Patricia: Dana, where did you grow up and where do you live now?
Dana: I grew up in a small town in Northern California called Blossom Valley, which is just over the hill from Mendocino. I moved down to the Bay Area to attend college and stayed there several years to work at a software company. But when my father passed away a couple of years ago, I started to worry about how my mom was coping and decided to return home to Blossom Valley so I could keep an eye on her.
Patricia: What’s your occupation and how did you come to choose it?
Dana: I’m the marketing person for the O’Connell Organic Farm and Spa. I’ve always loved marketing because it gives me a chance to tell the world about a fantastic new product or service. Now, instead of touting the latest software, I’m trying to inspire people to visit Esther’s farm for a relaxing vacation among the vegetable gardens and farm animals. Of course, it was hard for anyone to relax on opening weekend after one of the guests was murdered. Then, only a few months later, my younger sister Ashlee broke up with her boyfriend and someone killed him that very night! Now, I’ve helped organize a green living festival and one of the booth owners has died. I’m not sure how I keep getting myself involved in these messes. When I signed on as Esther’s marketing person, I certainly didn’t expect to be solving murders in my spare time!
Patricia: Tell us about one of your most memorable “adventures.” What drew you into the mystery?
Dana: Almost any day with Ashlee is an adventure, but when the police considered her a suspect in her boyfriend’s death, I knew I had to help. As I worked to keep my sister from being wrongly accused, I met some interesting people along the way and learned a little about the world of monster truck driving, which I knew practically nothing about.
Patricia: What are your favorite things to do when you’re not working?
Dana: I love to spend time with my boyfriend, Jason. We don’t need to go anywhere fancy, which is probably a good thing, since Blossom Valley has only a movie theater and a bowling alley in the way of night life. And I even like hanging out with my sister, when she’s not on a date with her latest love interest.
Patricia: What are your favorite TV shows and/or movies? What kind of music do you enjoy listening to?
Dana: I could watch old sitcom reruns, like Seinfeld or Roseanne, all day long. I’m not sure if it’s because the show writers made the characters so likeable, or I connect these shows with a happy childhood, but nothing relaxes me faster than watching Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor glue something to his forehead. As for music, I like tunes that are peppy and upbeat, unless I’ve had a long day at work, and then I like something more soothing.
Patricia: Are you married or involved in a serious relationship? Tell us about that.
Dana: Jason and I have been dating for almost a year now. We met when he was covering the murder at the farm for his job as a reporter at the Blossom Valley Herald. We didn’t get along in the beginning, since he was trying to pry information from me while I was trying to protect Esther and the farm, but now I feel like I’ve known him forever. We have so much fun together. He’s smart and witty and such a gentleman. He even opens the car door for me!
Patricia: How would you describe yourself, physically and personality wise? How do you think others see you?
Dana: I tend to be an optimist. When that guest was killed at Esther’s farm the first weekend, Esther was convinced her business was ruined before it really got started. I kept telling her she needed to stay positive, that everything would work itself out. Others, like the farm’s manager Gordon, probably think I’m naïve, but I disagree. There’s no reason to throw up your hands and quit when there’s still a chance you can get yourself out of a mess. I also try to be honest and do what’s right, which is probably how I keep finding myself mixed up in these murder investigations.
Patricia: What’s your favorite color and why?
Dana: I love yellow. It’s not only the color of my favorite flower, which is a daffodil, but seeing a bright yellow shirt or the yellow walls of a kitchen always makes me think of sunny days.
Patricia: Do you like to travel? If so, what are some of your favorite places to go and/or what was your favorite vacation? Have any of your travels involved solving a mystery?
Dana: My favorite vacation was when I went on a cruise with my parents and sister to Mexico. I loved stopping at the different ports and experiencing the culture of the area. Also, shortly after I graduated from college, my friends and I went to Hawaii for a few days, which was a total blast. I like vacations that involve warm weather and the ocean. Fortunately, none of these vacations have been interrupted by a mystery. At least not yet…
Patricia: What are your plans for the future?
Dana: Right now, I’m taking life one day at a time. When I first moved back to Blossom Valley, I really struggled with living at home again and taking a job that paid so much less than what I’d been making when I was out on my own. I felt like I was taking a step back in life. But now I love working with Esther and Zennia at the farm, and I can’t imagine life any other way. Plus, if I hadn’t moved back home, I never would have met Jason. I definitely see a future with him.
Here's the link to the latest book in the Blossom Valley Mystery series:
In my former life, I was a technical writer. Now, I've traded in my cubicle and coworkers for diapers and carpool duty. You can find me online at www.stacimclaughlin.com and at the LadyKillers blog, where a group of fellow mystery and crime writers post their thoughts on writing, reading, and life in general at http://www.theladykillers.typepad.com/. I currently live with my husband, two kids, and various pets in the San Francisco Bay Area.
One lucky person who has left a comment will win a copy of Green Living Can Be Deadly. The winner will be announced on Saturday.And the winner is Chris Swinney! Congratulations! Staci will be contacting you for your mailing address.