Today’s guest on the Mystery November Book Tour is Margaret Langstaff with her book Marlin, Darlin’
Where is your home town?
You ask about my current home town. Well, I have lived on a lovely small farm just west of Gainesville, FL since 2002. Lots of wonderfully crazy animals, both domestic and wild. Six rescue dogs, horses and chickens and wild turkeys, deer, raccoons, red tail hawks, you name it. We have a high old time here. I love it. Every day has its surprises. One morning I had a lost Emu show up at my front door! My dogs went bonkers—it made an electrical jazzy noise—but that’s nothing, don’t get me started. Snakes on my front doorstep, bugs the size of drones. Florida in many areas is still really wild and my little farm is a perfect example.
How long have you been writing?
Though I’d ghost-written many books for public figures and celebrities already, Marlin, Darlin’ is the first novel I wrote under my own name. It’s got a lot of “me” in it, much disguised personal history and experiences (as crazy and whacko as they are!). Writing it was quite a release for me and it still remains my most popular book. It is the first title in the “Garnet Sullivan Live from Florida” mystery series. (The second—just two so far—is The Devil, the Diva and the Deep Blue Sea).
When it came out it was named #3 on the top ten mysteries for the month by Goodreads. Made my heart sing! Blew me away! My first novel! No way!
What is your favourite sub-genre of mystery?
My favorite sub-genres of mystery are the wild rollicking funny Florida mysteries such as those written by Carl Hiassen, mysteries that turn on the natural whacko behavior of many Floridians, behavior that is sometimes bizarre, wrong-headed and hysterical, but nevertheless contains its own inner logic and is true to the time and place. But I also am a fan of “cozies” and I think Marlin, Darlin’ contains blended elements of both.
Where is Marlin, Darlin’ set?
Punta Bella, the setting for my mysteries, is fictional (but an accurate depiction) small town Florida, and as strange as they may be, people there are good neighbors, kind and courteous. It’s very similar to my original home town and where I grew up, an island bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Indian River Lagoon on the other. A beautiful place off the beaten path. And true to say, I didn’t have to “stretch” the truth much about anything in these mysteries to write them!
But anyway, as I said, Marlin, Darlin’ is set in the fictional tiny “boondock” (backwater, rural) town of Punta Bella on the east coast of Florida. This is the area in which I grew up, and the mystery is saturated with much local color and ambience and bears the marks of the many wild experiences I had personally during that time. My childhood there was an idyll, full of blue skies and sunshine, not a care in the world other than deciding what we wanted to do next for fun. Florida had not been overrun by developers at that point; it was pristine and lushly wonderful and beautiful, unspoiled. I and my friends went barefoot everywhere, lived in our bathing suits and were in the water—ocean or river—most of the time, fishing, swimming, boating, camping out on islands just off the mainland and generally carousing around in an innocent way. Most of our parents were busy professionals and were very indulgent with us.
Introduce us to Garnet Sullivan.
Marlin, Darlin’ features as its heroine one Garnet Sullivan, someone who bears a faint resemblance to me as I was as a very young woman just out of college and casting about for her life’s “mission,” somewhat too serious in her desire to right all wrongs and “save the world.” She is a feisty nosey red head, poking her nose into everybody’s business, annoyingly offering opinions where none had been solicited, and a true blue die-hard dog lover. In her zeal, she is just as wild and crazy as I was at that point in my life, actually perhaps more so (wink).
She is a perpetually cash strapped freelance reporter for a local small town newspaper and, to make ends meet, teaches adult ed dullards at the local community college for a pittance.
So Garnet is typically busier than a one-armed wall paper hanger what with her duties at the newspaper, racing back and forth to classes, grading hopeless student papers, trying to keep Chester on the straight and narrow and, of course, “saving the world!” It’s a heavy burden and her customary state is “frazzled” and outraged at some real or imagined moral lapse or petty crime. The poor thing is always just a few inches away from a nervous breakdown, what with all she has taken on.
It is a bit ridiculous (something currently lost on her), for Punta Bella is, after all, not the center of the universe, and its short-comings and the minor transgressions of its citizens are not likely to spell the end of Western Civilization.
What mystery does she set out to solve?
The mystery at the core of the novel is the peculiar inexplicable death of billionaire car dealer David Devaigne—alone—on his massive yacht in a Marlin fishing tournament.
Garnet smells blood (a great story) and the unwinding of the ensuing complicated plot has teased and delighted most readers.
BTW, Garnet’s best friend and bunkie is Ringo, her beloved Irish Setter—and gasp—he disappears unaccountably in this maelstrom of wackiness. Kidnapped by a malefactor? Maybe ….
Tell us about some of the other flamboyant characters.
The love of Garnet’s life is Chester Dare, the handsome witty county public defender, a natural match for her, quite in keeping with her self-righteous “Joan of Arc” complex. But Chester has become afflicted with a job related drinking problem due to his stress over his usual hopeless derelict clients and this causes Garnet a lot of concern and sleepless nights.
Woe is she. She has a big heart for the less fortunate, will go to the ramparts for any desperate case and is in a constant state of agitation as a result (so many desperate cases!).
The mystery at the core of the novel is the peculiar inexplicable death of billionaire car dealer David Devaigne—alone—on his massive yacht in a Marlin fishing tournament in the Atlantic.
Garnet smells blood (a great story for the paper) and the unwinding of the ensuing complicated plot has teased and delighted most readers.
BTW, Garnet’s best friend and bunkie is Ringo, her beloved ever-slobbering Irish Setter—and gasp—he disappears unaccountably one night in this maelstrom of wackiness while Garnet is in the thick of researching the murder. Kidnapped by a malefactor? Maybe …. (Confession time: I had myself a wonderful Irish setter named “Ringo” and he lives on frolicking and creating chaos in my Florida mystery books. It’s sort of my way of keeping him with me now that he’s gone.)
So many other key nutzo characters contribute to a devil of a plot (most readers have no clue until the final paragraphs of how it will end). Here are a few:
Julie Devaigne, society vamp from Miami and the gold digger wife of David Devavaigne who is trying to divorce him when he is killed in the fishing tournament;
Randy, the limp witless reporter the Miami Herald sends up to Punta Bella cover the breaking murder story and who causes more problems for Garnet than creating solutions and nearly dies of plutonium (!) poisoning;
Garnet’s crazy pathetic community college students (she teaches on the side to make ends meet), especially Jim and his ditzy girlfriend Bunny, both of whom work at Travis Fenderman’s car dealership which David Devaigne is trying to buy when he is killed;
Allison Highsmith, Garnet’s “Miss Perfect” rich society BFF who gets sucked into the chaos trying to save Ringo;
Lance, the hunky, gorgeous airhead sheriff who suddenly becomes enamored of Garnet for her admirable zeal to solve the crime and whose sudden blind devotion to her creates all kinds of difficulties;
There are so many more hapless malefactors, goofy kindly do gooders and true to (Florida) life nutcases, all colorful and off the wall, too many to mention, but it all coalesces nicely thanks to—
Professor Biederman, a dotty retired professor emeritus at the University of Florida whom Garnet seeks out for “expert” counsel and from whom she eventually gets way more than she bargained for!
I have only mentioned half of the colorful key characters in this demon of a plot.
The story romps through some of Florida’s backwaters, but what is a boondock?
Marlin, Darlin’ is set in the fictional tiny “boondock” (backwater, rural) town of Punta Bella on the east coast of Florida around the Indian River Lagoon and close to the Atlantic Ocean.
You mention dog lovers will like the book too, tell us about the dog element.
The book is authentic Floridiana, you can feel the sand in your toes and hear the waves on the beach (as many reviewers have said); it could keep you up all night and it will make you laugh (to which the reviews on Amazon also attest).
It’s a sweet love story and dog story all wrapped up in a sinister murder mystery. Check the reviews! With very little promo this book has gotten its share of fans.
I do hope you read it and enjoy it—most who have read it have found it laugh out loud funny and surprising—and if you do read it, please let me hear from you!
Hot tip: There’s a third Garnet mystery in the works … so stay tuned.
Where can readers find out more about you and your books?
More about me and my books is available on my lively blog www.margaretlangstaff.com, LinkedIn, Profile http://www.linkedin.com/in/margaretjeanlangstaff/
Goodreads and my Amazon author page, should you be interested.
Margaret is a former publishing exec (Random House, Doubleday), her work has appeared in the L.A. Times, L.A. Times Book Review, the New York Times, Publishers Weekly and the Baltimore Sun
She has also been a ghost writer for public figures and celebrities for many years before I penning her first novel.
I want to thank you, darling Rosie Amber, for giving me this opportunity to talk about one of my favorite books. It’s been great fun and you are a treasure and an angel to authors! I would love to hear from readers of your wonderful blog, and would be delighted to answer any questions they may have or just chat about books and the writing life!
Marlin, Darlin’ link for Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk
Tour News: ebook discounted 50% to $2.99 Limited time only
Us Readers only: signed copies of the paperback are also available for $5.00 plus $3.99 shipping from “Forever Rare Books” on Amazon (60% off regular price)
Sale on autographed copies of paperback!
Reblogged this on Barrow Blogs.
Wowzer! Thank you!
What a fabulous whirlwind of an interview, Rosie. Margaret’s book sounds chaotically wonderful. Checking it out.
I apologize for some of the repetition and choppy-ness in the interview. I had to write it in a hurry and sent bits and pieces to Rosie at various times. Not her fault! Mine. I’m usually (haha) far more coherent in my writing.
I think it’s a wonderful interview, Margaret – and I’m sure your writing is equally brilliant!
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Judith, you are the sweetest thing. Thank you so much!
Reblogged this on Ethel Lewis and commented:
Re-posted from Rosie Amber
All these re-blogs are so kind and generous, I’m a bit embarrassed!
Great to meet you, Margaret, hope you are enjoying the tour 🙂 x
All you ladies are so lovely and so very kind. It’s a great pleasure to meet you all!
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What a FABULOUS interview!
Who could resist this author or her books?
Definitely one for me.
Oh, how wonderful! Thank you very much!
I love the sound of your childhood life Margaret and your book sounds as full of enthusiasm as you do in this interview. Definitely checking this one out 🙂 Great interview Margaret and Rosie 🙂
This bowls me over! Thank you! Most everyone who has read it found it lots of fun and kind of like a “free” Florida vacation.
Reblogged this on Margaret Langstaff and commented:
Read all about it! Breaking news! Thank you, Rosie, and your stalwart and kind team of avid readers! Beautiful people, one and all!
Great interview Margaret & Rosie. I’m finding lots of new authors on this tour 🙂 Good luck with the book, Margaret 🙂
Thank you! This book has had its share of luck already, but continues to find new readers. A real blessing (as is Rosie!) 🙂
It was my first novel (I’ve written several since) but remains my favorite and is the most popular, perhaps because it was written straight from the heart.
Lovely looking dog. Hope you are enjoying the Book Tour and best of luck to the author.
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I’m having great fun meeting all these wonderful book lovers, and I hope some of them take a chance on MARLIN, ARLIN’! Most who have have really enjoyed it and found it surprising and entertaining, a mystery thriller that is also a bundle of hearty laughs 🙂 Check the reviews! Thank you for the good wishes!
Marlin, Darlin’–finger slipped above
I laughed at your description of life on a Florida farm. I’m a Texas gal and I can relate. The bugs truly can carry you away! LOL Congrats on the book.
Haha, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. When I step out the front door, I do so gingerly and with an eagle-eye! I am shocked at the new life forms–wriggling, slithering, buzzing, shrieking and chirping–that I continue to discover. The other day I glanced out my kitchen window and saw one of my dogs trotting through the back yard with a huge snake dangling out of its mouth! Almost had a heart attack. That was a challenge, I’m telling you.
Sometimes I do miss the ocean and the relatively benign “coastal” life.
What happened to the dog and the snake, Maragret? This worries me. I’d be no good living where you are – I’m a wimp when it comes to snakes
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OK, here goes, with my heart in my throat and running at about 5000 rpms, I dropped everything, ran out the back door, grabbed Gumbo by the tail and started yanking and yelling at the top of my lungs “DROP IT!” I almost yanked his tail off (haha). That didn’t work, just woke the snake up, and it started writhing and jumping, coiling its head up towards his,(it was six feet long at least) so I pounded on Gumbo’s head with my fist (now cursing a blue streak you could hear for 5 miles), but he only clamped down tighter on it, so then (having gone completely insane at this point), I finally pried his jaws apart with my hands (he had the snake in the middle). Snake fell to the ground, I whapped Gumbo’s butt hard, snake shot off toward the woods, and I flopped down in the grass and held Gumbo down so he wouldn’t chase it until it disappeared.
Finale: I brought all the dogs into the house and drank a whole bottle of wine by myself (rather quickly!) and then went to bed. Not a good day. But we survived. I must be crazy or crazy about my dogs to do things like that haha–possibly both 🙂
BTW, Judith, you’re not a wimp, you are just rightfully cautious. But living on a farm with so many animals crises happen all the time and you have to act fast or you’ll lose one of them. I caught a raccoon trying to chew the head off one of my chickens one day–but that’s another story (and it didn’t have a happy ending in spite of my “valiant” efforts) (:
Margaret – I do hope you put that into one of your stories – I was gasping with hand over mouth and laughing at the same time (cursing a blue streak!) Hilarious. But how brave – prising his mouth open OMG! The worst thing our Cavalier King Charles has picked up was a worm – and I wouldn’t let her back in the house until she dropped it. Love her to bits – but a snake … And poor chicken. It’s foxes that get them around here. Do hope your enjoying your day – it’s a great idea of Rosie’s.
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Sadly it’s dogs like mine that also get the chickens here Judith. Their behaviour can be very embarrassing – especially when the chicken in question belonged to a client of mine. I rescued it from my dog’s mouth and hoped it would perk up a bit…but sadly no…
Poor chickens, they are so vulnerable.
I love the interview Rosie and Margaret and this series sounds very much my cup of tea – i’m going straight over to amazon now 🙂
That makes me swoon! Thank you! OXOX’s 😉
I don’t think I’ve ever had more fun! Today was absolutely wonderful. Thank you all! What a smart, delightful group of book lovers. I hope we can stay in touch!
There’s a third Garnet Sullivan mystery in the works and an audio version of MARLIN, DARLIN’ will be out in a few months. One day I’d like to write a mystery series about life on the farm–plenty of sinister mysteries here and colorful neighborhood characters.
You guys are the greatest! So cordial and kind. I can’t thank you enough for having me!
And thank you Margaret for being such fun. Night
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Sweet dreams, forget all the hair-raising incidents I mentioned. All is well 🙂
Reblogged this on theowlladyblog.
Aw, thank you 🙂 Must have said that today here a hundred times! What a day! An honor.