Saturday, December 8, 2012

Deadly as Nature by Gail M Baugniet: Interview & Excerpt


Welcome Gail. Thanks for coming by and agreeing to answer a few of my questions.  Where do you dream of traveling to and why, and what is it that you like to do when you’re not reading/writing?

Believe it or not, I no longer dream of traveling. There are a couple of reasons for this. One of my pastimes is genealogy research which I started about fifteen years ago. After I did a cursory search by talking to relatives, joining on the Internet, and visiting every relevant Register of Deeds Office and library archive, I compiled outlines for my sixteen great great grandparents. Then I arranged a trip for my sisters and me to visit the homeland of my father’s paternal lineage in Belgium.

In the 70s and 80s, I took several trips, to Europe, Canada and Mexico. In 1992, I moved to Hawaii and no longer feel the urge to travel. Now I let my research and writing take me on journeys back in years to places where I’ve lived and worked.


What are your favorite TV shows?

I no longer watch television but over the decades my favorite shows were Hawaiian Eye; Hawaii 5-0 (with Jack Lord); and Magnum P.I. It never occurred to me that I would one day live in Hawaii. Destiny? This might explain why my protagonist Pepper Bibeau is an ethnic mix of maternal Hawaiian-Japanese-Filipino as well as paternal West-European. To keep everything straight, I used my genealogy computer program to develop her family trees. That way, if I need to check someone’s birth date or the name of a relative, the information is at my fingertips. No surprise that Pepper was born in Honolulu!


What is the next big thing? Who are your books published with?

As a tool to reach my goal of publishing my second Pepper Bibeau Mystery, DEADLY AS NATURE Envy Spawn Grief, I accepted The Next Big Thing blog challenge. Instead of answering all ten questions in one blog post, I answered one question a week with the publicly-announced goal of publishing my novel when I posted the final question. I skipped questions 8 and 9 to complete the editing, format the ebook and print book, and design the cover, then self-published under my business name along with posting question 10.


Tell us about your Work-In-Progress. When in the day/night do you write? How long per day?

This is the first year I took the National November Writers Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge. I had researched three different cities for the dates I wanted to set Book #3 of my Pepper Bibeau Mystery series. Then I chose one of the cities for my setting and wrote three bare chapters for a total of 1874 words. I used this idea for NaNoWriMo. Each day beginning November 1, usually in the morning and anywhere from three to six hours, I wrote between 1100 and 6500 words toward the NaNoWriMo goal of 50,000 words. A local group met on Saturday afternoons for Write-Ins and Word Wars meant to encourage each of us to continue with the challenge. On the evening of November 18, I completed the final chapters of the first draft for a total of 53,595 words.


Where do you research for your books?

I love the research part of writing my novels. You have probably heard that expression from the 60s, “If you remember Woodstock, you weren’t there.” I was so busy living my life, I couldn’t remember it! I decided to write a mystery series based on some of those years and research some of what I had missed. My first novel is set in 1968 Chicago’s Loop where I worked at the time. I traveled back to Chicago a few years ago and spent four days walking the streets, taking photographs, visiting the library, art institute, Grant Park, etc., before writing the story. For the second novel, I took the Wisconsin Peninsula ferry ride to Washington Island and revisited the area, especially Door County and Green Bay.

My research for the novels mirrors my genealogy research, including visits to libraries and Register of Deeds offices. Once I sit down to write, I use the Internet to fill in the blanks.


Are the names of the characters in your novels important? How and why?

My protagonist's name is Kai-Ena Lehua Bibeau. “But everyone calls me Pepper,” she says, when introducing herself. The name Bibeau is one of my family names, and represents Pepper’s European heritage. Because Pepper is part-Hawaiian (hapa haole), I chose to give her a Hawaiian first name that serves more than one purpose. 1. Kai is the Hawaiian word for sea; Ena means red-hot, glowing - but figuratively means raging or angry. One interpretation of Kai-Ena is Stormy Sea. 2. The weather conditions causing a stormy sea are also known as a gale. While Pepper Bibeau has her own personality, she does share traits with her creator (Gail). 3. While her mother chose the name Kai-Ena, the name reminded her father of the spicy condiment cayenne and he nicknamed her Pepper. To her mother’s consternation, the name stuck.


Do you have critique partners?

Yes. Writing the story is solely the author’s job, but once everything is on paper, it is time to share. I have a local critique group and two on-line critique groups. Once all the groups have offered their take on the story and its characters, and I think the story is complete, I send it off to my editor. Back it comes. Oops, guess it wasn’t all that complete, after all.

I know what I want my story to say but am always eager to hear suggestions and ideas that help me improve my writing. I’ve also learned to smile at comments such as “You should never use a contraction outside of dialogue” or “your protagonist sounds like a psychopath”. I give consideration to each new idea and decide how it applies to my story. Even incorrect statements are helpful because they give me the opportunity to clarify my thinking or recheck my research material to support my view.

Thank you for inviting me to visit today, Laurie.



Gail Baugniet was born in a small Wisconsin town located on the shores of Lake Michigan. She spent the first two decades of her life romping along beautiful sugar-sand beaches and swimming in the lakes freshwater waves. Over the years, she held diverse positions with insurance companies and law enforcement organizations. One she found particularly rewarding was that of Part Time Peace Officer.
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It is 1970, the year Janis Joplin dies. Drugs and alcohol define the lives of more than a few folks living in eastern Wisconsin. Others wave banners protesting the unpopular war in Vietnam. After all, what is it good for? People would rather make love. Treacherous waves on Lake Michigan toss Insurance Investigator Pepper Bibeau into the company of an intriguing and self-reliant blind lady. Haunted by past events, the lady presents Pepper with an unusual request to help clear up a murder. To link these events to an investigation on her cousin?s life insurance claim, Pepper delves into a family history she didn?t know existed. More curious than suspicious over the husband?s cancellation of her cousin?s claim, Pepper digs for a rational explanation. What she unearths are family skeletons best left undisturbed. Then her uncle points out a possible connection between a grandaunt?s death and one of her investigations. Now Pepper must weigh the fate of the living against memories of the dead. Pepper's son resides in Hawaii, but his father lives right next door to her, and Homicide Sergeant Rick Janus wants to resume a relationship that faded ten years ago. A week-end fishing trip together could prove interesting, provided no more dead bodies pile up. Well-intended deeds of ancestors often lead to unwise choices, even for those sworn to uphold the law. Because of her mixed heritage, Pepper has dealt with prejudice during most of her twenty-eight years and always kept her hackles lowered around bigoted people. Until now. A situation left to simmer over time builds to a confrontation that will not allow her to walk away. By the time she figures out what her cousin's missing high-top pink sneaker has to do with a letter written by a fifteen-year-old nun in Paris, the loaded revolver is cocked and aimed at Pepper?s heart.
Sully had assigned local insurance investigations to me so I could attend the home-team football game on Sunday. To compensate, he would probably hand me out-of-state cases for the rest of the year. At the time, I appreciated his gesture, but my last two cases had stalled. My appointment with Jayden Zole would likely clear up the medical claim, but the odds on closing out the other case weren’t as favorable.
In an effort to straighten out the life insurance case, I’d set up an appointment for this morning. The deceased, Leslie Doxtater, had been a shirt-tail cousin of mine and she had died over eight months ago. Both facts offered incentive to approve the claim, but neither posed a problem. The dilemma lay in her husband’s withdrawal of the request for payment he had submitted three weeks ago.
I settled on the back porch swing with my first cup of coffee. Sun streamed through the pine trees, offering little warmth on this brisk autumn day. Two rabbits hopped along the garden fence, then took off running toward the lake, scaring up a couple of mallards that quacked their displeasure before settling down again. In the silence, I thought about my cousin.
In January, Leslie Doxtater tumbled from the roof of her cottage while removing Christmas decorations. The photographs clipped to my case file exhibited shiny areas on the rooftop, indicating snow had melted and frozen over. Leslie must have slipped and rolled over the edge. Her head struck the frozen ground below. Typical unchecked gossip hinted at her husband’s involvement in the accident, but Lance Doxtater hadn’t been home when his wife fell.
Sympathetic to a husband’s grief, no one in the office questioned the eight-month time lapse between Leslie’s death and receipt of request for payment. In an attempt to rush the process, the office manager had contacted Mr. Doxtater. As the beneficiary, he agreed to deliver a copy of his wife’s death certificate and sign the necessary forms. The following day, he called to cancel the appointment and the claim.
That we questioned.
Dust rose from the driveway as I entered Lance Doxtater’s property. No vehicles were parked outside so I pulled off to the side of the garage. Wanting to keep the meeting informal, I tucked the paperwork into my purse and slid the briefcase under the front seat.
Lance and I had never met. I had been only five years old when he married my cousin. Although I had been close to her mother, Melanie had died a few years back.
Broken tree limbs cluttered the front lawn. I noticed an assortment of yard tools strewn along the walkway. A hacksaw blade and a hammer showed signs of rust. The screen door wasn’t latched, its handle tapping against the side of the cottage each time the wind picked up. The bottom panel of the sagging frame was bare.
With the temperature hovering in the low 50s, I felt some concern for Mr. Doxtater’s well-being. The rumors about his involvement in Leslie’s death hadn’t subsided, but broken branches and rusted tools strewn around the yard where his wife had fallen suggested lingering sorrow, not guilt. No amount of rumors would negate Lance Doxtater’s right to the insurance settlement.
Straddling wide cracks in the concrete porch, I tried to shut the screen door. It wouldn’t stay latched until my third attempt. When the doorbell didn’t ring, I tapped on the door frame. No one responded.
After adjusting my purse strap, I called out. “Hello, is anybody here?” Still, no one came to the door. Lance Doxtater should have been expecting me.
I cupped my hands against the upper half of the screen door and peered inside. Hushed conversation drifted toward me from the hallway. Either the television was on or Lance had company. A rustling sound put me on alert as two large dogs bounded toward me, their toenails clicking on the linoleum tile. I had a fleeting thought that someone had held the dogs back before giving the command to attack.
The instinct to flee set in first and my left foot appeared to turn outward of its own volition. I rummaged through my purse for a can of hair spray. While I debated between flight and fight, the dogs burst through the bare half of the screen door.
The sudden whoosh of air caused the door to bang against the siding again. With a firm grip, I held the doorknob, along with my ground.
Enter for a chance to win a Print or Digital copy of Deadly as Nature.
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Debby said...

Thanks so much for sharing your book. I enjoyed reading about it.
debby236 at hotmail dot com

Gail M Baugniet - Author said...

Laurie, Thank you for featuring me and my latest mystery novel on your colorful website. I luv the holiday design. Aloha! I look forward to hearing the names of the winners of the giveaway. Happy Holidays.

Anonymous said...

This one looks like there are more plot twists than possible! Sounds like a fun read. Liene @ LLucane at yahoo dot com

Zed... said...

Thanks for the giveaway!

joye said...

Thanks for the book information. Your book sounds really interesting. I have yet to read a book by you so this would be a good opportunity to do so.

bn100 said...

I enjoyed the interview.