Sunday, February 16, 2014

Interveiw and Giveaway with Tina Whittle

I'm happy to introduce you to Tina Whittle. Tina and I were on a panel together at "Mystery Goes South" in Atlanta, GA. We both write cozy mysteries that incorporates history into the story. Tina has been gracious enough to give away one of her books. You must be a follower of the blog, leave a comment and leave your email address so we can contact you. Let's get started on learning more about Tina.

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  1. Tell us a little about yourself.
    Well, I’m a full-time mystery novelist living and working in Southeastern, Georgia. I’m a wife and mom; I love reading and writing and almost all things Southern (the food and the language and the people, yes, the choking hot summers, not so much). I share my lap with a neurotic Maltese named Cloud and my backyard with four bossy chickens named Pansy, Maleficent, Onomatopoeia, and Chicken Whittle. My research interests are varied – neuroscience, SWAT procedures, the American Civil War – but my favorite kind of learning is hands-on (which is why you’ll find me at Writers Police Academy every year.
  2. Tell us about your most recent book/or the book we are focusing on.
    I write the Tai Randolph/Trey Seaver series, which is an amateur sleuth traditional mystery series. The series itself is based in Atlanta, but for the most recent book – Blood, Ash and Bone – I moved the action to Savannah, where Spanish moss, cobblestones, and ghost stories soak the atmosphere. There’s kissing, bickering, and clue-finding as Tai, the owner/operator of a Confederate-themed gun shop,  and Trey,  her ex-SWAT corporate security agent boyfriend, look for a priceless Civil War artifact and instead find stalkers, moonshiners, unreconstructed rebels, alligators, wolves, KKK Grand Dragons, snipers, bikers, buried treasure and a ruthless killer. You know, just another day in the Deep South.
  3. Why did you choose this particular genre?
    They say that romance is the genre of emotion, sci-fi the genre of ideas, and mystery the genre of justice. Real life, unfortunately, is a more tattered reality. Mystery allows readers – and writers – a way to experience a world where order is restored, and the good guys win (at least most of the time). I especially enjoy an amateur sleuth novel, because I get to pretend that someone like me (okay, someone a little more adventurous) might actually be able to solve a crime.
  4. What was your journey to publication like?
    Arduous. I’m glad, though; that gave me a chance to practice two important skills – patience and detachment – that have become crucial to my career now. Submitting (and all the work that comes along with it, the research and querying) is a job in its own right. I had to learn to balance that part of being a writer with the actual, you know, writing. And now, I have to balance PR and promotional work with actual writing. So I also learned balance and perseverance. I am grateful now for the rejections too – they taught me to understand the difference between the kind of critical feedback that is useful, and the kind I need to ignore.
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  1. What is a couple of your favorite books and what are you reading now?
    I’m reading your book, Terror on Tybee! I love Southern mysteries, both the ones that let me explore new ground and the ones that return me to familiar territory. For me, the past is like an undiscovered country, so I enjoy historicals of all stripes. I just finished a fabulous romp through Victorian London in Wicked Little Secrets by Susanna Ives, and I am waiting for my advanced reader copy of Dark Places of the Earth by Jon Bryant, a non-fiction account of the slave ship Antelope and the Savannah court trail – argued by Francis Scott Key himself – that set the legal precedent for the Amistad case. And I’m steady working through Neuroscience For Dummies.
  2. What are you working on now and can you give us a little peek inside it?
    I am having the most fun with my current work-in-progress, Deeper Than The Grave (set for release in November 2014 from Poisoned Pen Press). It’s the fourth in the Tai Randolph/Trey Seaver series, and it’s got two intertwined mysteries (one during the 1860s and one during the present time) both involving a set of unusual bones. Plus this is the book where my  characters’ complicated romance reaches a crucial make-or-break-it stage. For this book, I’ve been researching forensic anthropology, skateboarding, blacksmithing, the I-95 drug corridor and – believe it or not – what would happen to Atlanta during a massive traffic-jammed, blizzard-induced shutdown ( I claim NO responsibility for what happened in January – I write fiction. Pure fiction).
  3. What advice would you give authors who are on their own journey to publication?
    Only this, that most obvious and repeated of aphorisms – it really is all about the journey. They say if a butterfly isn’t allowed to break out of its cocoon all by itself, it won’t have the strength to fly. Such is the same for writers. The pre-publication jungle is a place of pain and frustration and disappointment, but it is the training ground for patience, perseverance, and the ability to hold on to what matters to you most. It thickens your skin even as it opens your heart. And in the middle of all the nonsense, you create what will be your practice, your meditation, your Zen – sitting at the keyboard, clearing space for your art. Be in that present moment with it. It will be your life preserver, I promise.
  4. Do you have any books or websites that have helped you with your writing that you could share with us?
    When you need to remember why you’re doing this – reconnect with your Muse, your God, your Divine Inspiration, your Creative Spirit – I cannot recommend The Artist’s Way by Julie Cameron heartily enough. It lives by my writing chair. Also on that note, Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, which is practical, mystical, gritty and incandescent all at the same time. In terms of mystery writing specifically, I am constantly telling people to get this book -- How to Write Killer Fiction: The Funhouse of Mystery & the Roller Coaster of Suspense by Carolyn Wheat. I haven’t found a better book on writing the genre, everything from plot to character development to how to tell if your book is a mystery or a thriller (there’s a difference). And in terms of websites, Dan Harmon (he who writes the brilliantly subversive sit-com Community) spins the archetypal Hero’s Journey into a circle, demonstrating that plotting isn’t a linear start-to-finish process, but rather a grand cycle that begins where it ends, and that by understanding that, you can plot almost anything just by filling in the eight stations of the Story Circle (you can find Dan’s highly entertaining and somewhat salty explanation of all this (Die Hard! Werewolves! James Bond!) at the Channel 101 website:
  5. Please let us know where we can find you on the web.
  6. Several places actually. My main cyber-home is at – here’s where you’ll find my appearance schedule, news and reviews, plus links to sample chapters and short stories featuring my mystery-solving duo. You can also find links to blogs, including The Fascination Files ( and The Mojito Literary Society (a blog I share with four other genre writers at You can also find me on Facebook ( and Pinterest ( and my protagonist has her own Twitter (her handle is @Tai_Randolph).


  1. Looking forward to reading a fun mystery with a hint of history. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction.

  2. I suddenly understand why I enjoy reading mysteries. Your explanation makes perfect sense. sheiladeeth at gmail dot com

  3. Looking forward to reading this mystery!

  4. Thank you all for dropping by, and thank you, Deborah, for having me.

  5. Good interview. Enter me in at mendingnets(at)yahoo(dot)com