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Phyllis Smallman - Cozy Mystery with Spunk

"Hot and new at sixty two!" Phyllis Smallman only published her first novel when she was sixty two, but it was definitely worth it as the award winning book impressed readers and critics alike. Margarita Nights is a cozy mystery with a lot of spunk, and this book, along with everything else she published, earned rave reviews on Amazon. As our author of the day, Smallman reveals why she picked a bartender as the protagonist of her book, talks about how her later books became more noir and a lot more.

Please give us a short introduction to what Margarita Nights is about.

Margarita Nights is set in Jacaranda, Florida were Sherri Travis is tending bar out on the beach. Sherri and her husband, Jimmy Travis, have had a loud and nasty breakup. Jimmy just won’t accept that their life together is over. When Sherri is seen on his boat just before it blows up, she becomes the main suspect in his murder. But more than a few people wanted Jimmy dead. With a little help from the guys in the bar, Sherri finds the answers to Jimmy’s death.

Margarita Nights is your award-winning, debut work. What has the experience been like to publish your first novel? 

I wasn’t published until I was sixty-two. Not only was I published but Margarita Nights won an award and was nominated for another by the Crime Writers of Canada.  I have to say that success at that late age is just as sweet as it would have been at thirty-two. Walking into Canada’s largest Chapter store, and seeing Margarita Nights on the New & Hot table, was a thrill. New and hot at sixty-two! Not only exciting but funny at the same time.

Why did you pick a bartender to be your amateur sleuth?

I made Sherri a bartender because I wanted to write about an ordinary person caught up in extra-ordinary circumstances. She isn’t a super hero and that makes what happens to her even more terrifying. She’s a person everyone can relate to, chronically short of money and worried about paying the mortgage, she’s someone you will want to spend time with.

Tell us more about Sherri Travis - what makes her tick? 

For Sherri, the Sunset Bar & Grill is home. She watches events, large and small, unfold there, listens to stories, and sometimes, in fact far too often, she gets involved in the lives of people for whom she pours drinks. And she survives her mistakes with help from the guys who hang with her in the bar. 

Your supporting characters come from all different walks of life. Why did you take this approach?

Her friends come from all walks of life and family isn’t just the people she shares DNA with. The lawyer who comes in every night after work, the entrepreneur, and the chef  who came across the border from Mexico, they’re all equal in Sherri’s eyes and all necessary.=

Why cozy mystery? What is it about the genre that appeals to you?

While Margarita Nights is a cozy, the books which follow become grittier and more noir. Given what happens to Sherri, it’s understandable. She gets car-jacked and left in the Everglades alone at night, and she’s abandoned out on the beach with a dead woman and a hurricane about to hit. Every book sees life get harder for Sherri. The one thing that doesn’t change is her sense of humor and her friendships.

What are you working on right now?

I’ve just finished Last Call, the seventh book in this series. Sherri and her friend Marley are in Key West for a little holiday. Marley goes off with an Elvis impersonator to see his show, promising to be back before midnight but never returns.  The police tell Sherri she must wait seventy-two hours to put in a missing person report. With a tropical storm threatening to turn into a hurricane, and people already evacuating the town, Sherri hunts for her friend.

Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?

You can read excerpts from my books at www.phyllissmallman.com and I’m always eager to have Skype chats with book clubs and library groups.

Margarita Nights

Margarita Nights

Phyllis Smallman
Murder…a beach…and a bar - this fast-paced mystery is an intoxicating cocktail of characters you’d love to have a drink with and people you don’t ever want to meet. A story set on the Mangrove Coast of Florida, it is the first in a series.
$0.99
$2.99

About the Author

Phyllis Smallman's first novel, MARGARITA NIGHTS, won the inaugural Unhanged Arthur award from the Crime Writers of Canada after being shortlisted for the Debut Dagger in the U.K. and the Malice Domestic in the U.S.. Her writing has appeared in both Spinetingler Magazine and Omni Mystery Magazine. The Florida Writer's Association awarded CHAMPAGNE FOR BUZZARDS a silver medal for the best mystery and her fifth book, HIGHBALL EXIT, won an IPPY award in 2013. LONG GONE MAN won the Independent Publisher's IPPY Gold Award as best Emystery/thriller in 2014. The Sherri Travis mystery series was one of six chosen by Good Morning America for a summer read. Before turning to a life of crime, Smallman was a potter. She divides her time between a beach in Florida and an island in the Salish Sea. Visit her website at www.phyllissmallman.com
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