Wednesday, November 9, 2016


An interview with author Arlene McFarlane


Hi! Welcome to Zigzag Timeline. Can you tell us about your background as an author?

Hi Mary! Thanks for having me! I’ve been writing for over ten years, learning my craft, entering contests, attending workshops and conferences. Murder, Curlers, and Cream is my debut novel.

What got you into writing?

I began writing when my children were little. I started by writing picture books and one day decided to try my hand at writing a novel. Finishing a 300-page book was a huge accomplishment. My story didn’t have plot or structure, but it did have snappy dialogue! And I’d been told I had a strong voice.

What was the first idea you had for your book, and how did the story grow from there?

I’d heard so many times to write what you know, so I took my knowledge from the beauty industry and my love for cozies, and the Murder, Curlers series was born. The first idea I had for my book was to have my protagonist use her tools of the trade to help solve mysteries. From there, I wanted a set of characters that would complement her. And naturally, there would have to be a love interest.

Among your characters, who's your favorite? Could you please describe him/her?

I’d have to say Valentine is my favorite character. She’s stylish and she’s got spunk, and she’s got a soft heart and strives to do her best in every situation.

What's your favorite scene from your novel? Could you please describe it?

I don’t know if I have a favorite scene, but I like the constant quibbling between Phyllis and Max, and I love the sexual tension that brews when Valentine and Romero are together.

What's your favorite part of writing? Plotting? Describing scenes? Dialogue?

I love writing dialogue. It comes easy, and I’m told it’s one of my strengths.

How long does it take you to write a book? Do you have a writing process, or do you wing it?

This is a hard one because book one of the series went through a lot of revisions. Book two got easier, and book three faster yet. I start with an outline, then a first draft. I keep on improving until I feel it’s done. I’m not a fast writer, but I try to be thorough.

What is it about the genre you chose that appeals to you?

I enjoy reading cozy and comedy mysteries. Always have. Straight romances don’t hold my interest for long. I need a lot of humor and of course mystery to get me through the book.

Are there any books or writers that have had particular influence on you?

Janet Evanovich, Lawrence Block, Sophia Kinsella. They’re witty and charming people.

Did you ever surprise yourself when you were writing your book? Characters who took on lives of their own? Plot elements that took unexpected turns?

I love when my characters become real, and yes, sometimes it feels like they’re writing their part in the story. Mostly, though, I’m very disciplined as to how the story should go.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thank you, Mary, for your time and for hosting me on Zigzag Timeline! 

Arlene McFarlane is the author of the Murder, Curlers series. Previously an aesthetician, hairstylist, and owner of a full-service salon, Arlene now writes full time. When she’s not making up stories, or being a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, cat-mom, or makeover artist, you’ll find her making music on the piano.
Arlene is a member of Romance Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Toronto Romance Writers, SOWG, and the Golden Network. She’s won and placed in over 30 contests, including twice in the Golden Heart and twice in the Daphne du Maurier.
Arlene lives with her family in Canada.

“Smart, Entertaining, and Laugh-Out-Loud Funny!”
Liliana Hart, New York Times Bestselling Author of the Addison Holmes Series

Valentine Beaumont is a beautician with a problem. Not only has she got a meddling mother, a wacky staff, and a dying business, but now she’s got a dead client who was strangled while awaiting her facial.
         With business the way it is, combing through this mystery may be the only way to save her salon. Until a second murder, an explosion, a kidnapping, death threats, and the hard-nosed Detective Romero complicate things. But Valentine will do anything to untangle the crime. That’s if she can keep her tools of the trade in her bag, keep herself alive, and avoid falling for the tough detective.
In the end, how hard can that be?



“You wound a perm rod around a man’s what?” Detective Romero stood in the middle of my Mediterranean-styled salon, hand on his gun hip, legs spread wide. His deep voice was laced with cynicism, and his blue eyes pierced me with a look that said now he’d heard everything.
I know it sounded outrageous, but good lord. It’d been several years since “Local Beautician Valentine Beaumont Uses Perm Rod to Curl Murderer’s Gonads” made front page headlines in the Rueland News. Was I ever going to live that down? It was an awful picture of me they’d run too, considering I was soaked in mud and covered in cuts and bruises.
Besides, there was another crisis at hand. I mean, a dead body had just been removed from the facial bed in Ti Amo—one of my treatment rooms, not thirty feet down the hall. Didn’t this detective, in his faded jeans and brown plaid shirt, think that was a little more important?
I pulled at my tight-knit top, trying not to let him get under my skin. “For the record, that perm rod saved me from being knifed to death. Anyway, it sounds worse than it was.”
“Worse than it was! Lady, that’s about as worse as it can get for a man.” He blew out a sigh. “I’d love to hear the full story on that one day.”
I smiled sweetly. “If you’re nice to me, maybe one day I’ll tell it.”
He glared at me, probably not certain if I was being sarcastic or sincere. Frankly, I wasn’t sure about that myself. 

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