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Monday, October 20, 2008

Spotlight on Virginia Smith and A Taste of Murder


VIRGINIA SMITH left her job as a corporate director to become a full-time writer and speaker with the release of her first novel Just As I Am. Since then she has contracted ten novels and published numerous articles and short stories. She writes novels about women with a little bit of sass and a whole lot of heart, including Sincerely, Mayla, Stuck in the Middle, and her newest release, A Taste of Murder. An energetic speaker, she loves to exemplify God's truth by comparing real-life situations to well-known works of fiction, such as her popular talk, "Biblical Truths in Star Trek."

by Virginia Smith
Published by Steeple Hill / Love Inspired Suspense


When classical music lover Jasmine Delaney accepts a gig to play her violin in a small town, she arrives in time to join in the festivities of the local Bar-B-Q Festival. But when she checks into the hotel, Jazzy is in for a few unpleasant surprises--like a body in the bathtub covered in barbeque sauce. Not even the soothing strains of Mozart can still her jangled nerves--especially when it seems the killer is intent on making her the next victim!

Buy Your Copy of A Taste of Murder Today!


1. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

Almost twenty years ago my husband and I first attended the annual International Bar-B-Q Festival in Owensboro, Kentucky, and we've returned as often as our schedules allowed. I love the smells, the tastes, the wonderful small-town atmosphere. When it was time to pitch a new book, I knew it was the perfect setting for a murder mystery.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced your characters? What aspects became traits that are theirs and theirs alone?

The main character is probably the least like me of any I've written so far. That's what made her so much fun to write. Jazzy is a clean freak, and is constantly worrying about the germ potential of anything she touches. I firmly believe in the 5-second rule, as long as whatever drops to the ground isn't sticky and dirt-covered when I pick it up. Jazzy has a severe case of stage fright, whereas I am completely at home in front of a crowd. But she does have a few of my qualities, like her ultra-stubborn independence that gets her into trouble. And she overcomes her stage fright by applying a rule I learned when I first started singing in public – close your eyes and focus on performing for an audience of One.

3. If one of your characters were an ice cream flavor, what he/she be and why?

If you let Jazzy choose, she'd definitely be Vanilla. She likes things clean and fresh and uncluttered, so anything mixed in with the Vanilla would drive her nuts. Sprinkles? She'd go crazy trying to 'clean' them off. But she'd be double-churned, extra creamy, delicious Vanilla, because there's nothing plain about her.

4. What themes exist in A Taste of Murder that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

The main theme is a subtle one. Sometimes God's plans for us are different than our plans for ourselves, and they can take us by surprise. But when we pry our stubborn fingers loose from the future we had planned for ourselves, He can delight us with something far, far better than we ever imagined. That theme developed as the story progressed, because it grew organically from Jazzy's character.

The Bible verse quoted in the front of the book relates to Jazzy's music -- "It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High." (Psalm 92:1, NIV) That was the verse I had in mind when I started writing, and it is appropriate because it relates to Jazzy overcoming her stage fright by dedicating her music to praising God instead of performing for the people in front of her.

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

The hardest part of writing this story actually took place before the real writing started. I wrote the proposal, which included the first three chapters and a synopsis. Then I got the contract, and started working on the plot outline. (Yes, I outline my mysteries – not so much my contemporary novels, though.) The main plot was spelled out in the synopsis, of course, but I had to come up with enough sub-plots to fill out a full novel. I don't want to give anything away, but to put it in vague terms, I really struggled to come up with a plausible motive for one of the suspects. I couldn't think of any reason Jazzy and Derrick would suspect this person of murder. But eventually, I uncovered this person’s true motive, and it worked. What a relief!

My favorite parts to write were the scenes where Jazzy interacts with Old Sue. My father had a smelly old bird dog years ago named Old Sue, and she was the model for the dog in this story. There's no delicate way to put this – that dog stank. But she had a great personality and a heart of gold, and she was super smart. When I thought about super-clean-freak Jazzy having to pet smelly Old Sue, it made me laugh every time.

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

My next book will be out in February 2009. Age before Beauty is the second book in the Sister-to-Sister Series. (Book one was Stuck in the Middle.) Here's the blurb:

Desperate to stay home with her new baby, Allie Harrod launches a new career. Sure, she dropped out of Girl Scouts because she was lousy at cookie sales, but makeup is different, right? She'll do anything to make enough money to cover her share of the household bills, but how can she focus on her business when her list of problems is growing? None of her pre-baby clothes fit, her checking account is dwindling, and her mother-in-law has decided to move in! To top it off, her husband's attractive coworker suddenly needs his help every weekend. Middle sister Joan insists that God has the answers to all her problems, but Allie isn't so sure. Can she really trust him?

I also have two more romantic suspense novels coming out next year, sequels to A Taste of Murder. In April 2009 Murder at Eagle Summit will be released, which takes place in Park City, Utah, my first novel that isn't set in my home state of Kentucky. And following that in June 2009 comes Scent of Murder, which is set in an artist colony in the Blue Hills of Indiana. I'm super excited about both of these. Each one is more suspenseful than the last!

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Thank you, Ginny, for being in the spotlight with us.

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of A Taste of Murder.

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 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 'email follow-up comments to:' when you leave a comment and they'll be sent to the email address associated with your blogging account. 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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Anonymous said...

I must buy a copy of Virginia's book. Not typically a lover of murder mysteries, I am eager to see how she ties this theme in with a Christian romance story. I'm also curious to see how Kentucky BBQ compares with South Carolina BBQ.

Deborah said...

i love virginia's books! please enter me!

Cherie J said...

Ooh! This sounds great! Would love to read it. Enjoyed the spotlight.

Maureen said...

This looks like such a good story.

ChristyJan said...

I would love to win a copy of A TASTE OF MURDER ~ how often can you say a murder mystery sounds like a "fun" read?


windycindy said...

"Love Inspired" Suspense books are my favorite. I would appreciate being entered in your drawing for this book. Many thanks to you, Cindi

kalea_kane said...

Virginia is amazing. The first I ever read was Murder by Mushroom. I was crazy about Just as I am which my sweet son bought me for my birthday. Please enter me for a chance at an autographed copy of A Taste of Murder.



Grateful Gramma said...

I'm reading my first book by Virginia now and I'm really enjoying it. Would like to try this one too.

Martha A. said...

Sounds fun!

Kim said...

I'd love to win Virginia's latest! Thanks!

kimfurd at hotmail dot com

Virginia Smith said...

Thanks to all of you for taking a time to leave a comment! Good luck to you all, and if you do get an opportunity to read A Taste of Murder, be sure to let me know what you think, 'k?

Tiffany Amber Stockton said...

We have a winner from this drawing and that is:


Congratulations! I've sent your mailing information to Ginny so she can send out your book.

Others, check out the interviews on Sally John, Donn Taylor, Maureen Lang, Andrea Boeshaar, Sandra Bricker and Golden Keyes Parson to see if you've won.

As always, thanks to everyone for your continued support.