An Interview with Pamela Kopfler, author of BETTER DEAD

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“Holly Davis wanted a divorce, not a funeral.

 The young widow eased her desk drawer open and removed two files. The first held the divorce papers her husband hadn’t lived to receive. The second was filled with every reason to divorce him in full-color, glossy prints. She strolled to the fireplace of her bed and breakfast and dropped both files onto the cold ashes.”

 -opening lines of Better Dead

Summary of Better Dead

Have you ever heard a woman going through a divorce say, “It would have been easier if he’d died”? Have you said it? Thought it? But what if he did die? Better Dead is a romp of a mystery about a B & B owner who wants a divorce. She gets a funeral and thirty days to solve her not-so-dearly-departed's murder or she's stuck with his ghost for life.

Better Dead is written with an incredible Southern twist, as charming as the author herself! Page turning, fun, and filled with suspense--and very unique characters! As the saying goes, a "keeper," and just the beginning of the series!” - Heather Graham, New York Times Bestselling Author

Better Dead was impossible to put down—a sassy Southern romp of a read.” - Susan M. Boyer, USA TODAY Bestselling author of the Liz Talbot Mystery series.

Better Dead is brisk, witty, full of unexpected happenings and wonderfully real characters. Pamela Kopfler has given us a fresh new heroine in bright and funny Holly Davis, deftly mixing homicide and haunting with Louisiana charm.” - Carol J. Perry, Author of The Witch City Mysteries

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Pamela Kopfler's Biography

Pamela Kopfler is a novelist, Southern-fried and sassy. She writes award-winning humorous mysteries with a kick of Southern sass. Her debut novel, Better Dead, is the first in her B & B Spirits mystery series, to be followed by Downright Dead, and Hog Wild Dead (Kensington Books). She is a four-time Golden Heart® finalist and a Daphne du Maurier award winner.

She can stir up a roux, mix a cocktail, and loves swapping stories. Putting words on the page keeps her alligator mouth from overloading her hummingbird heinie in real life. She marks her time on earth by the lives of the dogs she has loved­­––who often show up in her stories.

Pamela lives in South Louisiana where the spirits are restless, the food is spicy, and the living is divine.

Interview with Pamela Kopfler

Prior to the release of Better Dead on December 26, 201, Pamela Kopfler answered a few questions about her debut novel, her writing process, and herself. I was able to get my hands on a copy of Better Dead before it was released, and, let me tell you, this is one fun cozy mystery with a paranormal twist that will keep you guessing. You do not want to miss out on reading this novel.

Question - Could you please describe what the book is about?

Pamela Kopfler - A feisty B & B owner believes her cheatin’ husband deserves to choke on his divorce papers and spend eternity roasting in hell after nearly bankrupting her Louisiana bed and breakfast. At least, she’s half-right when he turns up dead, but she’s dead wrong when she accidentally calls him back from the grave. Unfortunately, he has unfinished business. Unless she wants to be stuck with her ghostly ex forever, she has to wedge him through the pearly gates by cleaning up the mess he left behind—a smuggling ring he started behind her back at her B&B. Now she has thirty days to solve her not-so-dearly-departed’s murder or she’s stuck with him for life. Or worse, she may be doing life.

Q -Where did you get the idea?

PK - The inspiration for Better Dead came during a writers’ retreat at Nottoway Plantation in Louisiana. The organizer challenged the authors to write a ghost story in the spirit of Lord Byron’s challenge to Mary Shelly to write a supernatural story at a retreat in 1816. Shelly gave us the classic Frankenstein. I twisted Frankenstein and added a funny bone when I remembered a lament of many women going through divorce. It would have been easier if he’d just died. But what if he did die and he came back as a ghost? That thought sparked the premise for Better Dead.

Q - What’s the story behind the title?

PK - The title came with the inspiration for the Better Dead. Titles always come to me with the premise. I’m not sure I could write a book without a title. I’d feel all wishy-washy about it. A title is like a rudder steering the story and keeping it from drifting in the wrong direction. Thank goodness my publisher liked the title too.

 Q - No spoiler, but tell us something we won’t find out just by reading the book jacket.

PK - Everyone knows everyone’s business in a small town but not their secrets.

Q - Tell us about your favorite character.

PK - Ha! Just one? Impossible. Burl, the not-so-dearly-departed, was so much fun to write. I had to keep reminding myself he was dead. Miss Alice almost sat on my shoulder and fed me lines. Of course, Holly’s nose for trouble kept me busy. Nope. I can’t pick just one.

Q - If you could spend a day with one of your characters, who would it be and what would you do?

PK - That’s another tough one. I’d take Holly on a road trip to New Orleans and try to keep up with her. If we made it back alive, I’d have another story to tell.

Q - Are your character based on real people, or do they come from your imaginations?

PK - All of my characters are conjured up from that child within that still pretends.

Q - How long did you take to write this book?

PK - It took seventy-eight days to draft Better Dead. The revision took much longer, but I don’t remember how long. Revision is something that is never really complete.

Q - What kind of research did you do for this book?

PK - Oh, it was grueling…I visited many historic homes that had been converted to beautiful bed and breakfasts, sipped lots of cocktails, and ate some of the best southern style food on earth. Don’t pity me too much though. (Excuse me while I bless my own heart before you do.) Actually, that part of the research was serious fun! Other than that fun B & B research, my family has orders to bleach bit my computer to hide my search history.

Q - What did you remove from this book during the editing process?

PK - I cut ten thousand words. I had a subplot that my editor felt needed to go and she was right. I hope to add some snips from the editing room floor to my newsletter. I really did cut my darlings.

Q - Are you a plotter or a pantser?

PK - Both. I have a general idea of the whole story and an opening when I put my keys on the keyboard. After I get the opening down, I write a short synopsis just for me. As the pages pile up, sometimes the plot changes because I’ve found a better twist, so I go with that.

Q - What is your favorite part of your writing process, and why?

PK - Revising. It’s like makeup. Everyone looks better with a little lipstick on.

Q - What is the most challenging part of your writing process, and why?

PK - Starting, hands down. Once I am writing the real world fades away, and I’m in a timeless place where the story comes to life.

Q - Can you share your writing routine?

PK - It’s not pretty, but it works. First, I’m easily distracted, so write alone in a room, any room. I face a wall and listen to Bach or ambient sound on and wear noise-cancelling headphones. All notifications are turned off on my computer, and I don’t answer calls except designated rings. My best writing times are first thing in the morning or late at night.

Q - Have you ever gotten writer’s block? If yes, how do you overcome it?

PK - I think writer’s block is fear and almost every writer has that, even if they don’t admit it. I pull up my Kevlar panties and tell fear to suck it up because no one is going to die if I write a bad page. The power is in my bowed up pinkie finger. Backspace, baby, and that bad page never happened.

Q - If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

PK - Write like you know what you’re doing and one day you will.

Q - How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

PK - I have one dusty novel rotting away on my hard drive. I call that one my training wheel novel and it will never make a two-wheel track to publication. I have one women’s fiction complete that I hope to home soon. My work in progress, Downright Dead, is book two of the B & B Mystery series coming later in 2018. Book three, Hog Wild Dead, is a twinkle in my eye.

Q - Do you have any writing quirks?

PK - Yes, but I’m, um, recovering. I have a sticky note compulsion that I’m trying to break. I also often say the dialogue aloud. That’s another reason I write alone in a room. Mumbling about murder in a coffee shop could get me in a world of trouble.

Q - Tell us about yourself.

PK - My husband and I have a blended family of five, which is sometimes a circus and sometimes wonderful, but always a blessing. I count my days on earth by the lives dogs adopted. My current fur baby is a solid black standard poodle who thinks he’s the sixth child. Between you and me, he is.

Q - How did you get into writing?

PK - I took the scenic route, as I often do. I was hosting a home and garden show on a local TV station, telling Southern anecdotal stories on a local NPR affiliate when I met Mr. Deluxe, my current husband. After a year of our long distance relationship, he popped the big question, but someone had to move. That someone was me. The only marketable skill that survived the move was my ability to write, so write I did.

Q - What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

PK - Read a good book. Walk my big black poodle. Try a new restaurant or an old favorite.  Paint. Cook. Decorate. Garden. Watch the Tigers or the Saints play. Travel. I don’t get to do these things as much as I’d like, but each interest fills the well that spills out stories.

Q - Apart from novel writing, do you do any other kind(s) of writing?

PK - I write an occasional blog and have a non-fiction book simmering in the background.

Q - Share something about you most people probably don’t know.

PK - At an air show once, I was invited to fly in an old World War II double-winged, two-seater plane that had been used to carry injured soldiers in its belly. I jumped at the chance, and it was so worth it. There was no pressurization and I felt like Snoopy and the Red Barron as the wind whipped through my hair.

Q - What are you working on right now?

 PK - Downright Dead, book two in my B & B Spirits Mystery series.

Q - What’s your favourite writing advice or quote?

PK - “We are all apprentices in a craft where on one ever becomes a master.” - Ernest Hemingway

Links to Pamela Kopfler

If you’re interested in reading Better Dead or in learning more about Pamela Kopfler, please check out the following links.


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