Thursday, January 28, 2010

Meet Gayle Trent!

Today, Gayle Trent joins me on my blog; she is the accomplished author of the Daphne Martin Cake Decorating Mystery Series. Here’s a little bit more about her -

Gayle Trent is a full-time author. She is currently at work on a new cozy mystery series involving her hobby, cake decorating. The series features Daphne Martin, a 40-year-old divorcee who has begun the second phase of her life with a new home and a new business venture—Daphne’s Delectable Cakes. Gayle lives in Bristol, Virginia with her husband, daughter and son.

Gayle previously worked in the accounting and legal fields, and her last such job was as secretary to a Deputy Commissioner in the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission. Though she enjoyed the work, it was a long daily commute and she felt she wasn’t spending enough time with her family. Now she writes while her children are at school; and thanks to a crock pot and a bread machine, can often have dinner ready when everyone gets home.

“I think it’s important to be here for my children…to take part in school functions and to be an active part of their lives,” Gayle says. “I can certainly sympathize with moms who work outside the home—been there, done that—but I would encourage everyone to make time to visit their children’s schools, to have lunch with them [at school] occasionally, to get a feel for who their friends are…little things like that.”

Gayle loves to hear from readers who can contact her via e-mail at or via one of her Web sites: or If you share an interest in cake decorating, please visit Daphne’s Web site, available via click-through from either of Gayle’s sites or at

Heather: Tell us about Dead Pan.

Gayle: Dead Pan is the second book in the Daphne Martin Cake Decorating Mystery Series. When the book opens, a police officer is questioning Daphne about a cake she took to the Brea Ridge Pharmaceutical Company Christmas party. Many people at the party got sick, but most recovered after being treated with a vaccine manufactured by the company. Only one, Fred Duncan, went into a coma and died. Coincidence? Or did somebody have it in for Fred?

Heather: What would you like to overhear people saying about your book?

Gayle: "I laughed so hard when--" A local book club selected Murder Takes the Cake as one of their books; and when I attended the meeting, I was delighted to hear that they thought this or that part was funny. I also love it when people say, "I never guessed ______ was the villain." Also, there was a review where a woman said she loved the main character's relationships with various members of her family--that they were beautifully or realistically drawn. I felt like, "Oooh, she got it!" Actually, I'll take anything that's not negative. :-)

Heather: What inspired you to write Dead Pan?

Gayle: I was reading an article in Wired magazine about clinical drug tests. I did some further investigation, and I came across some fascinating stuff.

Heather: What do you advise new writers to do?

Gayle: Read the genre they're interested in writing. For instance, when my agent pitched my first three chapters of the embroidery mystery to the editor, the editor said she liked it but didn't love it. I needed to revise it to make her love it in order for her to buy the book. I asked my agent who the editor had published recently. With two names in hand, I went to the bookstore and bought two books. I read them and found they were more descriptive than my own books. I went back, added more description and gave the heroine a bit more spunk, and the book sold. Sometimes you have to be flexible.

Heather: Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

Gayle: 1) There is a feral cat who comes to visit us on holidays. We’re pretty sure he belongs to somebody because he’s always well fed. We think we’re his “other family.” We first realized his penchant for visiting on holidays when he came and cried at our door on Mother’s Day. He came back for Memorial Day and Father’s Day, and so on. Sometimes he’ll drop by for a visit, and we have to check the calendar to see what holiday it is.

2) I have an adorable cartoon Debbie Ridpath Ohi did of me with a cake (for “Murder Takes the Cake”) when her blog InkyGirl hosted me on my blog tour. The cartoon is framed and hanging above my desk. I figure I’ll never look that good in a picture again!

3)I once got to interview the famous criminalist Dr. Henry Lee via telephone for an article which appeared in Law and Order Magazine.

Heather: Favorite quote

Gayle: “It’s not enough to stare up the steps. You must step up the stairs.” – Vance Havner

Heather: Do you have any funny writing stories to share?

Gayle: I once tried to "write" using my laptop's voice recognition feature while baking brownies and peeling potatoes. Great multi-tasking, right? BUT, there is a drawback to using voice technology gadgets when you have a Southern drawl. Although, the exercise helped me get unblocked and continue on through the chapter I was struggling with, the computer misunderstood most of what I said. AND, to add insult to injury, when I read back over what it said and laughed, the computer translated that as “a a a a a a a a.”

Heather: What exactly is a cozy mystery?

Gayle: Cozy mysteries usually take place in a small community and involve a relatively small number of people. The reader knows that someone within the intimate group will turn out to be the killer. Think Desperate Housewives with one of the cast turning out to be the killer as opposed to Criminal Minds or CSI. Cozy mysteries also feature an amateur sleuth as opposed to a professional detective, and the heroine has an interesting profession or hobby.

Thank you for joining us Gayle! I hope all of you readers learned a special thing or two about Gayle!


Gayle said...

Thanks so much for hosting me today!

Karen Cioffi said...

Great interview, Heather.

And, Gayle, I love your favorite quote!

Karen Cioffi

Vivian Zabel said...

What an extra-interesting post, Heather. Gayle, I enjoyed learning more about you.

I still think the idea of a cake decorating mystery series is a great idea.


Margaret Fieland said...

Gayle, so nice to learn more about you -- and you've told me about a mystery subgenre I didn't know existed -- though I have read some. Any favorite cozy mystery writers?

Katie Hines said...

I've heard people say they've published a cozy mystery, but I was clueless as to what that meant. Your story, Dead Pan, sounds really interesting, and I like the way you have a baking character. Do you also offer recipes for cakes in your books?

dana e donovan said...

Excellent interview, Heather. I actually had the pleasure of reading "Murder Takes the Cake" after Gayle hosted me in December, and I loved it! Gayle writes with a real "home town" feel. You get very comfortable with her characters right away. Best of luck with the series, Gayle!

Vivian Zabel said...

I know I left a comment on this post, made the comment that the Daphne Martin Cake Decorating Mystery Series sounded interesting. I thanked you, Heather, for giving us such an interesting post.

Very strange.


Gary Eby,MSW said...

Excellent interview. Best wishes for Gayle's success. Peace and Light...Gary.

Unknown said...

Gtrat interview ladies. I love your favorite quote, Gayle.

Anonymous said...

I think cozy mystery writers have a unique gift. I have tried to write cozy mystery short stories but they don't turn out very well. I'm thinking Cujo from Stephen King was a cozy thriller, taking place in a rural area I think in Maine.

Stephen Tremp

Janet Ann Collins said...

Great interview. Her books sound like fun.

Martha said...

Love your quote “It’s not enough to stare up the steps. You must step up the stairs.” – Vance Havner
I love cozy mysteries. I'll have to make sure I check yours out.
Thanks for sharing with us.

Debra Eckerling said...

How fun! I love food mysteries. Will have to check your series out!

Thanks Gayle and Heather for an informative and entertaining interview!

Darcia Helle said...

Gayle, every time I read about your books, I get hungry! I love the premise for Dead Pan. I wish you tons of success!

Dallas said...

What a great interview! The story about your computer's voice recognition software got me laughing! :) I love your titles -- the whole idea of a "cake decorating mystery series" is just so compelling! Best of luck, and thanks again for sharing your thoughts with us!

All best,

Mayra Calvani said...

Great interview!

Dawn Embers said...

Another good interview.

I like the bookshelf application on your blog. Neat.

Your blog has an award that is posted on my blog.