Kathleen (aka Kathy) Valenti here, and I’m pleased as punch to welcome Victoria Gilbert to the roost today. Victoria is the author of the Blue Ridge Library Mystery Series and the Book Lover’s B&B Series, the first book of which releases in a few short days (August 11th, to be exact). To celebrate, Victoria is giving away a hardcover copy of the series’ debut, BOOKED FOR DEATH, to one lucky commenter. (U.S. residents only, please.)
In the meantime, Victoria shares her experiences with chicks (one of our favorite topics). along with some amazing photos of her grandparents, George and Ellen King. Take it away, Victoria!
UPDATE: Hestia Athena has won the giveaway! Congrats, Hestia!!
Since I admire all the authors associated with the Chicks on the Case! blog, I’m honored to have the opportunity post as a guest. It’s certainly great to have a chance talk to all the readers who follow this blog.
Just for fun, I thought I’d tie my post to the name of the blog. The truth is, the word “chicks” always reminds me of my childhood, growing up “across the field” from my grandparents’ small family farm. Although I’ve lived many other places in my life, including New York City, my early life has definitely influenced my writing. Perhaps it’s one reason I ended up writing cozy mysteries. My decades of experience living in small towns and rural areas definitely fits with the genre.
But, back to the chicks! I have several warm and amusing memories related to chickens. My grandmother had a large flock, so there were often adorable baby chicks scampering around on the farm. Sometimes my older brother and I tried to play with them, much to the dismay of the hens. They’d let us know, in no uncertain terms, that we’d better skedaddle on out of the poultry yard. (If you’ve ever dealt with an angry chicken flying at you, wings flapping, ready to peck your eyes out, you know we ran pretty fast!)
Another story from my childhood demonstrates how much my grandmother loved animals. Although she could handle the more difficult farm chores, like processing animals for food, she had a soft spot for all creatures. It seems that everyone in the area knew this, because strangers would often abandon unwanted kittens, bunnies, and other pets on her front porch, knowing she’d take them in. (And she did). One time someone dropped off two baby chicks who’d been dyed pink and blue—obviously Easter “gifts” that some child had grown tired of. My grandmother raised the chicks, and one became so attached to her that it would perch on her shoulder when she walked around the farm. Of course, the colors disappeared as soon as the chicks got their adult, white, feathers, but that one chick never forgot the person who’d saved her!
I also remember the deft way my grandmother could wield a wooden walking stick to remove recalcitrant hens from their nests. A Jedi master had nothing on her! She’d poke the stick under the hens—without harming them, of course— and toss them up in the air just long enough to grab the unbroken eggs. I can still see those hens wildly flapping their wings while they squawked in protest.
One more memory from that time involves my grandparents reading. They were farmers, neither of whom could afford to attend college, but they were also smart and well-read. They kept many books in their house, some of which I still own today.
This is one reason why you’ll never see me depict people as uneducated or unintelligent just because they live in rural areas or small towns. There was a great appreciation for education and culture in the area where I grew up, and while many of the residents may not have had university degrees, they possessed a great deal of other learning and skills. This is something I feel strongly about, so whether it is the Blue Ridge Mountains in my Blue Ridge Library Mystery series, or the small coastal town of Beaufort, North Carolina, in my Book Lover’s B&B series, I try to depict all the residents with respect. I hope that’s something readers appreciate.
Have you had any chick or farm-related experiences? Please share for a chance to win a hardcover copy of BOOKED TO DEATH!
About Victoria Gilbert
Raised in a historic small town near the Blue Ridge Mountains, Victoria Gilbert turned her early obsession with books into a dual career as an author and librarian. Victoria writes the Blue Ridge Library Mystery series and the Book Lover’s B&B series for Crooked Lane Books. A member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, Victoria is represented by Frances Black at Literary Counsel. She lives near Winston-Salem, NC with her husband, son, and some very spoiled cats.
Check out Victoria’s website for more information on her books and links to all her social media accounts: http://victoriagilbertmysteries.com/
You can find buy links for all of Victoria’s currently published books here (and order via indie bookstores!): https://bookshop.org/books?keywords=Victoria+Gilbert