Friday, May 20, 2016

A Conversation with Mystery Authors ReGina Welling and Erin Lynn

Omnimystery News: Author Interview with ReGina Welling and Erin Lynn

We are delighted to welcome authors ReGina Welling and Erin Lynn to Omnimystery News today, courtesy of Great Escapes Book Tours, which is coordinating their current book tour. We encourage you to visit all of the participating host sites; you can find their schedule here.

ReGina and Erin have a new book out in their Ponderosa Pines cozy series, Bait and Snitch (May 2016 ebook format) and we recently had the opportunity to spend some time with them talking about it.

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Omnimystery News: Tell us a little more about your series characters. What is it about them that appeal to you as a writer?

ReGina Welling and Erin Lynn
Photo provided courtesy of
ReGina Welling and Erin Lynn

ReGina Welling: EV Torrence is an interesting character to write not only because she lives in a hamlet of quirk known as Ponderosa Pines, but also because she has spunk. The backbone of her community, she is the hub of information — okay, if you want to be technical — she is totally plugged into the gossip grapevine. Never malicious, EV uses the information she gets from her cronies at knitting group to help solve little problems all over town.

EV is a fun character to write because she is a strong personality with vulnerable places and insecurities. She is stubborn, tenacious, and just a little broken. One of the more fun things about writing her is that she has a flair for the dramatic that leads her to make slightly wacky choices when dealing with the problems that arise in her town.

Erin Lynn: Erin: Chloe LaRue is the super-secret gossip columnist for Ponderosa Pines weekly newsletter. She recently moved back to the town, which grew out of a hippy commune started by Chloe's grandparents and EV's parents. The two form a fast friendship despite a 20-year age gap, and that friendship drives the stories.

What appeals to me about Chloe is that she was able to figure out what she wanted in life and is content — but not complacent — with her choices. I personally often feel overwhelmed with options and unsure of my decisions, like I'm sure a lot of you out there do. But when I write for Chloe, it's with the certainty that she's where she's supposed to be and, at least for now, doing what she's supposed to be doing. Chloe still has some growing to do, but it's going to happen in her own backyard.

OMN: Bait and Snitch is the fourth in the series. How have these characters changed since they were first introduced?

RGW: Everyone changes as they grow and my characters are no exceptions. As a reader, I love series because it gives me the chance to watch a character deal with whatever external factors each story presents and to see how these experiences change them going forward. I tend to be a loyal reader which means that once I start a series, the only thing that will make me put it down is when characters become static.

EL: It's a combination of both, for sure. While we want our characters to grow emotionally; to develop relationships; and to overcome obstacles, we also want to make sure to retain all the little things we love — and our readers love — about them.

OMN: Suppose one of your characters were to interview you. What would be their opening question?

RGW: Oh, that's a fun one. It would go something like this:

EV: Knitting? Really? I hate knitting almost as much as I hate to sew. You couldn't have picked something fun like candle making or glass blowing?
Me: Hey, you're the one who won't apply herself. Knitting can be Zen-like.
EV: That's a load of hooey. You can't knit any better than I can, so how would you know?
Me: Well, I … um.

And that would be the end of that particular conversation.

OMN: How much of your own personal or professional experience have you included in your books?

RGW: I love this question because I have friends who are convinced that certain characters are based on them and nothing I say changes their mind. Not once has anyone claimed I based the antagonist on them, though. We all want to be heroes and not villains.

The best way I can think of to answer this question is to point out the things that EV Torrence and I have in common. Neither of us can knit worth a darn and we are both from small towns. If I'm being honest, I think she has a better sense of humor than I do.

Oh, and we are the same age.

EL: Some of our characters are named after people in our lives — though I have not named anyone after either of my two sons yet — but their personalities don't necessarily match. The only exception is Veronica, who was modeled almost completely after my best friend, Jessica. She is beautiful and incredibly intelligent, but every so often emits this ditzy vibe that cracks me up.

OMN: Describe your writing process for us.

RGW: My process has evolved over time to include a lot more structure. I work from an outline that covers the main plot points and a detailed story progression. However, I've learned that sometimes my characters demand things that were not included in the outline. With that in mind, I try to leave enough room for those creative surprises that come when I've abandoned myself to characters and the story. In those moments, I become part spectator while the action plays out in front of me and my fingers race to note it all down. Because I know this is likely to happen, I do create character biographies ahead of time so that when a scene takes on a life of its own, each character responds appropriately.

OMN: And where do you most often find yourself writing?

EL: I have tried writing at several desks and tables, using a few different setups and chairs, but the place I get the most work done is curled up on my bed with my laptop. It sounds uncomfortable, but it works for me. I just make it a point to get up and stretch frequently.

OMN: Tell us more about the series setting. What factors went into creating Ponderosa Pines?

RGW: Growing up in a small town in Maine has absolutely influenced the settings in my books. Things that people take for granted in other places just didn't exist here. For instance, I was an adult and living elsewhere before I had the opportunity to ride in a public bus or take a taxi. The setting for Ponderosa Pines takes its cues from the rural, slightly remote areas of central Maine where you can still drive on paved roads to areas that don't have electricity and doing the weekly grocery shopping turns into a half day excursion.

OMN: How do you come up with the titles for your books?

EL: I used to live on Ponderosa Drive in a really cute little townhouse complex with lots of woods and garden areas. It was actually the first spark of inspiration for the series; so much drama happened during the year I leased that place, I figured I needed to write about it. Our titles always have a double meaning, and are usually a play on a common saying or cliché. Bait and Snitch is no different, but you'll have to read it to find out who or what it's referring to!

OMN: How involved were you with the cover design?

RGW: Relying on my art background, I've created all our book covers so far with Erin providing input every step of the way. The first three Ponderosa Pines books formed a trilogy while the rest will be standalone stories within the series. So, for Bait and Snitch, we went with the same text treatments but decided to change up the color palette to set it slightly apart from the first three books.

OMN: What are some of your outside interests? And have any of these found their way into your books?

RGW: My background in photography and mixed media art ended up playing a huge part in the Psychic Seasons when Julie, the main character of the first book, made her living as a photographer. I also have a passion for alternative building, specifically homes created using cordwood construction. This played out in the Ponderosa Pines series where the entire town evolved from a commune started during the peace and love period into a haven for the ecologically minded. It has been fun to explore the idea that living green doesn't mean going without every modern convenience.

OMN: Complete this sentence for us: "I am a mystery author and thus I am also …".

EL: I am a mystery author and thus I am also a nosy individual. Do not leave your blinds open; I will look inside. Do not crumple your ATM receipt and leave it on the ground; I will absolutely check your balance. Do not have a private conversation in a public place without lowering your voice; I will listen. And if I can't hear you, I'm going to make up a story about you in my head — maybe even use it in a book later!

OMN: Do you write under a pen name?

RGW: I use a pen name because my last name is one that makes telemarketers wish they hadn't called. Seriously, you should see my junk mail. Thanks to a typo at Radio Shack, we got mail for the Veghogs for years. Not even close to correct, and to make it worse they sold our address to some database because we got hundreds of credit card offers. ReGina is my middle name, weird spelling and all. In fact, there's supposed to be an accent mark over the e, but since there's not one of those on a standard keyboard, I leave it off. Welling is the beginning of the small town where I grew up. I chose it to remember my roots.

OMN: What kinds of books did you read when you were young? And have any specific authors influenced how and what you write today?

RGW: My mother always tells the story of how she figured out I had learned to read at age three when she brought home a new book and I picked it up and read it to her. Before that, she thought I had just memorized all of my books. However it happened, I will be eternally grateful to her for reading to me every single night because she turned me into a voracious devourer of words. And an eclectic one. No genre left untouched. I sometimes think all those words going into my head had to eventually find a way back out or I might have ended up in one of those nice coats with the sleeves that tie around the back.

The list of books I have loved is endless and spans from cozy mystery (I cut my teeth on the "Cat Who" books back in middle school) to fantasy (from Shannara to Hogwarts), to Sci Fi. I've tasted the dust of Dune, seared the threads of Pern. Oh, and lets' not forget romance — Victoria Holt reflected the greed of a man's soul in the fire and flash of an opal. Nora Roberts. Danielle Steel. Stephen King scared the bejeesus out of me in such delicious ways. Agatha Christie, Sue Grafton, and Patricia Cornwall, oh my, yes. Can't forget Jim Butcher and the immortal Harry Dresden.

Wait, what did you ask me? I've gone into my happy place and forgotten.

OMN: What kinds of movies or television do you enjoy watching?

EL: The eclectic thing is a family trait, and it extends to television and movies. For example, my Netflix queue looks like this: Friends, One Tree Hill, Supernatural (killed 9 seasons in only 12 weeks), The Walking Dead, Silver Linings Playbook, Die Hard … and on and on. My guilty pleasures are anything Bachelor-related, Big Brother during the summer, and Dancing with the Stars. Also, anything with John Cusack in it — that man is revered in our family!

OMN: What's next for you?

RGW: My husband and I are hunting for the right property to build our own home using cordwood construction. It would fit right into Ponderosa Pines. I'm sure EV and Chloe would be proud.

EL: I'm hoping to master being a single mom while turning this fixer-upper house of mine into a home and writing a lot more books!

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ReGina Welling and Erin Lynn Book Tour

ReGina Welling is the co-author of the Ponderosa Pines series written with her lovely daughter, Erin Lynn. She has recently moved back to Maine where she was raised in a small town with certain similarities to Ponderosa Pines — one that felt like an extended family.

After living in Syracuse, NY for 8 years, Erin Lynn recently returned to the middle of nowhere, Maine with the intention of hibernating, writing lots of books and turning a neglected house into a beautiful home.

For more information about the authors, visit them here:

ReGina Welling: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads.
Erin Lynn: Website, Facebook, Goodreads.

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Bait and Snitch by ReGina Welling and Erin Lynn

Bait and Snitch by ReGina Welling and Erin Lynn

A Ponderosa Pines Cozy Mystery

Publisher: the authors Print/Kindle Format(s)

Ponderosa Pines used to be the safest place on earth.

Lately, though, EV Torrence and Chloe LaRue are wondering if their once-sleepy town has caught a ride in a handbasket — with a one-way ticket to someplace hot! When visiting attorney Stacey Hawthorne is brutally attacked, EV and Chloe launch into a new investigation, one that will expose several of their neighbor's deepest secrets.

One of those neighbors has a past, and it's about to come back to haunt the whole town.

Bait and Snitch by ReGina Welling and Erin Lynn. Click here to take a Look Inside the book.


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