Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Murder and Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction by Amy Metz: Character Interview, excerpt

When Tess Tremaine starts a new life in the colorful town of Goose Pimple Junction, she thinks she’s moved to a quiet little town. Curiosity leads her to look into a seventy-five-year-old murder, and suddenly she’s learning the foreign language of southern speak, resisting her attraction to local celebrity Jackson Wright, and dealing with more mayhem than she can handle.

If brains were dynamite, Willy couldn’t blow his nose. Could a murderer be that stupid? Jack can charm the dew right off the honeysuckle. Surely a fine southern gentleman isn’t a murderer. But Tess is determined to find out, and Goose Pimple Junction will never be the same.
A bank robbery, murder, love triangle, and family tragedy from the 1930s are pieces of the mystery, which Tess attempts to solve. But someone wants it to remain unsolved. As Tess gets close to the truth, she encounters danger, mystery, a lot of southern charm, and a new temptation for which she’s not sure she’s ready. 

Excerpt from Murder and Mayhem In Goose Pimple Junction, from Chapter 1, “We’ve Howdied But We Ain’t Shook Yet”
By Amy Metz
“You are dumber ‘n a soup sandwich, Earl.” 
“Oh yeah?  Well, you’re a hole in search of a doughnut, Clive.”
Tess Tremaine walked into Slick & Junebug’s Diner, past the two gentlemen arguing at the counter, and slid into one of the red vinyl booths.  The old men were arguing good-naturedly, and she imagined they were probably lifelong friends, passing the time of day. 
Tess smiled as she looked around the diner.  She was happy with her decision to move to this friendly town. Everyone greeted her cheerfully and went out of their way to be nice. It was a pretty place to live, too. Every street in the small town was lined with decades-old trees in front of old, well-kept homes full of character, just like the citizens. She was confident she’d made the right choice. This was a good place to heal from her divorce and start a new life.
  A raised voice at the counter brought Tess out of her thoughts.  One of the old men spoke loud enough for the whole diner to hear.
 “If I had a dog as ugly as you, I’d shave his butt and make him walk backwards,” he said, jabbing his index finger at the other man. 
A waitress appeared at the table. Tess hadn’t seen a beehive hairdo in person until she saw this waitress. With her pink uniform dress and white apron, she looked like she jumped out of a page from the sixties. Her name tag said, “Willa Jean.”
“Don’t mind those two old coots.” Willa Jean hitched her head in their direction.  “They’re about as dumb as a box a hair, but they’re gentle souls underneath.  Their problem is one of ‘em’s always tryin’ to one-up the other.” 
She got her pad and pencil out of her front apron pocket, ready to take Tess's order, but she stopped and cocked her head, staring hard at Tess, and smacking her gum.
 "Anybody ever tell you, you look like Princess Di?  I just loved her, didn’t you?”  She bent her head slightly to the side to look at Tess’s legs under the table.  "'Cept you look a might shorter 'n Di was.  How tall are you?"
"Five-five." Tess couldn’t help smiling at the compliment.
"Yep.  What we have here is a mini Diana.  And your hair color is a reddish-blond instead of a blonde-blonde like my girl Di.  Other 'n that, honey, you could be her clone."
"Thank you. You just earned a big tip." Tess’s smile lit up her face.
The waitress winked at Tess. “What can I gitcha?”
“I’d think I’ll just have a Coke and a ham sandwich, please.”
“Anything on that?  Wanna run it through the garden?”
“Run it through the...”  Tess’s brow furrowed.
“Yeah, you know...lettuce, tomato, and onion. The works.”
“Oh! Just mustard, please.” 
     Willa Jean nodded and hollered the order to the cook as she went towards the kitchen. “Walkin’ in!  A Co’Cola and Noah’s boy on bread with Mississippi mud.”
     Tess smiled and looked around the diner.  The front counter was lined with cake plates full of pies covered in meringue piled six inches high, cakes three and four layers tall, and two-inch thick brownies.  Six chrome stools with red leather seats sat under the counter.  The walls were packed with framed snapshots from as far back as the fifties.  From the looks of it, they started taking pictures when poodle skirts were popular and never stopped.  They were running out of wall space.  The top half of the big picture window was covered with a “Henry Clay Price For Governor” banner.  Tess spotted similar signs throughout the restaurant, and she’d noticed the waitress was wearing a campaign button.
The diner was only half full with about twenty people at various tables and booths.  A few tables away, a mother was having trouble with her child.  Tess heard the mother say, “I’m fixin’ to show you what a whoopin’ is all about!”  When the little boy whined some more the mother added, “I mean it son, right now, I’d just as soon whoop ya as hug ya.”  She looked up to see Tess watching them and said, “I’ll swan--raisin’ kids is like bein' pecked to death by a chicken.” 
Tess laughed. “I know what you mean.  But you just wait.  In ten years time, you’ll be wishing he were five again.  The time goes by so fast.”
     "How many you got?”
     "Just one.  My son's twenty-five now, but it doesn't seem possible."
"You married?” the woman asked boldly.
"Divorced," Tess answered.
“Here’s yer Co’cola, hon,” Willa Jean said.  “It’ll be just a minute more on the sandwich.  You visitin’ or are ya new in town?” She propped a hand on her waist.
           “Brand new as of a week ago.  I've been unpacking boxes for days.  I guess you could say this is my debut in Goose Pimple Junction.”
           “Well, all Southern Belles have to have a debut. And we're mighty glad to have ya, sugar.  Lessee...did you buy the old Hobb house on Walnut?”
“My house is on Walnut, but I believe the previous owner’s name was York.”
“Yep, that’s the one I’m thinkin’ of.  Houses ‘roundcheer are known for the families that lived in ‘em the longest. Them Hobbs had the house for over seventy years, up until old Maye Hobb Carter died a few years back.  It was her late huband's family home and then hers, even when she remarried.  She was a sweet old soul, bless her heart.  We all hated to lose her, but it was her time.  She had a hard life, and I reckon she was ready to meet her maker.  Her daughter still lives in town, but she and an older sister are all that’s left of the Hobbs ‘round here. Mmm-mmm--the things that family went through.”
“Willa!” the cook behind the counter yelled.  “Order up!”
“Hold yer pants on, Slick,” she yelled and then turned to Tess. “Be right back.”  Willa hurried off to get the order and came bustling back with Tess’s sandwich.  “It was nice talkin’ with ya, hon. I’ll leave ya to eat in peace.  Holler if ya need anything else.”
A few minutes later the door to the diner opened, and almost every head turned to see who came in.  Tess noticed everybody, except for her, raised a hand up in greeting, and a few said, “Hidee, Jackson.”  The man’s eyes caught Tess’s and held them a little longer than normal.  He sat down at the counter with his back to her and ordered iced tea.  Willa waited on him, and Tess heard her say, “You don’t need ta be any sweeter than ya already are, Jackson.  I’ma give you unsweetened tea.” She leaned across the counter looking up at him adoringly.
“Don’t you dare Willa Jean or I will take my bidness elsewhere!” he said with a big smile. 
Big flirt, Tess thought.
He was a good-looking man who looked to be in his early to mid-fifties, Tess guessed, but she wasn’t in the market.  Being newly divorced, the last thing she needed was to get involved with another man.  As far as I'm concerned, they're all Martians and are to be avoided at all cost.  “Men Are From Mars, And Women Are From Venuswasn’t a best seller for nothing, she thought.

Today I'm thrilled to have Tess Tremaine, the heroine of Murder and Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction as my very special guest.  So let's find out more about Tess right now.

Laurie: I understand you recently moved to Goose Pimple Junction. Can you tell us your first impressions of the town, and why you chose to move here?
Tess: I couldn’t have created a better town if I conjured one up in my head. Goose Pimple Junction is beautiful, charming, quirky, fun, friendly, cheerful, and welcoming, as are its residents. I moved here because of those traits, and because I wanted to live in a small town where I would feel safe.
Laurie: But weren’t you the recent victim of several crime incidents?
Tess: Well, yes, I was. But I understand those were flukes, and the culprits are all in jail now. Goose Pimple Junction has now been restored to the safe little town it’s always been.
Laurie: What do you all do for fun in Goose Pimple Junction?
Tess: Oh, there are lots of fun things to do in GPJ. We have great restaurants, like my favorite--Slick & Junebug’s Diner. The Silly Goose is more upscale if you want a fancy night on the town. Johnny B’s Pizza Place has great pizza and subs, and the Oak Hill Inn just outside of town has a fine restaurant with wonderful southern food and romantic atmosphere. If you’re looking for just a snack or a light breakfast, we have The Muffin Man. And Jake Baked A Cake has the best desserts you’d ever want to put in your mouth, but don’t tell Slick I said that.
But we do more than just eat around here. We also have an amateur theatre company, and live bands at The Magnolia Bar. You never know who you’ll see playing over there. We have local amateur bands, but The Mag Bar also attracts a lot of professional musicians. We have a cinema, the best bookstore in the world, and hiking trails through beautiful woodlands. Oh! And GPJ has the best holiday celebrations in the world. Fourth of July, Halloween, Christmas…GPJ knows how to party.
Laurie: I heard they roll up the sidewalks at night in GPJ. Is that true?
Tess: (laughing) No, that’s not true. But I do think the general feeling in town is that the only people out past midnight are either burglars or bad women.
Laurie: If we looked, what would we find under your bed?
Tess: My Louisville Slugger. I live alone, and I don’t like guns, but a girl’s got to feel safe, so my baseball bat resides under my bed. I’m sure I won’t need it in Goose Pimple Junction, but it gives me a feeling of security.

Laurie: Tell us about your favorite restaurant.
Tess: Well, as I said, my favorite place in town is Slick & Junebug’s Diner. Slick’s southern home cooking is so good, it will make your tongue slap your brains out. Junebug and Willa Jean treat you like family, and I love to listen to their diner lingo.
Laurie: What’s your favorite thing on the menu?
Tess: Oh, just about everything Slick makes is good. I love his “Bossie in a bowl,” which is beef stew. “Nervous pudding” makes me laugh—it’s Jell-O, of course. For breakfast, I always order two scrambled eggs on toast just to hear Junebug say, “Adam and Eve on a raft and wreck ‘em.”
But the best thing Slick makes is the burgers. They are ridiculously good. I like mine with lettuce, tomato, and onion, AKA, “Burn one, take it through the garden and pin a rose on it."
Laurie: What would you consider to be the best book you have ever read? 
Tess: Oh my goodness, it’s hard to narrow it down to just one, especially since I started working at Stafford’s Books. I love Jackson’s Wyatt’s Revenge, of course.
Laurie: Jackson?
Tess: Yes, Jackson Wright, my sweetie. He’s a bestselling mystery writer, and Wyatt’s Revenge is his latest book. Another good mystery writer is Wayne Zurl. His book, A Leprechaun’s Lament is terrific. If you like Sci Fi, I highly recommend Connor Dempsey’s The Exiles of The New World. And I’ve turned Butterbean and her friends onto a new author named Tricia Drammeh. She writes young adult books—The Claiming Words is her first. Butterbean loved it. I’ve also heard Murder & Mayhem In Goose Pimple Junction is a good one. I’m not sure what it’s about, but I’m going to read it next.

Amy Metz is a former first grade teacher who lives in Louisville, Kentucky. She is blessed with two sons—an adult, and a teenager. When not actively engaged in writing, enjoying her family, or spoiling her dog Cooper, and granddogs, Brown Dog and Arlo, Amy can usually be found with a mixing spoon, camera, or book in her hands. 

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1 comment:

Wayne Zurl said...

I'm almost finished with Amy's book (on page 215 right now) and I'm loving it. Well, maybe I've fallen in love with Tess, too. Look out Jack Wright.
But I've had mixed emotions from the start. Part of me wants to stop and write down all the "Goosepimpleisms" and the other part says, "Keep reading, don't waste time."
Highly recommended. wz