Friday, September 20, 2019

Throwdown at the Honker Inn Part #2 (or Return to Hellbillyville)

So, last week I detailed the first part of my epic confrontation with a crazed, psychotic woman and her giant cowboy protector in an Oklahoman hotel. (Here's a handy link in case you forgot...go on, I'll wait. Ready?) 

Now the truth can finally be told! 

I had barely escaped Long Tall Tex and rode the elevator down to the lobby...

The doors swoosh open and Daisy is happily helping a customer.

I said, "I hope you saw or heard what just happened!"

"Yeah," said Daisy (and the customer agreed), "That guy was holding the elevator open so I couldn't get up there!"

Okay. It's one flight. 19 year old Daisy could have taken the stairs. I'd been doing it all day.

Looking like a man tossed into a pit of feral cats, I waited until Daisy finished with the other late-night customer. He smiled at me. I attempted a smile back. My heart wasn't in it.

"Daisy, you need to call the cops, " I said once she'd finally finished her Customer Service.

She tried to pacify me with Millenial logic.  "I took care of the problem earlier. That couple next door to you went out and left their boys behind."

"For tacos," I clarified.

"When they came back, I think she was drunk and--"

"I know she's drunk!"

Ignoring me, Daisy continued. "I think they had a lover's spat. She's upset. I hate to call the police over one little mistake."

"One little mistake? She attacked me! The crazy beeyotch tried to kill me!"

"What? She attacked you?" Daisy posed a very concerned face, one I'd get used to, which ultimately meant nothing.

"You had to have heard it!"

"Oh... I'm gonna have to make an incident report. I really don't want to call the police. But I have to with an incident report. I've never had to do an incident report before."

I'm thinking, Yeah, in your long three week tour of duty.

"I guess I'll have to call the cops."

Finally! By this time, I'm sick of it all. "Daisy, just change our room. I want to get some sleep. Safely."

Daisy grimaces. "I can't give you a new room. We're booked to capacity."

Well, I know that's not the truth. Every hotel always keeps a few rooms open. Just in case. I think this situation merited a big, honkin' huge "Just In Case."

"Daisy, you didn't do your job. Otherwise I wouldn't have been attacked! There's a psycho killer next to us. Look again!"

Daisy looked. She said, "Oh. Wait a minute. Yeah, I found something, I can put you in room 107."

"Fine," I said. "But it's gonna take me a while to rouse my wife and pack."

I went back upstairs. America's Sweetheart has her door open, clearly eavesdropping. For the first time all night, her room is deathly silent. Quietly, I shook my poor wife awake and kept my voice low, doing my best to fill her in.

When we go back downstairs, TA-DAAAAA! Ms. Congeniality is in the hizzy. Chatting amiably over the counter with Daisy, laughing. Miraculously wearing a calm face.

She sneered at me and said in her manly-man's voice, "What, are you leaving?" A missing toothed smile crossed her lantern jaw.

I smiled back, said, "No, we're changing rooms."

She bulked up her square shoulders, came at me, fists bunched. "You think this is funny?"

Good God. Friggin' terminator.

"No," I say, "there's nothing funny about assault."

Her new best pal, Daisy, pipes in with, "Don't engage him! Don't engage him!" 

Like I'm the wild animal.

Shocker, the badger backs off, trying to make a good impression, and commences buddying up with Daisy. Half-asleep, my wife's barely hanging onto the counter.

I turned to the delightful dominatrix, and said, "You know, all I wanted was sleep. We were just going to change rooms. But now you're down here trying to rewrite things."

"Don't engage him, don't engage him, don't engage him," chants Daisy, the most fickle hotel clerk in the universe.

"Whatever. Call the damn cops," I said, as I guided my wife over to the sofa. A cooking show was playing on the overhead TV. It wasn't about tacos.

Daisy finally phones the cops, but to my dismay, my nemesis is over there, dictating the "facts." Making sure everything is correct, at least in her meth-skewed world-view. Then Daisy, while describing us as an "elderly couple," mentions our designated new room number (twice!), along with my wife's name and phone number, right in front of Ms. Sunshine.

I quit listening. There wasn't any point.

The call is in. The Incredible Hulk stomps outside to await 5-0, ready to get the first word in. The law arrived and talked to her first. A lot. Finally, a friendly cop grilled me. Never asked me my name or to see my I.D. He did look at my wife kinda funny, though, because she was sitting upright but with her head hanging, eyes shut. I explained about her minor operation and pain pills, told him she slept through the incident.

He asked me if I kicked the door in. I said, "No. I'm wearing tennis shoes. I'm not a cop, nor am I that strong. I did kick the door once in a childish fit of sleep-deprived anger and told her I was calling you guys, but I didn't kick the stupid door in."

It was explained to me that since the cops didn't witness the Battle Royale, if I brought charges of assault, basically it'd be my story against her lies. And she had a "witness" in Long John Cowboy (mysteriously never questioned, nor seen again, obviously still jaw deep in tacos).
Last thing I wanted was to go to court ("Judge Judy?") with my arch enemy, especially out-of-state. I had no intention on spending money and wasting any more thought or time on The Creature From the Crack Lagoon. She'd end up in prison eventually without my help.

I told the cop, "Forget it then. I'm done. She has kids. Those poor, poor kids. I just want sleep. Unless she's gonna keep pursuing this crap about my kicking down her door."

He nodded, walked off. A police pow-wow was held in front of the traitorous Daisy. One officer went outside to consult with his charge.

Ten minutes later, Hurricane Helga stormed through the lobby, redder than a fire hydrant, ready to blow a blood vessel. For the first time, her bluster had vanished and she didn't say a word or even look at me.

I imagine the chat with the cops went something like this, "You should go in there and thank your new best friend 'cause he just saved your ass. Otherwise, I'm'a giving you a breathalyzer (which you'll fail), a drunk and disorderly, physical assault, child endangerment, you want me to go on?"

Officer Friendly comes over, says, "Folks, you're fine. Let me know if I can do anything to help you."

Meanwhile, my once BFF, then ex-BFF, now BFFF again, Daisy, says, "Okay, I can check you guys into room #107." Like, the Pillbillies hadn't heard the room number enough.

"No thanks," I said, "I don't feel safe with my special friend in the same hotel. We're outta here." Officer Friendly gave us an empathetic nod.

So Daisy checked us out. Under the name "Alabama Ball." (Good Gawd, people, never, EVER stay at this hotel. But, oh what fun I'll have if we end up getting "Alabama's" credit card info!).

I thought about asking Daisy who she thought looked more like someone named "Alabama Ball:" us or my combat opponent? It would've been a waste of breath.

Daisy won't even comp us for the night. She says she can't. Whatever. What's one more little lie between pals?

It's after three in the morning and we hunt down another hotel. But the doors are locked. A friendly-looking woman opens the doors. I took a deep breath, prepared to tell our tragic story. My wife wisely interceded, said, "Do you have a room?"

"Oh," she said, "I can't really check you in until I'm done doing the weekly audit. I'm sorry. It may be another hour or so." Then she looks at us again. "Okay, give me your information, I'll check you in later."

"Thank you!"

She said, "You guys looked so tired and you've clearly been through something. I had to do it."

From the worst of humanity to the best. We needed that.

I still never got to sleep, pumped up on disbelief and adrenaline, constantly reliving the psychotic encounter in my mind's cinema.

Remember, folks, it could happen to YOU! 

Speaking of true tales of horror, check out my new tale of non-fiction, Corporate Wolf. You'll believe a werewolf can plan objectives and delegate tasks!

Friday, September 13, 2019

Throwdown at the Honker Inn!

Not too long ago, I (barely) lived through a true-life Jerry Springer episode.
We were staying at an Oklahoma Honker Inn (name has been changed to protect...the guilty, I suppose). Saturday, midnight rolled around and I'd almost moved on to sleep. Except the air conditioner died. *Thunk* Hsssss...

Well, that sucked, but seemed fairly tenable if I could just kick off a blanket, get comfy, become one with the bed, think of...random thoughts...and weird visions (what's that guy with three eyes doing?)...and...and...

Bang! Slam! Crack! Crack! Booooooommmm! Tromp, tromp, tromp! "Woo-HOOOO!" "Woo-HOOOOO!"

Suddenly I was in the middle of a battleground.

Crap. I burritoed my head within the pillow and hoped for the best. But even through the pillow, I still heard...

"Woo-HOOOOOO! Here we go! HERRRRRE we go!"

Incredibly loud slamming of doors and shouts went on for over an hour. My wife stirred when I flipped the light on beside her to get to the phone (but mercifully--a weird way to put it--she'd had minor surgery and was conked out on pain pills).

Hey! The phone's not working! Great!

Cursing, red-eyed, already sleep-deprived, I put on my clothes (buttons mismatched), and stumbled out into the hallway. Yep, a whole lotta noise coming from the people next door.

I went down to the lobby and no one was there. Just a sign that said "Be back in 5 to 10 minutes." Finally, a young woman rounds the corner, asks if she can help me.

"Yeah, my phone's not working, otherwise I wouldn't be down here. There's all kinds of noise going on next to me. Doors slamming, loud partying, shouting--"

"I know," she says with a smile, eager to please, "there were some boys down in the exercise room making noise. I had another complaint already. I talked to them."

"But...that's on the other side of the hotel. I don't think it's them. I'm at the opposite end."

"Oh, they're probably just running back and forth. Boys will be boys." Smile.

I said, "It's 1:30 in the morning. Shouldn't these boys will be boys be boys in bed?"

"Oh, don't worry. I'll get to the bottom of this," she says, less than confident.

We ride up on the elevator together. Scared of her own shadow, she admits, "I've only been here three weeks. I really hate this."

Sympathetic, I agree. "I know, I would, too. I really appreciate it. And, I mean, I believe in fun like the next guy, but it's 1:30 in the morning!"

"I know, right?" she says. "And you're old, too. Um, I mean--"

"Good night."

All is apparently well and done. Daisy (we'll call her "Daisy") has done her due diligence. I begin to drift off. I'm floating, finally, eyelids heavy, body lifting, three-eyed fish with hats covered in stars swim past me...and...and...


I nearly fall out of bed. The savage party people are back with a vengeance. Purposefully slamming every door repeatedly as hard as they can. Shock-waves vibrated through the walls.

I'd had enough. The phone had failed. The air conditioner had failed. Sleep had failed. Daisy failed. At 2:20, I throw my clothes on again, go next door, pound on the door.
A clearly wasted, glassy-eyed, fake-blond woman in a too small t-shirt answers the door.  Cigarette in hand (non-smoking room), beer in the other. Two small kids hovered behind her.

I said, "Could you PLEASE stop slamming doors?" (Okay, okay, I mighta shouted it a bit).

Waiting for a nice, civil reply, I stood there expectantly. Instead, she slurred, "Get the f**k outta here." Then slammed the door in my face. The final indignation.

That lit my fuse. I gave the door (an ineffective--nothing like the movies) kick, and yelled, "That did it! I'm calling the cops,"I stomped down the hall. ("So THERE".) 

Behind me, her door flew open.

She screamed, "Hey! Hey! You wanna go, bitch? Let's go! C'mon! Kick down my door, bitch? I'ma' gonna kill you, bitch!"

I'm thinking, Okay, this just got bad.

Flump, flump, flump!

She ran after me, grabbed the back of my shirt, hit me in the back, then the shoulder blade, shrieking the entire time. "Let's go! Call the cops on me? Yeah, right! You kicked down my door! You wanna go? C'mon, bitch! I'll kick your ass! I'll..."

"Jesus! I didn't kick down your door!"

I kept plugging straight ahead, crazy thoughts running through my mind (I bet her kids are proud of her.) She's pulling at me, slamming into me rassler style. Then she races around in front of me and drops into a crouch. Her claws go up, middle fingers flipping me off, incredibly sharp, scary fingernails scratching the air. (Honestly, since that day, I've tried to emulate that move and don't know how she did it; clearly practice makes perfect).

I'm suddenly trapped in one of the ever-increasing and disturbing news stories you read about where crazy people kill someone over the stupidest reasons.

"I'm gonna rip you a new one, pussy! C'mon, let's go!"

"I'm not gonna fight you," I said and kept walking. I mean, A) I don't fight women; B) Frankly, I don't fight men, I'm 58; C) I particularly don't fight crazed, hammered idiots; and D) I don't want to die, especially in such a stupid situation.

I continued to try and pass to safety. She lashed out, scratched my hand with her claw, dashed back in, slashed my arm. Doing my best to dodge her attack, I plundered on, but it was akin to being tossed into a rose bush (a vile, amped-up, sociopathic, rose bush).

Out of nowhere, a seven foot-tall cowboy with an even taller cowboy hat, wearing an immaculately pressed long-sleeve cowboy shirt, gets in my face.

The hell? Where'd HE come from? Surely, I'm hallucinating. Giant cowboys don't just show up in the middle of brawls...wait...  Now, I'm REALLY gonna die.
Clearly, he was there to defend his woman's (term used loosely) honor, trying to put a muzzle on his dog so he could hoe-down on my face. With about three feet of height on Meth-thusela, he picked her up easily and threw her back down the hallway. Many times.

"Go! Go back to the room. Go eat tacos," he shouted. 

Tacos? What the hell?

To me, he said, "What're you doin'? What's your problem?"

"Look, I'm not gonna fight you, either," I said as I tried to bypass the hellbilly duo. 

(Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death...)

Meanwhile, Long, Tall Tex continues to lasso his hellcat and toss her back down the hallway. Undeterred, she lunged at me again. Wash, rinse, repeat. Through Tex's intervention, I finally managed to make it to the elevator, but I just know I'm gonna get a country stomping.

Finally, I made it inside the elevator. Tex wedged his back against the doors, keeping them from shutting. Sweet, sweet momma comes running up again, dives. Tex grabs her.

He shouts one last time, "Go back to the room! Now! I'll take care of him! Go! Go eat tacos! Git!"

At long last, she goes to eat tacos (fear not, dear reader, as she'll return to the narrative; oh, yes, yes she will). Tex is still holding up the elevator, now buzzing like a swarm of locusts.

He presses four strong, cattle-rustlin' fingers into my chest, says, "Talk to me. Just let's chat."

I'm hammering buttons to no avail. I'm freaked out. I manage, "She attacked me."

Matter of factly, Tex says, "Look, we didn't slam no doors. It wasn't us. We been gone for an hour. We went out to get tacos. We didn't slam no doors."

In response, I punch buttons. The elevator's going "BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ....." I'm so way beyond slamming doors. And, oddly, I want tacos.

"Get it? It wasn't us," Cowboy continued. "We didn't slam no doors. We went out to get tacos."

I couldn't think clearly. I wondered why a family would get tacos at 2:00 in the morning. The guy wasn't letting me leave the elevator, wouldn't let the doors close. Finally, to get him outta my face (actually, I'm 6'2" and I'm looking up), I told him, "Look, just let me go, I'll change rooms."

And that sounded like a hella good idea. I needed sleep. Appeased, Tex finally backed off, releasing the elevator doors. I ride down to the lobby...

Wait! This showdown is SO big and SO momentuous and SO surreal (and SO damn long), that it'll have to be continued...until next week!

In the meantime, a book...

Friday, September 6, 2019

Full Moon Over the Highway

My eyes! Gahhh, my eyes!

So we're tooling down the highway (that's not us in the above picture) when a motorcycle zips by doing at least 80 miles per hour. With a girl holding onto the driver, wearing the skimpiest of thongs. Her cheeks are spread wide and pointed up for the world to see.

After I'd finished laughing, I said, "I bet her mother's proud of her."

Because laugh is what I did. I assume the woman in question thought this was the most extreme in sexy, but it was ludicrous at best. They went on careening down the highway, surely causing wrecks left and right, not only by their break-neck speed, but more importantly by the shocking glare of the full moon.

("But, officer, I was blinded by this blazing full moon. It wasn't my--"

"In broad daylight? Have you been drinking, sir?")

Later, I gave it more thought, because there are just things you can't unsee). I wondered if she regretted that poor sartorial choice whilst picking out gravel and dead bugs from her arse cheeks. What would've happened had she taken a tumble, fallen off? I imagine the thong would be immediately retired. Furthermore, aren't those things possibly the most uncomfortable and ridiculous pieces of bottom wear ever designed? Finally, is it illegal to be showing that much skin on the highway? 

I got together with my research assistant, Ms. Google, to find out. The results may astound you! (Hyperbole alert!)

In most states, it's okay to ride a motorcycle topless, male or female. Because women's breasts aren't considered obscene. (Those zany, nutty free spirits in Portland, of course, conduct a "World Naked Bike Ride" every year). Now, here's where it gets tricky... Genitalia is forbidden to be exposed, natch. Those parts are naughty. Naughty, I tell you! Because not everyone has them, I guess. But I couldn't find anything regarding arses, so ladies and gentlemen, let those moons shine!

Though, on the highway? I do believe a case could be made for breasts and full moons on the highway to dangerous distraction. Just sayin'.

Speaking of full moons, my new werewolf thriller/(very) dark comedy, Corporate Wolf, is out now by the fine folks at Grinning Skull Press. Get in on the throat-tearing, gut-gnawing wacky hijinx today!

Friday, August 30, 2019

Eating Rattlesnake with Mystery Author Elizabeth Dearl

SRW: Today on Twisted Tales, I’m throwing the door wide-open for my Texas pal and mystery author, Elizabeth Dearl. I’ve read her first book, Diamondback, and if you like regional mysteries full of humor and colorful characters, this is the book for you.
Hey, there, Elizabeth. Thanks for joining me and I promise to go easy on you (fingers crossed behind back).

ED: Uh, huh.  Sure.  Why do I have the sinking feeling I'm about to take a college exam I forgot to study for?  (Or, if you want me to be proper: for which I forgot to study.) 
SRW: Let’s get something clear right now. I understand you used to be a cop. I suffer from capiophobia, the fear of being arrested for no particular reason (and, yes, I had to look up the term thanks to my research assistant, Ms. Google). Whenever I pass a cop on the highway, I sweat bullets. I’m nervous having you on here, for Gawd’s sake! If I get out of line, you won’t, like, perform a citizen’s arrest or anything, right?

ED: I won't arrest you, but only because I don't feel like driving across several states to find you.  If you're mean to me, though, you might want to avoid Texas.  I'll let you in on a little secret.  Even off-duty cops have a moment of panic when we see red, flashing lights in the rear-view mirror.  I think it's a perfectly human response.  By the way, when you sweat those bullets, would you save them for me?  Practice/target ammo is really expensive.  

SRW: Now that that’s out of the way, how would you say your experience as a cop has informed the more dastardly elements of your writing?

ED:  For one thing, it's probably broadened my sense of the ludicrous, yet real, aspects of life.  I mean, I learned that people tend to get just as upset about someone picking up a few stray pecans from under the tree in their front yard as they do about someone trying to pry open a window in their house.  As to the dastardly, cops never really get used to the horrible things people do to each other, but we do (we must) learn to take those things in stride and accomplish our work.  We often cry or rant later.  In private.  In case folks think we're unfeeling, they need to know that. But we only give in to that after the current crisis is over, because during the mess we have to maintain a sense of calm, even if it's a false calm. Seriously, cops have to grow an iron spine or we'd never get through some of the things we see.  I'm sure all that filters into my writing, even though I made Taylor a private citizen and not a cop.  I gave her just a touch of the iron spine when she needed it.

SRW: Okay, so Diamondback… Give readers a brief synopsis. And try doing it free rap style.

ED:  Are you freaking kidding me?  You, sir, are beyond mean -- bordering on cruel.  Okay, here goes (and it's going to stink): 

Taylor, now she's all alone.  Lost her mom and lost her home.  Found a letter, what's this?  Whoa! Got an aunt she doesn't know.  City's all she's ever had.  Small town turns out just as bad.  Finds her aunt, but something more.  Snakes and snakes and snakes galore!  Errrr.  Uhhh.  Yo!

You're gonna have to live with that.

SRW: Mic drop, yo! Heh…

Back on the topic of phobias (let’s see, lemme consult with Ms. Google here…), would you say you suffer from ophidiophobia (the fear of snakes)?

ED: No.  I grew up around rattlesnakes.  I wouldn't have made it through childhood if I suffered that particular phobia. Scared?  No.  Respectful?  You bet. 
Elizabeth putting her money where her snake is.
 SRW: Is the Rattler Festival featured in Diamondback based on a real event? 

ED:  Oh, yes.  I grew up in Sweetwater, home of the biggest annual Rattlesnake Roundup in the state of Texas.  We really did have a beauty contest, although the winner was Miss Rattlesnake Roundup (often the most recent Homecoming Queen), not Miss Snakeskin as she in my book.  Folks came from all over the United States for this event, although I'm not sure why.  And considering that at the time Sweetwater boasted only one, pretty small motel, citizens really did rent out rooms to tourists who did not bring their own RVs or tents.  There was always a carnival set up near what we grandly called the Coliseum, and inside (in addition to the vats of snakes) there were gun and knife shows, coin shows, and junk shows as well as rather odd attractions.  Such as: for one dollar, get three chances with a sledgehammer to bust up this old car!   I participated in a few snake hunts as a teenager -- sort of a rite of passage -- but never enjoyed it.  I'm way too soft-hearted when it comes to animals (and that includes reptiles).

SRW: Gotta ask… What does rattlesnake taste like? (Points off if you say “chicken.” You’re a writer, describe it!)

ED:  Yep, I'm a writer all right, but you can't describe rattlesnake meat without saying chicken.  The consistency is almost the same, although rattlesnake is a bit chewier, and there's an undertone of fish.  Look, go to Long John Silver's, order the fish and chicken dinner, then mush the chicken strip and the fish filet together and take a bite. 
SRW: It’s gotta be better than Rocky Mountain Oysters. Just sayin’. Okay! So, Taylor Madison is a fun character, a nosy mystery writer. How many books do you feature her in? Any new ones on the horizon?

ED:  She's in four, so far. Besides Diamondback, there's Twice Dead, Buyer's Remorse, and TripleThreat.  I certainly hope there will be more. Taylor is part of me.  To misquote Brokeback Mountain, "I can't quit her."  (And you're a brave soul if you've actually eaten Rocky Mountain Oysters.  Well, brave or stupid.  Don't know you well enough to say for sure.)

SRW: I haven’t actually eaten them, but I’d err on the side of stupid, nonetheless.

I’ve always thought that memorable thrillers/mysteries are sometimes made even better with dark secrets scratching at the underbelly of seemingly Rockwellian small towns. That’s certainly the case with Diamondback. I’m curious…did you start with the Major Revelations and write the book around them? Or did they come to you while throwing down words at a feverish pace?

ED: I'm someone who always looked at Rockwell prints and thought, first, "What an incredible small town scene.  He's really captured the flavor."  Then I'd look again and think:  "I wonder if that ice cream vendor has a dead body stored in his little cart?"  It was like that.  I would develop what seemed a nice enough (if a bit odd) character, and then think:  "How can I give him/her a dark secret, a little twist?"  Even the most seemingly likeable people have a tiny spot of blackness in the soul, or at least an eccentricity that leaks out.  Truly, have you ever met a completely "normal" person? 

SRW: No, indeed I have not! (And, yeah, I think Rockwell was hiding something… Hmm.)

I loved getting to know the various, colorful characters in Diamondback. Without getting a lawsuit tossed your way, are some of these people based on folks you know? (My wife warns everyone we meet to be careful what they say because they’ll probably end up in one of my books).

ED: When I grew up in Sweetwater, its population was under 10,000.  Trust me when I say that just about everyone knew everyone else.  No one considered it being nosy, they were just looking out for each other.  I hated that (of course) as a teenager, but I look back upon it with fondness.  I'd like to say, straight out, that I'm not making fun of these amazing, small Texas town people, but the lifestyle was . . . different.  I've never used a single person as a character, although I have used compilations of several people to make one character.  And I've used a few remembered quotes or sayings.  Okay, wait, I have to take some of that back.  I did use one woman, whole cloth, when I wrote about Dorothy.  She was close friends with my grandmother, and I loved her to bits.  She'd drive her ancient car down the middle of the road, straddling the stripe, traveling about 20 MPH, honking the horn every so often to let people know she was coming.  She kept a $100 bill in each shoe, and a third down her, um, d├ęcolletage for "emergencies."  She played the piano "by ear" enthusiastically and loudly and sometimes produced an actual tune.  I suspect she enjoyed a nip or two in the evening, although I can't imagine where she obtained it.  (Our entire county, then, was "dry.")

SRW: I have to confess that there’ve been a few times while writing mysteries, I’m not completely sold on who my killer will be until about half-way through or so. Being an ex-cop (*Gulp!*), I would imagine you’re a lot more regimented and know everything going in. Am I wrong?

ED:  You're wrong, in my case.  I was well past halfway through and it hit me -- gadzooks!  (yes, in polite company, I actually use the word "gadzooks")  I hadn't homed in on whodunnit.  I was just having fun.  I had to sit down and consider, then go back and do some editing so that it would make sense.  I hate having to sit down and consider, don't you?

SRW: Considering is not my forte, no ma’am!

What’s the deal with the ferret? From my experience, they stink and can be kinda mean. (Apologies to L.O.F.A.—“Lovers of Ferrets Association”)

ED:  We had a lovely ferret named Abby for almost 10 years.  We adored her.  The males do have pretty powerful stink glands (though nothing as bad as a skunk).  The females do, too, but if you bathe them, the odor is almost imperceptible.  They are delightful!  Into everything, crawling through the smallest spaces you can imagine.  They're like magpies, in that if a bright or interesting object catches their attention, they'll do their best to take off with it.  After Abby died (still breaks my heart) we found her little caches all over the house.  Lengths of string, rubber bands, pieces of my jewelry, bottle caps, etc.  The scene in Diamondback where a woman is up on the couch trying to get away from Hazel (because she "saw" a rat, not a ferret) comes from real life.  I won't name him, but a friend of my husband, a fellow deputy, dropped by to visit us one evening when Abby was loose.  We had honestly forgotten she was out and about until she came up through the couch cushion behind him.  Well . . . he never came back without calling ahead first.  

SRW: I have to admit that when I started the book, there were so many characters tossed my way, I felt the need to take notes. But, soon, I fell under the sway of your rhythm, the small-town Texas laid-back attitude and eccentric characters transporting me to a different place. Very fun. Not really a question, just a compliment. So take it and bask in it. Bask like the wind, Elizabeth!

ED:  Basking!  Nice.  Like the first summer tan.  I know there were a lot of folks thrown in all at once, but that's the way it is in small towns.  If one person has a piece of information (like a strange visitor whom no one knows), twenty minutes later two dozen people know it, and everyone is speculating.  What can I say?  It's a rural hobby.

SRW: Who would win in a fight, Miss Marple or Veronica Mars?

ED:  Marple.  Just remember those deadly knitting needles.  I'd be willing to bet she sharpened them every night.

SRW: Do you write anything outside of the mystery genre?

ED:  Sure.  I truly love horror fiction, although I'm not sure I'm as good at it as I'd like to be.  And fantasy.  Not Conan-type, more off the wall.  I'll write anything I find enjoyable.
SRW: What’s up next on your keyboard?

ED: I'm planning to release an anthology of short stories I've written over the years, throwing in a few new ones.  Referencing your question above, some are mystery (I love short mysteries with a twist ending),  some  horror, some fantasy.  I'd write short fiction for a living, if I could.  

SRW: There you have it, folks. All mystery fans have no reason not to rush out and snag a copy of Diamondback. It’s terrific and the place you want to start on Elizabeth’s entertaining Taylor Madison series. And if you’re not a mystery fan, there’s no better time than now to start. Go! I mean it. I see you there, not moving. Hop to it.
Thanks for being a good sport, Elizabeth. Let everyone know where they can find you. Um, not in an up close and personal stalky kinda way, but via social media.

ED:  And thank you!  Aside from the rap thing . . . Well, we'll talk about that in person some time.  Ahem.