Sunday, March 2, 2014

Getting to know Dana Lewis

Welcome to the third post in my "Getting to know your character" series. Dana Lewis, the main character in  Staci McLaughlin's Blossom Valley mystery series, is visiting with us today. Let's get to know her.

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 na├»ve, 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:

 

Author Bio:

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.