image: header
image: gownflare

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Spotlight on DeAnna Dodson and Letters in the Attic

Don't forget the rules of the spotlights here. Random questions will be inserted in each spotlight for you to find and answer in the comments in order to be entered. So, be on the lookout!


DeAnna Dodson has always been an avid reader and a lover of storytelling, whether on the page, the screen or the stage. This, along with her keen interest in history and her Christian faith, shows in her tales of love, forgiveness and triumph over adversity. A fifth-generation Texan, she makes her home north of Dallas with four spoiled cats and, when not writing, spends her free time quilting, cross stitching and watching NHL hockey. Her first books, In Honor Bound, By Love Redeemed and To Grace Surrendered, are a trilogy of medieval romances. She is also the author of the contemporary mystery, Letters in the Attic. Her newest books, yet to be released, are A Dinner of Herbs, a Civil War drama, and a 1930s English mystery, Rules of Murder. Civil as an Orange, her current work in progress, is the sequel to Rules of Murder. She is represented by Wendy Lawton of the Books & Such Literary Agency (

by DeAnna Dodson
Published by DRG (


Up in her grandmother’s attic in Stony Point, Maine, Annie Dawson finds a stack of old letters from her childhood friend Susan Morris. Annie remembers Susan fondly and would like to get back in touch, but nobody seems to know what’s become of her. Her friends at The Hook and Needle Club aren’t much help either. All they remember is that Susan left town more than twenty years ago to marry a very wealthy man, but none of them is quite sure who he was. And Annie can find no record of any marriage. The more Annie searches, the more she begins to wonder if something has happened to Susan. Something bad.

Readers, buy your copy of Letters in the Attic today!


1. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

Letters in the Attic is my very first contemporary mystery. Since it is the fourth book in the Annie’s Attic Mysteries series, the main characters and the opening situation were given to me. After that, I was pretty much free to use my imagination to take the plot where I wanted. It was a lot of fun to take just a glimmer of an idea – a stack of old letters found in an attic and a childhood friend who seems to have disappeared without a trace – and build a story around it.

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

Actually, even though many of the characters were already established before I began working on the book, I was delighted to know that Annie, the star of the series, was someone to whom I could really relate. Like me, she’s from Texas, she loves to do needle crafts, and she has a cat. I have four cats now, not just one, but I certainly had no trouble picturing what her life would be like. Something else I could really relate to was Annie’s needle craft group. There’s something special about getting to be around people who enjoy creating things with thread and fabrics. For me, it’s the same as when I get to talk to other writers. More than anyone else, they really understand the joys and challenges of the creative journey.

Of course, as the plot of the book moved forward, Annie had to deal with things I’ve never dealt with. She had to show a lot more courage and initiative than I have, I’m sure, and she’s certainly a lot nosier than I am. Of course, what amateur sleuth isn’t extremely interested in everyone else’s business?

3. If your hero/heroine were an ice cream flavor, what would he/she be and why?

I think Annie would be Peaches & Cream. She’s very down to earth, fresh and uncomplicated and wholesome, but not just plain vanilla.

4. Are there any themes in Letters in the Attic that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

I think the main theme in the book is that truth is freeing. Covering up the past and hiding from the truth only hold you down. The longer you do it, the heavier that weight gets until you’re a prisoner of it. Only the truth unlocks that prison.

Another theme is that people need people. Even those who seem to want to drive everyone else away appreciate it when someone sees past the fear and reaches out to the hurting, heart-hungry person inside.

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

The most difficult part of the book for me was writing from front to back in chronological order. This may seem strange to readers and even other writers, but I don’t usually write chronologically. I prefer to write the central, most dramatic scenes first and then write all the little bits that connect them into a whole story. However, since I had to turn in this book one-third at a time, I had to change my usual method. I think it worked out well though. It was nice to have to stretch myself out of my comfort zone.

My favorite parts to write were the bits with Police Officer Roy Hamilton. He started out as an extremely minor character, someone who was there just to take fingerprints, and then he sprang to life all on his own and demanded a larger role. I was happy to oblige.

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

I don’t have anything specific scheduled yet, but I am working on a 1930s mystery series that I’m quite excited about. I love Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers and Margery Allingham, the queens of mystery in the 1920s and ’30s and beyond, so I’ve been having a wonderful time trying my hand at the same sort of thing they did so delightfully well. My hero is Drew Farthering, a wealthy young Englishman who solves crimes with the help of a charming American debutante, Madeline Parker.

In the first book, Rules of Murder, Drew and Madeline find a dead body in the greenhouse at Drew’s country estate and uncover a plot to steal the family fortune. As they investigate, they find that no one is who he appears to be – not the blackmailer, not the adulterer, not the embezzler and not even Drew himself.

I am about eighty percent done with the second book in the series, Civil as an Orange. This time Drew has to track down a murderer who leaves cryptic clues on the bodies of the victims. Soon Drew realizes that the murders are all connected to himself in some way, and each one is closer to him than the last.

I’m thrilled to say that my agent loved Rules and is busy finding it a publisher, so I hope to have news on that front sometime soon. My website has excerpts from both books.

* * * * *

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

NEW!! Readers, answer the question associated with the spotlight in the comments, then leave your email address for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of Letters in the Attic. If you do not answer the question, you will not be entered.

Question: What is the name of the second book in DeAnna’s 1930s mystery series? Do you know where the title comes from?

Make sure you also leave your email address (name at domainname You won't be entered in the drawing without it. If you wish to comment but don't want to be entered, say so when you post.

This week, the contest is open to US/Canada residents only.


Sylvia M. said...

Oh, I love Agatha Christie mysteries and have read one of Deanna's books in her Medieval series. That book was wonderful!

The name of the second book in Deanna's mystery series is "Civil as an Orange". I believe this phrase comes from Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing".


DeAnna Julie Dodson said...

Thanks, Tiffany, for letting me visit your wonderful blog. I so enjoy talking about books and writing.

And thank you, Sylvia, for your kind comments. I'm glad you enjoyed the book. :)

Kameko said...

Agatha Christie was a wonderful author! "Letters in the Attic" sounds so riveting, the type of book to grab your attention and hold you to the very last page.
The series you are working on really piques my interest, both "Rules of Murder" and the second book "Civil as an Orange" sound so good.
I have admit that I am stumped on your question as to where the title came from.

Blessings ~
Beverly bgrider2[at]cox[dot]net

karenk said...

is the answer 'civil as an orange' comes from shakespeare's 'much ado about nothing' when beatrice jokes that claudio is 'civil as an orange'

thanks for the chance to read this fabulous novel :)

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Tiffany Amber Stockton said...

We have a winner from this spotlight, and that is:


Congratulations! I've emailed you for your mailing information so DeAnna can send out your book.

As always, thanks to everyone for your continued support.