Friday, December 30, 2016

Interview with Author Phyllis Gobbell by Jacqueline Seewald

I’m interviewing Phyllis Gobbell who, like me, writes a little bit of everything, books, short stories, creative nonfiction, and poetry. She has received awards in both fiction and nonfiction, including Tennessee's Individual Artist Literary Award. She is an associate professor of English at Nashville State Community College, where she teaches writing and literature. On any Tuesday night, you will find her meeting with her writers group that began thirty years ago. She plays the piano and tennis. She is co-author of two true-crime books based on high-profile murders in Nashville: A Season of Darkness, with Doug Jones, and An Unfinished Canvas with Mike Glasgow. Her narrative, “Lost Innocence,” appeared in the anthology Masters of True Crime. Turning to traditional mysteries, she released the Jordan Mayfair Mystery Series in Spring 2015. Pursuit in Provence was first in the series. Secrets and Shamrocks has just been released. It has received excellent reviews like the previous novel:

“Gobbell’s enjoyable sequel to 2015’s Pursuit in Provence takes Savannah, Ga., architect Jordan Mayfair and her travel writer uncle, Alex Carlyle, to Ireland. Jordan’s keen knowledge of architecture and history comes in handy in her efforts to uncover the truth. Fans of travel cozies will find plenty to like.” --Publisher’s Weekly
“A visit to the verdant Irish countryside is marred by murder. The second in Gobbell’s travel series is filled with delightful descriptions of Ireland and offbeat characters…”--Kirkus Reviews

Question: What is the title and genre of your novel? Why did you select them?
Secrets and Shamrocks is a cozy or traditional mystery or amateur sleuth mystery, whichever you prefer. Jordan Mayfair is on another adventure with her travel-writer uncle in a small town in Ireland. In some of the promo, I say that “secrets are as plentiful as shamrocks,” and that about sums it up. Shamrocks come into play, also, as one of the Irish legends resonates in the present day mystery.

Question: What inspired this novel? How did it come about?
It is the second in the Jordan Mayfair mystery series. First Jordan and her uncle, Alex, traveled to Provence, where I’d been on a couple of occasions, and I chose Ireland for the setting of this one because I spent three weeks teaching in Thurles, the same little town featured in the book.

Question: Could you tell us a little bit about the heroine of your novel?
Jordan Mayfair is an architect from Savannah, Georgia, who had just turned fifty in Pursuit in Provence. She had raised five children as a single mother, and the last of her children had just left for college. Her travel-writer uncle had his first book deal and needed Jordan to go along with him on the trip to Provence, so she did, stretching herself, and in some ways re-inventing herself. Now she and Alex are visiting friends from long ago in Georgia, Colin and Grace O’Toole, who own a B&B where a cast of eccentric characters are staying. And everyone seems to have a secret, plus there is a murder, of course. Jordan can’t keep from getting involved! And Paul Broussard, the charming patron of the arts from Pursuit in Provence, makes another appearance.

Question: Can you tell us about some of your other published novels or work?
Besides Pursuit in Provence, I wrote two true-crime books about high-profile cold cases that were solved in Nashville, one after ten years, one after thirty years. Mike Glasgow and I collaborated on An Unfinished Canvas and I wrote A Season of Darkness with Doug Jones. After those true-crimes, with all the meticulous research that they involved, I was ready for something much lighter, and I’m having fun with the Jordan Mayfair Mystery Series.

Question: What are you working on now?
I’m almost finished with Treachery in Tuscany, the third in the series, and – you guessed it – it’s set in Italy, mostly in Florence.

(How exciting! My younger son and his family vacationed there this summer and loved the area)

Question: What made you start writing?
It seems I’ve been writing my whole life. I remember cutting out the words in the “speech bubbles” of comic strips and filling in my own words. Maybe it’s because I’ve always had something I wanted to say! I tried to write a novel when I was in the 6th grade and got about 30 handwritten pages before I realized how awful it was. My first published works were articles for family/parenting magazines when my children were young. I also wrote a children’s book at that time, The Magic Click, about seatbelt safety. I had short stories published later. My passion is fiction – though I’ve found it harder to get published than non-fiction.

Question: What advice would you offer to those who are currently writing novels?
Write what you love to write. I don’t have good advice about publishing, but hard work and perseverance do seem to pay off. If you have something you want to say, the act of writing, the process and the result will give you a good feeling (maybe not money in the bank, but satisfaction). I tell my creative writing students that I read everything I write out loud, and if I don’t love it, it’s not ready for anyone else to love.

Question: Where and when will readers be able to obtain your novel?
Secrets and Shamrocks is available on Amazon in hardback and e-book. 

Readers, you can request this lovely novel at your local libraries as well.

Comments and/or questions for Phyllis are appreciated.


Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

Love, love, love Ireland! Sounds like a really good book/series.
Good luck and God's blessings

Susan Oleksiw said...

Sounds like a very good series. I love the idea of a travel series, exploring new places and cultures. Good luck with the series.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Thanks, Pam. Phyllis is having trouble with Blogger, but she's reading and appreciating all comments.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi Susan,

You and Phyllis have that in common--both being travelers.

Maris said...

Sounds like a great series.

pgallaher said...

Glad to see my Five Star friends' posts!

Mary Freels said...

What a treat—I followed a link to read an interview with one of my favorite local writers and discovered an excellent blog site in the process!

I've read the first two books of the series, and I can hardly wait for the third. I love the way that Phyllis can effortlessly pack so much into a book that can be read cover to cover while curled up on the couch. She hasn't failed to include excellent scenic descriptions, interesting characters, and a winding story line with a surprise ending in the first two books; so, I know the third is going to be just as enjoyable.

Sharon Ervin said...

A meaty interview. Draws a great picture of an author at work, from inspiration to finished product. Thank you.

Brenda Hill said...

A mystery in Ireland? Sounds intriguing! Enjoyed the interview.

pgallaher said...

Thanks for the nice comments. It has been a pleasure to do this interview. Jacquie, you have a fabulous site!

pgallaher said...

I didn't leave my website. It's - and that's where I post about my writing.

Jacqueline Seewald said...


Wishing you much success with this intriguing new mystery.
Happy New Year, everyone!

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