July 1999's Author for the Month

Kate Kingsbury
(Chosen by Brenda Weeaks)
 
About The PennyFoot Mysteries

New Series!

Interview with Kate Kingsbury

Mystery Titles 
PennyFoot Series & Manor House Series

Aka Doreen Roberts Silhouette Titles

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About The PennyFoot Mysteries

Ms. Kingsbury is the author of the Pennyfoot Hotel Mystery Series published by Berkley from September 1993 to June 1999.

The series takes place at Badgers End in England during the Edwardian period. About three years ago now, while roaming a used bookstore for an interesting read, I came across Ms. Kingsbury's first title ROOM WITH A CLUE. The cover caught my attention and mad me smile. I read it and became an instant fan with the hopes of finding more of her books. I was pleased to learn it was the first and I had more to look forward too. With each book, the picture cover and the blurb on the back made me smile with curiosity as to what the Pennyfoot crowd was up to now and the possibilties of the mystery it held. I have followed and read every title. I can honestly say I have not been disappointed in any of them.

The Penny Foot Hotel is known to be discreet and closed mouth about their guests. And some of their boarders have been rumored to be famous. Cecily Sinclair runs the hotel with the help of her manager Baxter, who promised her late husband he would watch over her. Baxter aids Cecily in solving the mysteries that occur at Pennyfoot. They learn more about each other during these times and their relationship changes. The hotel employee's are hard working. The kitchen echoes with the ever busy, never dull antics of the kitchen staff and anyone else passing through. The Villagers are also a delight. They help to put on the festivities for the holidays and special occasions. The hotel and town bustles with the excitement of each festivity. And with each occasions we are entertained with some interseting moments that make us gasp or laugh out loud.

Ms. Kingsbury has many characteres coming and going, as well as the well love characters who have settled in Badgers End and in our hearts. This helps to keep the mystery alive. Each character is well written with their own personality, style and quirks and each is a treat to read. Although MAID TO MURDER is the final book in this series, just remember the Pennyfoot Hotel will always be there to visit and revisit as long as there are Pennyfoot mysteries in our new and used bookstores.



New Series: Manor House Mysteries


 
In Feb. 2001 Ms. Kingsbury's new series was successfully launched. It is titled the Manor House Mysteries, and set in England during WW II. The series takes place in Sitting Marsh, a small seaside village, with a 17th century mansion as the focal point, owned and barely maintained by Lady Elizabeth Hartleigh Compton, her faithful but senile butler, and her sharp-tongued, inquisitive and superstitious housekeeper.

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Interview with Kate Kingsbury

BW:    Why did you choose PennyFoot for the hotel's name?

KK:    Many years ago, before I decided to turn my love of writing into a career, I made stuffed animals that I sold at craft fairs and bazaars. Among my various designs were a series of felt mice, all dressed in period costume from Edwardian England.   Their legs were rather spindly, and in order to make them stand up I inserted a penny in each foot.  Hence... the Pennyfoot Mice.   When searching for a name for my Edwardian hotel, the name jumped right out at me.   I had once remarked that one day, the Pennyfoot Mice would be famous.   Little did I imagine that the name would eventually end up on a series of books.
 

BW:    I understand you managed your family seaside hotel in England. Was any of the staff, visitors or towns people as colorful as your characters?

KK:    Most of them!   The British are well known for being eccentric, and I'm happy to say that in that respect, time hasn't changed them all that much.   The majority of my characters are based on aspects of people  I've met.   My characters are very real to me, and it was hard for me to say goodbye at the end of the series.
 

BW:    Are there any comparisons you can tell us about?

KK:    Not without getting into trouble.
 

BW:    What sort of things happened at your family hotel?

KK:    I'm happy to say that no murders occurred at our hotel, though we did have two deaths, unfortunately.   As you can imagine, both caused quite an uproar, even though they were natural causes.   The hotel was well over a hundred years old and one of the rooms was haunted.   Several people asked to be moved to another room, after being awaked in the middle of the night by the sound of rustling skirts and soft moaning.   An uncle, who was a staunch disbeliever, spent one night in the room and vowed never to set foot in it again.   We had to swear the haunted guests to secrecy and compensate them,  so they wouldn't panic the entire hotel.   We had our share of summer romances and broken hearts.  Some of the guests returned again and again, sharing their lives with us as they married and brought their growing families back with them each year.   It was wonderful time in my life, and gave me a wonderful source from which to draw my characters.
 

BW:    Your descriptions of PennyFoot, Badgers End and Putney Downs, are so realistic.  I'm thinking now of the Esplanade, the garden and the church, etc.   Where are they taken from?

KK:    They are a composite, taken from every seaside resort in England I've ever visited... and there are many... as well as the one where I lived.
 

BW:    You had a variety of British accents along with historical slang, clothing,  moments and places in your series.  How did you do your research?

KK:    Books,  mostly... and from having grown up there.  I also printed up copies of the local newspaper from that time.  Much of England, especially outside the cities, remains pretty much as it was a hundred or more years ago.  It's easy to walk the tiny streets and alleys among the Victorian, Georgian and Edwardian architecture and imagine the kind of people who walked those streets before me.
 

BW:    Would you please recommend any books to read or any web sites to visit with these historical details?

KK:    Since the Edwardian period was very short, just ten years, books on the period are somewhat limited.   My absolute bibles were two wonderful books:  VICTORIAN AND EDWARDIAN FASHION, by Alison Gernsheim, and  TO MARRY AN ENGLISH LORD, by Gail MacColl and Carol McD. Wallace.   The latter has marvelous descriptions of architecture, fashions, food and manners, both upstairs and down, and some truly wonderful anecdotes of the time.  A great book.  Among others, I read an interesting book by Valerie Pakenham,  entitled OUT IN THE NOONDAY SUN, about Edwardians in the tropics... and a wonderful pictorial account by Gail Buckland called THE GOLDEN SUMMER, using the marvelous photographs by Horace Walter Nicholls, who was London's most noted photo journalist at the turn of the century.  Last, but certainly not least,  I hunted down a series of children's books by artist, John S. Goodall.  There is no text in these books, just fabulous illustrations.. and they truly invoke the times with their intricate detail.   EDWARDIAN SUMMER and EDWARDIAN SEASON are particularly enlightening, but all of Mr. Goodall's works are a delight and an inspiration.
 

BW:    The cover art for your series is wonderful.  Please tell me how they came about and who did them.

KK:    I have the wonderful art department at Berkley to thank for the covers.  Although I had some discussion with my editor as to which scenes we might use, the covers were always a delightful surprise for me.   I loved each one,  and am deeply grateful to the talented and imaginative artist who created them.
 

BW:    What kind of mysteries do you like to read?

KK:    All kinds.   I enjoy the cozies, but I also tend to read the hard-edged, hard-boiled thrillers for a change of pace.
 

BW:    Who is your favorite author?

KK:    Oh, my, that's hard.   In mystery I have so many...  P.D. James, J.A. Jance,  Dick Francis, and of course, Dame Agatha.    I also read a great deal of women's fiction, and enjoy Rosemunde Pilcher, Eileen Goudge and Tami Hoag... as well as Mary Higgins Clark.  I grew up reading the queens of romantic suspense... Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt and Phyllis Whitney.
 

BW:    Now that PennyFoot Mysteries has concluded, what mystery ideas are in the works for the future?

KK:    Ah, well... this is supposed to be a secret for now... but I'm hoping to sell the sequel to the Pennyfoot Series.   Badger's End revisited thirty  years later, during World War II.   The research should be easier.. since I  was there.
 

BW:    What made you decide to write romances?

KK:    I'd always loved romantic suspense... but had never considered writing it.   One day I attended a seminar put on by Silhouette in my home town.   After listening to the authors and editors, I was impressed by their enthusiasm for the genre.   I went right out and bought armfuls of Silhouette books and soon after began my first manuscript.  I wrote four full length  novels before I was happy enough with one to submit it.   It was bought by  Silhouette nine days after I sent in the full manuscript.
 

BW:    Do you think you will break away from category romance and write an independent romance like some of your other Silhouette colleagues?

KK:    Definitely.   In fact, I have a mainstream proposal circulating the publishers right now.
 

BW:    What new things under your real name as romance author Doreen Roberts can you  tell your fans about?

KK:    I'm currently working on a special project for Silhouette for one of  their continuity series, a new 36 HOURS,  and am waiting word on a proposal  for a new Intimate Moments.
 

I'd like to thank Ms. Kingsbury for this interview. Please visit her Web Site and learn more about her.

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Her Mysteries

The PennyFoot Series
ROOM WITH A CLUE

DO NOT DISTURB

SERVICE FOR TWO

EAT, DRINK AND BE BURIED

CHECK-OUT TIME

GROUNDS FOR MURDER

PAY THE PIPER

CHIVALRY IS DEAD

RING FOR TOMB SERVICE

DEATH WITH RESERVATIONS

DYING ROOM ONLY

MAID TO MURDER (Last book in the series)

The Manor House Series
A BICYCLE BUILT FOR MURDER
(2001)
DEATH IS IN THE AIR (2001)

 


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Aka Doreen Roberts Titles

Most Recent Releases:

A VERY...PREGNANT NEW YEAR'S (SIM)
HOME IS WHERE THE COWBOY IS (SIM)

A FOREVER KIND OF COWBOY (SIM)

THE MAVERICK'S BRIDE (SIM)

THE MARRIAGE BEAT (He's My Hero)(SR)

Past Releases:

GAMBLER'S GOLD #215
WILLING ACCOMPLICE #239

FORBIDDEN JADE #266

THREAT OF EXPOSURE #295

DESERT HEAT #319

IN THE LINE OF DUTY #379

BROKEN WINGS #422

ROAD TO FREEDOM #442

IN A STRANGER'S EYES #475

ONLY A DREAM AWAY #513

WHERE THERE'S SMOKE #567

SO LITTLE TIME #653

A COWBOY'S HEART #705

EVERY WAKING MOMENT #783

THE MERCENARY AND THE MARRIAGE VOW #861

HOME IS WHERE THE COWBOY IS #909

A FOREVER KIND OF COWBOY #927

THE MAVERICK'S BRIDE #945

SILHOUETTE ROMANCE

HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS #765

A MOM FOR CHRISTMAS #1195

IN LOVE WITH THE BOSS #1271

THE MARRIAGE BEAT # 1938



Reviews

A BICYCLE BUILT FOR MURDER by Kate Kingsbury
A Manor House Mystery

Berkley Prime Crime - Feb.  2001
ISBN: 0425178560 - Paperback

Reviewed by Brenda Weeaks

Kate Kingsbury, widely known for her Pennyfoot Mystery series, and Berkley Prime Crime, known for it’s wide variety of successfully published mysteries, are together again, and the result is an exciting new mystery series. As in her last series, Ms. Kingsbury’s new series is considered a cozy, and, in some corners, a historical mystery as well. A Bicycle Built for Murder is the first in the series.

The Manor House seaside village is called Sitting Marsh. It’s World War II, a time of bombing, blackouts, rationing, and American soldiers on British soil. The main character Lady Elizabeth Hartleigh Compton is thirty-one and divorced. She inherited a Jacobean mansion, cottages, and vast acres after her parents were killed. She cares for her tenants beyond what is expected and proves it when a mother asks her to investigate the disappearance of her wayward daughter. When a disappearance turns to murder, Lady Elizabeth, with the approval of the local law, takes on the formidable task of listing suspects and clues to find out what happened to sixteen-year-old Beryl Pierce. After adding amateur sleuth to her list of obligations, Lady Elizabeth discovers she can add Hostess as well when a handsome major arrives to tell her American officers will be moving into her manor.

A Bicycle Built for Murder is expertly written.. The mystery stays in the front position with character introductions and long-term secondary plots blending in. The historical details and dialogue add to the intrigue. The main secondary characters are the manor house staff, Violet, Martin, and Polly. They provide some light moments in the mystery, and if first impressions are anything to go by, I can honestly say they will effectively help to carry the series. A Bicycle Built for Murder is an engaging read of murder and mayhem that takes place in a time far from forgotten. I highly recommend it.

Brenda Weeaks
 
 

MAID TO MURDER by Kate Kingsbury
The Final Pennyfoot Mystery

Berkley - June 1999
ISBN: 0425169677

Reviewed by Brenda Weeaks

A cozy with an edge.

In the final book of this mystery series, Cecily and Baxter have to solve the most sinister, frightening crime the Pennyfoot has ever had. Maids are being murdered in the hotel and the clues are puzzling.

Also in the story, the colonel has an interesting companion to share his war stories with and to compete with the affections of Phoebe. Cecily hopes for a change in her last name. Gertie has a new arrival and a decision to make. One twin is gone in search of fame and the other is missing her. And the Pennyfoot takes on a new technology. While murder and mayhem takes hold of the hotel, the residents, staff and villagers experience changes, and learn the end of an old way of life may be the beginning of many new lives.

As always, enough twist and turns to keep you guessing and enough activities and characters to keep you entertained. Trust me, you will not be disappointed.

This series is so well written. I would not be surprised if one day the Pennyfoot and Badgers End showed up on the Telly.
 



A VERY… PREGNANT NEW YEAR’S by Doreen Roberts
Intimate Moments, # 1047

Silhouette - December 2000
ISBN: 0373271174 – Paperback

Reviewed by Brenda Weeaks
 Buy a Copy

Doreen Roberts, who also writes cozy mysteries under the pseudonym of Kate Kingsbury, brings category romance readers the next to the last chapter in the “36 Hours” series by Silhouette.

A Very…Pregnant New Year’s is a hot contemporary romance set during the holidays in Grand Springs, Colorado. The prologue introduces us to Anne Parker and Brad Irving as children. They attended the same school and grew up in the same small Colorado town. Anne moves away, and after facing a personal crisis while living in Denver as a successful architect, she decides to return home to be with her grandfather, parents, and three siblings. The same feudal sparks that flew when Anne and Brad ran into each other as youngsters is rekindled when she runs into him again at a ski resort. When they end up trapped together after an avalanche, all past family history and anger must be put aside to survive. For 36 hours they are trapped in a cabin and get to know each other pretty well, but once rescued, Anne feels her family must come before her emotions…that is until she learns she is pregnant.

What better way to start the year then with a romance of pride, passion, humility, and love? I found it to be a very quick, idealistic type read that had me rooting for the hero and heroine and mentally cursing the families. Anne is an independent character, but sometimes I wanted to reach in and slap her upside the head and advise her to think about herself for once. And don’t get me started on the two mothers. The story takes readers from the characters’ youth to adulthood. Later in the storyline the family feud is explained, and the romance takes some typical turns, which kept this reader holding on, and, like I said, rooting for the couple that fate continued to throw together.

1999's Honorary List

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