Andrea and Heather Take 5 with Barbara Jean

Hi there, guys and dolls! Well, if you told someone you’d ‘See You in September,’ you’d better do it lickety split, because the month’s almost over. Wasn’t that a fast one? Yours truly cannot believe how fast the days fly.

I also can’t believe that after all these interviews (with plenty more to come), I haven’t set my girls down in the hot seat. They claim they’re too busy keeping an eye on me and  listening to all my prattling on about my Santa Lucians to Take 5 with me. Finally I pinned them down (all it really took was the promise of a cocktail or two, to be honest) and Andrea Taylor and Heather Shkuratoff settled down to have a great little confab with me. So get yourselves comfortable and enjoy learning a thing or two that you didn’t already know about my gal pals. Cover Hi Res

1. So tell me a little about your series and main characters.

Andrea: Our Poppy Cove Mysteries are cozy novels set in the fictional town of Santa Lucia, loosely based on Santa Barbara in the late 50′s, early 60′s and revolves around the glamorous comings and goings of the social set of the town, with a little murder and mayhem thrown in for good measure. The Poppy Cove Mystery Series currently consists of STRANGLED BY
, DEATH OF A Death_of_a_Beauty_Queen_1600x2400_(Ebook)BEAUTY QUEEN, and A NATE TO REMEMBER, with more to come.

Heather: The stories are very character driven. The main heroines Daphne Huntington-Smythe and Margot Williams run their dress shop/design atelier at the corner of Poppy Lane and Cove Street (that’s where the name Poppy Cove came from), and through their work with the town’s social set get involved in the lives, loves and scandals of the people they meet.A_Nate_To_Remember

2. Being that there are two of you, how do you write?  Do you compose separately, or talk it out as you go along together, share or divide up characters, scenes or research?

Heather: We always write together and we talk constantly. A lot. On our own time, we’ll often each come up with different thoughts and plot lines for the tales and then weigh them out and decide if and where it fits in the overall story line.

Andrea: We’re very visual, it’s like writing a play or movie script. We’ll get an overall feel for where the points are going in the story, then envision the way the scenes round out and flow into one another.

3. What exciting moment or moments that made you realize that you were really an “author?”

Andrea: I’ve been writing stories all my life, since I could hold a pen. It’s hard to pin down an exact moment, but possibly back in my teens when I could get involved in the writing process. Creating a finished story on paper from thoughts that came to me made me realize that I had a place in the writing world.

Heather: When we typed “The End” on our first draft of STRANGLED BY SILK. Whatever happened with it after that, I knew we had finished something that I would be proud to say I helped to create.

4.What do you do to spark up your creativity when you feel the well of inspiration is running dry?

Heather: Playing with you, Barbara Jean, helps. We channel you and your ‘joie de vivre’ to get us through the mundane and taxing aspects of life. I also like to watch movies and television series like Poirot, Morse, Lewis, Endeavour, Wallander- I could go on. They provoke my thought processes and get me scheming.

Andrea: I love watching all those, too. We listen to Frank Sinatra and the great jazz from the era. I love looking at the fashions, illustrations and photos of the time. Movies from the 50’s, like ‘The Best of Everything,’ ‘Funny Face,’ ‘How to Marry a Millionaire’ all transport me to such a dreamy place and inspire me.

5.  Who are some of your favorite authors and how do you feel they have influenced your desire to write?

Andrea: There’s so many that it’s hard to pin down. For mysteries, I like P.D. James, Ruth Rendell, Susan Wittig Albert, M.C. Beaton, Donna Andrews, Hannah Reed, and Cathy Ace to name a few. I love to read works by Virginia Woolf, Thomas Hardy, Tracy Chevalier, Beatriz Williams, Gail Anderson-Dargatz, and Margaret Atwood as well. They make me want to be the best writer I can be.

Heather: I read all the time too, and just as eclectic. I love the authors that Andrea has mentioned, but I’ll add in Carola Dunn, Elaine Viets, G.A. McKevett, Rhys Bowen, Melissa Bourbon for mysteries. I’ve been reading Madeleine L’Engle, Chris Bohjalian, Alice Hoffman, Susan Gregg Gilmore, Fanny Flagg and Mary Stewart inspire me to tell good stories about ordinary people who turn out to be fascinating as life plays with them.

Thank you, ladies for Taking 5 with me. And friends, be sure to check out the world my girls are creating for me. The three books in the series – STRANGLED BY SILK, DEATH OF A BEAUTY QUEEN and A NATE TO REMEMBER are waiting for you on Kindle with just a click away. You can also join them through my Facebook, Twitter, website as well as this blog as they continue to create more of my stories and welcome you all to Poppy Cove.


Barbara Jean


About Barbara Jean Coast

Barbara Jean Coast is the pen name of authors Andrea Taylor and Heather Shkuratoff. She is currently hard at work telling the cozy tales of the fictional town of Santa Lucia, loosely based on Santa Barbara in the late 50's, early 60's, known as The Poppy Cove Mysteries.
This entry was posted in 50's Novels, Authors, book series, books, California, Characters, Classic Movies, collaboration, Commitment, Communication, Conversation, Cozy Mysteries, Cozy Mystery Series, creative writing, Creativity, ebooks, entertainment, Fiction, Fictional Characters, Humor, Inspiration, Interviews, kindle, murder mystery, Mysteries, Pen Names, Perspective, Readers, Reading, Santa Barbara, Uncategorized, Vintage, Writers, Writing, Writing Ideas and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Andrea and Heather Take 5 with Barbara Jean

  1. rubysmusings says:

    Fascinating learning a bit more about the process these two lovely ladies go through to write these enjoyable books.

    Liked by 1 person

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