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Monday, February 25, 2008

Spotlight on Darlene Franklin and Gunfight at Grace Gulch

Today, I have a new author to cozy mysteries introduce to you. And as I look at my list of upcoming, I've noticed there are a LOT of debut author in the coming weeks. I hope you enjoy them! Darlene isn't new to publishing, but she is new to this genre.


Award-winning author and speaker Darlene Franklin resides in the Colorado foothills with her mother and her lynx point Siamese cat, Talia. She has two grown children and two grandchildren. She loves music, reading and writing. She has published one book previously (Romanian Rhapsody, Barbour, 2005), as well as numerous devotions, magazine articles, and children's curriculum. Gunfight at Grace Gulch is the first book in the "Dressed for Death" series. Visit Darlene's website at

by Darlene Franklin
Published by Barbour Publishing / Heartsong Presents Mysteries


The feud between the Graces and the Gaynors is still going strong more than a century after its inception in the 1891 Oklahoma land run. Newspaper editor Penn Hardy is murdered during the reenactment of the most famous gunfight in the history of Grace Gulch, Oklahoma. Cici Wilde, owner of a vintage clothing store, feels compelled to investigate when police suspect people close to her. She soon discovers her talent for sleuthing equals her flare for wearing period clothing. Theater director Audie Howe never expected the reenactment to end in a real murder. He cares too much for the future of the Magda Grace Mallory Theater - and the charming Cici Wilde - to let her face danger alone. Cici and Audie take a dangerous gamble to nail the killer - and lay their lives on the line.


1. This is your first cozy mystery and part of a brand-new line with Heartsong Presents. It's also the first in your "Dressed for Death" mystery series. What gave you the inspiration for this story? "

Since I once lived in Oklahoma, and my son lives there now, I decided to take advantage of the centennial of Oklahoma statehood. I missed it by three months, but I trust God's timing!

I came up with the idea of Gunfight at Grace Gulch because I wanted to tie Oklahoma's unique history of land runs into my contemporary mystery. Accusations of cheaters and "sooners" stirred a lot of bad feelings. In my story, the land run started a feud that resulted in a gunfight. Present-day descendents reenact the gunfight, only one of them dies.

My sleuth, Cici Wilde, sprang into mind complete with her dandelion 60's style hair and long gauze skirts when I read a newspaper article about a vintage clothing store.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced the characters of Cici and Audie? What aspects became traits that were theirs and theirs alone?

As I mentioned above, I lived in small town Oklahoma for several years, so I drew from that experience in creating the mythical town of Grace Gulch. Cici's self doubts very much reflect me. My son's acting career in high school gave me insights into the theater.

Having said that—Cici and Audie draw a lot less from my personal experience than do the characters in my first book, Romanian Rhapsody. I traveled with a Christian music group through college and know the experience well!

I don't know fashion all that well, but it's Cici's passion. I have never lived on a ranch. Unlike Audie, I don't read a lot of Oscar Wilde, and Proverbs may be my least favorite book of the Bible. Well, that’s not true, but I don't have it memorized chapter and verse the way he does.

3. What themes exist in Gunfight at Grace Gulch that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

I hope that, like Cici, my readers learn to accept themselves as unique and special just the way God created them. To stop wanting to be someone different.

Other themes cropped up in telling the story, of course. Settler Bob Grace struggled with his conscience during the land run—should he cheat and become a "sooner" or trust God and make the run for the land with everyone else? History tells us that three times as many people made the land runs as there was land available; he couldn’t be sure of staking a claim.

Also, evangelism often crops up in my stories. One of the murder suspects becomes a Christian. I won't spoil the surprise by telling you which one.

4. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?

In a way, writing the ending was the most difficult. I wanted to FINISH the book and tended to hurry. My favorite part was probably the reenactment of the gunfight and the letters from Bob Grace to his fiancé. I got to throw a bit of history into a contemporary story.

5. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?

The second mystery featuring Cici and Audie, A String of Murders, is due out in December. Pearls belonging to Magda Grace Mallory, Grace Gulch's leading patron of the arts, are found at a murder scene. Which just happens to be Cici’s store. So once again Cici is on the trail of a murderer. Before A String of Murders, however, my first historical novella Dressed in Scarlet will appear in Snowbound Colorado Christmas. The biggest snowstorm in Denver's history dumped almost four feet of snow over a six day period in December 1913. My heroine, heiress Natalie Daire, gets into a car accident trying to drive home and she ends up staying at the Brown Palace Hotel. Fabrizio Ricci fixes her car, and romantic sparks flare. Can the heiress and the immigrant find true love?

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Thanks, Darlene, for being in the spotlight with us.

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of Gunfight at Grace Gulch. Because Darlene is still waiting for her author copies, the book might not ship until the middle of March.

If you wish to comment but don't want to be entered, say so when you post. Make sure you also leave your email address (name at domainname or that it's available for viewing in your blogger profile. Wouldn't want you to miss out on winning a book. :)

And if you want to make certain you don't miss anything, check the box that says 'follow comments to" when you leave a comment. That way you'll be notified of any comments and will know when I announce the winner.

This week, the contest is open to anyone worldwide.

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Cherie J said...

Sounds good! Enjoyed the spotlight!

windycindy said...

Thanks for a fascinating interview and review! Please enter me in your drawing for this book. Thanks,Cindi

Anonymous said...

looks like a great book! i would love to win a copy of this book! i've been dying to try the new heartsong mysteries! hsmuda[at]gmail[dot]com thanks!

Darlene Franklin said...

Thanks for stopping by! All of us with the Heartsong Mysteries line are excited to see the launch.

Julie Arduini said...

What a great premise for a series! I'd love to read it!

Kim said...

I would dearly love to read this! Please enter me in the drawing! Thanks for sharing such a great interview!


Darlene Franklin said...

I love dropping by Grace Gulch and my favorite townspeople. I hope my readers enjoy it as much as I do.

tetewa said...

I'm always looking for new authors to read, count me in!

Darlene Franklin said...

You can also find my work in several of the Miracles series by Guideposts. My first book, Romanian Rhapsody, is still available for purchase.

ChristyJan said...

I'd love to win a copy of Darlene's book Gunfight at Grace Gulch!

Tiffany Amber Stockton said...

Ok, we have a winner for this one folks! And that winner is:


Congratulations! I've sent your mailing information to Darlene so she can mail out your book as soon as it arrives.

Thanks to everyone for your continued support. Visit the other spotlights in February to see if you've won!

Kim said...

Tiff -
I just heard from Darlene! Thanks a TON!!! I'm so excited!!