Diane Bator - Christmas Holidays Meet Murder Mystery Meets Witchcraft

Diane Bator - Christmas Holidays Meet Murder Mystery Meets Witchcraft

A prolific Canadian mystery writer, Diane Bator is the mom of three kids, two cats, and a step-dog as well as author of Wild Blue Mysteries, Gilda Wright Mysteries, Glitter Bay Mysteries, and the Audra Clemmings Mysteries from Books We Love Ltd. with many more books and plays to come. As our Author of the Day, she tells us all about her book, Dead Man's Doll.

Please give us a short introduction to what Dead Man's Doll is about.

Christmas blooms in Sugarwood in the form of a brightly lit tree in the town square, colorful ornaments, and snowstorms. A damper falls on the festivities after Audra Clemmings stumbles over the local butcher in Miss Lavinia’s shop. Then a witch doctor arrives in town. Can Audra solve the mystery before the killer turns their sights on her?

What inspired you to write this story?

The entire Sugarwood Mystery series started as a short story in an anthology I did years ago for a small publisher. Once the anthology was no longer in print, I was determined to use that story for good. Drop Dead Cowboy was born from The Christmas Witch and Dead Man’s Doll soon followed so I could keep tabs on my characters.

Why did you include a witch doctor in your story?

The witch doctor came about because his aunt, Miss Lavinia, is a witch who creates voodoo dolls for all her clients. When the protagonist, Audra, finds Miss Lavinia injured and the local butcher dead, it creates a reason for the witch doctor, Simon, to come to town to look after his aunt’s shop. Since she trained him, he’s the only one who knows how she likes things done and how she would look after her clients.

Why did you pick the small town of Sugarwood during Christmas as the backdrop for your story?

To date, I’ve set all of my novels in small towns. Those places where everyone else knows your name and your business. It makes is easier for the amateur sleuth to get information since generally they’re not actually in law enforcement, but have a reason for being nosy and trying to solve the crime. What I find interesting, is that in small towns strangers can be frowned upon but usually have a good reason for being there.

The town of Sugarwood, in particular, is fictional. I really wanted to set a series in a small Canadian town and since I live in Ontario, it was nice to bring in the conservation areas and the wonky weather that comes from living in between the Great Lakes.

Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?

There are things outside of writing? LOL! I love to do crafts, especially things like counted cross stitch and Diamond Art. I’m also a Reiki Master, enjoy playing with essential oils and creating smelly stuff, and am a budding witch. I used to do karate, but had to give that up when my body decided it wasn’t a good fit! I do love hiking and wandering around in nature.

Interesting cover. Please tell us more about how it came about.

Originally, book 1 Drop Dead Cowboy had more of a cozy cover to it. A woman in front of a craft shop. I decided to play more on the mystery part of the books and try going a wee bit darker. While Drop Dead Cowboy got a new cover with a cowboy in a storm, I wanted Dead Man’s Doll to feature the voodoo dolls since they play a big part in the series – thanks to Miss Lavinia! Not sure what will be on Book 3. I guess I’ll figure that out once I have a title!

Why do you write mysteries? What drew you to the genre?

What’s funny is I’ve always loved puzzles and mysteries, but never thought to write any until I entered a Mystery Ink contest and won. That was how my first novella was published and I realized I wasn’t meant to write Women’s Fiction. I needed to focus on the darker side of my characters. And the nosier side.

This is book 2 of the Sugarwood mysteries. Can it be read as a standalone? How do the other books in the series tie in with this one?

It can be read as standalone. Book 2 is a continuation, but the information is all there. Future books will center around Stitch’n’Time, Audra’s craft shop, but there will be some interesting things coming now that Audra and her best friend Merilee have met not only the witch doctor but their friendly neighbourhood coven. So many opportunities, so little time!

Do you plan all the twists and turns in the plot out before you start writing, or does some of it just "happen" along the way?

I am a self-professed pantser. The twists and turns in the plot come out as I’m writing and are not always self-directed. Sometimes, I’ll be writing along when a character decides that they don’t like what’s happening and will throw in a twist of their own! Or they take over an entire scene which causes changes in both past and future chapters.

I have done books where I’ve written an outline. I’ve even followed said outline.

But I much prefer to just let the storyline and the characters sweep me up in the fun and action.

Which character was your personal favorite in Dead Man's Doll, and why?

Please don’t tell Audra or Drake (her dog!) but Miss Lavinia is pulling ahead as my favorite character. She started off as this dark mystery woman in Drop Dead Cowboy, but revealed her softer side in Dead Man’s Doll when she was laid up for a while. Having Audra get to see the “real” Miss Lavinia was a bit of a surprise for us both.

When starting on a new book, what is the first thing you do?

Panic. Then I write about 50 pages and panic some more.

Kidding! I sit down with coffee or water (or wine if it’s evening) and just write. Over the years, I’ve taught myself to write in 15-20 minute intervals so I simply write whatever comes to mind. Most of the time, what I write has been percolating in the back of my mind for days or even weeks so there is already a thinly disguised storyline there. I just need to get it on paper.

Once I get a rough draft, I go back and edit, flesh it out, then send it off to my editor.

Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?

My writing days depend on where I am and what I’m up to.

If I have a writing group session, we do a check-in then write/edit for 45 minutes then do another 15-minute check-in before one more 45-minute writing session. I get SO much accomplished!

If I’m on vacation and have time to write, I do laundry, clean the house, and wash dishes…

Then I write! As long as I can get a few solid pages done during a writing session, I’m happy!

What are you working on right now?

NaNoWriMo! If you’ve never heard of National Novel Writing Month, you need to check it out. Who else is crazy enough to attempt writing 50,000 words in 30 days but a bunch of writers?

The book I’m working on is Book 3 in my Glitter Bay Mysteries. No big reveals, sorry! Someone dies, but it’s not immediately obvious it’s a murder. The man’s wife is definitely the main suspect!

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

Website    https://dianebator.ca/
Blog    http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Twitter    https://twitter.com/DianeBator
Facebook    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Diane-Bator-Author/

Goodreads    https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7179945.Diane_Bator

Linkedin    https://www.linkedin.com/in/diane-bator-35b63418/
Smashwords    https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/bator
BWL Publishing Inc    http://www.bookswelove.com/authors/bator-diane-mystery/
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Diane-Bator/e/B009CGCPRE/
BookBub    http://freshfiction.com/author.php?id=40329

Pinterest    https://www.pinterest.ca/dibator/diane-bator-author/?lp=true
Instagram    https://www.instagram.com/dianerondeaubator/

Tik Tok      https://www.tiktok.com/@dianebatorauthor?lang=en

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