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IRDA Winning Author Daisy Pettles: “I’ve published traditionally most of my life, but I had the most success–personally and financially–when I became my own publisher.”

Indie Reader Discovery Award

Ghost Busting Mystery was the winner in the Humor category of the 2019 IndieReader Discovery Awards, where undiscovered talent meets people with the power to make a difference.

Following find an interview with author Daisy Pettles.

What is the name of the book and when was it published?

Ghost Busting Mystery (Book 1 of The Shady Hoosier Detective Agency), published September, 2018.

What’s the book’s first line?

“Dode Schneider wasn’t right in the head even before that snowplow hit him.”

What’s the book about? Give us the “pitch”.

“Imagine ‘Murder She Wrote’ meets ‘The Golden Girls’ and you’ll be in the ballpark of Daisy Pettles’ GHOST BUSTING MYSTERY, where the fun is infectious and the story will keep readers laughing, while showing us all how to grow older with grace, humor, and style.” IndieReader wrote that great summary.  The deeper pitch: Veenie Goens and Ruby Jane Waskom would love to retire, but they lack a nest egg. In fact, they barely have a nest. One ex-husband is long-gone to the Holy Hereafter, the other forty years behind on child support. Determined to supplement their social security, the gal pals, who live in a tiny Indiana river town, that, like them, may be past its prime, go pro with their one natural talent: nosiness. They sign on as PIs in-training with the Shady Hoosier Detective Agency, run by Harry Shades, an incompetent womanizer. Their knees aching, but their spirits high, the senior sleuths’ first crime case, the Ghost Busting Mystery, finds them chasing a century old ghost, bank robbers and hillbilly hoodlums through the barnyards of rural Indiana. Veenie and Ruby Jane always get their man—or ghost, or blind wiener dog, as the case may be.

What inspired you to write the book? A particular person? An event?

I grew up in small town Indiana in the 60s where everybody (unfortunately) knew your name. My favorite entertainment consisted of warm-hearted comedies like “Petticoat Junction,” “Green Acres,” and the “Andy Griffith Show.” Turning 60 this year, I decided to tap that feel-good version of yesteryear to create Pawpaw County, Indiana, a small town populated by quirky characters, including my heroines, widowed, down-on-their-luck gal pals who don’t sit around in rocking chairs sipping tea waiting for their Meals on Wheels. Ghost Busting Mystery is the first book in a feel-good mystery series that captures the spirit of a generation of baby-boomer seniors who are growing old while steadfastly refuse to grow decrepit.

What’s the main reason someone should really read this book?

Laughter. Lots of it. If you loved “The Golden Girls,” and vintage TV comedy classics like “The Lucy Show,” get ready to meet their modern rural incantations.  Ruby Jane and Veenie, our small-town amateur detectives, will win your heart with their mad cap attempts to restore law and order in a small Indiana town that, like them, may be past its hay day.

What’s the most distinctive thing about the main character?  Who-real or fictional-would you say the character reminds you of?

Nosiness, fueled by a dash of financial desperation. Think Stephanie Plum and Lula retire and relocate to Mayberry. Ruby Jane (RJ) Waskom is Ethel: the normal enough neighbor next door, and straight lady. She’s efficient, dry-witted, hard-working, and at age 68 not all that patient with bad bosses. Her best friend, Lavina (Veenie), on the other hand, is our Lucy: she bounces around in outrageous Goodwill outfits, saying whatever pops into her mind, forever drawing the spotlight their way. Veenie’s natural born talent for nosiness leads the detective duo into endless uproar and disorder.

When did you first decide to become an author?

I loved hearing my grandmother’s porch stories about our family and where we came from (Germany). I have always felt that my life is one brief episode in a mini-series that has been running uninterrupted for centuries. I think this is why in the second grade, with the help of my grandmother, a relentless reader, I created my own line of books. These were all moral tales, with titles like “Bucky the Deer Helps Rufus the Squirrel.” As soon as I saw those books, I was hooked. I’ve been creating unique story arcs for my own existence ever since.

Is this the first book you’ve written?

It’s the first mystery/humor book series I’ve written. In my previous career I wrote hundreds of educational textbooks, educational software storybooks, video scripts, marketing materials, how-to handbooks, guidebooks, short stories, articles and essays.

What do you do for work when you’re not writing?

I’m retired, so all I do is read and write. Oh, and travel.

How much time do you generally spend on your writing?

I write as much as I can. Once I start a fiction book I write the entire novel straight through in about thirty days.

What’s the best and the hardest part of being an indie?   

The best part is also the hardest part: you get to create according to the way your mind and heart bends rather than what the market might demand from day to day. No editor is standing over you with a slot to fill in the fall catalog or a mandate that you write about this or that “hot” theme. Going Indie is going rogue, and that is also the hardest part of being an indie author and publisher because it’s very difficult to fit quirky and creative projects into a book buyer’s catalog or a reader’s category-driven search on Amazon.

I envy writers who can write fiction by outline and around a tight formula. I can’t accomplish either, not for fiction. Fiction is such a complete blank. It requires both the ability to go wild in creating characters and worlds while at the same time requiring a keen analytical ability to boil down all that chaos into a tight package that in the end makes it appear that life and people have a certain predictable consistency.

What’s a great piece of advice that you can share with fellow indie authors?

Keep writing. I’ve been at it for a lifetime and each time I write a new piece my skills improve and my ability to create and convey mass marketability improves. Writing is all about failing, a lot. A LOT. Like all creative endeavors, you’ll need to fail 99 times to find or craft that single instance of creativity that really takes off for you and for a public audience. Many creators never realize that magical meeting of both forces in their lifetimes.

Would you go traditional if a publisher came calling?  If so, why? 

I’ve published traditionally most of my life, but I had the most success – personally and financially – when I became my own publisher. Luckily the part of me that is “enterprising,” that part of me that is driven to realize a project and push it to the public – is as strong as the part of me that is full of fairy dust and fancy story-telling. Not all writers have that mix within them. For many writers the marketing side of publishing is a dark and dismal place. I actually enjoy marketing. It feels very creative to me. I’d only sign now with a traditional publisher if they could market specific rights for my projects that would be hard for me to realize on my own. Traditional publishers still control many of the main channels of distribution so if one could license my works into a specific channel, like TV or book clubs, I’d see that as a very attractive reason to partner with them. “The Shady Hoosier Detective Agency Series,” is strongly driven by character and dialogue. I see it as a televised series and would love to option it for development on a platform like Amazon.

Is there something in particular that motivates you (fame? fortune?)

I’m lucky enough to have had both fame and fortune in previous careers. Nowadays what motivates me is the desire to materialize things that create the most passion and satisfaction for me personally. I am an incredibly curious and self-motivated person who usually just follows the internal rivers in me. When I do that I always end up docked at the most fascinating places.

Which writer, living or dead, do you most admire?

I have endless admiration for all writers. Fiction writers must create an entire world without any outside input; they then must put that private world on public display; and then they must wait to see if that very private world seems real to anyone other than themselves. It takes a lot of guts and determination to embark on that type of arduous adventure. Writing is the loneliest job, and as a job it offers very little chance of meeting with great success in terms of either money or recognition.

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