finger-lickin’-good Southern recipes, cocktail recipes, funny stories, and book news. https://pamelakopfler.com
Y’all stay sassy!
A B&B Spirits Mystery, book 1
Nothing says unfinished business like a visit from your nearly ex husband’s ghost.
Burl Davis checked out of this world a little earlier than expected—before Holly could serve him with divorce papers over his extramarital flings. Unfortunately, it was not before he nearly bankrupted her beloved B&B, Holly Grove, a converted plantation that has been in her family for generations. Holly would never wish anyone dead, but three months later she’s feeling a lot more relief than grief.
Until Burl’s ghost appears as an unwelcome guest. Before his spirit can move on, her not-so-dearly-departed needs Holly’s help to bust up the drug smuggling ring he was involved with. She has reservations, to say the least, but agrees to assist him if he’ll make a show of haunting the B&B to draw in visitors. But when Holly’s former love, Jack McCann, mysteriously resurfaces in town and checks in, she wonders if her B&B is big enough for the ghost of her husband and the very real physical presence of her old flame…