Wednesday, October 01, 2014

ParaMysMo 2014 - Ali Brandon, author of the Black Cat Bookshop Mysteries

Today we kick off Paranormal Mystery Month (ParaMysMo) at The Qwillery. Throughout the month, paranormal mystery authors will be sharing how they or one of their characters celebrate Halloween. There will be giveaways as well!  To start us off, please welcome Ali Brandon, author of the Black Cat Bookshop Mysteries.

By Ali Brandon

         “I’m doing stuff…things…”

                    --Rick Grimes, The Walking Dead

        Just like all the rest of you, I LOVE Halloween. I’ve considered it my favorite holiday ever since I was a child. Trick-or-treating! Dressing up! Running around the neighborhood at night, and without a parent! Compared to all that, Christmas came in a poor second on the fun scale.
        But perhaps the very best part about October 31 was spending the week or two before decking the halls with everything orange and black. Unfortunately, back when I was of trick-or-treating age, our family didn’t have money to spare for scary accoutrements. And so, if you wanted Halloween decorations, you made them yourself.
        This meant that—aside from the requisite jack-o-lantern that our dad carved—everything was handcrafted by me and my siblings. From the pillow cases hung from the ceiling as ghosts, to the crayoned pumpkin drawings, to the paper grocery bags decorated with construction paper black cats to use as trick-or-treat sacks, we did it all. But while all these crafty projects were a fun diversion, deep down I always had a hankering for store-bought Halloween stuff…and things.
        You know what I mean. The boxed costumes with those plastic molded masks that covered your entire face; the little plastic jack-o’-lanterns and cat heads meant to be filled with candy corn; the black-and-orange tin noisemakers printed with witches and bats that you shook or spun to create a racket. I’d sigh over all these luxuries in the dime store, lingering in the Halloween department until the exasperated sales clerk finally shooed me away, empty-handed.
        Flash forward to adulthood. Now, I could finally channel my inner witchy version of Martha Stewart and treat myself to all kinds of Halloween stuff…all the things I’d missed out on as a kid. Sure, my husband would roll his eyes throughout the month of October each time I came home with something new, but to his credit he never protested. (Maybe because I let him indulge his fishing gear passion all summer!)
        Not that I’ve gone to extremes over the years. I’ve learned to buy small, so that most of my favorite finds can be displayed together on the same couple of shelves. This means I can enjoy my Halloween-y stuff year round.
        My annual ritual begins sometime in September, as soon as the stores start unpacking the stuffed black cats and ceramic ghosts. Just like in the dime store days, I wander the Halloween aisles (real and virtual) ooh’ing and aah’ing over all the fun new decorations. It’s only now October, and to celebrate Halloween 2014 I’ve already bought: The Nightmare Before Christmas pen set; a Jack Skellington mug; a Jinxy Beanie Baby black kitten; a set of Ghost Tarot cards; a set of Halloween Lenormand cards; Day of the Dead kitty sugar skull earrings; and rose-and-sugar skull Day of the Dead earrings.
        But I’m just getting warmed up. I’ll be hitting the thrift stores, too, in case some cool vintage Halloween stuff and things from my childhood slips past the clerks and ends up on the shelves. And I can’t forget to shop the pet superstores. Gotta get the yearly batch of new Halloween squeaky toys for my dogs!
        But it doesn’t end on October 31. Just when I think I’ve satisfied my need for black and orange, here come the after-Halloween markdowns. Time to whip out credit card again! But the heck with the 75% off bags of candy that all the other middle-aged broads are piling into their shopping carts. I’m not in the mood for mini chocolate bars.
        You’ll find me the next aisle over looking for stuff…and things.

Black Cat Bookshop Mysteries

Literally Murder
A Black Cat Bookshop Mystery 4
Berkley, September 30, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages

From her Brooklyn bookstore, Darla Pettistone not only sells mysteries, but solves them, aided by her big-boned black cat, Hamlet—who has suddenly pounced into the spotlight after unleashing his fists of furry…  

After a video of Darla and Hamlet performing at a martial arts tournament goes viral, the Florida chapter of the Feline Society of America invites the “Karate Kitty” to be the guest of honor at their championship cat show in Fort Lauderdale.

Upon arrival, Darla discovers that not everyone in the Sunshine State has a sunny disposition. Animal rights activists are on the march, and a cat show contestant stages his own angry protest when his special breed Minx—half Sphynx, half Manx—doesn’t win. Then Hamlet disappears—only to be found next a dead man's body. Now it’s up to Darla and Hamlet to take best in show and collar the killer…

Words with Fiends
A Black Cat Bookshop Mystery 3
Berkley, November 5, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages

Brooklyn bookstore owner Darla Pettistone and her oversized black cat, Hamlet, have solved a few complicated capers. But after a recent brush with danger, Darla needs to get Hamlet out of a feline funk…

Lately, Hamlet hasn’t been chasing customers or being his obnoxious self—something Darla surprisingly misses. Concerned, she hires a cat whisperer to probe Hamlet’s feline psyche and then decides to get out of her own funk by taking up karate to learn how to defend herself in case the need arises again.

But when Darla finds her sensei dead at the dojo, it seems that even a master can be felled by foul play. Darla decides to investigate the matter herself, and the promise of a mystery snaps Hamlet out of his bad mood. After all, Darla may be the sleuth, but Hamlet’s got a black belt in detection.

A Novel Way to Die
A Black Cat Bookshop Mystery 2
Berkley, November 6, 2012
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages

Darla Pettistone may have inherited her great aunt Dee’s Brooklyn bookstore, but it’s the store’s mascot—an oversized black cat named Hamlet—who acts like he owns the place. And when someone turns up dead, Hamlet smells something rotten in Brooklyn…

As the owner of Pettistone’s Fine Books, Darla is settling nicely into her new life, even reaching an uneasy truce with Hamlet. Unfortunately, when she needs to hire a new clerk, the finicky feline decides to lend a paw to the hiring process. He chases away applicants who don’t meet his approval, finally settling on an unlikely candidate: Robert, a book-loving Goth kid who has a secret only Hamlet knows.

And Hamlet can’t seem to stay out of trouble. One of the bookstore’s regular customers, a man who is renovating a local brownstone, claims he’s seen Hamlet prowling the neighborhood. When the man’s business partner is found dead, Darla discovers that Hamlet may have been the only witness to what could be murder. With the crafty cat’s help, she wonders if they just might be able to pounce on a killer...

Double Booked for Death
A Black Cat Bookshop Mystery 1
Berkley, December 6, 2011
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 336 pages

As the new owner of Pettistone's Fine Books, Darla Pettistone is determined to prove herself a worthy successor to her late great-aunt Dee...and equally determined to outwit Hamlet, the smarter-than-thou cat she inherited along with the shop. Darla's first store event is a real coup: the hottest bestselling author of the moment is holding a signing there. But when the author meets an untimely end during the event, it's ruled an accident-until Hamlet digs up a clue that seems to indicate otherwise...

About Ali

Ali Brandon is the New York Times bestselling author of the Black Cat Bookshop Mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime. Book Four in the series, LITERALLY MURDER, is out in time for Halloween. Writing under her real name, Diane A.S. Stuckart, she penned the popular Leonardo da Vinci historical mystery series, which has received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Library Journal, as well as a Florida Book Award. A native Texan with a degree in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma, Diane a/k/a Ali now lives in South Florida. She’s a member of Mystery Writers of America and the Cat Writers Association and proudly displays her The Walking Dead action figures at her day job. Visit her at, and be sure to “like” Hamlet on Facebook:

The Giveaway

What:  One entrant will win a Mass Market Paperback copy of Literally Murder by Ali Brandon.

How:  Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below.

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 October 15, 2014. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change without any notice.*

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. My favorite Halloween candy is Candy Corn

  2. Definitely candy corn-- buy extra so I can have it when it's not in the stores.

  3. I'm a huge Reese's lover, so I always go for whatever seasonal shape they have. This time of year it's pumpkins.

  4. Anything & everything with chocolate & nuts.

  5. Cookies and cream Hershey bars - yummy! But candy apples are always a classic I'm hungry! :-)

  6. Russell Stover chocolate covered marshmallow pumpkin. Yum!