Today on Mystery Mondays I have the pleasure of hosting Phyllis Smallman. I met Phyllis at the 2014 Crime Writers Of Canada Arthur Ellis Awards dinner. When I was introduced to her by Melodie Campbell, all I got was, “This is Phyllis.”
Wait a minute, I thought. The Sherri Travis mystery series writer? No way. So I casually ask, “What’s your last name?” I was so excited to meet Phyllis, I stumbled over my words. I’d read all of the Sherri Travis mysteries, and couldn’t believe I was meeting Phyllis in person. Well now, I get to host her on my blog. How cool is that!
Phyllis Smallman’s first novel, Margarita Nights, won the inaugural Unhanged Arthur award from the Crime Writers of Canada. Smallman has also won the IPPY golden medal for best mystery and numerous awards from the Florida Writers Association. Her writing has appeared in both Spinetingler Magazine and Omni Mystery Magazine. The Sherri Travis mystery series was chosen by Good Morning America for a summer read in 2010.
Before turning to a life of crime Smallman was a potter. She divides her time between a beach in Florida and an island in the Salish Sea.
I’m a little busy on Sherri’s latest adventure, Last Call, so I thought I’d let Sherri speak for herself and tell you about the six published books she’s appeared in. Here’s Sherri.
Don’t listen to what people say about me. Here’s the real deal. I grew up down in Florida in a broken down trailer park where the swamp gas made us all a little crazy. Ruth Ann, my mom, kept us alive by working every hour God sent but she had one fatal flaw – she was a woman in love with love and she brought home the wrong kind of man. I swore I’d never be like her but I pretty much blew that resolution when I married Jimmy Travis. A guy like Jimmy will quickly destroy your faith in romance…leave you thinking Cinderella is dead and the prince is gay and that moonlight and roses hide muggers and thorns.
So, one night I am tending bar at the Sunset Bar and Grill when a cop walks in and tells me my god-awful husband is dead…kind of a good news bad news situation, the downside being I’m the prime suspect. Having friends in low places can come handy and in the Sunset a girl can find lots of those.
Things happen in the Sunset. I try not to get sucked in to other people’s stories, but good intentions and I never have been the best of friends, another thing I blame on Ruth Ann, caring about people being a further bad example she set for me. That’s what led to all of my problems. Like the time I got trapped on an island with a dead body and a murderer – with a hurricane about to hit. That was all her fault. And when her old boyfriend, the guy who abused me when I was a kid, comes back to town with another single mother and her young daughter, how do you not get involved?
Most of the time I dispense the drinks and try not to get tangled up in other people’s bad times, ‘cause truthfully I’ve got enough of my own, but the thing about a bar, besides the guys who are always coming on to you, is you get to hear all sorts of things – who did what to whom, and how many times – who has the door open and is peaking out of the closet – and these days, so many times it could make you weep, who is about to lose everything. You also hear different versions of the same tale. Sometimes that’s as telling as the truth, but to discover the real facts just pour another drink. Stories just naturally come unraveled in the Sunset.
At the moment I’m hanging out down at the Rawhide Saloon in Key West. It’s an over the top gay bar run by my friend Lexi Devine. But I won’t be here long, just until Last Call when Marley comes back from her date with an Elvis impersonator. I wonder what’s keeping her.
My second series, starring Singer Brown, is set in the Pacific Northwest. The next book in that series, Ghost Island, will be out in 2016. The first in the series is LONG GONE MAN.
Next week on Mystery Mondays please join me in welcoming author Jesse Giles Christiansen.