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Author Interview: Gail M. Baugniet

February 3, 2016

Gail Baugniet is the author of the Pepper Bibeau mystery series. After working as a police officer on the mainland and dispatcher on O‘ahu, she writes full time at her home in Honolulu. Gail is a member of Sisters in Crime, Inc., and president of the Sisters in Crime/Hawai’i chapter in Honolulu. She is currently working on her next mystery novel, Blood Red Homicide, which she launched during NaNoWriMo 2014.

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How does it feel living in Hawaii & working on another Pepper Bibeau mystery?

Thank you, Fiza, for inviting me to meet with you, and with insaneowl.com & its followers. Aloha, everyone! Living in Hawaii had been a dream come true for me since 1992 when I packed away my winter clothes in Wisconsin, and booked an airplane flight to Honolulu on the Island of O’ahu. Writing mystery novels has been my passion since before the turn of the century. Being able to do my writing in paradise is wonderful.

When did you get the inspiration to form the identity & character of Pepper Bibeau?

After making the decision to write mysteries with Pepper Bibeau as my main protagonist, I used as inspiration for her background two close friends who readily agreed to my idea. Deciding on the protagonist’s career for the story line was a bit more difficult. I made a list of almost one hundred different jobs and career choices, but nothing seemed right. Then, during a moment of clarity, it came to me that my own career in the world of insurance would work perfectly within the parameters of a mystery novel.

Can you please describe the personality & work of Pepper Bibeau to my readers?

Pepper Bibeau is an Insurance Investigator. Her job begins when the claims processor and the insurance adjuster do not have enough information to approve a questionable insurance claim. Pepper visits the families to determine if the claims are legitimate. This is all background information and the catalyst for Pepper to become tangled in a situation that ultimately involves a dead body.

Who influenced you especially to write mystery thrillers and who are your most favorite writers?

My interest in mystery novels developed at a young age. I discovered and devoured the series of books by Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Rex Stout. I advanced to mysteries and thrillers by Robert Ludlum, Sue Grafton, Michael Connelly, John Sandford, Stephen King, and an unending list of fabulous and entertaining authors. Sue Grafton’s novels were my greatest inspiration to write mysteries. I have used her work and advice to model my own writing.

 

 I am completely enchanted by all your books published so far but especially your 2012 book Deadly as Nature: Envy Spawns Grief. Can you give my readers a short synopsis of the book so that it can whet their appetites to go on & read the book?

I am so pleased to hear that you especially enjoyed Deadly As Nature: Envy Spawns Grief. The setting of this novel is my home state of Wisconsin. Alcohol and envy are a deadly mix in the second novel of the Pepper Bibeau Mystery series.

From the book’s synopsis:
In an atmosphere of alcohol and drugs that defines the lives of more than a few people in eastern Wisconsin the year Janis Joplin died, treacherous waves on Lake Michigan toss Insurance Investigator Pepper Bibeau into the company of an intriguing and self-reliant blind lady. Haunted by past events, the lady presents Pepper with an unusual request to help clear up a murder. To link these past events to an investigation on her cousin’s life insurance claim, Pepper delves into a family history she didn’t know existed.

Then, on the personal side of Pepper’s life:
Pepper’s young son resides in Hawaii, but his father lives on the property adjoining hers. Homicide Detective Rick Janus wants to resume a relationship that faded ten years ago, provided no more dead bodies pile up.

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What makes Pepper Bibeau a bit different or a lot different let’s say from Miss Marple of Agatha Christie fame?

Actually, I would like to turn this question around and tell you what is so alike about these two women: they each have an overwhelming and untethered curiosity that propels them forward in their work and helps them succeed in solving the mystery at hand. But they differ in that Pepper is in her mid-twenties, while Miss Marple is at an advanced age when created by Agatha Christie.

How was the experience working with many different writers in Mystery in Paradise: 13 Tales of Suspense? What does this wonderful collection of stories tell us about the real Hawaii?

Compiling and formatting the stories for Mystery In Paradise: 13 Tales of Suspense was one of my most rewarding projects as a writer. Most of the authors involved live here in Honolulu; several others now live on the mainland of the USA. I know them personally so the project was a labor of love. The collection of stories are all true to the “real” Hawaii. Settings, dialogue, characters, and locations are all accurately described or depicted. Each of the 13 tales, written by 13 different authors including myself, gives the reader a true experience of adventure in Hawaii, only second to actually visiting. I would hope, though, that your visit would not include a murder investigation.

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When you are not writing your next mystery, what do you do in Hawaii?

Aside from reading, and walking along the beach for exercise, my life revolves around writing. I am president of the local chapter (Sister In Crime/Hawaii) of the national organization of writers, Sisters In Crime. I am a member of a writers’ critique group in Waikiki, a book club readers’ group, Hawaii Fiction Writers, and Toastmasters. Each year I participate in National Novel Writers Month (NaNoWriMo), an international project involving thousands of writers who spend 30 days writing 50 thousand words of a story. Of course, food and coffee are involved in all of these activities.

How easy or how difficult was it for you to pen down Neshoto Junction Homicide?

Neshoto Junction Homicide is the second of my novels set in my home state of Wisconsin. The research for this story was a lot of fun, especially the part where I indulged in eating fresh-fried fish and drinking cold beer. I wrote the first draft of the novel during my own novel writing month (in between the official November NaNoWriMo projects.) Writing the story was the easy part. Doing the follow-up research to ensure accuracy was more tedious and a bit nerve wracking. (How could I possibly be forgiven for getting wrong the details about my own home state!)

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When is your next book going to be released to the public?

I am in the process of applying edits to this novel. I released my fourth novel, Neshoto Junction Homicide, on what would have been my father’s 100th birthday. Blood Red Homicide is scheduled for release in June, 2016, on the date my mother would have turned 100 years old.

I am a teacher and owner of a tutorial in Mumbai, India & my students are dying for a great mystery thriller which I am sure all your Pepper Bibeau mysteries fit the bill. What words of inspiration would you like to give these young readers about your craft?

Your work as a teacher and owner of a tutorial fascinates me. With your strong focus on reading, you have the opportunity to mold your students into excellent citizens of the world.

Every good writer is first a voracious reader. The more you read, the more knowledge you will have to improve your own writing.

When you start to write a story, do not focus on anything except the story itself. Get it out of your head and onto the paper or computer document. If you write in “fits and starts” the information welling up from your subconscious will sink back down and be lost.

Only after your story is written will you have something tangible to revise and edit. Later, you can concentrate on fleshing out your plot and characters. Later still, edit for grammar and punctuation.

Most important, tell the story your way, from your heart.

Thank you Gail for enlightening insaneowl.com and its followers about your work as a writer. Continue the good work and all the best for your future ventures. I do hope that we may be able to speak through the medium of my blog once again in the near future. Warm regards from Fiza Pathan.

Links:

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Gail-M-Baugniet/e/B004QYTEGC/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Twitter: @GailMBaugniet

Blog Site: http://www.gail-baugniet.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gail.baugniet

Copyright ©2016 Fiza Pathan

2 Comments
  1. Wow! Gail, you’re a prolific writer. Fantastic interview. Wish you the very best.

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