Lily Barlow: The Mystery of Jane Dough is Carla Vergot’s debut novel. Congrats! Thank you for taking the time out of your day and answering my questions. I appreciate it very much.
Here is a blurb about her book.
Quirky Lily Barlow idolizes the fictional bounty hunter Stephanie Plum from the Janet Evanovich series and longs for that kind of freewheeling lifestyle―a life where she makes her own rules. The problem is, there are no criminals or noteworthy crimes to speak of in her small and stifling hometown of Marshall, VA.
As a fallback, the plucky college student plans to escape
Yawnsville, where she was born and raised, by pursuing a degree at the University of Virginia. To her, the fact that she has switched majors multiple times and remains currently undecided is not at all important. However, to her consternation, those college plans are put on hold when she is called home to help resuscitate her family’s business, Poppy’s Bakery, after her father suffers a heart attack.
First things first. She doesn’t want anybody jumping to the conclusion that she’s coming home for good; she didn’t get the baking gene, and she reliably burns anything she puts in an oven. Still, you can see how people would assume she would take over for her dad. To squash that rumor before it becomes historic record, she rents a little efficiency garage on the edge of town.
Her new landlady, Miss Delphine Walker, is a senior spitfire in floral print. She’s stubborn, independent, and knows her mind. Sure, she and her dog, Velcro, are likable enough, but Lily has a vivid imagination and a knack for turning everyday occurrences into true crime plots. It’s pretty clear to her that this old bat is hiding something. Lily jumps from one crazy conclusion to the next until finally determining that Miss Delphine is a murderer―and the body may or may not be buried on her property.
Upon settling into her new, temporary place, Lily throws herself a royal pity-party, complete with confetti. She has a little too much tequila, and on the advice of her good friend Mercedes, tries to research dough as a way to connect with the family bakery in a more zen-like way. In the process, she stumbles across an online clearing house for records of murder victims that the cops have not been able to identify. With a love of the macabre, it doesn’t take long before Lily is fully immersed in the details of these unidentified dead bodies.
She revisits one particular case over and over and becomes convinced she knows the person. Suddenly, her single-minded goal of getting the bakery running grows a few more legs. Feeling honor-bound to give a name to the woman in the profile, she launches her own little investigation. When choosing between excitement and personal safety, she always comes down on the side of the first one, taking a lackadaisical approach to the second one. That’s okay, though, because she has Jack Turner for the personal safety piece.
Ah, good ol’ Jack Turner. In addition to being a mechanic, firefighter, and poster boy for preparedness, Jack has been Lily’s best friend since kindergarten. She hates that he likes to micromanage every single cotton-pickin’ thing she does. It’s annoying but done out of brotherly love so she has come to accept his involvement in her life.
Out of nowhere, Jack takes this opportunity to lob another red rubber ball into this crazy dodgeball tournament with a revelation that throws Lily completely off her game. Jack apparently wants something more. Something more? Like what? Lily wonders. A second helping of mashed potatoes?
While offering his support and assistance in the area of the quasi-investigation, Jack begins to pursue Lily romantically. Lily is diametrically opposed to this turn of events and fears any romantic dalliance will sabotage their long friendship.
The friendship is not the only thing at stake. If she gets sucked into a relationship, it could ultimately derail her dreams of escaping the small town. One of Jack’s personality traits, aka character flaws, has always been perseverance. Lily knows it won’t be easy to keep him at arm’s length, but she’s dealt with him all her life, so she’s up to the challenge.
As she juggles the bakery and boy drama, Lily throws herself into the mystery of the murder victim, coming up with a plan to prove the identity of the woman.
- What inspired you to write your book Lily Barlow: The Mystery of Jane Dough?
I would have never written this story if my husband hadn’t given me the greatest gift of my life. He encouraged me to take a sabbatical from teaching to write.
I had the idea for the better part of thirty years, but there was always something more pressing—a move, a relationship, a new job, a marriage, a different job, a divorce, the introduction of white fudge covered Oreos. There was always something.
When I could finally set aside my teaching career to focus on the book, it came together perfectly. I enjoyed the experience so much that I resigned from teaching to continue writing.
I think things work out the way they’re supposed to, you know? If I had written this book back in college when the idea started to percolate, it wouldn’t have been the same story. It wouldn’t have been as good. I needed all that life experience to make my characters into the people I wanted them to be.
2. Do you have a writing schedule? If so, what does your day look like?
I don’t have a hard schedule. I tend to wake up around 4am and get to work. The house is quiet, there’s coffee, it’s a good way to start the day.
My first task is usually to check in on social media. I never realized the hardest part of writing a book would be promoting it. After that, I switch gears and start re-reading and fine-tuning passages I’ve already written. I do a LOT of rewriting, even as I’m adding new stuff. Where word count is concerned, my personal best was a day when I put down 2,045 words. If I can reach a thousand words in one day, I’m ecstatic.
3. Are you working on book #2? Can you give us a little peek into it?
As of this interview, I’m about halfway through the second Lily Barlow book. I really want folks to understand it’s a series and that they’re supposed to have a few questions at the end of book 1 which are answered in book 2.
I’m working hard to craft the story as a stand-alone, so if you picked up Book 2 without having read Book 1, you wouldn’t be lost.
Hmmm…what can I share as a little peek? Well, I recently posted on Facebook about discovering the superstition that sailors and fishermen think it’s bad luck to bring a banana on a boat. I just wrote a scene about that!
I know, I know. That stinks as a peek. I’m protective about the story. I don’t use an outline, so while I can tell you one or two main things that will happen, I have no idea at this point how it will unfold. If I give something away now, it might actually get cut before the book is finished.
4. What are you currently reading?
I’m reading “Missing Pieces” by Michael Golvach. I love to read, but I’m shockingly slow. It literally takes me months to finish a book, even a great book.
5. Did you always want to be an author?
I’ve loved writing since…well…since I was a kid. But the first thing I wanted to be was a painter. I wanted to go to Paris and paint the Eiffel Tower. That was my whole plan—set up an easel on the sidewalk and paint the Eiffel Tower. Luckily, I found the pen instead of the paintbrush, because I’ll be honest, I can’t even draw a convincing doodle.
Throughout my life, I’ve had jobs that involved writing—freelancer, fundraiser, teacher. From college on, writing was in the picture.
6. Who are your favorite authors?
Maeve Binchy is one of my all-time favorites.
Barbara Kingsolver is way up there.
I have so much respect for Janet Evanovich.
Thank you so much for the chance to share a bit about my books!
Have you ever played the game Three Truths and a Lie? Let’s play that game…
1) If I don’t like the envelope that goes with the birthday card I’m buying, I’ll swap it out for a better color.
2) I floss.
3) I will not, under any circumstances or for any amount of money, bait my own hook.
4) I’m a terrible speller.
Intrigued? Dying to know if you guessed the lie? Email me! My address is contact@CarlaVergot.com. I’ll tell you which three are true.
Regarding the rest of my biography, it’s hard for me to figure out what people want to know. And as much as I like lists, I hate it when the bio starts sounding like one long grocery list of milestones, events and accomplishments. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe milestones make for good biographies, but for now, I’ll just stick to Three Truths and a Lie.
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