Sunday, April 15, 2012

Death by Chocolate by Julie Anne Lindsey: Character Interview, Excerpt

Background and elements from Little Cupcake by LouCee Designs

Ruby Russell has reached her limit. When she discovers her hipster husband has a dirty little secret, she whips him up a Viagra-infused-chocolate mousse punishment, but in the morning, her husband's a stiff. Armed with a lifetime of crime show reruns and Arsenic and Old Lace on DVD, Ruby and her best friend Charlotte try to lay low until after Ruby's son's wedding, but a nosy therapist, meddling minister and local news reporter are making it very difficult to get away with murder.

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Ruby used one glove to dab perspiration from her chest and throat. Anger and embarrassment coursed through her. Dr. Kessler was being very unkind. She fought the creases in her forehead. Tears worked their way up from behind her lids. A full twenty minutes remained in her session, but she walked out anyway. Dr. Kessler could be sure he’d only receive payment for the two-thirds of an hour and not a penny more. In fact, she didn’t consider what went on in his office therapy at all. Perhaps she’d refuse to pay.
Inside her van the windshield shimmered and tears fell in a salty deluge. With great difficulty, she made it home. Horns blared, and people shouted. Her nerves frayed and her mind wandered to the bottle of wine in her cupboard, but she stayed on the road and in her lane. If anyone knew what she’d been through, they’d have given her a personal escort. She had no option but to drive home in her condition. She couldn’t sit out front of the building having a breakdown. What would he think? Since when did a little mischief give the recipient rights to be so hateful?
Seeing her porch come into view was like laying eyes on heaven. Charlotte sat on her porch swing, head back, hands folded. She was the picture of solitude. Ruby’s van lodged itself in the driveway and she hustled to Charlotte. She dragged her purse behind her, snagged it on a bush and then snagged her pantyhose when she tried to retrieve her purse. She lost a lipstick in the process. Charlotte met her at the steps.
Charlotte threw the bag over one shoulder and wrapped her free arm around Ruby’s slumping shoulders. “What happened to you?” Her kind voice replete with indignation. Ruby knew that voice well. She’d often thought Charlotte could command armies when she was in that disposition. The fierceness of the tone made Ruby feel safe. Unfortunately for Charlotte, the security overwhelmed her and the tears ran anew.
She dug into Ruby’s purse for her keys and let them inside. Charlotte went to the kitchen while Ruby lay down on the couch. In a minute, Charlotte returned with some pills and a cool, wet cloth.
“Take your time.” She headed back to the kitchen. “I’ll get the coffee going.”
“No.” Ruby waved one arm from under the cold white cloth. She’d managed to spread it over her face like a mask and held it in place with the other hand. “Wine, please. I’d like wine. It’s in the cupboard.”
“Fine, but I don’t condone it.”
Ruby heard the cupboard door click shut.
“Ruby Russell!” Charlotte exclaimed. Ruby jumped three inches.
“Ohhh.” She groaned. She listened to Charlotte’s footsteps moving heavily toward her.
“What is this?”
Ruby pulled a corner of the cloth back to see what she was being accused of. Charlotte held a freezer bag full of pills in front of her. “Oh.” She recovered her face and motioned Charlotte back to get her wine. “Those are my pills from Dr. Kessler.”
“Does he deal on the street now? No need for a pharmacy? You just hold out your hands or an empty sack and he pours them in? Don’t you lie to me, Ruby Russell!” She slammed the bag hard against the coffee table.
“Hey!” Ruby shouted. “You’re the one who told me if I was going to take medication I should see the doctor. Well, I do and he gives me prescriptions and I don’t take them. After thirty days, I dump them in there and get my refill.”
Charlotte looked like she’d been goosed. Her eyes sought answers from the giant bag of pills. She pushed the bag aside and sat on the little table with them. “Once more please.”
Ruby huffed and sat upright. The act took more energy than she’d planned to expend before enjoying a glass of wine. She eyed Charlotte. There would be no wine without clarification.
“Dr. Kessler wants to see me every week.” She spoke to Charlotte as if she were six years old or perhaps in possession of a very low I.Q. “He wants me to tell him I’m taking my medication and I’m doing well on it. So, I do. It’s part of the charade.” Ruby rolled her eyes and Charlotte visibly relaxed.
“Why not actually take the medication?”
“Because I. Am. Fine.” Ruby shot up onto her feet and marched into the kitchen to pour her own wine.
“Why keep them? Street value?” Charlotte followed close behind Ruby into the kitchen.
“Street value?” Ruby yanked a glass from the drying rack. “Do I look like a pimp to you?” Ruby poured a glass of wine and rolled it against her forehead under her neatly sculpted blond bangs. Her cream blouse and pearl buttons perfectly aligned with her brown pencil skirt.
“No. You don’t look like a pimp.” Charlotte smirked.
“What?” Ruby’s shoulders attacked her ears. “What?”
“It’s nothing. Never mind. Why not take the pills?”
“I’d rather drink.” She cashed the first glass and returned it to the counter for a refill. “I can’t drink and take the pills.” She held up the bottle on the counter. “I’d rather drink.”
“Then throw them out. Can you imagine if someone came and found them? What are you keeping them for?”
“I may need them sometime.”
Charlotte nodded. That made sense. It paid to be prepared. Life could be messy.

Character Interview with the star of Death by Chocolate: Ruby Russell

Hello Ruby!  I am so happy that you were able to stop by today for a little bit.  I have so many questions! What are you passionate about these days?

Passionate is such a strong word. I try not to get carried away, you understand, and also passion is severely overrated. Sensationalized even. Passion makes people impetuous. Not that I know firsthand, of course. Oh, I’m blathering. Passion you say? Hmm, let’s see, I’ll say cupcakes. No. Muffins. Though I do enjoy a good tartlet. So long as it’s done properly. Too many bakers these days try to pass off any old thing as a tartlet. It’s sad, really. I always bake a proper tartlet, and my chocolate zucchini muffins are to die for. Don’t write that.

What do you do to unwind and relax?

I like wine. With the right wine, I find most things don’t matter. Chocolate helps too, but wine is good for your heart. Did you know that? And it helps you to sleep.

Indeed.  If you could apologize to someone in your past, who would it be?

My dear husband Kenneth, rest his soul. I had no idea my “special” mousse would kill him, but I suppose I wouldn’t have made it “special” if he hadn’t crossed me. So…maybe this question can be, If someone in my past owed me and apology, who would it be? Kenneth. He owes me an apology.

What a unique viewpoint. You've obviously given it some thought. Let me ask an easier question.  What would we find under your bed?

I keep Kenneth’s box of sins there.  When I start to feel guilty about anything, I drag it out. It reminds me of how Kenneth caused all this trouble for me with his shenanigans and tomfoolery. That box reminds me how his careless self-absorption ended in so many untimely deaths, one commitment to a mental institution, and my forced relocation.

Oh, well I guess that queston wasn't as simple as I thought... [nervous giggle] What makes you happy?

Wine. Not that I condone drinking. I certainly don’t. It’s a terrible habit, but you did ask, so there it is. Wine. Wine makes me happy. You shouldn’t drink.
Ooookay, then.  If I came to visit early in the morning would you impress me as being more like a chirpy bird or a grumpy bear?

Oh, I am definitely a chirpy bird. Early to bed, early to rise, you know. Early bird gets the worm. I wake promptly at six o’clock every morning. More people should get up early, I think. Nothing but mischief happens at night. 

I'm with you there! What one word best describes you?

I am a lady. Does lady count as a word? No. Proper, I think is a good word to describe me. I’m a proper lady, like ladies should be. Appropriate is also a good one. You can write that one down. Yes, appropriate. 

Do your friends think you are an introvert or an extravert?
Charlotte is my closest friend, aside from my son, Michael. He’s married now. So, I’m not sure what he thinks anymore. I suppose he thinks I’m an excellent model for a mother. I hope his Sophia can make the grade. *grin* Let’s see, Dr. Kessler and I were close until he went whack-a-doo on me. So, let’s not ask him. He’s not well. Charlotte then. What would Charlotte say? Wait. Has she said something about me? Because we swore to take all our secrets to the grave. You can tell me. Just tell me. What did she say? Oh dear. I think this interview is over. If you’ll excuse me while I dial Charlotte. … Please, help yourself to a muffin, won’t you.

Waves bye, and breathes a big sigh....[whispers to self "think I'll pass on the muffins, this time."]

I am a mother of three, wife to a sane person and Ring Master at the Lindsey Circus. Most days you'll find me online, amped up on caffeine & wielding a book.

You can find my blogging about the writer life at Musings from the Slush Pile

Tweeting my crazy at @JulieALindsey

Reading to soothe my obsession on GoodReads

And other books by me on Amazon

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Debby said...

What a great interview. Fun to read. THanks so much.
debby236 at gmail dot com

Debby said...

Oops, I did not answer the question. I love paranormal because just about anything is possible and that makes the reading fun.
debby236 at gmail dot com

Heather said...

Great interview Ruby! I can see my friend Rachel and I acting just like you and Charlotte. We "probably" won't kill anyone though. ;-)

I dislike having to pick favorite authors and books BUT I guess I will go with Kelley Armstrong. I have been reading her for quite a while.

hjbmckenna (at) gmail (dot) com

rhonda said...

you sure know how to pick them :0)

Vesper said...

I love paranormal, mystery and murder but then I love just reading. I don't have a favorite author just many that I love to read

Bonnie Regan said...

This one sounds like a lot of fun. Thanks for the giveaway opportunity!

Bridget Howard said...

I love mystery books they are so much fun to read and honestly my favorite mystery author would probably be Clair Poulson!!!

Sarah Elizabeth said...

Is it wrong that 'death by chocolate' doesn't sound like a bad way to go?! :)

Gale Nelson said...

I love any reads about paranormal. It lets your mind wander and think what if. Love the interview and the title. Thanks again! Gale

kswederski said...

Great giveaway - I would love to win.