A Conversation with Author Eleanor Kuhns

4/11 – 5/6

IR-  What inspired the idea for your book?

EK-  While I was researching Death in the Great Dismal, I came across a description of conditions on a slave ship. It was not appropriate for Death in the Great Dismal, or for the one that came after it (Murder on Principle) but I remembered it. I’d received several requests to write a book with Lydia’s background so I put the two together. 

IR-  Tell us about a favorite character from the book.

EK-  Lydia. She tempers Rees’s emotional fits and, in my opinion, is smarter than he is. 

IR-  What was the most surprising thing you learned in writing this book?

EK-  I learned a lot about Boston, which was not a city but a town at that time.

IR-  If you were friends with a character in this book, what kinds of things would you do together?

EK-  Jerusha. We are both big readers. And I respect her desire to be something other than a wife and mother.

IR-  What does it mean to you to be called an author?

EK-  I think of myself more as a storyteller. But that I have made a success at it makes me both humble at my good fortune and proud.

IR-  How do you define success as an author?

EK-  I suppose the obvious answer is getting published. But being an author also includes all the publicity and the business jobs that I have to do.

IR-  Do you have any quirky writing rituals?

EK-  I have to write in the early morning with a cup of coffee at my elbow. I generally write until about 10:30 when I take the dog out.

IR-  What comes first for you — the plot or the characters?

EK-  Since I am writing a series, most of the characters are already established. I usually work on the setting first; then the plot comes last.

IR-  As an author what do you think makes a good story?

EK-  I expect something exciting to happen, whether an exotic setting or a strong plot with lots of twists.

IR-  What do you look for in a story as a reader?

EK-  Engaging characters and a story that keeps me reading. It doesn’t have to be a thriller; the story can rely on interesting characters or a strong setting.

If your book were made into a movie, which actors would play your characters?

EK-  Sean Bean as Will Rees, Scarlett Johanssen as Lydia.

IR-  What has been your favorite reader feedback?

EK-  I love it when a reader approaches me and tells me they’ve read my books. That still gives me a thrill.

IR-  How do you interact with your readers?

EK-  Pre-pandemic, I did lots of talks, which I love. Now I mainly respond to comments.

IR-  What is your all time favorite book or author? 

EK-  Oh man, there are so many. I love Barbara Hambly and I reread The Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis, every year.

IR-  What made you say to yourself, “Today, I am going to write a book that I will publish.”?

EK-  Like most writers, I have been writing for a long time and trying to get published. I just never gave up.

IR-  How do you avoid or defeat writer’s block?

EK-  I am always working on something. I think it is important to write every day. As a consequence, I have never had writer’s block.

IR-  What difference do you see between a writer and an author?

EK-  An author approaches writing as a job, with all the extra work that entails. Most of the writers I know write, but usually only when they feel like it.

IR-  What is an underrated series that you think everyone should read at least once?

EK-  Barbara Hambly’s Benjamin January series.

IR-  Aside from writing or reading, what are your hobbies or interests?

EK-  I am an avid hiker and gardener. I also quilt, weave, knit, and do other types of crafts.

IR-  What advice would you give to a writer working on their first book?

EK-  Don’t give up but revise, revise revise.

IR-  What are you working on in the near future?

EK-  Currently I am researching a new series, mysteries that take place in Bronze Age Crete.

IR-  What is your author spirit animal?

EK-  This is tough. I love peacocks but I am not at all showy.

IR-  What would the title of your autobiography be?

EK-  A Curious Life

IR-  Describe yourself in as few words as possible.

EK-  Short, blond, with glasses

IR-  If you could have lunch with 3 authors, who would they be?

EK-  William Faulkner and Agatha Christie. We would talk about setting. And Anne Perry. I would love to know what drew her to Victorian England.

IR-  What would your dream library look like?

EK-  Not just books, but lots of patrons. An active Children’s Room to encourage the next generation of readers.
[IR- Best answer to this question ever!]

Murder, Sweet Murder by Eleanor Kuhns Banner

Murder, Sweet Murder
by Eleanor Kuhns
April 11 – May 6, 2022
Virtual Book Tour

Murder, Sweet Murder by Eleanor Kuhns


Will Rees accompanies his wife to Boston to help clear her estranged father’s name in this gripping mystery set in the early nineteenth century.

January, 1801. When Lydia’s estranged father is accused of murder, Will Rees escorts her to Boston to uncover the truth. Marcus Farrell is believed to have murdered one of his workers, a boy from Jamaica where he owns a plantation. Marcus swears he’s innocent. However, a scandal has been aroused by his refusal to answer questions and accusations he bribed officials.

As Will and Lydia investigate, Marcus’s brother, Julian, is shot and killed. This time, all fingers point towards James Farrell, Lydia’s brother. Is someone targeting the family? Were the family quarreling over the family businesses and someone lashed out? What’s Marcus hiding and why won’t he accept help?

With the Farrell family falling apart and their reputation in tatters, Will and Lydia must solve the murders soon. But will they succeed before the murderer strikes again?

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Mystery
Published by: Severn House Publishers
Publication Date: February 1st 2022
Number of Pages: 224
ISBN: 0727850091 (ISBN-13: 9780727850096)
Series: Will Rees Mysteries #11

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

After regarding Rees for several seconds, Mr Farrell extended his hand. Rees grasped it, painfully conscious of his rough hand, calloused by both farm work and weaving. ‘Please attend me in my office,’ Mr Farrell said. ‘We are expecting a few guests for dinner tonight so we will have little time to talk then.’ Turning, he strode away. Rees started to follow but, realizing that Lydia was not by his side, he turned back. She stood hesitantly by the table, her hands tightly clenched together. Rees glared at Mr Farrell’s back and then, reaching out, he pulled one of her hands through his elbow. Together they followed her father into his office.

As Farrell moved a stack of papers from the center of the desk to one side, Rees looked around. A large globe on a stand stood to the right of Farrell’s desk and one chair had been drawn up to the front. A seating area, with additional chairs, were arranged by the window that looked out upon the front garden. A table in the center held an intricately carved tray with a crystal decanter and several glasses. Shelves of books lined the wall behind and adjacent to the desk, on Rees’s right.

The room was chilly although the fire was burning. Newly laid, it had been lighted, no doubt by some anonymous servant.

Farrell looked up and his eyes rested on Lydia in surprise. Rees felt his wife shrink back, intimidated. He was not going to stand for that. He pulled a chair from the window grouping and placed it in front of the desk. She hesitated for a few seconds and then, lifting her chin defiantly, she sat down. Once she was seated, Rees lowered himself into the opposite chair. After one final dismissive glance at his daughter, Farrell looked at Rees.

‘So, you are a weaver.’

‘That is so,’ Rees said, adding politely, ‘I understand you are a merchant.’

Farrell smiled. ‘I see your wife has told you very little about me or my profession.’ Since responding in the affirmative seemed somehow disloyal to Lydia, Rees said nothing.

Farrell took a box from his desk drawer and opened it to extract a cigar. ‘Would you like a smoke?’

‘No thank you,’ Rees said.

‘Or a glass of rum? Or whiskey if that is your tipple.’ When Rees declined again, Farrell put away the cigars and walked to the fireplace to light a splint. The end of the cigar glowed red and the acrid scent of burning tobacco filled the room. Puffing, Farrell returned to his seat. ‘I suppose one could say I was a merchant. But I do so much more. I own a plantation as well as a fleet of ships that sail between Boston, the West Indies and Africa. In Jamaica they take on sugar and molasses which are returned to Boston. Some of it is transformed into rum in my distillery. I export the liquor overseas, both to England and to Africa where the proceeds are used to purchase slaves.’

Sick to his stomach, Rees glanced at Lydia. She was staring at her hands, her face flaming with shame. Although she had alluded to her father’s profession, she had not told him the half of it. She had not told him of her father’s pride in it. Rees understood why she hadn’t.

‘Most of the slaves are brought to the sugar plantation,’ Farrell continued, seemingly oblivious to his daughter’s distress, ‘but some are sold in the Southern states. And you needn’t look so shocked. Why that upstart Republican with his radical ideas, Mr Jefferson, owns slaves. And he may be the next President. I suppose you voted for him.’

Rees did not respond immediately. Although many of Mr Jefferson’s ideas were appealing, Rees had found in the end that he could not vote for a slave holder. Instead, he had voted for Mr Adams. But that gentleman had not placed; the election was a tie between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr. Sent to the House for resolution, Jefferson had won by one vote.’ No,’ Rees said carefully, keeping his voice level with an effort, ‘I voted for his opponent.’

‘Well, that makes us kin then. Although you will meet a few slaves here in Boston, in this very house.’ He grinned and Rees thought of Morris and Bridget with their tinted skin. ‘But few, very few. Neither the Africans nor the Spanish Indians adapt well to this northern climate and they quickly die.’ This was said with indifference as though he spoke of a broken chair.

Farrell flicked a glance at his daughter and smiled. With a surge of anger, Rees realized that Farrell fully understood the effect his speech would have on her and was enjoying her misery. Rees gathered himself to rise from his chair. Lydia reached out and grasped his sleeve.

‘This is for Cordy,’ she whispered. Rees sat down again, his body stiff.

‘But you did not come to listen to me natter on about my profession,’ Farrell said, watching the byplay with interest. ‘Shall we discuss that ridiculous murder, the one of which I am accused?’

Rees looked into Lydia’s beseeching eyes and after a few seconds he relaxed into his seat. God forgive him, a part of him hoped Marcus Farrell was guilty.

‘Go on,’ Rees said coldly. Marcus smiled.

‘Permit me to save you both time and effort,’ he said. ‘I did not kill that boy.’

‘Then why do people think you did?’ Rees asked. Puffing furiously, and clearly unwilling to reply, Farrell took a turn around the room.

‘Did you know him?’ Lydia asked, her voice low and clear. ‘This Roark?’

Farrell stood up so abruptly his chair almost tipped over. ‘Yes, I knew him.’ He glanced at Rees. ‘We were seen, Roark and I, arguing down at Long Wharf.’

‘Arguing about what?’ Rees asked.

‘It is not important. He was a nobody.’ Farrell glared at Rees, daring him to persist. Rees waited, never removing his gaze from the other man. Sometimes silence made the best hammer. Finally, Farrell said angrily, ‘He wanted a rise in his wages. I said no. He disagreed. That was all there was to it.’

Rees glanced at Lydia and found her staring at him. He knew, and he suspected she did too, that her father had just lied to them.


Excerpt from Murder, Sweet Murder by Eleanor Kuhns. Copyright 2021 by Eleanor Kuhns. Reproduced with permission from Eleanor Kuhns. All rights reserved.


Author Bio:

Eleanor Kuhns

Eleanor Kuhns is the 2011 winner of the Mystery Writers of America/Minotaur first mystery novel. Murder, Sweet Murder is the eleventh mystery following the adventures of Rees and his wife. She transitioned to full time writing last year after a successful career spent in library service. Eleanor lives in upstate New York with her husband and dog.

Catch Up With Eleanor Kuhns:
Twitter – @EleanorKuhns
Facebook – @writerkuhns

We’re also having an insta-party! Visit Instagram – #eleanorkuhns to join us!

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!
04/12 Guest post @ The Book Divas Reads
04/13 Showcase @ Books Blog
04/14 Showcase @ Silvers Reviews
04/15 Showcase @ Im Into Books
04/17 Review @ Book Reviews From an Avid Reader
04/19 Showcase @ Brooke Blogs
04/20 Interview @ I Read What You Write
04/21 Interview @ Quiet Fury Books
04/24 Review @ Buried Under Books
04/25 Guest post @ Novels Alive
04/25 Showcase @ Celticladys Reviews
04/27 Review @ Novels Alive
04/28 Showcase @ Books, Ramblings, and Tea
05/03 Guest post @ Author Elena Taylors Blog
05/03 Review @ sunny island breezes
05/04 Review @ A Room Without Books is Empty
05/05 Review @ Pat Fayo Reviews
05/26 Interview podcast @ Blog Talk Radio
05/26 Review @ Just Reviews

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  1. Great interview!
    “I am an avid hiker and gardener. I also quilt, weave, knit, and do other types of crafts.” – Me too! Except for the weaving – I love all those things. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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