Guest Chick: Annette Dashofy

We are thrilled to welcome USA Today-bestselling author Annette Dashofy. Annette’s popular Zoe Chambers mysteries have been nominated for multiple Agatha awards. The latest in the series, Fair Game, is out this week!

That Cover

Ever since I revealed the cover for Fair Game, I’ve been hearing a lot of comments, from those who love the colors (so do I!) to those who think a wrecked school bus is sad and tragic.

No no no!

I keep forgetting that most of the world has no idea that school bus demolition derby exists. The bus on the book cover did not win.

Let me go back to the genesis of the idea for this book. I drive past our county fairgrounds at least once a month. Sometimes once a week. A couple years ago, my brain was working on ideas for a new story the way some computer applications work in the background, sludging up the program you’re trying to hurry through. I noticed the fairgrounds, and my brain screamed, “That’s it!” I pulled over at the main gate, currently deserted because it was January, and stared at the grounds, picturing summertime and rides and horse shows. It’s a world I grew up in. But where could I place a dead body? As soon as I asked the question, I knew.

At the school bus demo derby!

Every year at the fair, one night is dedicated to the county’s high schools. There are cheerleading demonstrations and the Battle of the Bands. And then comes the event with possibly the biggest draw of the week.

The old, out-of-service buses have been stripped down and parked at the fairgrounds earlier in the week. Students from each of the area school districts paint their bus according to a theme selected by last year’s winner. Of course, messages of team pride sneak in there too. Then, once the judging of the bands has been completed, the buses hit the racetrack’s infield for the demolition derby.

It’s a lot like any other demo derby. Just louder. And slower. But not much.

Think bumper cars. Only buses.

When I mentioned the idea to some old friends from my horse show days, their reaction was enthusiastic.

Which brings me back to the cover. I’d taken photos of the post-derby buses at last year’s fair for my cover artist to use as a guideline and was thrilled with the finished product. So I was surprised when some folks saw it and thought it represented a traffic accident involving children.

No no no!

I mean this is a murder mystery and there is a dead body. But trust me—no children were injured in this school bus.


Annette Dashofy is the USA Today best-selling author of the Zoe Chambers mystery series about a paramedic and deputy coroner in rural Pennsylvania’s tight-knit Vance Township. A lifelong resident of Washington County (PA), Annette has garnered four Agatha Award nominations including Best Contemporary Novel of 2018 for CRY WOLF. She’s a member of International Thriller Writers, the Pittsburgh Chapter of Sisters in Crime, and is on the board of directors of Pennwriters. FAIR GAME (May 2019) is the eighth in her series. For more information, please visit






25 thoughts on “Guest Chick: Annette Dashofy

  1. The county fair when I was growing up did not feature school bus demolition derby, but I can imagine it was a hoot to watch.

    I finished the (second) reading of FAIR GAME last night. Excellent!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. We have a regular demolition derby at the Santa Cruz County Fair every year and it’s a hoot to watch–though I can’t believe the amount of smoke and dust it generates. The new book looks terrific, and congrats on your Agatha nomination for CRY WOLF! Thanks so much for visiting the Chicks today!.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, Leslie! The nomination was awesome! And I adore the gal who won my category this year. 🙂

      It’s my pleasure to be here! I hope you’ll let me drop in again sometime!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Congrats on your new release, Annette! I really enjoy this series and look forward to reading Fair Game (after I get out of book jail with my own manuscript in a couple weeks)! Thanks for hanging out today with the Chicks!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Congrats on your new release and thanks so much for visiting!! I’m a huge fan and have been looking forward to this release. ❤

    I have a special interest in the bus demolition derby angle as one of my clients is a school bus manufacturer! I plan to recommend this to them–along with everyone else I know. 🙂

    Congrats again–and love the cover!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much for having me here, Kathy! You’re so sweet. Not sure school bus manufacturers are fans of this particular kind of demo derby, but who knows???

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Ha ha! Good point!! I actually think my client would love bus demo derbies. They take part in a bus “road-eo” every year and seem to love events. Plus, participants would need new buses post-derby!

        Fab concept and sounds like a great read!

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Congrats on the new book, Annette! I’ve never seen a school bus demolition derby, but it sounds interesting. And I don’t remember thinking “school bus accident” when I first saw your cover, but that could be because I’d already seen some of your posts about the demolition derby. I can see how people without any background knowledge could get that impression though. Hopefully it won’t stop them from reading what I’m sure is a fantastic book!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Wow, this sounds like another great addition to a series I already love. Congratulations! Nope, never heard of a school bus demo derby. But I love how the story is so unique and specific to your setting. Brava, brava!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks, Mark. I confess I love the cover too. Back when I was writing for Pennsylvania Magazine, they had me cover the school bus demolition derby. Most fun I ever had on a nonfiction gig!

      Liked by 2 people

  7. What a fascinating background! I have not been to a school bus derby but I have been to Monster Jam (when my boys were young), and it was quite the spectacle. 🙂 Thank you for visiting us today. Love love love your books!

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Gosh, a school bus demo derby sounds like so much fun. Bet the kids especially enjoy it, though it must be a little sad to watch their beautiful “art” crumple. Don’t know if we have such an event up here in NH, but I’ve definitely seen the “regular” ones. They sure kick up a ton of dirt, mud, and fumes. And what a fun cover for a fun series, Annette! Thanks for visiting us–please come back soon.


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