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Interview with Mystery Author Sparkle Abbey

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Mary Lee Woods and Anita Carter write the Pampered Pets mystery series together under the names of their two rescue pets–Sparkle (ML’s cat) and Abbey (Anita’s dog).

Mary Lee Salsbury Woods is the “Sparkle” half of Sparkle Abbey. She is the founding president of Sisters in Crime–Iowa and a member of Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, Kiss of Death, the RWA Mystery Suspense chapter, Sisters in Crime, and the SinC internet group Guppies.

Anita Carter is the “Abbey” half of Sparkle Abbey. She is President of Sister’s In Crime–Iowa and is also a member of Mystery Writers of America and Kiss of Death the RWA Mystery Suspense chapter.

Hi Mary Lee! Hi Anita! Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today.

Hi, Diane! Thanks so much for inviting us.

Please share with everyone how you came up with the name Sparkle Abbey?

Because we co-write the Pampered Pets mystery series, our publisher asked us to use a pen name. After considering several combinations of our names, none of which really worked; we came up with the idea of using our pets’ names. Sparkle is Mary Lee’s cat and Abbey is Anita’s dog. We have other pets so our pen name could have potentially been Chewbacca Matisse. :-)

Sparkle, please share how you came up with the name Pampered Pets for your series?

Our series is set in Laguna Beach, California. A beautiful community and truly one of the most pet-friendly places on the planet. The main characters in our
series, Caro Lamont and Melinda Langston are cousins and are former Texas beauty queens who have relocated to Laguna where they work with some very pampered pets. Caro is a pet therapist and Mel owns Bow Wow, a pet boutique.

When you’re deeply connected and immersed in a book, Sparkle, have you ever had a dream that you felt was not your dream?

While we’ve had some strange dreams (involving penguins no less–and Eagles, the rock band not the bird, and Matthew McConaughey), we’ve not had dreams we felt didn’t belong to us. Those bizarre dreams may be a result of our very

active imaginations, or perhaps sleep deprivation while on deadline. Or too much Starbucks.

Do your characters dream within you?

Writing is very much like dreaming while awake. Don’t you think? While it’s something we’ve found non-writing friends and family don’t necessarily understand, when you’re writing these fictional people, they’re very real to you. And in your head, you’re in their world. Does that sound crazy? LOL

Have you had a dream that was one of your characters?

ML: I haven’t. Have you, Anita? I’ve dreamed I was in Laguna Beach but not involving any of the series characters.

Anita: No, but that would be really interesting. Like ML, I dream about us being in Laguna Beach. And the seagulls. The seagulls in Laguna like to dive bomb the tourists. ML, I think I dreamed about that at the end of a yoga class. Remember? I fell asleep when we were supposed to be meditating or something. I was really relaxed.

What do you love most about the cozy genre?

The wonderful thing about the cozy genre is that it’s an escape. We are both fans of classic Hollywood movies such as To Catch a Thief, His Girl Friday, Bringing Up Baby, and It Happened One Night. They entertain with a level of sophistication. They make you think and try to figure things out, but they’re
not dark and depressing. Cozies are like that–no on-the-page graphic violence–not heavy and dark but by no means simple. The perfect escape after a stressful day!

Sparkle, please share the titles of three cozies on your nightstand? Go ahead Mary Lee, you first. Anita, you’re next…Sparkle and Abbey are welcome to join in, too. *giggling*

Mary Lee: Currently on my nightstand are: Dandy Gilver and the Proper Treatment of Bloodstains (Catriona McPherson), Murder for the Halibut (Liz Lipperman) and Death Comes Silently (Carolyn Hart).

Anita: Death of a Neighborhood Witch (Laura Levine) Death, Taxes, and Extra Hold Hairspray (Diane Kelly) and Beef Stolen-Off (Liz Lipperman)

About Diane Morasco