Thursday, October 17, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Mysteries With a Financial Twist!

The Write Way Café welcomes Cathy Perkins, who combines money with mystery in creating her Holly Price Mystery series.

Tell us a little about your Holly Price Mystery series.
     The series features an accountant. I know, I know. Some people don’t like math or taxes or any of the things she deals with. One of my favorite reviews starts, wow, this story is about an accountant – and it’s not boring!
     On that optimistic note, let me give you a bit of background for the series: Holly Price never expected to be back in Richland, Washington. She bolted out of the small town in eastern Washington for college—with no intention of returning. She also never expected her father to have a mid-life brain-fart and run off with his yoga instructor. His defection stranded Holly’s mother both personally and professionally. Without Holly’s CPA license, her mother would have to close the family accounting practice.
     Now Holly has all kinds of choices to make—should she stay in Richland and run the family business, which to her astonishment she finds she enjoys, or head back to Seattle and her high-flying position with Falcon, managing multi-million dollars deals? Then there’s the issue of JC Dimitrak, former fiancé and Franklin County detective who doesn’t want to be so former. Her family and clients end up embroiled in crimes where her forensic skills (and general nosiness) leave her scrambling to unravel the clues.
     And of course, there is the llama. And the pig.

What was your path to getting So About The Money written and published? What type of research did you do?
    So About the Money started as a riff on the adage, Write what you know. I’d written several dark suspense novels and wanted something lighter. Holly grabbed hold of me and said, Let’s go for a ride!
     While a traditional publisher reached out and asked for the novel to launch their new mystery line, unfortunately they decided right after releasing the first few novels to pull the plug on the imprint. But their decision worked well for me! I enjoy the freedom that comes with independent publishing and being a hybrid author (both independent and traditional) lets me have the best of both worlds. After receiving the rights back for So About the Money, I went on to write several Holly and JC novels, as well as novellas that feature other characters in the series.
     I didn’t do much research for the first story in the series. It draws on both my day job experience and the area I lived (when I wrote So About the Money). Subsequent novels took more research and I’m hugely grateful for a network of friends and friends of friends who answered my questions about everything from cars to guns to supply chain management.

Where did the idea for So About The Money come from?
     Sometimes a daydream offers a story start, but ideas and inspiration can show up in the strangest places. My husband and I were hiking along the Snake River in a game management area called Big Flats (which happens to feature in So About The Money, the first book in the Holly Price Mystery series). We had to push through some tangled foliage at the shoreline. Being a mystery writer, whose mind really can go strange places, I glanced over my shoulder and said, “Wouldn't this be a great place to find a body?”
     That germ of an idea kept growing. Why would the heroine be at Big Flats to stumble over the body? How did the body end up beside the river in the first place? And, of course, who would want her dead?

What is a forensic accountant?
     While all forensic accountants “follow the money” to dig into a company or individual’s finances, some prepare their results for legal battles. I head in the other direction and dig into the sometimes hidden dangers behind a planned company transaction. So, my branch of forensic accountants looks for fraud and other crimes, which of course is fertile ground for a mystery novel.

Why did you pick the setting you did?
     I picked the setting for the series for a couple of reasons. I live close to Seattle now. Before we moved to our current home, we transferred to Washington (well, actually we transferred to a small town in eastern Washington) from South Carolina. At the time, when people heard about our planned move, everyone said, “I love Seattle.”
     Because clearly Seattle is the only thing in Washington, right?
     We love Seattle too. But there’s the whole rest of the state. Eastern Washington is the complete opposite to Seattle. It’s conservative, sunny and dry, and home to fabulous vineyards and wineries. There’s access to tons of outdoor recreation…and a dearth of restaurants.
     As an author, I often see conversations, characters and settings in terms of story potential. Once we settled into eastern Washington, I knew I had to write a story set there. A story about a woman who had to come home, not as a failure with nowhere else to go, but as a woman who loved her nutty parents and put her ambitions on hold to bail out the family and their business.
     Besides, I could have fun with the wineries, Native American casinos…and assorted farm animals.

What have been surprises you've encountered while writing the series?
     There have been so many surprises! The ideas for the external plots always come as a surprise. For example, In It For The Money features rockcrawlers. I know, say what? At a party, a friend’s nephew regaled me with (way too many) details of the specialized monster truck he wanted to design and build. While those details went completely over my head, I couldn’t help but relate to his passion for the project. And my writer’s brain went, Hmm… Rockcrawlers…That’s different. What can I do with that?
     The twists and turns in Holly’s relationships with her parents seem to unfold as the stories do. And who would have expected Max, the yoga-instructor-homewrecker’s son, would turn into a good friend during Calling for the Money?

What or who has been instrumental in or to your writing journey?
     There are so many! Where to start…
     While I’ve had a life-long love affair with reading, I didn’t start writing until a few years ago. This probably isn’t how most people start, but I had a long-term consulting job in a city about 90 miles from my home. I’d listen to music and daydream during the commute. Pretty soon, the daydream developed dialogue, characters and a setting, and I thought, hmm, this is turning into a good story. That particular book lives in a box under the bed, but I was hooked on writing, creating worlds and characters.
     Once I screwed up my courage and showed friends my first story, they encouraged me to continue writing. I heard about a week-long writing retreat sponsored by the RWA Lowcountry chapter. I learned so much at their Masterclass, I joined a critique group when I returned home, hoping to learn more. Other writers encouraged me to join RWA and enter a few contests, including the Golden Heart. The Professor won those contests and was a Golden Heart finalist. I kept writing and learning and more of my books were published. Definitely a “dream” come true.

What are you working on now?
     I’m working on several things right now. I’m nearly finished with Calling for the Money, the next novel in the Holly Price series. Set in Los Angeles, where Holly’s working on a major transaction, she also has major decisions to make about her family and job, while helping a friend search for answers in another friend’s disappearance.
     In other news, my agent is preparing to shop the first book in a new series. The Body in the Beaver Pond won the Claymore Award from Thriller Nashville and I’m really excited about the possibilities for that amateur sleuth series. So, the second thing I’m working on is Peril in the Pony Ring, the next book in that series.

Would you like to try your hand at writing a different genre? Which one and why?
     There is a book I’ve wanted to write for ages! It’s a more literary mystery/thriller that spans three generations of a South Carolina family. Maybe this year…

If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be?
     That’s a harder question than I expected! I actually love the intellectual challenge of my day job. Working with so many different people and companies around the world kept it interesting.
     Playing with that dream idea, let’s go to the other end of the spectrum. When I was a kid, I really wanted to be an astronaut. Or else ride my own gold dragon and fight Thread with Anne McCaffrey’s Pern characters.

Thanks for letting me visit with you and your readers!

by Cathy Perkins
Holly Price knows how to make a deal. When her father runs off with his yoga instructor, she strikes a bargain with her mother. If Holly will leave her Seattle-based merger and acquisitions team and run the family accounting business for a year, her mother will never again mention the words "marriage" and "children" in Holly's presence. Finding her friend's body beside the Snake River isn't supposed to be part of the package.

Focused on the victim's abusive ex-husband, Detective JC Dimitrak would far rather push Holly's buttons than follow up on her suspicions about fraud in the victim's financial statements. As Holly unravels the web of interconnecting corporations, someone apparently decides CPA stands for Certified Pain-in-the- Ass. A few too many accidents later, her conspiracy theory isn't sounding quite so half-baked. And Holly's stick-her-nose- into-everything curiosity could mean she's about to lose more than a good friend.

Universal        Amazon        Barnes & Noble       Kobo

iBooks        Google Play

About Cathy: An award-winning author of financial mysteries, Cathy Perkins writes twisting dark suspense and light amateur sleuth stories. A contributing editor for International Thriller Writers' The Big Thrill, she also coordinated the prestigious Daphne du Maurier contest.
     When not writing, she does battle with the beavers over the pond height or heads out on another travel adventure. She lives in Washington with her husband, children, several dogs and the resident deer herd.

Facebook        @cperkinswrites      Bookbub        Instagram

Goodreads        Amazon Author Page        Website


Cathy Perkins said...

Thanks for letting me visit today with you and your readers.

HiDee said...

What a fun interview! I'm definitely not a math person, but have to admit, I'm intrigued by the llama and the pig. Thanks for joining us today and sharing your books!

Connie Gillam said...

Hey, Cathy!

It's great to hear about your books and what you've been up to. You definitely make accountant sound interesting.

Connie Gillam

Connie Gillam said...

Sorry, didn't edit that comment. You make accounting sound interesting.

Lynn said...

How unique! It sounds like a very good read. Thank you for being on our blog and good luck!

Cathy Perkins said...

Hi Connie,
Thanks for stopping by!
And seriously, I try to keep the story outside Holly's office. Well, outside her regular accounting job. :)

Cathy Perkins said...

Thanks for letting me visit, Lynn!