Please welcome Mary Cunningham to Discover... Muse Monday. Aren't we glad she never gave up?
Andi Anna Jones, mediocre travel agent, with an inferiority complex about her job, her looks, and her single status, discovers her “inner sleuth” in Andi Anna Jones Mysteries.
Amazing I ever continued writing.
My third grade teacher must’ve seen something in my ability to put words together because the last day of school she said, “Mary, whatever you do, keep writing.” My high school freshman English teacher said, pretty much the same thing. And, I took their advice! Around age 50 I wrote my first book. Okay, so I’m a procrastinator. However, I’m still writing books, twenty-five years later.
Keeping with another piece of advice, to “write what you know’, the main character, Andi Anna Jones, is loosely based on a horrifying stint I had in North Miami Beach as a travel agent. I was truly awful and would duck behind my computer whenever a customer came through the door. (Yes, I really did that!)
Fortunately, I had a fantastic co-worker who pitched in when I got in a jam. Ellen recognized my fear from the first day, and graciously helped when I got stuck. So, if you haven’t guessed already, the protagonist in my series is based on my unpleasant experiences. Her sidekick, Ellie, is, of course, Ellen in the series, one of the best travel agents this side of the Mississippi.
Struggles aside, I made it through one whole year before we made the decision to move from the east coast of Florida to the west. I’m not sure who celebrated more when I walked out that agency door for the last time; me or that saint of a travel agency owner, Patty.
Writing the series about Andi, her competent assistant, Ellie, and the rest of the quirky cast, helped exorcise the experience from my memory by giving Andi a positive outlet for her curiosity and love of a good mystery. I’ve also shared many laughs along the way as Andi stumbles and crashes her way through danger, intrigue, romance, frustration, and closure.
So, dear reader, please be kind when you judge Andi’s incompetence and lack of confidence. She’s doing her best, as am I.
In an ironic turn of events, I taught travel and tourism in Fort Myers, Florida. Loved the job and was good at it! Go figure.
It’s gonna be a great day! Or, so she
Andi Anna Jones, so-so travel agent, amateur sleuth, doesn’t suspect her least favorite client, Stewart (The Pain) Payne, will set off circumstances that lead to disappearance and death.
After his wife is a no-show for a convention in New Orleans, his threat to sue Graves Travel for “ten times more than it’s worth”, and Andi’s wish to honor one of her late dad's requests, leads her to The Big Easy in search of Grace Payne.
Five unsolved murders, a body caught in a crawfish cage, and a mysterious candle, magic, and incense shop, takes Andi deep into the bayou on a hunt for clues.
Will another victim be added to a serial killer’s list, or is the main suspect closer to Andi than she thinks?
Somewhere in the Bayou Luther woke up raring to go for a change. Wasn’t sure why, ’cause he hated, hated the job! It was nasty. He stunk to high heaven by mid-morning. Hells Bells! Sweat had already collected on strands of hair stuck to his grimy forehead. He adjusted the straps of his faded bibs so they fit snug to his shoulders. Couldn’t have a strap fall down and pin his arm at the wrong time. More than once, he’d lost his catch cause of a careless slip.
He reckoned the only thing that got him up and moving, so all-fired early, was because today was Friday, and he figured on adding enough money to finally take Marlene out for a real dinner and some Zydeco music and dancing afterwards. And, no, those nasty mini lobsters he depended on for his livelihood wouldn’t be on their plates—leastways, not his!
His toes squirmed in those hot rubber boots, but the alternative meant sloshing around barefoot through the rice fields bordering the briny water. He’d sooner have hot feet than grimy ones. “Lawdy, Luther, you’re all fish-smellin’,” his going-on-four-years gal complained on more than one occasion. “Don’t you even think ’bout walkin’ ’cross my clean floor ’til you wash those feet!” The boots he could just kick off outside and hose down, so he put up with the discomfort. He carried an extra trap on this trip in case the one he’d left the night before was full. Wishful thinkin’ probly.
The fresh dry dog food he used for bait, he’d had to sneak out of Molly’s bag when she wasn’t looking, or she’d snap at him for stealing her dinner. Smart dog, that one. Ornery as an old mule, though. The darkening sky spit rain by the time he got to the lake, but the clouds didn’t look angry; just mischievous enough to make the morning miserable and the swamp bank, slippery. He’d have to be careful he didn’t end up in the water with the critters.
Locating the trap line, he carefully tied it to a cypress tree, and pulled…and pulled. Something flashed in the sunlight, just below the surface of the water. “Son of a biscuit eater! Must be snagged on a branch.” Or maybe he’d caught the mother of all crawfish! Sure, Luther. Dream on. He moved sideways toward a large log, anchored his foot for leverage, and pulled again. The trap loosened and moved through the water, but something still dragged it down. “Dadgummit!”
He secured the rope and pulled off his boots. No choice but to wade in to see what was holding his “bounty” hostage. His toes squished in soggy mud about four feet offshore. Hoped he didn’t step on a sharp rock, or worse. Three months back, Luther’d almost lost a toe to an irritable snapping turtle. One vicious pull and the trap sprang free. A mass of Spanish moss came with it. “Now what? This ain’t my day.” Luther would never be mistaken for a NASA engineer, but his ability to process the scene was slow, even for him. “Dammitall, dat ain’t moss. Wuz a wig doin’ in da lake?” People had no sense of decency when it came to littering. What next? A voodoo mask and top hat? Grabbing the cage with his fingers, he gave one last tug and yelped with the same intensity as Molly that time she ran under a storage shed and met the business end of a skunk. The sight before him, bobbing with the current, sent him reeling backwards into the murky water.
Author, Mary Cunningham, grew up on the northern side of the Ohio River in Corydon, Indiana. Her first memories are of her dad's original bedtime stories that no doubt inspired her imagination and love of a well-spun "yarn."
Through the author's horrifying stint as a travel agent, Andi Anna Jones sprang to life. The adult/mystery series gives extra meaning to the phrase, "Write what you know." Cunningham has several books published, including Cynthia's Attic series, a five-book middle-grade fantasy, and women’s lifestyle/humor book, WOOF: Women Only Over Fifty.
She is a member of National Sisters In Crime, Sisters In Crime, Atlanta Chapter, International Thriller Writers, Inc., and the Carrollton Writers Guild.
When she gives her fingers a break from the keyboard, she enjoys golf, swimming, and exploring the mountains of West Georgia where she makes her home with her husband and adopted, four-legged, furry son, Murphy.
Find Mary Cunningham on Social Media:
Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/marycunninghambooks/
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B002BLNEK4
Universal Buy Link: Sazerac, Sleuth & Slay: https://books2read.com/u/mezYvg