Margaret Lashley - Second Chances, Fun and Mysteries
Margaret Lashley is the author of Absolute Zero, the original Val Fremden stand-alone novel, and the hilarious Val Fremden Mystery Series, which readers often compare to Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. As our Author of the Day, she tells us about the first book in the series, Glad One.
Please give us a short introduction to what Glad One is about.
Glad One is about second chances. And third chances. And fourth chances. And the notion that we never do become the perfect people we think we should be. It’s about learning to laugh at ourselves, and accept others – no matter how odd – for themselves as well. Oh, and it’s also about solving a mystery or two. ;)
Tell us more about Val Fremden. What makes her tick?
Val is every woman who’s tried at life and failed. She’s been around the block more than twice. But something akin to hope still burns in her semi-jaded soul. She’s on a mission, yet again, for reinvention. But mostly, she wants to belong. She fights it, conflicted inside like oil and water. But what Val truly wants a real family – a tribe of friends she can count on. What she doesn’t count on is where those friends end up coming from.
Why did you pick St. Pete Beach as the backdrop for this book?
I live in St. Pete, so it seemed like a natural for a backdrop. Also, my characters are mostly broke. Hanging out at the beach is free.
Val works with a bunch of weirdos to try and find her friend's true heir. What is it that makes them so endearing?
A one-word answer: flaws. Flaws make us human, and approachable. Who wants to hang around Mr. or Ms. Perfect? Not me. But what also draws us to them are the characters’ innate good hearts, no matter how hard they try to hide them sometimes. Their unexpected goofy behaviors add to the fun, and make them into the kind of folks you want to have as your friends.
Why do you find it important to work humor into your writing?
For me, life without laughter is a dry, empty husk. Humor has gotten me through a lot of tough times, and has become my most trusted companion. There’s enough sorrow and fear in the world. I prefer to spread light and joy. Laughter is nature’s crud cutter. It can clear away anything.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I can make the best chicken and dumplings you’ve ever tasted.
Readers have compared your work to that of Janet Evanovich. Are you a fan?
Yes, I love Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum character. She’s one of a kind. But then again, all characters are. Evanovich paved the way for humorous mysteries for women. She’s a heroine in my book. Well, not literally in my book. You know what I mean. ;)
Did you plan from the start to make this into a series? No. How does the second book tie in with this one?
After finishing Glad One, I realized I had so much more to say about life as a woman who has lived through a lot and come out the other end smiling. We need more seasoned, middle-aged, underdog women as role models. Val is a champion for helping us see, forgive, and love ourselves.
Any amusing story that happened to you as an author?
Yes. My first-ever review for Glad One. It was a really good review, but the reviewer only left me one star – by accident. There I was on launch day, with one lone, one-star review! It hung up there on Amazon like a golden sphincter for three solid hours while I panicked and bit my nails off. Finally, someone else mercifully gave me another review, a five-star, and then came another. I laugh about it now, because it is SO something that would happen to Val Fremden.
How do you force yourself to finish what you're doing before starting the next project when the new idea is nagging at you?
I write down new ideas in my “Crazy Lady Notebooks.” That way they’re there waiting while I finish up my latest work in progress.
Have changes in your own life affected any of your characters?
Absolutely. I went to Europe for seven years and came back in a very similar situation to Val Fremden in Glad One.
What are you working on right now?
I am very excited about a new series I’m working on with the tentative title of The Drex Files. It will be a humorous mystery series with a bit more of a paranormal, urban legend kind of feel. It will also have a strong, wisecracking female protagonist. (I can’t help myself!) I plan to release the first one in early summer…I can hardly wait!
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
You can find me on Amazon, BookBub, and Facebook. If you’d like to interact with me on a daily basis, apply to join my closed group on Facebook called Val Talk. Or email me at the address below.
Val Talk: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ValTalk/
Email: [email protected]