Interview and Giveaway with Gretchen Archer, author of Double Dip

Sunday, February 16, 2014
Even though she’s hard at work on the third book in her Davis Way Crime Capers mystery series, Double Strike, and promoting her second book Double Dip author Gretchen Archer found a few moments to give us some advice about writing a series. When she isn’t writing, Gretchen is a Tennessee housewife who lives on Lookout Mountain with her husband, son and a Yorkie named Bentley.

Double Dip

Series: A Davis Way Crime Caper
Paperback: 260 pages
Publisher: Henery Press; 1 edition (January 28, 2014
ISBN-10: 193838394X
ISBN-13: 978-1938383946


It’s Davis Way’s first slot-tournament season. And it may be her last.

Things are dicey at work. A personal assistant goes missing, a little old lady goes on a suspicious winning streak, and a Bellissimo executive goes gaga for Davis. She follows a disappearing slot-tournament player trail to the So Help Me God Pentecostal Church in Beehive, Alabama, then jumps headlong into a high stakes holy scandal.

She’s on a losing streak at home, too. Her days, nights, and dinners run together, as Davis juggles a revolving door of uninvited guests, namely her rotten ex-ex-husband, Eddie Crawford. And Bradley Cole thinks three’s a crowd.

The worst? Davis doesn’t feel so hot. Maybe it’s the banana pudding, or maybe it’s a little bundle of something else.

Where to Find Gretchen:



-----by Jodi Webb

WOW: You've just released Double Dip, the second book in your Davis Way Crime Caper series, and are planning on a third book by the end of the year. Is it safe to say that this was conceived as a series or did you decide to turn it into one after the success of your first book Double Whammy?

Gretchen: The Davis Way Crime Capers were always meant to be a series. I’d turned in book two (Double Dip) before book one (Double Whammy) was released, then dove straight into three (Double Strike).

WOW: If a writer is planning (and hoping) that their book will eventually become a series, what do you think is one of the most important things to do when writing that first book to make expansion to a series a success?

Gretchen: Give your character somewhere to go. I started with Davis stepping off the bus—moving from a small town to the big city, an unfamiliar work environment, in a new relationship. I gave myself room for Davis to grow in every area of her life—personal, professional, private.

WOW: It's rare to read a mystery book these days that isn't part of a series. What is it about mystery books that makes them a natural for a series?

Gretchen: As story arcs go, fiction generally follows a path: we meet the characters (Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy), there’s rising action (they hate each other), there’s a climax (actually, he loves her), there’s waning action (she loves him too, and we knew she did), then a conclusion (happily ever after). Mysteries lend themselves to series because elements two, three, and four change every time, where Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy can only meet and fall in love once. In a series the core characters become our friends, and we keep reading to see what happens to our friend next.

WOW: We all love revisiting characters as they jump into more adventures. But most of us will never be involved in one murder, not to mention dozens like some series characters. Do you plan to mix up Davis Way's adventures so she isn't always stumbling over dead bodies? Perhaps kidnapping or maybe an Ocean’s 11 heist of the casino's winnings?

Gretchen: Ah, the suspension of disbelief. Read on for all my secrets—right here, right now. I always want Davis to do more than stumble over dead bodies. My series will always feature a casino heist, with a dead body thrown in for flavor. In addition, Davis has been in jail and poisoned, so I write her diving headlong into the thick of it, not just a lucky or brilliant problem solver. Actually, Davis is neither lucky nor brilliant. A theme I’d like to tackle is a Bellissimo Casino Ocean’s 11-style heist during a hurricane. I’m in the middle of writing a kidnapping at this very minute, but you’ll have to read DOUBLE STRIKE to find out who and why.

WOW: As the writer of a series how will you keep it fresh, so readers never feel like they're reading the same book?

Gretchen: I hope Davis’s personal life and the ever-changing gambling world will keep readers coming back.

WOW: The main character in your Davis Way Crime Caper series is on the security team of a casino. So tell, was this a case of "write what you know"? Are you a gambler who knows all the ins and out of casinos? If not, what made you choose a casino as your series' "hook" and tell us about the research you did to get all the details correct.

Gretchen: I’ll attempt the short answer. Start the music if I go too long.

I’d never set foot in a casino until my husband took me to one for my fortieth birthday. I spent my birthday entertaining four teenagers and a baby in a stroller while he played blackjack. Happy 40th. To keep me from jumping off the roof, my husband handed me $200. He said, “Go to the casino. Have fun.” I won $8,000. By the end of the trip, I’d won $40,000. All on slot machines. Beginner’s luck? I don’t know. The crowd, their devotion, their tirelessness, their recklessness (with money), amazed me.

I did a little research. Every single American lives within a three-hour drive of a land-based casino. Total consumer spending at commercial casinos in 2012 was $37.34 billion. (American Gaming Association.) That’s a huge market to write to. Huge.

I’m no industry insider by any stretch of the imagination, which is why I needed Davis to be a novice gambler at the start of the series. We’ve learned together. I read a lot, go to casinos at least three or four times a year, and I have a great wingman, Deke Castleman, who lives and writes in Vegas, and who’s always available for questions like, “When do they empty the money out of the slot machines?” and “Where is the vault and who has access to it?” It helps that the Bellissimo Resort and Casino is fictional, allowing me to take terrible casino liberties.

WOW: On The Muffin we've often debated being a "pantser" writer vs a "planner" writer. How possible is it as a mystery writer to be a "pantser" and just follow wherever your characters lead? Doesn't there have to be some sort of plan? Do you start a book knowing exactly how it's going to go, who will be the criminal, who will be the red herring, the clues or can you just let it unfold?

Gretchen: I start with two well-planned elements: what will happen in Davis’s personal life and the casino scam to be featured. I guess that makes me a “planster”. I have a plan, but the plan could fit on a dinner napkin. I know writers who talk about their characters surprising them at every turn, and when I’ve written “pantser”, without fail, I’ve junked it. I know writers whose pre-manuscript notes run in the tens of thousands of words, but that isn’t me either. I suppose I’m on the fence, such a very uncomfortable position. As the Davis Way series grows, more and more I’m asked to provide thumbnails for future work, and I’ve been forced to be more efficient with my time, so more and more, I’m a “planner” writer.

WOW: How did you get started writing? What made you settle on mystery writing as your genre?

Gretchen: I still have my Nancy Drew collection from childhood. I’ve always loved mysteries, and mystery series specifically. Oddly enough, though, I wrote four stand-alone commercial fiction manuscripts before I started the Davis Way series. It wasn’t until I realized I might be writing what I knew, but not what I loved, that I was finally published.

Note to Gretchen's followers: Seems Gretchen's fans are eager to follow WOW on Facebook. You can find our Facebook page here.


Thanks to Gretchen, one luck reader will win a copy of the first two books in the Davis Way Crime Caper series: Double Whammy and Double Dip. Just enter the Rafflecopter form below to be entered in the drawing.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

Jodi Webb is still toiling away at her writing in between a full-time job, a full-time family and work as a blog tour manager for WOW-Women on Writing. Right now she's looking for blogs to promote Theresa Walsh's novel The Moon Sisters and Sue William Silverman's memoir The Pat Boone Fan Club. You can contact her at For Jodi's take on reading and writing (no 'rithmetic please!) stop by her blog Words by Webb.


Margo Dill said...

I can't wait for this contest to start! :) Thanks for the tips on the mystery series ideas, and my mom would love reading these!!!

Sioux Roslawski said...

First, to Jodi--thanks for posting the interview.

Gretchen--I am probably a "planster" too, but right now I'm a grouter--I'm squirting grout into places so all the pieces of my story get (and stay) connected.

Congratulations on your newest book.

Amber Polo said...

I'll go to a casino with you anytime.

Renee Roberson said...

What a great interview, ladies! Thanks for all these great tips in writing a mystery series, Gretchen. I love reading mysteries but have always been too afraid to write one myself:) I was never really into Nancy Drew as a kid--but I did read all of the Trixie Belden books because my grandmother gifted me with a secondhand set of the entire collection. I wish I still had those!

Gretchen Archer said...

Margo, does your mom like playing slot machines? She just might like Double Whammy and Double Dip!

Sioux, a Grouter! Exactly what I am right now! I'm through the first draft of Double Strike, and, a familiar drill, going back through, filling in the cracks. Now I know. I'm a grouter.

Amber, I can be ready in thirty minutes. Let's go.

Renee, I've been a book collector since Nancy Drew. I have a signed first-edition John Steinbeck, my pride and joy. When eReaders hit the market, it scared me to death- what about my library??? I can't put a Kindle or a Nook on the shelf!

Thanks, Jodi, for having me. WOW!

Tiffany Yates Martin said...

Loved the casino story, loved the advice on series, and LOVED "planster"--I think that's me too. :-)

Angela Mackintosh said...

What an amazing story about your first gambling experience, Gretchen! I lived in Vegas for a year and never heard of beginner's luck being that good! I want to go gambling with you, too. :)

Your series sounds right up my alley and I'm looking forward to reading it! Thanks for the fantastic interview!

Marji from Penguin said...

Gretchen, you are truly hilarious. My husband and I have taken turns reading Double Whammy out loud to each other every morning so far this week, in bed, over our first cups of coffee. It's been a laugh out loud extravaganza! The frilly girl bits (shoes, clothes, cute guys) are the perfect foil to the stuff my husband loves: the clever sleuthing and fascinating IT stuff. We both love how you blend clever repartee with moments of real pathos. Nice work--we will keep moving through the rest of the series! Lovely, PG way to spice up the matrimonial bed experience!

Cresta McGowan said...

Love to read a good mystery series! Looking forward to it! Great review here :-)

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