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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAn intro in Phyllis’ own words:

I’ve been addicted to mysteries since childhood; from Trixie Belden to Agatha Christie, I loved them all. They explained what happens when greed, love, and jealousy get out of hand. More than that, they showed me worlds far from my own small place in southern Ontario. And who doesn’t love a puzzle?

Mysteries are the great epics of our time, a hero risking his own life to discover truth, right a wrong, or deal out justice. But the best mysteries really aren’t just about crime. They explore the human mind and condition, but most of all they hold up a mirror to the society we live in, warts and all, and without the makeup. We see characters we hope never to encounter in our real lives, wife beaters, rapists, thieves and psychopaths, people we are only too aware exist in the real world.

Very often, the stories are about those left to deal with the fallout of evil and how they cope. A story set in the modern world necessarily deals with the problems of everyday life, with mental illness, addiction and all those other problems we encounter daily as individuals.

These days, my favorite mystery is always the one I’m currently working on because I basically write to amuse myself. I write the books I like to read, with characters I’d like to meet – well I’d like to meet some of the people in my books. Because I never quite get it right, I always have to go back and do it again. But it’s lovely if someone else enjoys my stories.

On to the interview….

 Long Gone Man is the first book in your Singer Brown Mystery series. What is it about Singer that inspired you to write about her?

Long Gone ManSinger Brown left home with a rock band when she was sixteen and almost made it to the big time, but bad choices and the wrong men got in the way. Singing is her only skill, the only job she’s ever had, so now in her forties she’s singing on the streets for money and living out of her van. Singer sees life from a slightly tilted angle but one colored with humor. I like her grit and the way she keeps going when any sensible person would give up, but she has pretty much reached the end of her rope when Long Gone Man opens.

What kind of life has she led? How did she end up being homeless? How is she surviving?

Drugs, sex and rock and roll, that’s the downward spiral that Singer’s been in and she has developed a feral instinct for trouble. Homeless people are invisible. Singing on the street she hears tales of sins and betrayal and sees all kinds of evil, giving her a deep understanding of the dark side of human nature.

Why is she so intent on getting even with the man who ruined her life? Surely she knows that can only lead to more trouble.

Singer thought her long gone man gave up on her, but it wasn’t true. He was taken from her. Now she wants revenge.  Nothing else in her life is as important as her need to exact  justice for the man she loved.

Someone else beats her to the task. Is the murderer trying to frame her?

Singer has questions she wants answered, but that final confrontation is taken away and now the murderer is coming after Singer.  Living seems more important to her since she arrived on Glenphiddie Island and finding out who killed Johnny is the only way for Singer to stay alive.

When was the book published and by whom?

Long Gone Man was published in the fall of 2013 by TouchWood Editions.

You’ve also written the Sherri Travis mystery series. Tell us about your protagonist from the Florida Keys.

The Sherri Travis mystery series was chosen by Good Morning America for a summer read. Sherri Travis is a bartender who gets by with a little help from her friends.  Bruised by love, she no longer believes in the fairytale of romance. “Cinderella is dead and the prince is gay,” she says. But still, when a girl finds a dead body she’s in need of a warm one.                                                                                                                                                                     

 How many books were published in that series?

Martini Regrets is the 6th book in this series. Martini Regrets will be out from TouchWood in the fall of 2014. I never make it easy on my protagonists. In this one, Sherri gets carjacked and left alone at night in the Everglades.

What led to you becoming a mystery author?

I think I was always a story teller, my only talent, and mysteries are my great love. Mine contain social commentary, suspense and always a good laugh along the way.

What authors of your genre have you enjoyed reading?

This is a dangerous question.  I know too many authors to answer it honestly.  They’re my friends and I want to keep it that way.

How do you promote your novels?

I love doing workshops or library presentations. Best of all, I’ve gotten terrific reviews. But really, the best way is word of mouth so I hope my fans will tell their friends.

What are you currently working on?

I’m working on a second Singer Brown book  Wasted Days and Wasted Nights, but I’ve got into the habit of working on more than one thing at once, editing a book about to be published and writing the latest book while noodling a short story or a future book.  This way I never get blocked or bored.  When one thing doesn’t work, I turn to another.

–interview was conducted by Denise Fleischer, GWN editor and contributing writer