J. Kent Holloway
I think by now, it's no secret to anyone that I'm a huge fan of great book covers. I don't care what the old adage says, I really do judge books by their covers and today's author has some of the coolest covers around. It's one of the reasons I was so excited to interview Emily Fluke when I got the opportunity. I have a few of her books on my Kindle, but haven't read them yet (I'll admit). But I'm so looking forward to whittling down my to-be-read list so I can get to her books very soon. And it were her covers that caught my eye.
[Indie authors, take note: I don't care how good at writing you are or how enthralling your stories are, besides editing, there is nothing more important than a great book cover. Spend the money. It's worth it.]
Now, back to our interview. So, who exactly is Emily Fluke, anyway? Well, let's let her own bio tell us that:
Congenital Heart Defect survivor, Emily Fluke, finds joy and peace in books. She loves to write stories about sarcastic moms solving supernatural mysteries. Emily and her husband spend their free time wrangling two children and playing video games in their busy California lifestyle. Otherwise, you’ll find Emily solving an escape room, running, or writing Magic the Gathering-based poetry.
Recently, I had the great fortune to talk with Emily about her books, writing, and everything in between. Here's what she had to say:
For those unfamiliar with you and your books, take a little time to tell us about your series. Who are some characters our readers can expect to meet in your books? What can people expect when they read them? What makes an Emily Fluke book an Emily Fluke book?
I write about sarcastic moms solving supernatural mysteries! As a big fan of fairy tales, several of my books also involve twisted tales from classic literature. My main characters are mothers because, as a mom, I wanted to see myself represented in my favorite types of books—mysteries, urban fantasy, and paranormal stories! I love a strong, quirky character who searches for answers and solves murders. You can always expect a laugh, a mystery, and a little magic as well as a mom main character.
In my first series starting with Death of a Fairy Tale, you’ll meet Mari Fable, a sarcastic, brand-new mother and investigative journalist. After she gives birth to her first baby, she’s thrust into an unusual murder investigation involving fairy tales that have come to life around her home city of San Francisco, California. Just give her a slice of cheesecake, a cup of coffee, and some Post-It notes, and Mari will be sure to track down that pesky murderer and put a stop to fairy tale villains!
Noema Ambrosia is also a mother as well as the main character of The Bewitcher’s Beach Cozy Paranormal Mysteries. She’s a quirky, werewolf, single mom who owns a Blockbuster-style video rental shop at a small-town in 1997. While she might be a little reckless, Noema has a nose for emotions—a handy dandy talent that helps her solve a murder at her movie shop. This series has a large cast of funny, lovable, supernatural characters from gargoyles to shapeshifters and even dragons!
My most recent release is Garden Party Ghostess, a comedy-mystery inspired by Clue, Knives Out, and Gilmore Girls. Olive Glass is a former interior decorator-turned amateur sleuth when she is forced to solve a murder at her garden party. She might ramble and put her foot in her mouth too often, but Olive is a great mom to her teenage daughter and a determined sleuth. As someone who has often felt left out of the main crowd, Olive has great observational skills when it comes to other people’s behavior.
Your primary series seems to be the Mari Fable Mysteries, but you had a brand new book come out this week that seems to be a stand-alone book and sounds positively delightful. It’s called Garden Party Ghostess. Tell us a little bit about it. Anything in particular inspired you for this book?
Yes! Garden Party Ghostess is heavily inspired by Clue the 1985 movie as well as Knives Out. It is a comedy-mystery with a lot of Clue-esque references but more modern like Knives Out. The book also has a close mother-daughter relationship that is based on Lorelai and Rory Gilmore from the popular TV show The Gilmore Girls. When I sat down to write this book, I asked myself “What would Lorelai and Rory do if they had to solve a murder in their own backyard?” From there, the quirky and hilarious cast formed and I leaned into the fun dialogue and twisted character from Clue and Knives Out. It was a delight to write such a large cast of characters. The book almost entirely takes place over a single night—much like Clue! And I’ve yet to mention, this book does have a paranormal twist, but don’t worry, it’s more funny than spooky. The best news is, this book has been such fun that I’ve decided to expand it into a mini series. Instead of a stand-alone, the story will continue into two or three more similar stories with Olive and Zyra, the mother-daughter sleuth team as main characters.
Who are some of your favorite authors/books? How have they influenced you as a writer of fantasy-based mysteries?
The first author that comes to mind is Jim Butcher. As a huge fan of The Dresden Files, I had always wanted to write a similar series. His noir, urban fantasy mysteries are some of my all-time favorite books. I also adore how much sarcasm comes from the main character, Harry Dresden. You can see that light-hearted voice of the main sleuths in my books is greatly influenced by my love for The Dresden Files. The more I write paranormal/fantasy mysteries, I realize there’s a need for them in books! There are TV shows like Supernatural, Grimm,and more that involve magic and murder mystery, but not enough books. Other favorite authors who inspire my prose and stories are Karen McManus (Author of One of Us is Lying) and Travis Baldree (Author of Legends and Lattes).
Tell us a little about your journey as a mystery writer. Have you always wanted to write mysteries or is that something that sort of developed organically? What attracted you to mysteries to begin with?
I’ve written a lot of different books (many that are still sitting in files in my computer). They range from middle grade fantasy to young adult thrillers and even sweet romances. I’ve now found my ‘home’ writing mysteries and it all started with Death of a Fairy Tale. As a huge fan of escape rooms, puzzles, and board games, it felt natural to shift into writing mysteries. I was constantly solving ‘cases’ in dozens of escape rooms and board games. Eventually, I realized I would have a lot of fun if I pulled that into my writing. Once I wrote Death of a Fairy Tale, I knew I’d found my passion with female sleuths, particularly moms who solve murders.
It’s a bit of a funny story how I first got the idea— I saw a meme that said something like ‘why is the chosen one always a teenager. Give me a forty-year-old mom who has seen some crap’. I thought that was both hilarious and inspiring. Because it’s true, late nights with my newborns, giving birth, and the life experience of age has all made me feel more confident in the person I’d be if I were a chosen one in an adventure story. I’d be stronger because of these things. Once I saw that, I really really wanted to read a story that matched it. As I’ve said, I’m a huge Dresden Files fan as well as a fan of Supernatural, but both of those stories are written by men, with men main characters, and focus on men’s stories (while the women and mothers die off, often in brutal ways). I wanted to write stories like those, but give the women and mothers time to shine. It flowed out of me because it felt so relatable and I was able to draw on my own experience. Now I’ve branded myself as an author who writes sarcastic moms solving supernatural mysteries because it’s what I love to write and read and it plays on my strengths.
As mentioned earlier, you just released a new book. Something I’m always curious about is: how do you celebrate when you finish/publish a new book? What’s a typical book release celebration for Emily Fluke?
What a fun question! I don’t have a typical tradition but I love going out to eat. When I finish and/or publish a new book, I treat myself to iced coffee in the morning and often go out to a restaurant for dinner with my whole family. I suppose it sounds silly to reward myself with food, like I’m a dog! But it’s so relaxing just to go out, eat, and chat about my most recent book with my husband. Plus, I get to dress up fancy which is a great contrast from my comfy sweats that I’m often wearing while I’m busy writing and editing. I also often treat myself to a trip to the bookstore where I purchase a stack of new books and binge-read once I’ve completed a book of my own. After finishing Garden Party Ghostess, I got a new cozy mystery titled No Memes of Escape, a new fantasy called Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedie of Faeries, and a young adult mystery called In the Hall with the Knife!
Finally, if you could offer just one piece of advice for aspiring writers, what would it be?
Write and don’t worry if there is another story similar to your book. Readers enjoy finding more of what they love. If you’re writing an alien murder mystery set in a space station and you happen to come across another alien murder mystery set in a space station at the bookstore, don’t panic! That’s a good thing. Now you know, you’re not the only one who enjoys this type of story. Take inspiration from your favorite books, TV shows, and movies. Art is not created in a vacuum. Be sure to fill your creative well with plenty of reading and then get to writing without fear!
Thank you, Emily, for spending time answering my questions and good luck with Garden Party Ghostess! For those interested in knowing more about Emily, check out her LinkTree site (where you can find ALL her links in one convenient spot) HERE.