Thursday, November 18, 2010

Vicki Lane: Tales of Appalachia

I am beginning a new series on the blog, one which includes authors who contributed recipes for the cookbook, Killer Recipes. Even though each recipe has the contributing author’s book titles and web sites, that’s it. After all, it’s a cookbook. Now I’d like to interview a good number of these generous writers and learn more about them. Come along. I think you’ll enjoy meeting every one of them.

My guest today is Vicki Lane, author of the recently released standalone, The Day of Small Things and the Elizabeth Goodweather Appalachian Mysteries: In a Dark Season, Old Wounds, Art’s Blood, Signs in the Blood and the forthcoming (2011) Under the Skin.

Welcome to the blog, Vicki.

Hey, Susan, thanks for inviting me! I was so pleased to be a part of Killer Recipes and I’m delighted to be here today.

Thank you for taking time from your busy schedule to visit. Tell us who Elizabeth Goodweather is and from where you got the inspiration for your heroine.

Elizabeth was born ten years ago in a class I took at the local branch of Asheville’s community college. Writing Fiction That Sells met six times and our first assignment was to come up with a protagonist and an idea for the type of book we might like to write.
Well, I almost quit right there. I was 57 years old and had lived on a small farm for the past 25 years and really hadn’t a clue about what sort of protagonist I could credibly write. So I chose to write about a fifty-something year old widow, living on a farm very much like ours in a house exactly like ours. A dreadful lack of imagination. I did make her a widow so she had room for romance to enter her life and I gave her daughters so as not to embarrass my sons. She’s definitely not me – but she shares my beliefs and world view.

Elizabeth is a very endearing character.

Even though I've read all of your books, I’m not sure I have your titles in the right order. Please set them up for us with a short synopsis of each.

Signs in the Blood introduces Elizabeth Goodweather. A still-grieving widow, she has wrapped herself in the serenity of Full Circle Farm, safe amid the idyllic fields of herbs and flowers on Pinnacle Mountain. The puzzling death of a neighbor's son shatters that peace and sends her on a life-changing quest in search of a missing shotgun.

Traveling the winding roads into the hidden coves and hollows of the Appalachians, Elizabeth finds the laurel thickets and rocky hillsides are full of surprises --- serpent handlers, star children, tongues-talkers, sang hunters, militia men --- and murder.

Art’s Blood - North Carolina's hills are a crazy quilt of old farmsteads and new beginnings, of locals, strangers, artists, and new age wanderers. . . Here Elizabeth Goodweather has made her life -- a still-young widow who moves easily between the gentrified world of Asheville and old-timers in their hollows. But when a flamboyant performance artist is murdered, and Elizabeth learns the amazing history of a magnificent piece of folk art, she is caught between her two worlds -- and in the middle of an agonizing mystery.

Old Wounds - On Halloween night of 1986, Maythorn Mullins disappeared from her home near Elizabeth Goodweather's Full Circle Farm. Now, almost twenty years later, Rosemary Goodweather wants to find out the truth about her lost childhood friend. She begins to suspect that she herself knows . . . if she can just remember. As Elizabeth helps her daughter to delve into the past, memories come alive -- old friends, old enemies, old loves . . . and old wounds.

From the slopes of Pinnacle Mountain and the hidden Cave of the Two Sisters to the homeless shelters and self-realization programs of Asheville to the Cherokee Reservation where the noisy, glittering world of the casino gives way to the pristine woodlands and waterfalls of Big Cove, Elizabeth and Rosemary, aided by Phillip Hawkins, search for the answers to long-suppressed questions. Elizabeth must finally confront her own failings as she learns that there are some wounds time alone will not heal.

In a Dark Season - Crouched on its ledge above the historic Drovers' Road, the house at Gudger's Stand has witnessed many a dark and bitter deed. When a new friend of Elizabeth Goodweather leaps from the upper story of the old building, Elizabeth and Phillip, already tangled in the problems of their own off-and-on relationship, are drawn into a web of long-kept family secrets. Brooding madness, mountain magic, and a tale of bewitchment and betrayal in a by-gone time all come together in the best Goodweather novel yet!

The Day of Small Things, a non-series standalone, is set in Elizabeth Goodweather’s Marshall County and tells the story of her beloved neighbor Miss Birdie. Called Least by her mother, the girl who will be Birdie grows up cursed by her mother’s cruelty and blessed by her neglect. Deemed unfit to join the outside world, Least turns to the wisdom of the land, to voices she alone can hear, to legends left by native Indians, and to the arts of divination and healing.

Oh, I love Miss Birdie!
But the time comes when Least has to choose between an ardent suitor and her childhood magic, between his church and her spirits. Now, as her life enters its final chapter, her world has been invaded by a violent criminal with a chilling plan. To stop him from committing an unspeakable crime—and to free an innocent child—the woman who was once Least must break long-held promises, draw on long-buried powers, and face a darkness no one else can even see.

You live in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina. Tell us how that environment affects your writing.

Pretty much in every way possible. My characters and stories are based on people I’ve known or have been told about. I live in a very rural county that, for the most part, didn’t have paved roads and electricity till after WWII. We learned a lot of the old time ways from our neighbors and, at the same time, I absorbed a good bit of the language. The seasons and the land itself are integral to my writing. Many people have said that the setting is like another character.

You submitted Ba’s Pound Cake for the Killer Recipes cookbook. I plan to bake it for the holidays. Tell us about your grandmother, Ba.

My grandmother grew up in Troy, Alabama and, though she spent most of her married life in Florida, she never forgot her small town Alabama roots. She was a wonderful Southern cook and the sort of grandmother everyone should have had. She made this pound cake about once a week. (Killer Recipes is available in print, ebook, and Kindle formats at

As Thanksgiving approaches, what are you most thankful for?

My family, of course, and the beautiful place I’ve had the good fortune to call home for thirty-five years.

Do you have any new projects in the works?

The fifth Elizabeth book – Under the Skin – will be out in 2011. It’s pretty much done and now I’m putting together a standalone proposal for my editor based on a story I was told about a local cemetery where there was a grave with a little house sitting atop the grave. And there were dolls inside . . .

Where can readers find more information about you and your writing?

My website, my daily blog, and my monthly newsletter cover the ground pretty thoroughly.

Vicki, thanks so much for the interview. I have enjoyed the Goodweather series and look forward to many more adventures with Elizabeth. Congratulations on your success! I look forward to meeting you in person at Cape Fear Crime Festival in Wilmington.

Thanks for inviting me, Susan! It’s been a pleasure!


Carol@The Writers Porch said...

Great interview Vicki and Susan !!!!
Looking forward to years of reading your work as you are a WONDERFUL writer who leaves your readers wanting more!

Susan Whitfield said...

Carol, thanks for dropping by. I agree that Vicki's writing pulls me right into the mountains I love and holds me there until the satisfying ending of each book. I await the next one with excitement.I'll have to check out The Writers Porch.

Vicki Lane said...

Thanks for inviting me, Susan! I was happy to be a part of KILLER RECIPES and hope that lots of folks buy copies for holiday gifts!

And thanks for stopping by, Carol! (How's that new mountain getaway coming?)

Elora said...

Ooooh! A peek inside of things to cooooool! Husband is loving ALL your books (of course, one at a time! Thank you Ms. Whitfield for having Vicki "on!" She's a charmer and her books are totally and wonderfully captivating!

Elora McKenzie

NCmountainwoman said...

Very nice interview. I'm happy to have found your blog and look forward to reading it.

As for the recipes...we've enjoyed Ba's Pound Cake. Vicki also contibuted others, including my favorite...her marvelous Bold Butternut Squash recipe. It is absolutely perfect for a winter evening. So yummy.

It's a great little cookbook and I'll be giving several for Christmas gifts this year.

Susan Whitfield said...

I had planned to post one of the recipes but apparently never got that done. Suffice it to say that all of her recipes are unique ande fabulous, right down to the Plunger Mayonnaise. Too cool!
Elora, and Mountainwoman, thanks for stopping by. Please come again, and enjoy those cookbooks! Thanks for supporting a worthy cause, to put an end to cancer and its ravages.

Betty Gordon said...

A wonderful interview, Vicki and Susan. Vicki, you have an intriguing body of work that I'm looking forward to reading
very soon.

The pound cake is delicious. Thanks for putting the recipe in "Killer Recipes."

Betty Gordon

Anonymous said...

Great interview, Vicki and Susan.

Vicki, you've sold me on your books, they're at the top of my Christmas list. I also live in the mountains of western NC and love to read books that are set here. Most of my own books take place right here where I live. Seeing those mountains every day never fails to inspire me.

Once again, I enjoyed your interview and Susan, as always, wonderful questions.

Caitlyn Hunter

Vicki Lane said...

Kind words, Elora!

And what a pleasure to know that my grandmother's pound cake is being made in kitchens far and wide! Thanks, NCmountainwoman and Betty!

And Betty and Caitlyn, I hope you enjoy getting to know Elizabeth and Miss Birdie!

And thanks again, Susan, for inviting me!

Victoria said...

A great interview, I really enjoyed reading it.

Vicki, I re-read all of your 'Elizabeth' books in the spring (I think) but after reading your descriptions of them I want to read them again.

Ms. Whitfield, I'm delighted to have found your blog, and am heading over to to check out your books and the cookbook!

Susan Whitfield said...

Victoria, thanks for visiting. Vicki and I both hope you enjoy our books, set in North Carolina.