Thursday, July 26, 2012

ParaCozyMysMo - Annette Blair - Vintage Magic Mysteries

Please welcome Annette Blair to The Qwillery. Annette writes the Vintage Magic Mysteries (as well as other series and novels). Cloaked in Malice (A Vintage Magic Mystery 5) was published on July 3, 2012.

TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery!

Annette:  It's an honor to be here.

TQ:  Writing quirks! What are some of yours?

Annette:  I can't seem to write in time-snatches anymore. I like long lengths of time ahead of me to really get percolating. I plot everywhere, so I keep my iPad in my purse & use the microphone on the keyboard to describe the plot into an email that I send myself. I need silence for creation on a blank page, noise (TV) when I'm editing. Music doesn't work. It makes me want to sing. I keep a lavender sachet beside me, and lots of crystals too.

TQ:  Who are some of your favorite writers?

Annette:  Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Maggie Shayne, Madelyn Alt, Janet Evanovich

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Annette:  I'm a plotter when it comes to Romance; gotta know how they're getting to that happily ever after. I'm a pantser when it comes to my first person cozy mysteries. After all, I'm the sleuth. It wouldn't do if I KNEW who did it until I discovered it. If I'd plotted it, I'd be afraid to give it away.

TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Annette:  Making people understand that if they interrupt me, even for a minute, it will probably take me a half hour or more to get back to where I was, if the brilliant solution to my plot conundrum for that one fleeting moment is even in my head anymore.

TQ:  The most recent Vintage Magic Mystery novel is Cloaked in Malice. What inspired you to write mysteries with paranormal/supernatural elements?

Annette:  CLOAKED IN MALICE ... for which I hit the New York Times at #30 on the extended list. :) That was a first for me, so I'm very excited.

I wasn't inspired until I was asked. I got a call from my agent, and she asked if I wanted to write a mystery series for Berkley. They sent me the series bible. I kept all the characters but added more and changed names. I took it from the Virginia and set it in Mystic CT, added a Cary Grant clone ghost and the centenarian with attitude that he once loved. Berkley wanted a carriage house. I gave them a building my husband once rented for his business: a funeral chapel carriage house, once a morgue. And I added a sexy detective that our sleuth once maligned with a grammar school name twist. Because of her, Lytton Werner the brat became Little Wiener, which, of course, sticks to this day. I also gave Berkley a first chapter. They liked it and so did I.

TQ:  Do you base your paranormal/supernatural elements on existing lore, make things up or both?

Annette:  I rarely use existing lore. I make things up, and I don't read other paranormal books so I won't get any ideas from what's out there. I did a lot of research on witchcraft, the actual religion practiced by people you see everyday. I wanted to get that right, though there are so many versions it's hard to go wrong. I made my characters eclectic witches so they could take what they wanted from each form of the craft.

TQ:  What sorts of research have you done for the Vintage Magic Mysteries? What is the oddest bit of information that you’ve come across in your research?

Annette:  A bit of cool info is that Mystic was named by the Pequots, but the literal translation made the spelling Mystick. Connecticut's forefathers dropped the K. So when I wanted a fictional community near the real Mystic, so as not to involve the city's governing body in my mysteries, I named it Mystick Falls and put it in a wooded area that exists along the Mystic River not far from historic Mystic.

The weirdest thing I did, with husband and camera in tow, was go to the Mystic Train Depot, give my earlier books to the attendant, and ask to study the depot and the area around it. This was for SKIRTING THE GRAVE where a corpse is found at the depot. I didn't know yet how the person was killed there, so I checked out sniper vantage points, opened all kinds outdoor bins and window seats, sheds, watched the trains go by. My husband and I made a day of that, imagining all the gory details of a Train Depot murder.

TQ:  Tell us something about Cloaked in Malice that is not in the book description.

Annette:  The farmhouse and barn in the story belonged to my grandparents. I spent all my summers there. My cousins didn't know either, but one called. "A summer kitchen from where you can reach the outside well? Is that...?

TQ:  In the Vintage Magic Mysteries who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Annette:  I think Dolly is the easiest character to write. I worked as an administrator for a prep school for 20 yrs and one of the Brother founders was still alive when I started there,100 when I met him, and 107 when he passed. Dolly has many of his colorful attributes. I think Nick is the most difficult to write, probably because he has such a serious side; I mean he's FBI, so he would have to be. Werner, for some reason, comes easier.

TQ:  Which character in the Vintage Magic Mysteries has surprised you the most?

Annette:  Werner has surprised me the most. He was a blip of a connection to Maddie, our sleuth's past, just to complicate matters, and his personality has expanded the most. I was just as surprised as anybody else to see how much he loves her.

TQ:  What's next?

Annette:  Look for the 6th Vintage Magic Mystery in February 2013: TULLE DEATH DO US PART.

I'll be writing another Contemporary Bewitching Romantic Comedy Series soon with characters from the accidental witch and triplet witch stories. My readers have been asking about Reggie and Pepper and Shane forever.

Take a look at my Rogues Club and Knave of Hearts Series. The first in each series: UNDENIABLE ROGUE and SEA SCOUNDREL are both free downloads. They're Regency Historical Romances with lots of humor and sexual tension.

Readers can contact me at:

To find out when a new book is available, sign up for Annette’s mailing list at: 

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Annette:  This has been fun. Thank you for asking me.

Vintage Magic Mysteries

Cloaked in Malice
A Vintage Magic Mystery 5
Berkley (Prime Crime), July 3, 2012
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 256 pages

There’s nothing Maddie loves more than fabulous vintage clothes, but the visions she gets while touching them are starting to wear her down. Even so, when a beautifully dressed girl comes to Vintage Magic in search of her past, Maddie isn’t about to turn her away, especially since she bears a striking resemblance to her good friend Dolly Sweet.

When Maddie touches Paisley Skye’s exquisitely crafted child’s cloak, the vision she receives is of the ugliest sort: a decades-old case of kidnapping and murder. To give herself more time to investigate, Maddie enlists the help of her FBI Agent boyfriend Nick and takes Paisley into her home. But when Dolly suddenly skips town, Maddie realizes that uncovering the folds of Paisley’s past will reveal more than one vintage crime...

Skirting the Grave
A Vintage Magic Mystery 4
Berkley (Prime Crime), July 5, 2011
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 288 pages

Maddie Cutler thought she was taking on a new design intern for her boutique. But instead she finds her dead at the train station under suspicious circumstances. Now, Maddie is determined to iron out the wrinkles of this mystery.

Death by Diamonds
A Vintage Magic Mystery 3
Berkley (Prime Crime), July 6, 2010
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 288 pages

Madeira Cutler loves her Vintage Magic boutique, but the ‘visions’ she gets from the garments can be hard to handle, especially when she knows the owner. At first she’s thrilled to receive a package containing the beautifully bejeweled dress she designed for actress and old friend Dominique Delong while in fashion school. But the dress comes with a disturbing message from Dominique, who it seems took her last bow under very mysterious circumstances.

Larceny and Lace
A Vintage Magic Mystery 2
Berkley (Prime Crime), August 4, 2009
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages

Maddie Cutler has it all in the bag: fashion, magic—and murder!

If that dress could talk...

With all the stress of opening her new vintage clothing store (in a renovated old morgue) Madeira Cutler feels like a bag of bones—until she discovers the real deal, unearthed by an intruder, in an old body drawer. And the bones are as vintage as Maddie's stock, or so says Maddie's resident ghostly hunk, Dante Underhill.

Could the break-in have something to do with the local playhouse and its curator going down in flames? Somehow Maddie will have to juggle dressing the store, party planning, and crime solving. Add to the brew the local witch's costume ball, being held at her store, and Madeira is wishing she knew how to ride a broom right out of there...

A Veiled Deception
A Vintage Magic Mystery 1
Berkley (Prime Crime), January 6, 2009
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 256 pages

Madeira 'Maddie' Cutler, vintage clothing lover, and New York fashion designer, comes home to help plan her sister's wedding. At the engagement party, the "Jezebel" trying to steal Sherry's fiance is found strangled with a bridal veil, making Sherry the prime suspect. Besides seeking the real killer, Maddie alters Sherry's vintage wedding gown, worn by generations of the groom's family, and something odd happens. The gown gives Maddie visions, clues to the past . . . and the murder?

Maddie learns she's psychometric, a psychic gift she inherited from her late mother, who was a broom-carrying witch, it turns out. What other gifts did she inherit? When not sleuthing, Maddie acquires the old Underhill Funeral Chapel Carriage House, including Dante Underhill, a chatty debonair ghost in tux and top hat, who can't seem to leave the building. Watch out Mystic, Connecticut! Here comes Vintage Magic, a shop for vintage couture and designer originals, featuring a psychic sleuth, a hunk of a ghost, and a splash of magic thrown in for "charm."

About Annette

A New York Times best selling author for Penguin Books, Annette Blair left her job as a Development Director and Journalism Advisor at a private New England prep school to become a full time writer. At forty books and counting, she added cozy mysteries and bewitching romantic comedies to her award-winning historical romances. She’s also stepped into the amazing world of self-publishing.

Contact her at:

To find out when a new book is available, sign up for Annette’s mailing list at: 

The Giveaways

There is a giveaway of Cloaked in Malice (A Vintage Magic Mystery 5) with this interview. You can also enter to win the Grand Prize by using the Rafflecopter. The comment you leave to enter to win Cloaked in Malice may also be used to enter to win the Grand Prize. Both Giveaways are open internationally.

To Enter to Win a Copy of  Cloaked in Malice

What:  One commenter will win a copy of Cloaked in Malice (A Vintage Magic Mystery 5) by Annette Blair. The novel is provided by The Qwillery.

How:  Leave a comment.

Please remember - if you don't answer leave a comment your entry will not be counted.  You must also leave a way to contact you. Entries without contact information will not be counted.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Saturday, August 4, 2012. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*

To Enter to Win the Grand Prize

How:  Fill out the Rafflecopter

Terms and Conditions

1) There will be one winner of the Grand Prize.

2) The Grand Prize is separate from any giveaway associated with individual author visits during Paranormal Cozy Mystery Month.

3) You must leave a way to contact you with your comment. If you do not leave a way to contact you, your entry will not be counted.

4) The Grand Prize Giveaway is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address.

5) Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

6) Giveaway Terms and Condition are subject to change at any time.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I'm still laughing about the title for the next mystery - Tulle Death Do Us Part. So funny! I'll have to check out these books!


  2. Wow, I'm glad Rebe that you're laughing over it. It is funny. I wanted Operation Petticoat, but Sales said no. I guess they were right. It makes you want to look the books up.

    Thanks again to the Qwillery for having me here today.

  3. I love Annette's books and would really like to win this one. The series sounds very good. I like her humor in the books that she writes. Will have to look for the rest of the series.

  4. I've really enjopyed this series so far. How many are planned?

  5. I'm contracted for six--TULLE DEATH DO US PART will be the sixth in February 2013--and then we go back to contract and see what happens.

  6. How have I missed this series? The previews all sound great and I hope to get them all on my TBR pile soon! I have read other wonderful books by Annette, and I am looking forward to getting to know this series too!
    Karen Lawson

  7. So funny, thanks for all the info!

  8. Wonderful, wonderful interview!! This series sounds wonderful, and I love the titles and covers. They are going on my to buy list. Please enter me, I'd love to win. Thanks for the chance.

    mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

  9. Sounds like a great addition to the series! Can't wait to read it.

    debbie at burdeen dot com

  10. Thank you Karen, and Judy, you're welcome. The series definitely has its share of comedy.

  11. Hope you win, Martha, and thanks all for stopping by.

    Orchid, it sounds like you've read the rest. Thanks. There are prizes besides a copy of the book, so I hope you all win.

  12. I hadn't heard of this series but it sure looks fun. I must check it out. Thank you.

  13. This series look fun and interesting. Can't wait to read it.

  14. I love that the main character has a vintage clothing shop.

    1. I have such a good time with the vintage clothes, Stephanie. Thanks for stopping by.

  15. I can't believe that I haven't seen this series in the local bookstore----I'll have to go to Amazon to buy. I love the titles--so catchy and creative.
    Thanks for the contest.

    1. Sue, good luck with the contest. The books are fun and catching on. This one hit the New York times. yay.

  16. << adds ANOTHER series to the TBR >>

    Qwill, you're killing me with all the fun sounding mysteries! I love it! I love this month! SUCH. A. GREAT. IDEA!!


  17. New series for me, would love to win!

    wade2121 AT gmail DOT com

  18. What a wonderful theme for a cozy! Thank you for sharing with us and for this wonderful giveaway opportunity.

  19. I would love to read CLOAKED IN MALICE thank you. The entire series looks fabulous.


  20. Oh I love Janet Evanovich as well. I didn't know this series but I'm very curious now, I would love to discover one of the books.


  21. You know, I think I read one of these quite some time back and for one reason or another (my to read list is over a 1,00o titles long for one) I haven't gone back to read the others. Thanks for the reminder!

    april dot vrugtman at gmail dot com

  22. Your research on witchcraft sounds so interesting. Paranormal elements in cozy mysteries are new to me but it's a storyline I'd like to try.


    1. We take the paranormal slowly and weave it in so it doesn't overwhelm the mystery.

  23. I've heard of this author before but not this series....

    Cherry Mischievous
    cherrymischif-spamme [at] yahoo [dot] com

  24. The books sound good. Nice covers.


  25. You make paranormal so much fun. I hadn't thought I'd like it, but I'm hooked!

  26. Annette is one of my favorite authors. Her mysteries are awesome...I have yet to guess 'whodunit.' She fools me every time! No one deserves to be on the New York Times Best Seller list more than she does. Hooray for you, Annette from one of your biggest fans.
    Diane M. Haynes

    1. Diane, thank you so much. I was gobsmacked when CLOAKED IN MALICE hit the New York Times. A dream come true. Hugs~

  27. I'd read Annette's pararnormal series before and looking forward to read this.
    Thanks for the giveaway!

    sawamura_foxman AT yahoo DOT com

  28. Thanks for the new to me series of Cloaked in Malice (A Vintage Magic Mystery 5) by Annette. Will check out her website, thanks for the link,
    too Great looking covers So amazed by this writers talent. It is truly a gift. dayleb at telus dot net

    1. Wow, thank you. Nice way to end the day. Night everyone.

  29. You know what I love about the ParaCozyMysteries (and really, all cozy mysteries)? I love the SOOOOO CUTE TITLES! How much fun are the word plays?


  30. I read the first in this series and thought it was great. Looking forward to catching up with the rest.

    bacchus76 at myself dot com

  31. Love the titles and book covers. Cant wait to read her books. Love it when I find another great author. Thanks


  32. This series looks interesting. I'll be adding it to my wishlist.