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Interview with Mystery Writer Hannah Reed

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Hannah Reed is the nom de plume of writer Deb Baker.

As Deb she has penned The Gertie Johnson Backwoods Adventures and The Dolls To Die For Series.In her formative years, Deb fantasized of becoming either a private investigator or undercover detective. So when Deb began scripting the Queen Bee mysteries, she did something she always wanted to do–she went undercover with an alias!

Hannah was one of her all-time favorite names. Reed was her great-grandmother’s maiden name. So she put the two together.

Hannah, please share how you came up with the concept for your Queen Bee Mysteries?

I own it all to my amazing agent. One day we were batting around ideas for another series. She said, “No one has done a series about beekeeping.” And the rest is history.

Do your characters dream within you?

If you mean do they visit me, absolutely. My characters pop into my head for visits at the strangest times – while driving (I’ve stopped listening to music so I can hear the stories they tell), in the shower, and at that moment right between deep sleep and waking awareness.

What do you love most about the cozy genre?
That justice is always served. The bad guy never gets away and the girl always gets the good guy. I’m a romantic.

Hannah, please share the titles of three cozies on your nightstand?

I’m one of the Cozy Chicks along with Lorna Barrett, Kate Collins,Maggie Sefton, Leann Sweeney, Julie Hyzy, Ellery Adams and Heather Webber. They are like family, so I have the newest releases by the Chicks on my nightstand–Murder in Three Volumes by Lorna, Written in Stone by Ellery, Nightshade on Elm Street by Kate, and I’ve ordered Julie’s Fonduing Fathers.

Who are some of your favorite mysterywriters?

Other than the Chicks, I love Cleo Coyle, L.L. Bartlett, Dennis Swanson, Agatha, and Castle.

How do you find balance?

Balance? What’s that?

What is the guilty pleasure you find the naughtiest?

Reading Fifty Shades of Gray has been the naughtiest guilty pleasure I’ve indulged in since I was 14 and snuck off to devour Coffee, Tea, or Me? by Donald Bain. My heavens, we’ve come a long way in descriptive content!

What did you learn about yourself while penning ‘Buzz Off’?

That I love writing about small towns. The first series I ever wrote was set in the Michigan Upper Peninsula, the second in Phoenix, Arizona, which is an enormous city. The Queen Bee series brought me back to life in small town Wisconsin. It felt like coming home.

What challenges did you endure while penning ‘Beeline to Trouble’?

Real life has a habit of intervening at the most inopportune times, and that period of my life was no different. Staying on track regarding deadlines and keeping the story’s tone consistent is difficult during periods of personal conflict.

What fears are you facing with the release of ‘Beeline to Trouble’?

As a writer, I’m filled with constant terror. The fourth in the series has to be well received, since sales will determine the fate of Story Fischer and her small town of Moraine. Publishers watch bottom lines carefully and aren’t timid about dropping a series. And I really love writing this particular one.

But I have a deeper, more consistent fear that I share with many other authors. As Beeline is released I’m writing the next in the series – Beewitched. I’ve seen fifteen of my mysteries published at this point in my career, yet with the beginning of every single one I’ve been afraid that I can’t do it again, that the page will remain blank, that it was only a fluke in the first place that I’ve managed to finish a book. But then the story begins and somehow it unfolds.

What are you most ambivalent about when you sit down to write the Queen Bee series?

Ambivalent! That’s my middle name. I don’t outline and sometimes have no idea where the story will go. So I’m constantly encountering forks in the road and having to randomly choose a path. Then there are those times when I think I know whodunit and that person changes midway through.

What do you want your readers to walk away with after reading your books?

My goal is simple – I hope to entertain my readers, make them smile, maybe laugh out loud at my character’s antics, give them a brief respite from their daily lives. A bit of humor is so important to our inner psyche, and I try to infuse it into my stories.

If you were able to go holiday shopping with whomever you want (past or present), who do you pick and what are you talking about and munching on?

Well, since it’s the holiday season I’d spend an afternoon with Charles Dickens. We’d discuss his creation of the character Scrooge at the local pub while dining on shepherd’s pie with a side of mushy peas. And occasionally we would lift our pints and wish you all a Merry Christmas!

Thank you so very much, Hannah, for this fun interview.

Thank you, Diane, you really had me with your questions.

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About Diane Morasco