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Gayle Trent – author brief

Today we’re joined by Gayle Trent, whose book Dead Pan is being released in November by Bell Bridge Books, a subsidiary of BelleBooks. Dead Pan is the second book in the Daphne Martin cozy mystery series and features an amateur sleuth who is a full-time cake decorator.

In the first book, Murder Takes the Cake, Daphne moved back to her native Virginia and was anxious about starting life over without a husband but with a new career goal. In Dead Pan, Daphne is still getting her business off the ground but has become known as something of a detective to some of the residents of Brea Ridge. When a young man dies after becoming ill (not from the cake, we hope!) at a Christmas party, his mother asks Daphne to help determine what happened.

Jon: Tell us a little more about Dead Pan.

Gayle: When the book opens, a police officer is questioning Daphne about a cake she took to the Brea Ridge Pharmaceutical Company Christmas party. Many people at the party got sick, but most recovered after being treated with a vaccine manufactured by the company. Only one, Fred Duncan, went into a coma and died. Coincidence? Or did somebody have it in for Fred?

Jon: What would you like to overhear people saying about your book?

Gayle: “I laughed so hard when–” A local book club selected Murder Takes the Cake as one of their books; and when I attended the meeting, I was delighted to hear that they thought this or that part was funny. I also love it when people say, “I never guessed ______ was the villain.” Also, there was a review where a woman said she loved the main character’s relationships with various members of her family–that they were beautifully or realistically drawn. I felt like, “Oooh, she got it!” Actually, I’ll take anything that’s not negative. 🙂

Jon: What inspired you to write Dead Pan?

Gayle: I was reading an article in Wired magazine about clinical drug tests. I did some further investigation, and I came across some fascinating stuff I was able to work into the storyline for Dead Pan.

Jon: Any advice for other writers?

Gayle: Read the genre and the publisher they’re interested in writing for. For instance, when my agent pitched my first three chapters of an embroidery mystery to the editor at NAL/Penguin, the editor said she liked it but didn’t love it. I needed to revise it to make her love it in order for her to buy the book. I asked my agent who the editor had published recently. With two names in hand, I went to the bookstore and bought two books. I read them and found they were more descriptive than my own books which tend to be more plot driven. I went back, added more description and gave the heroine a bit more spunk, and the book sold. The first one is due to be released in August of 2010. You just have to be flexible.