This week on Reade and Write I welcome Elaine Faber, author of several books and short stories. She’s here to discuss her most recent novel, Mrs. Odboddy- Home Town Patriot. Welcome, Elaine!
Tell me about your new book.
Elderly, eccentric Agnes Agatha Odboddy has issues of distrust and suspicion, believing conspiracies and spies abound in her small town. Filled with hysterical scenes, including rationing, chickens in the bathroom, chasing a suspected ration book thief and encountering a Japanese air balloon bomb, Mrs. Odboddy fights the war from the home front. When Mrs. Roosevelt visits, Agnes’s crazy suspicions just might become reality and she faces down a killer to prove she is a home town warrior.
Tell me about the setting of your book—how did you choose it, what kind of research did you have to do, why did you choose it?
Set in a small No. California town, not too far from the ocean, Agnes has the opportunity to serve on the coast watch where one of her adventures takes place. I researched the internet for actual, little-known historical WWII events involving the U.S. The fact that Agnes gets involved in these events is coincidental at best and more likely a raving fantasy.
Tell me about the other books you’ve written.
I’ve written three cozy cat mysteries:
Black Cat’s Legacy introduces Thumper, a cat with his ancestors’ memories. When Kimberlee comes to the lake resort to solve her father’s cold case murder, Thumper’s legacy is to help her solve the crime. As a point of view character, Thumper shares his innermost thoughts with the reader.
Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer. Thumper and his family visit Grandmother’s Texas horse ranch where they encounter wild horses, an embezzling attorney, a foreman with a secret, a fake children’s society, and a murder plot to do in Grandmother before she can change her will.
Black Cat and the Accidental Angel. After an MVA, Thumper loses his memory, ends up on an emu ranch in Northern CA with his lady love, Angel. They must help this new family resolve issues that put a child at risk. Thumper deals with love, loss, defeat, faith and redemption, all while learning there are more important things than knowing your own name.
Are you in one or more critique groups?
Yes. I lead a critique group through the Inspire Christian Writers. Always a way to improve one’s writing, it is chance to ‘pay it forward’ for all who helped me learn the writing craft.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Even if you have some writing talent, join a critique group, be willing to accept advice, read extensively in your chosen genre, study writing craft books, attend conferences and workshops, enter contests, submit short stories to anthologies. Don’t be in a hurry to publish a book. Take time to really learn the craft. Then study all avenues of publishing before choosing what is best for you, traditional or self-publishing. It’s never too soon to begin the journey. It’s so much harder now in our digital age than it was twenty years ago. If you want to be a writer, start NOW…however young you are.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Self? Don’t be afraid to share your writing. Accept advice and criticism. You don’t know what you don’t know. Start learning the writing craft before you waste your time seeking publication.
Where can readers connect with you?
Where can readers find your books?
My books are available at Amazon in print and e-book ($3.99)
Black Cat’s Legacy Click here
Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer Click here
Black Cat and the Accidental Angel Click here
Mrs. Odboddy Home Town Patriot Click here
Excerpt from Chapter One of Mrs. Odboddy Home Town Patriot:
The sky darkened and the rain sluiced down. Panic crept across Agnes’s chest as her car crept along the narrow road beside the ocean. I should have canceled tonight. She pulled the car off the road and stared into the rain. She hated to disappoint the boys at the USO, but local volunteers who didn’t have to risk their life along a crooked ocean road would be there.
A large black Packard roared up behind her.
“Fool! At this rate, he’ll end up in the ocean.” She gazed through the rain, squinting at the pinprick of the Packard’s tail lights blinking on and off as the vehicle dipped out of sight and appeared again where the road rose up. And then the tail lights stopped, somewhere near Brighton’s Landing.
“Why am I sitting here in the rain? Turn around and go home before you run off the cliff road and kill yourself. Her gaze moved across the black sea. There, far off the coast, a light flashed, barely visible through the mist and rain. And up ahead, the Packard still sat on the beach. Its headlights blinked. Once. Twice. Three times.
Agnes gasped. “Call me a suspicious old woman, but if that Packard isn’t signaling to a Japanese submarine, my name isn’t Agnes Agatha Odboddy.”
Now what? Rush back to town and call the authorities? She wasn’t exactly equipped to take on a spy ring alone. There was a day she might have given it more thought, but in reality, time and an additional 40 pounds had taken its toll. On the other hand, she wasn’t about to let the spy get away with his nefarious deeds. She could at least get closer, record the license number and report it to the authorities.
Agnes clicked off her headlights, released the hand brake, jammed the Ford into gear and chugged down the road through the darkness. What might happen if they caught her, alone, out there on the beach? She shuddered. Best not think about that. Her heart pounded and her pulse quickened, just like in the old days. Any red-blooded ex-under-cover government agent would feel the same, right?
Agnes’s Model A rolled up on Brighton’s Landing. The rain stopped and from the light of the quarter moon, she could see the Packard, but from this angle, the submarine was not visible. Likely the spy was already rowing out to deliver his contraband to the Japanese captain.
Agnes got out of the car. She drew off her shoes and crept toward the Packard, running in short spurts between clumps of ocean grass and driftwood logs blackened by lover’s bonfires.
The moon slid behind a cloud, preventing a good view of the license plate. She crept closer, her breath burning in her throat. Not since WWI had she experienced an adrenalin rush such as swept through her body.
Her chest rattled with short, raspy breaths. She paused. It wouldn’t do to rush headlong and do something foolish and get caught. One thousand one, one thousand two… Her breathing eased. One thousand three…
She crept closer. The moon slid out from behind a cloud. The numbers on the license plate were easily visible. 6X2358
Agnes’s heart lurched. She threw herself face down into the sand. A signal to the submarine? Or had they seen her?
Tiny shells bit into her cheek. She spit sand and wiped her hand across her mouth. The door on the Packard creaked. If they catch me, I’m dead!
Agnes closed her eyes.
Thoughts of home almost made her weep. Was there still time to back away before someone discovered her?
Best peek at that license once more before she left. The moon had passed from behind the clouds. There sat the Packard, quaking and creaking under the full moon, the squeak of the springs loud in the stillness. Steam clouded its windows. Soft moans came from inside the car.
What the Sam Hill? Could they be…? They were.
Even reaching back into her distant memories, creaking springs and fogged up windows could only mean… “Oh!”
Agnes scooted backwards through the sand. She stood, brushed the twigs from her skirt and tiptoed to her car. Not far off shore a fishing boat drifted from a fogbank. Its engines churned and running lights blinked until it disappeared into another fogbank.
OK. Guess I’ll go home, turn on the radio and go to bed.
Thanks for visiting today, Elaine!
Until next week,