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Friday, May 8, 2015

Lowcountry Boneyard by Susan M. Boyer (Author Interview / Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Lowcountry Boneyard by Author Susan M. Boyer!

Author Interview

Welcome to Jersey Girl Book Reviews, Susan!

Before we get to the interview, can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself.

I was born and raised in Faith, North Carolina, population 621 during my childhood. When I married my husband, I moved to Greenville, South Carolina. We lived for a while in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, near Charleston, and later returned to Greenville. My husband and I have four children, all grown. One of my many college majors was English, but another, Computer Business Systems, led to the jobs I held before becoming a full-time writer.

How long have you been a writer?

Since fourth grade, but I began writing with the goal of publication in 2003.

Do you have a day job, or is being an author your career?

Being an author is my career. Previously, I was a computer programmer, systems analyst, project manager, and a store planner for a ladies apparel chain.

What inspired you to become a writer? Describe your journey as a writer.

I’ve just always been a storyteller. It’s in my DNA, I think. For a long time I didn’t believe I could make it a career. And there were bills to pay and children to raise. When the company I was working for went out of business in 2003, rather than looking for another job, my husband encouraged me to follow my dream and “give the writing thing a try.”

Please give a brief description/storyline about Lowcountry Boneyard. 

Kent Heyward, a twenty-three-year-old heiress from one of Charleston’s oldest families vanished a month ago. When her father hires private investigator Liz Talbot, Liz suspects the most difficult part of her job will be convincing the patriarch his daughter tired of his overbearing nature and left town. That’s what the Charleston Police Department believes.

But behind the garden walls South of Broad, family secrets pop up like weeds in the azaleas. The neighbors recollect violent arguments between Kent and her parents. Eccentric twin uncles and a gaggle of cousins covet the family fortune. And the lingering spirit of a Civil-War-era debutante may know something if Colleen, Liz’s dead best friend, can get her to talk.

Liz juggles her case, the partner she’s in love with, and the family she adores. But the closer she gets to what has become of Kent, the closer Liz dances to her own grave.

What was the inspiration for this story?

During a trip to Charleston, I had the opportunity to visit Boneyard Beach on Bulls Island. I fell in love with the natural beauty of the maritime forest that has succumbed to wind, salt water, and beach erosion. The remnants of trees form gorgeous natural sculptures. About the same time I working on a family genealogy project and visiting a lot of cemeteries. I can’t say more without giving away too much of the story.

How did it feel to have your first book published?

It was truly a dream come true—one of the happiest days of my life.

Do you write books for a specific genre?

My books are Southern traditional mysteries, but they have cozy, paranormal and romantic elements as well.

What genres are your favorite(s)? What are some of your favorite books that you have read and why?

Mystery, thriller, romance, Southern Fiction. I have a long list of favorites. A few off the top of my head are Gods In Alabama, by Joshilyn Jackson; Georgia Bottoms, by Mark Childress; Lucky You, by Carl Hiaasen; Tell No One, by Harlan Coben; the Charley Davidson series by Darynda Jones, and anything by Charlaine Harris. In general, things that make me love a book are a great voice, characters I can relate to or feel empathy for, and a fast-paced plot.

Do you have a special "spot/area" where you like to do your writing?

Yes, either in my office at home or at the desk in a hotel room.

How do you come up with the ideas that become the storyline for your books?

Honestly, I don’t have the vaguest idea. They just pop into my head. Sometimes a simple thing will happen, and my brain goes into “what if” mode. What if that woman arguing with that man along the side of the Interstate ends up getting killed? What if he buries her body in those woods? I have an overactive imagination.

When you write, do you adhere to a strict work schedule, or do you work whenever the inspiration strikes?

I write to a schedule. I take my second cup of coffee with me to the computer around 9:00 am. I check email to make sure nothing needs immediate attention, then close email and start writing. I’ll write until lunch time, take a quick lunch break, then go back to work until dinner time. It’s not unusual for me to write through lunch. My stomach starts growling and I look up and it’s three o’clock and I can’t decide if I should have a late lunch or an early dinner.

What aspects of storytelling do you like the best, and what aspects do you struggle with the most?

I like getting the story down—telling what happened. And I love editing, because that’s where I get to make sure I’m getting the important details in, and take out the parts that slowdown the story. The thing I struggle with most is cutting to get below a given word count.

What are your favorite things to do when you are not writing?

I love to travel. One of my favorite spots is St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. I love spending time with friends and family—cookouts, dinner parties, pot lucks, wine on the screened porch—whatever. I’m up for it. If someone wants to get out the karaoke machine, I’m even happier. And of course I love to read.

What is/was the best piece of writing advice that you have received?

Learn to filter feedback. Consider carefully input from critique partners and beta readers. Just because someone has advice doesn’t mean it’s right for your story. If it resonates with you, use it. If you’re hearing the same thing from several people independently, seriously consider it. But don’t rewrite your story based on every bit of input you get.

What is the most gratifying thing you feel or get as a writer?

Creating characters and stories from whole cloth and bringing them to life on the page.

How do you usually communicate with your readers/fans?

Email, Facebook, Twitter, or in person at events.

Is there anything in your book based on real life experiences or are they purely all from your imagination?

Every restaurant in Charleston and Greenville that Liz visits, I’ve been there. She orders what I ordered. I’ve walked out scenes in both Charleston and Greenville. The places are real—until you get on the ferry to Stella Maris. The island is a figment of my imagination, which resides roughly where Dewees Island actually is on the map.

What authors have been your inspiration or influenced you to become a writer?

Charlaine Harris, Sue Grafton, Joshilyn Jackson, Mary Alice Monroe, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Mary Kay Andrews—many others, I’m sure.

What is your definition of success as a writer?

My books being published, and readers connecting with the stories.

Are you currently writing a new book? If yes, would you care to share a bit of it with us?

Yes, I’m working on Lowcountry Bordello, the fourth Liz Talbot mystery. This one will be released in early November, and it takes place around Christmas. Liz is hired by an old friend to check into what his wife has been up to. Liz quickly becomes embroiled in a scandal going back generations. And of course there’s a body.

Susan, thank you for spending time with us at Jersey Girl Book Reviews, and sharing a bit about yourself and your writing career!

About The Author

Susan M. Boyer is the author of the USA TODAY bestselling Liz Talbot mystery series. Her debut novel, Lowcountry Boil, won the 2012 Agatha Award for Best First Novel, the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense, and garnered several other award nominations. Lowcountry Boneyard, the third Liz Talbot mystery, was released April 21, 2015. Susan loves beaches, Southern food, and small towns where everyone knows everyone, and everyone has crazy relatives. You’ll find all of the above in her novels.

Susan lives in Greenville, SC, with her husband and an inordinate number of houseplants.

Author Website

Book Review

Lowcountry Boneyard by Susan M. Boyer
Book 3: Liz Talbot Mystery Series
Publisher: Henery Press
Publication Date: April 21, 2015
Format: Paperback - 292 pages
               Kindle - 609 KB
               Nook - 509 KB
ISBN: 978-1941962473
BNID: 2940149865406
Genre: Southern Cozy Mystery 

Buy The Book: 

Buy The Series: Liz Talbot Mystery Series
Book 1: Lowcountry Boil
Book 2: Lowcountry Bombshell
Book 3: Lowcountry Boneyard

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours.

Book Description:

Where is Kent Heyward? The twenty-three-year-old heiress from one of Charleston’s oldest families vanished a month ago. When her father hires private investigator Liz Talbot, Liz suspects the most difficult part of her job will be convincing the patriarch his daughter tired of his overbearing nature and left town. That’s what the Charleston Police Department believes.

But behind the garden walls South of Broad, family secrets pop up like weeds in the azaleas. The neighbors recollect violent arguments between Kent and her parents. Eccentric twin uncles and a gaggle of cousins covet the family fortune. And the lingering spirit of a Civil-War-era debutante may know something if Colleen, Liz’s dead best friend, can get her to talk.

Liz juggles her case, the partner she’s in love with, and the family she adores. But the closer she gets to what has become of Kent, the closer Liz dances to her own grave.

Book Excerpt:


The dead are not generally fretful of mortal affairs. My friend Colleen passed from this world to the next seventeen years ago last June. She can’t be bothered with global warming, the national debt, or those Duck Dynasty folks from Louisiana. She’s careful to stay focused on her mission, namely, protecting Stella Maris, our South Carolina island home, from the evils of high-rise resorts, timeshares, and all such as that. But occasionally, she fixates on what appear to be random concerns, mostly cases I’m working. Colleen minds my business, is what I’m saying.

To be fair, I make my living minding other people’s business. I’m a private investigator, licensed by the state. Roughly half of my casework is pre-trial investigation for criminal defense attorneys. Another quarter involves domestic misunderstandings. The remainder is a mixed bag of human comedy and suffering—everything from conspiracy to kidnap a prize hound for stud services to conspiracy to commit murder. Sometimes it’s difficult to know which I’m dealing with at first, but I pray for the wildly farcical.

That Tuesday in mid-October, I was sitting in an Adirondack chair on my deck savoring my second cup of coffee and the music of waves breaking and racing to shore. The sun was warm on my skin. I’d just finished a read-through of my final report on a case when a ringtone named pinball announced a caller not in my contacts list. I glanced at my iPhone. It was precisely nine o’clock. The number was local. I set my coffee down and picked up the phone.

“Talbot and Andrews Investigations.”

“Miss Talbot?” The man’s tone brought to mind a professor who’d caught me daydreaming in class.

I pulled the phone away from my face and scrutinized the number again. What the hell? “This is Liz Talbot. How can I help you?”

“Colton Heyward here. I’d like to arrange a meeting at your earliest convenience.”

Something heavy and dark settled in my chest. The Heyward family and their missing early-twenties daughter had been all over the news. Kent Heyward had vanished from the streets of Charleston one late summer evening.

I closed my eyes and forced air into my lungs. “Of course. I’ll come whenever you like.”

He gave me his home address on lower Legare Street in Charleston and asked me to be there at ten o’clock the next morning. Had I not been familiar with the family, the address—which was south of Broad Street near where the Ashley River converges with the Cooper to sculpt the end of the Charleston peninsula—would’ve told me I was likely dealing with old money and a family tree including names from history books.

Wednesday morning Colleen woke me at 4:45. She pestered the fire out of me to get an early start, proceeding to inform me of the time every five minutes during my run, shower, and the berry-yogurt-granola parfait that failed to summon my appetite. Kent Heyward’s disappearance weighed heavy on my heart. It haunted the entire lowcountry. I was both eager to help and apprehensive. What could I do that hadn’t been done?

“Are you about ready?” Colleen was working my last nerve.

“What is with you?”

“We can’t be late. I’ll be in the car.”

She rode shotgun on the trip to Charleston. As her sole human Point of Contact, I was the only one who could see her. Across Stella Maris, during the ferry ride to Isle of Palms, and through Mount Pleasant she barely spoke. I knew she was tense. Most days I would’ve quizzed her about it, but I was preoccupied myself. Colleen relaxed considerably once we crossed the Cooper River Bridge and I drove my green hybrid Escape into the Holy City.

Charleston was christened the Holy City forever ago, owing to the number of churches generously scattered across her cityscape and her history of religious tolerance. Her streets buzzed in the soft October air. Deliverymen unloaded their wares with a brisker step now that the oppressive summer heat and humidity had relented. The Carolina blue sky forecasted a pleasant day for all. October is my favorite month in the Lowcountry. The quality of light renders Charleston and her realm through a filtered lens, obscuring flaws and highlighting our best features. That particular morning, my joy in simply driving through the city was muted.

At nine-fifty—ten minutes early—we rolled through the lacy wrought iron gate and down the tree-sheltered brick drive to the Heyward home. Shades of green surrounded us—magnolias, tea olives, gardenias, camellias, ferns, palms—all manner of tree and shrub. We’d been swallowed whole by the Garden of Eden. I turned off the engine. Everything was still except the gurgling fountain in a bed of massive hostas. We stared at the three-story, clay-colored masonry mansion with triple-tiered piazzas.

“It’s magnificent,” I said.

“It was built in eighteen thirty-eight. Can you imagine everything that house has seen?” Colleen’s voice was reverent, her green eyes round, their color intensified by the similarly hued cardigan she wore over today’s dress.

“Do you think there are other ghosts in there?”

She cut me with a look. “You know I’m not a ghost.”

“Mmm-kay. Do you think there are other guardian spirits in the house?”

“No. I know all the locals.” She shrugged. “The place is crawling with ghosts. We may or may not see them this morning.”

The distinction, according to Colleen, was that guardian spirits had passed to the next world and been sent back with work to do. Ghosts were the lingering spirits of the dead who had yet to cross over to the next life. “This should be interesting,” I said. “If you run across any specters, find out where the family skeletons are hidden. That information could come in handy.”

Copyright © 2015 by Susan M. Boyer -- This excerpt is reprinted by permission from Henery Press. All rights reserved.

My Book Review:

In the third book of the Liz Talbot Mystery seriesLowcountry Boneyard, the reader catches up with P.I. Liz Talbot's latest investigative adventures.

Author Susan M. Boyer weaves an entertaining Southern cozy mystery set in Charleston and the lowcountry island town of Stella Maris, South Carolina, that follows the adventures of Liz Talbot and partner Nate Andrews as they investigate the disappearance of twenty-three year old Charleston heiress, Kent Heyward.

Written in the first person narrative, Liz's sassy wit and southern charm keeps the reader engaged as she tries to fill in the pieces of the puzzle of why Kent disappeared, while stumbling upon troubling and deeply buried dark Heyward family secrets that could get her killed! This fun cozy mystery is full of intriguing twists and turns that will keep the reader guessing. It has a paranormal twist in the form of Colleen, Liz's ghostly best friend, who is Stella Maris' resident guardian spirit, who also helps Liz with her investigations. And if that isn't enough to draw you into the story, the reader gets up-to-date on the romance between Liz and her partner Nate.

With a quirky cast of characters whose witty dialogue will keep you stitches, and a fast paced Southern cozy mystery guaranteed to make you want some sweet tea and hushpuppies, Lowcountry Boneyard is an enchanting tale that will leave you wanting more of Liz's adventures!

Lowcountry Boneyard is the third book in the Liz Talbot Mystery series. While the books can be a stand alone read, I would recommend that the series be read in sequential order, as the stories easily flows from one book to next with new mystery adventures for our sassy Southern P.I. Liz Talbot.


Contest Giveaway

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Virtual Book Tour

Tour Schedule:

April 13 - FictionDreams - Excerpt
April 14 - Authors toWatch – Excerpt
April 15 - CarolineFardig – Excerpt
April 15 - Forget the Housework,I’m Reading – Review
April 16 - Novel Escapes – Q&A
April 17 - ABlue Million Books – Q&A
April 20 - Gin’sBook Notes – Review
April 21 - ChristyHerself – Review & Excerpt
April 22 - FictionZeal – Excerpt
April 28 - Chick Lit Plus – Review
May 1 - Samantha March – Excerpt
May 7 - Two Children and a Migraine – Review
May 8 - Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review, Q&A& Excerpt
May 11 - Create With Joy – Review


  1. Thank you so much for sharing! I can't wait for the 4th!

    1. Hi Rowena, thank you for stopping by! I can't wait to read the 4th book too! :)

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you for the opportunity to host the virtual book tour.

  3. Thank you so much for reading, for this fun interview, and for the lovely review!

    1. Hi Susan! I really enjoy reading this entertaining Southern Cozy Mystery series. :)

  4. Enjoyed reading your interview, thank you!

  5. This book touches the worlds of art, wealth, and greed. Mainly though, it touches the tangled web on interrelationships within families when lies are protected instead of being revealed.