Killing Time (A Dodie O’Dell Mystery)
by Suzanne Trauth
About Killing Time
Killing Time (A Dodie O’Dell Mystery)
6th in Series
Publisher: Lyrical Press (June 2, 2020)
Number of Pages: 215
Digital ASIN: B07W8ZX8JV
With Halloween just around the corner, Dodie O’Dell is making preparations to transform the Windjammer Restaurant on the Jersey Shore into a haunted house, while the Etonville Little Theatre is staging Dracula. But casting the titular Transylvanian is proving challenging. The amateur actors in the company are not shy about chewing the scenery, but who among them can convincingly sink their fangs into a victim’s neck? When a mysterious newcomer with a transfixing Eastern European accent lands the part, rumors that he might be an actual vampire start to take flight—not unlike the bat who’s recently been spotted in the town park.
But everyone’s blood really runs cold when a stranger is found in the cemetery with a real stake in his heart. Dodie decides to put her Halloween theme menu on the back burner and stick her neck out to bring the killer into the light of day. She’d better keep her wits about her, though—or Dodie may be the next one to go down for the Count . . .
“It sure looks haunted,” Edna murmured to no one in particular, to the cast of Dracula in general. They were grouped around her on the sidewalk that ran past the old Hanratty place that Carlos and Bella had rented. I’d never been inside though once I’d driven by it when I first moved to Etonville on my way out of town. The house stood on half an acre of scruffy lawn with patches of dried dirt, surrounded by a few straggly trees—minus leaves at this time of the year—and no neighbors. The nearest houses were on a side street some distance away. The three-story building looked as if it might collapse at any moment, its outer walls covered with weathered, gray shakes, the steps to the front door supported by concrete building blocks. There was no handrail. Light leaked out of windows on the first floor. Curtains covering small, circular panes on the third story—an attic room?—quivered. Was someone up there watching us? I shivered. A turret rose upward from the right side of the structure, giving the house a smidge of outdated dignity. A drain pipe dangled loosely from the gutter.
“Let’s go.” Penny corralled actors and nudged everyone forward to the front door. There were six company members, Renfield saying he’d be along later, plus Penny, Lola, Pauli, and me. Strength in numbers.
We crept across the porch cautiously, aware of the creaking beneath us as the flooring shifted with each individual’s footsteps. Penny put out a hand to knock on the door. Before she could hit knuckles to wood, it flew open. “Welcome everyone!” Bella stood in the doorway, a silhouette backlit by muted foyer lighting.
Behind her Carlos stood silently, observing the group huddled in his entryway, like deer caught in headlights.
Lola took the lead, moving graciously into the house. “Thank you. So nice of you to invite us to your home.”
I’m not sure what the members of the Etonville Little Theatre were expecting. Given the exterior and location of the Hanratty homestead, I anticipated something out of a late-night classic horror film.
About Suzanne Trauth
What initially got you interested in writing?
I can’t remember when I didn’t want to write! In grade school it was short stories; in high school stories and short plays; many years later I got back into writing plays and screenplays. And eventually novels. I always had the creative itch, even as a child. But my interest was encouraged by – no surprise – a supportive teacher who helped me and others enter writing contests. I never looked back!
What genres do you write in?
In fiction I write the Dodie O’Dell mystery series, but I am also working on a stand-a-lone mystery as well as an historical novel. In between writing the books I write plays. I love switching from one genre to the other. It forces me to stretch my creative juices as I shift from one process to the other.
What drew you to writing these specific genres?
I read mysteries as a child and teenager – Nancy Drew, the Bobbsey twins, Agatha Christie – and was naturally drawn to the genre when I began writing. I love the challenge of deciphering clues and solving the puzzle of a murder! Since I spent my career teaching and producing plays, writing them was a logical step for me.
How did you break into the field?
I spent quite a while working on my first Dodie O’Dell mystery – Show Time – and before I sent it around to publishers, I worked with a wonderful editor, who had been recommended by an agent, to get the manuscript in the best shape possible. That work paid off when I submitted it to Kensington Books and received a contract for three books; three more added later. I credit that editor with helping me break into the novel-writing field.
What do you want readers to take away from reading your works?
I hope readers of the Dodie O’Dell mystery series have a good time and enjoy themselves. I want them to laugh, scratch their heads over the murder mystery, and fall in love with the town of Etonville and its quirky characters.
What do you find most rewarding about writing?
I love the creative process…letting ideas percolate, then pop out and onto the page. I also enjoy revisiting the characters in my mystery series to see what they are up to with each new adventure. I love to see the pages pile up as I print them out. A finished project!
What do you find most challenging about writing?
Sometimes I have to work to keep my focus on my writing and not get sidetracked by email, social media etc. It is so easy these days to wander off into other activities. I also find revising can be a challenge at times. The detailed process of digging into plot points, sentence structure, word choice, character definition…the nitty-gritty of writing can be grueling even when exciting.
What advice would you give to people wanting to enter the field?
The best advice I can give anyone is the same advice I was given over and over: don’t give up and keep writing. It also helps to write what you enjoy reading.
What type of books do you enjoy reading?
I am in a book club and we read a wide variety of mostly fiction: contemporary, historical, classics, bestsellers. Away from my club I read a lot of mysteries by the heroes of the genre. They inspire me.
Is there anything else besides writing you think people would find interesting about you?
I spent my career teaching and directing in university theatre…so in every one of my books I include a production of a play. It gives me lots of opportunities to create stories focused on the process of producing shows and the antics of the people involved in the community theatre! I am also a celebrant performing weddings in New Jersey.
What are the best ways to connect with you, or find out more about your work?
My website is: www.suzannetrauth.com
I can also be reached on Facebook:
If you send your email address to firstname.lastname@example.org
I will add you to my email list for news about my upcoming work—Killing Time.
Suzanne Trauth is a novelist, playwright, screenwriter, and a former theatre professor at a university. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, the Dramatists Guild, and League of Professional Theatre Women. When she is not writing, Suzanne coaches actors and serves as a celebrant performing wedding ceremonies. She lives in Woodland Park, New Jersey.
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