|The author and her brother-in-law picking up pies |
at the Poorhouse Pies pie shed
As a child, award-winning author Daisy Pettles was fed a steady diet of books, pies, and Bible stories. Today she stops by to answer a few questions. Learn more about Daisy and her books at her website.
You set the Shady Hoosier Detective Agency Series in a small town called Knobby Waters, in Pawpaw County, Indiana. Is there such a place?
In my head and heart there is such a place. It’s a tiny town full of nosy neighbors, quirky characters, and kind-hearted souls. It’s the type of hometown that many are nostalgic for these days.
The series setting, Knobby Waters, is a fictional amalgam of several tiny towns that are sprinkled along old US Highway 50, across rural Jackson and Lawrence Counties, in the hills of southern Indiana. It’s the type of small town where everybody knows your name—unfortunately. And of course there are an endless supply of snoopy neighbors, crazy cousins, husbands with hanky-panky pants, and home-baked pies.
Book 3 of the Shady Hoosier Detective Agency, Chickenlandia Mystery, is coming out this month. What and where is Chickenlandia?
Chickenlandia is a free range chicken ranch run by an eccentric elderly farming couple. The coops are fashioned out of scrap lumber to resemble the White House and the Senate buildings. It’s more of a village---a Chickenlandia—than a simple row of cages or coops. The name was inspired by the more urban, off-beat TV comedy, Portlandia. In tone, the Shady Hoosier Detective series is quite quirky.
One reviewer thought the books reminded her of the Golden Age of Hillbilly TV, the 60s sit-coms that reigned at that period. Did you envision the books that way?
Yes. I wanted to replicate the “feel good” tone of early TV comedies set in rural America, series like The Andy Griffith Show, Petticoat Junction, and Green Acres. The tone of the Shady Hoosier Detective Agency and the characters who populate Pawpaw County pay homage to the Golden Age of Hillbilly TV.
Like many children of rural America in the 60s I am growing nostalgic for an America that never did exist, but that we all still hope for.
While the books are cozy mysteries, their strongest element is humor. They are true crime comedies. One critic called Daisy Pettles the “hillbilly Janet Evanovich.” My senior crime fighting duo, Ruby Jane and Veenie, are very much a Lucy-Ethel or Stephanie-Lula gal pal team.
Food plays a big role in your rural setting. Your books mention a lot of peculiar foods. What are these foods and where do they come from?
True. I have a lot of fun with the food in Pawpaw County, which includes such country delicacies as crockpot possum and deer chili slathered with thick skims of Velveeta cheese. (Just yesterday my niece had to get off the phone with me because she needed to prep some deer meat Sloppy Joes for dinner.)
One of my favorite places is Pokey’s Tavern, famous for its cheesy mystery meat sandwiches. My mom owned and operated a fast food restaurant when I was a kid in the 60s. It was called the Dairy Bar, a little, DIY mom and pop Dairy Queen. We used to joke about the local tavern up the road which offered “mystery meat” sandwiches. The meat was usually whatever was in season—hunting season that is.
Is there a specific place in your books that you would love to visit?
The specific place in Knobby Waters that my readers would love to visit is Ma and Peepaw Horton’s emergency Pie Shed. It’s an old tool shed run by the elderly chicken farmers who operate Chickenlandia. The tool shed has been converted to a 24-hour self-serve, pick-up station for Ma’s home-baked pies.
I am fortunate because my neighbors in Underhill, Vermont, actually operate such a Pie Shed in their backyard. Poorhouse Pies, has appeared in the PBS documentary on the search for the Best American Pie.
|Pie shed in winter|
Personally I think every town would benefit from a 24-hour emergency pie shed. In the series one of the leading lady sleuths, junior detective in-training, 71 year old Veenie Goens, is addicted to pie (and other forms of junk food).
Our crime fighting duo, Veenie and Ruby Jane, are constantly being sidetracked by drives out to the pie shed in an attempt to relieve each case’s more stressful moments.
One of the theme songs of the comedy podcast that we are developing based on the Shady Hoosier Detective Agency books is: “Remember when you’re feeling blue, stop and eat a pie or two.”
The Chickenlandia Mystery
Shady Hoosier Detective Series, Book 3
Pawpaw County, Indiana, is all atwitter about Ma and Peepaw Horton’s annual Chickenlandia Festival. The mood turns dark though when the Horton’s prize-winning rooster, Dewey, and his best laying hen, Ginger, vanish, leaving behind only a ragged trail of tail feathers. Also missing: Gertie Wineagar, local sourpuss, and BBQ chicken cook-off queen. Senior sleuths, Ruby Jane (RJ) Waskom and Veenie Goens, suspect Hiram Krupsky, Pawpaw County’s self-proclaimed Chicken Wing King, of master-minding the crime spree in an attempt to sabotage the Horton’s free-range chicken ranch. The sleuths get an unexpected “in” when Hiram commences to court a reluctant RJ. Follow the Hoosier senior snoops as they attempt to sort the good eggs from the bad in this hilarious, small-town crime comedy.
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