Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Q&A with Linda Joffe Hull

This week, we sat down with Mrs. Frugalicious Shopping Mystery author Linda Joffe Hull, whose latest Black Thursday, was just released.

Midnight Ink: How long have you been writing?
Linda Joffe Hull: I dabbled from the day I got out of college (cough) years ago, but didn’t start writing seriously until my boys started school in 2001. They are both in college now.

MI: What influence have other authors had on your writing?
LJH: My mom claims she found me hiding under the covers with a flashlight and a book on a regular basis starting at three years old. I have been influenced by everything from the Nancy Drew series to David Sedaris.

MI: If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?
LJH: I often say that at this point I would be a stripper at a nursing home, but I would probably be in sales and advertising, which I did in a former life.

MI: If you have a job outside of writing, what is it?
LJH: I do freelance editing and ghostwriting and work on everything from self-help and memoirs to fiction projects.

MI: What is/are your favorite thing/s to do when you’re not writing or working?
LJH: My boys are collegiate divers, so I love travelling to watch them compete. Go Hoosiers and Hawkeyes!

MI: Who is your favorite mystery sleuth and why?
LJH: I change my mind every time I read a new mystery, but the first favorite that came to mind was Precious Ramotswe.

MI: Do you have a favorite murder case from a book (either yours or another author’s)?
LJH: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote really sticks with me.

MI: What was your inspiration for the Mrs. Frugalicious Mysteries? 

LJH: I was flipping through the channels one night and found myself watching Extreme Couponing. I realized, almost immediately, that anyone with the math brain and the ability to think on the fly the way couponers do, would make a crack amateur sleuth. Mrs. Fruglicious was born soon after.

MI: How does the Mrs. Frugalicious Mystery series compare to your past works?
LJH: I like to write about the suburbs—specifically, the unexpected dangers and pitfalls of suburban existence. I describe my first novel, The Big Bang, as a suburban satire/pregnancy whodunit. The Mrs. Frugalicious mysteries are far lighter and have a lot less, shall we say, dark blue subject matter.

MI: Tell us about Maddie Michaels.
LJH: Maddie Michaels is the wife of local TV financial guru Frank Finance Michaels. When he loses all their money in a ponzi scheme, she reinvents herself as bargain shopper and coupon clipper Mrs. Frugalicious to (surreptitiously) save the family from financial ruin. I enjoy writing her because she is plucky and is endlessly able to look at the increasingly dire situations she faces with humor and a sense of optimism that some people (I’m looking in the mirror here) can’t always summon up.

MI: Tell us your top 3 couponing tips.
  1. Always, always go through your Sunday paper and clip coupons for things you will buy anyway. There’s no reason not to save money every time you shop.
  2. When you use coupons, grocery and discount stores recognize you as a coupon clipper and give you additional discounts and savings offers in the form of Catalinas, those printed coupons that come with your receipt.
  3. Never ever go shopping without going online to check for coupons or specials. Practically every national retailer offers discounts and/or specials simply by going to their website.
Linda and Hazel
MI: Do you have a pet? Tell us about him/her.
LJH: I have two pets, Andi the gecko who currently resides in my oldest son’s room. She was named Andrew (after him) until we discovered she is a girl. As my second son, Evan was headed off to college we adopted Hazel. She is a four-month-old Lab/Blue Heeler mix. Adorable only begins to describe her. Coincidentally, her kennel name was Eliza, which happens to be my daughter’s name. Clearly, she was meant to be in my brood.

MI: If you don’t have a pet, do you have a favorite animal? 
LJH: I love exotic animals, many of whom are unsuitable for domestic life. Luckily we have Andi and Hazel.

MI: What food could you live off of for the rest of your life?
LJH: Homemade chocolate chip cookies.

MI: Do you have a favorite recipe?
LJH: I’m not the best cook, but I do make an easy, incredible grilled salmon marinated in soy sauce, lemon wedges, sugar and garlic.  

MI: What is your favorite part about being an Inker?
LJH: Aside from working with the amazing Terri Bischoff? I guess I’d have to say the camaraderie amongst the authors who write for Midnight Ink. I’ve made and continue to make very close friends. What a great group of people!

Black Thursday, the second Mrs. Frugalicious Shopping Mystery, is now available in bookstores and online!

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