We’re excited to have funny and talented author pal Shari Randall back for a visit today as our Guest Chick! Drawn and Buttered, the third entry in her delightful Lobster Shack Mystery series, will be released February 26! And the Chicks would like to extend our congratulations to Shari on her Agatha nomination! Her debut, Curses, Boiled Again, is on the ballot for Best First Novel, which will be awarded at Malice Domestic!
Happy Galentine’s Day! Thank you for having me back – it’s always fun to visit here.
My third book, Drawn and Buttered, is coming out soon and I’ve been busy doing interviews. One interviewer asked an intriguing question. “What in your childhood do you believe contributed to your becoming a writer?”
One name came to mind instantly.
I had a fairly typical childhood. After school – I’m a Catholic school survivor – I’d race home, take off my itchy wool uniform skirt, put on play clothes and run outside to play with my friends. We rode bikes and jumped rope, but especially on rainy days, my friends and I played a lot of Barbie.
Was there any better training for writing than playing Barbie? It was fun to dress up Barbie, but once she was dressed, she had to do something, say something, and go on an adventure. She needed a plot, dialogue, and a setting.
When I look back, I see myself creating scenes with my Barbies – an early but effective form of plotting. I even used to draw maps of my Barbie characters’ towns, sketching in their homes, shops, and schools, something I still do with my books.
I was not lucky enough to have a Barbie Dream House, but I had the Barbie Family House, a neon pink and orange vinyl cube that opened into three mod rooms. I could stuff my dolls, their clothes and furniture inside and take it to my friends’ houses where we’d form a Barbie Village with our Barbie houses. Within the walls of that neon pink and orange cube, a lot of drama happened.
Here’s a typical plot: Skipper annoys Midge and Barbie by tagging along. Barbie and Midge get G I Joe to kidnap Skipper and, using a parachute improvised by one of dad’s handkerchiefs and some yarn, toss her over the back fence into Donna Bennett’s yard.
Barbie’s mean mom (played in a cameo by Midge) won’t let her have a puppy. Skipper distracts mom by doing a hula dance (yes, Skipper had a hula skirt) and Barbie sneaks a puppy into the bedroom inside a picnic basket. Midge goes on a date with GI Joe. Barbie and the puppy live happily ever after.
As you can see, not only was playing Barbies great training for writing, it was cheap therapy.
About the book:
With high season behind them, ballerina on-the-mend Allie Larkin and Aunt Gully are finally lying low. But then an unexpected guest arrives at the lobster shack: a crustacean so huge he’s dubbed Lobzilla around Mystic Bay and on social media. Soon, with everyone showing up for a peek in their tank, Allie and Aunt Gully have more on their plate than they can handle.
Meanwhile, another local establishment finds itself in hot water. In exclusive Rabb’s Point, a strange burglary breaches the elegant home of Royal Parrish. Allie takes it upon herself to help with the investigation but, before she can get to the bottom of the case, another alarm sounds: the Lazy Mermaid’s Lobzilla has gone missing and is on the loose! And bodies are beginning to pile up. . .
About the author:
A native New Englander, Shari loves hanging out with the gang at the Lazy Mermaid Lobster Shack in fictional Mystic Bay, Connecticut, where the lobster rolls are delicious, the company’s good, and murder’s always on the menu. When she’s not committing murder (on the page, of course), Shari enjoys walking the beach near her house, traveling, reading, visiting her globe-trotting children, and dancing. Learn more about Shari and her books on her website.
Readers, which toys, games from your childhood led you to make up stories in your mind? And who was your favorite Barbie sidekick: Skipper, Midge — or Ken? Share in comments.