Guest Chick: Shari Randall

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:

The Lazy Mermaid’s business has slowed to a snail’s pace—until a monster lobster claws his way onto the scene…

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.

34 thoughts on “Guest Chick: Shari Randall

  1. I’m looking forward to Drawn and Quartered…love this series. I have to agree that playing Barbies created the most stories, although sometimes my friends and I would play Man From UNCLE…not a toy but a tv show that some of you of a certain age may remember. To go along with my Barbie, I had Scooter (Skipper’s friend). My sister had Skipper to go along with her Barbie.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Christi! Man From UNCLE is an all-time fave from my childhood! A few years ago, hubs gave me the entire series on DVD. It came in a nerdy little cardboard briefcase, which I adore. So, Ilya Kuryakin or Napoleon Solo? (I’m Team Ilya, all the way!)

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Hi Christi and Vickie – I loved the Man from UNCLE! I used to play a lot of The Avengers, too. I wanted to be Emma Peel when I grew up – still working on that.
      And oh yes – TEAM ILYA!

      Liked by 2 people

    3. Team Napoleon, for sure! I had a model of him that I made (you know, like the model cars kids would glue together and then paint?) climbing over a wall with a Beretta or some such pistol in his hand. Did you know that after The Man from U.N.C.L.E. finished, Robert Vaughn went back to school to get his masters in political science from UCLA and wrote his thesis on the McCarthy hearings? Cool dude.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Such a fun post, Shari — thanks for hanging out with the Chicks today! My sister had the Malibu Beach House, but not the tanned Malibu Barbie. Our Barbie was pale. Apparently, she spent a lot more time in the house than on the beach, LOL! (BTW, I may have coveted that doll house, just a little.) 🙂 Congrats again on your Agatha nom!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, Vickie, and thanks for having me back. Do you still have any of those Barbies or houses? My Barbies were all pale, too – Malibu Barbie was a dream.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Welcome to the Chicks, today, Shari, and congrats on your Agatha nomination!

    Never had a Barbie (I hated dolls as a kid and once cried on Christmas when my grandmother gave me one). But I did adore those plastic Breyer horses, and I still have the entire stable I collected of them. We’d make up stories, too, about the lead stallion saving the herd from the evil humans who wanted to capture them and make them wear saddles. And as we got older, we’d cover them with blankets, then slip one of the colts or fillies underneath and giggle about them “making whoopie,” and then take the cover off to unveil the babies they’d made. (Maybe I really should be writing romance…)

    Liked by 3 people

  4. So this is where your love for mod came from. As for me, I had one Barbie. She tanned and you could twist the top of her head around so she could be blonde or brunette. My best friend in fourth grade had a ton of Barbies. But I don’t remember what we did with them other than changing their outfits.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. What a great post, Shari! Man, this brings me back!! I was also a Barbie fan, My prized possessions were my Barbie Townhouse, complete with elevator (a big deal since our town only had one actual elevator), and a giant Barbie head, which I eventually ruined with scissors and markers. (sigh)

    I love all of your Barbie plots! Right now I’m imagining an unexpected run-in with the Sunshine Family at the Barbie Village piazza. The mind whirls with possibilities!

    Congrats on the new book (can’t WAIT) and on the Agatha nom!!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Thank you for visiting! Love this post.

    YES to Barbie and Skipper and Dawn and the others whose names I can’t remember. And like Kathy, I also had a giant Barbie head too and also ruined it with makeup…I mean permanent markers…and took scissors to her hair. (Seriously, I wonder if anyone who had that didn’t do that!?! LOL)

    Congrats on your Agatha nom and newest book, Shari–so excited to read!

    Liked by 4 people

  7. I too loved Barbie. My Barbie was so busy with her modeling career, living the high life in her dream house, driving in her sports car and hanging out with her best friend, Midge. She rarely had time for Ken–he spent most of his time at the hospital (he was a doctor Ken). I wonder if that’s why the main character of my Beth Getty mystery series is a fashion model?

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Shari!! I wanna play Barbies with you!

    I don’t remember doing anything other than dressing and making clothes for them. But when my boys were little, they had all kinds of “Star Wars guys” they’d play with. They’d weave very intricate stories that I don’t think had anything to do with the movie plots!

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Gosh you and I had a lot of the same childhood in our Catholic School Uniforms we ditched as soon as possible and went out to play. I also had a Barbie and that exact outfit…it looked like my Mom’s evening dress…my Dad (Santa) bought me mine and all the outfits for Christmas along with her trunk and house. Wasn’t it fun…

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Great post! I had that Barbie dress. I also had the wedding Barbie. My older sister gave it to me when I was five or so. I don’t remember writing scenarios for them. Making up stories came to me late in life. I learned it from my third ex-husband. Ha!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Sadly, I was only allowed to have a less-sexy Tammy doll and her younger sister Pepper. (Is that pathetic or what?) They got to interact with the characters (Mom, Dad, and a dog, I think) on the little booklet that came with them. Tammy did a lot of cheerleading and she wore her prom dress (60s version, red velvet top with some kind of gold brocade skirt) pretty much all the time. If only she (and I) could have had an exciting life with GI Joe and parachuting into other people’s yards…I did have trolls and a troll house, though. Apparently they were much less threatening. Congrats on your new book and nom, Shari, woohoo!!!


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