Interview: Winter Holiday Fireside Moments with Witch City Mystery Writer Carol J. Perry

Carol Perry, Gulfport

Carol Perry, Gulfport

Carol J. Perry knew as a child that she wanted to be a writer. A voracious reader, whose list for Santa consisted mostly of book titles, she never lost sight of that goal. While living in Florida, Carol was on assignment for Southern Travel Magazine, preparing an article on the world’s largest sand castle which was being built near her home. That combination of events inspired her first young adult novel, Sand Castle Summer. That book was soon followed by half a dozen more.

Carol has always been an avid reader of mysteries. Her debut mystery novel is set in Salem and involves O’Ryan, a most mysterious cat, several witches and some strange Halloween happenings. Appropriately enough, this Salem-born author celebrates her birthday on Halloween Eve! Carol and her husband Dan live in the Tampa Bay area of Florida with two cats and a Black Lab.

It’s that time of year when the chill in the frosty air brings us indoors to hunker down with thick comforters and mugs of steaming hot chocolate overflowing with fluffy marshmallows. When holiday music and movies become the soundtrack to our everyday home lives. When we gather ‘round the fire for company, drink, food and love. When we are celebrating and remembering those we treasure and hold near and dear. When the real meaning of the season is family – by our DNA or by our heart. When we reflect and give thanks for all we have. In a nutshell, unconditional love.

I’d like to welcome Carol J Perry to share the beauty of the season with us.Caught Dead Handed Mech.indd

Favorite Holiday tradition?

A favorite holiday tradition at our house is setting up the Christmas Village. Some of the little figures in the scene were the same ones I helped to arrange when I was a little girl! Now my grandkids get to determine where to put the (mirror) ice skating pond, the (white flannel) snow covered ski slopes, the houses and shops and churches—some new, some very old.

Favorite childhood toy?

My favorite toys through the childhood years were a series of teddy bears. All named “Boffin.”

Favorite childhood game?

I had a great range of childhood games to choose from. My daddy worked at the Parker Brothers game factory in Salem! I think my favorites were “Flinch,” and “Sorry.” I was very good at both!

Snow ball fight or making snow families?

I live in Florida now so I don’t have to choose between snow ball fights or snow families. Can I make sand angels on the beach?

Sleigh rides, sledding or skiing?

Sleigh rides are wonderful. We do hayrides here down paths full of Christmas lights.

Favorite holiday song?

There are so many wonderful holiday songs aren’t there? Right now, Winter Wonderland is stuck in my head, so I’ll choose that one, subject to change without notice.

Favorite holiday movie?

Favorite holiday movie is an oldie. The Bishop’s Wife. Cary Grant and Loretta Young. Oh, that ice skating scene!

Favorite holiday story to read?

The best holiday story ever is The Gift of the Magi.

Snow on holiday eve, day or just a chill in the air?

On Christmas Eve a slight chill in the air is just fine for me!

Most memorable holiday memory?

I’ve been blessed with many wonderful holiday memories. One of the best was a nighttime boat ride with my husband Dan on a cool, starry night, with carols playing full blast on the radio as we rode up and down the waterways.

Did you eat popcorn balls as a kid? If you did, do you still?

Don’t really love popcorn balls!

Real tree or artificial? Green or white?

We have a real tree.

What do you holiday eve?

We usually have a fire in the outdoor fireplace, play some music, and maybe sip some wine. If there are grandkids around there’ll probably be s’mores!Tails You Lose Mech.indd

What are your holiday plans this year?

Our holiday plans are pretty simple. Dan prepares and cooks the turkey on the Weber grill. I do veggies and maybe a pie or two. Kids and grandkids come over for present exchanging and food grazing. A wonderful low key, full of family day.

What’s the one holiday dish your family can’t go without?

I don’t know about everybody else, but I look forward to granddaughter-in-law Amanda’s mashed potatoes!

Please share a Holiday recipe.

I’m sharing my recipe for chocolate fruitcake. Even people who hate fruitcake will like this one!
Chocolate Fruit Cake

2 ½ cups unsifted flour

1 tsp. baking soda

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 28-ounce jar of ready-to-use mincemeat (plain or brandied)

1 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)

2 cups (1 pound) mixed candied fruit

1 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans if you prefer)

3 one-ounce squares of unsweetened chocolate,, melted

Chocolate glaze (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Generously grease and flour 10-inch Bundt or tube pan. Combine flour and baking soda; set aside. In large bowl combine remaining ingredients. Blend in dry ingredients. Turn into prepared pan. Bake one hour and fifteen to 30 minutes or until wooden pick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes. Remove from pan. Spoon chocolate glaze over cake.

Chocolate Glaze

In small saucepan melt three 1-ounce squares of semi-sweet chocolate and two tbsp. margarine or butter. Makes about 1/3 cup.

Holiday party tip?

If it’s one of those parties where everybody stands around a lot, wear comfortable shoes.

Favorite holiday decoration?

Favorite holiday decorations are the old ones, which bring happy memories of holidays past.

Please share some magical holiday memories?

I like to think about childhood holidays in Salem with my parents, of course. Happy days. The growing up years with my own kids, walking to church through the snow on Christmas Eve, the year my youngest son Larry used the money he was saving for a car to buy a beautiful piece of sculpture for me.Look Both Ways

Wrap, gift bag or bow & go?

I like wrapping lots of stuff!

Gifts or gift cards?

Gift cards for the teenagers though. I don’t want to hear “Nana, what were you thinking!”

Cyber-shop or head out into the trenches?

I tend to shop all through the year and squirrel things away for December. (Of course, like the squirrels, sometimes I forget where I put some of them and find them in June!)

Do you eat fruitcake?

The fruitcake question. See recipe.

Do you head to the movies on the 25th?

No. I rarely go to the movies.

What’s in your stocking? *wink*

Funny you should ask about what’s in my stocking! Just this morning I went to my local Brighton store and filled out a “wish list” for Dan. So I kind of know what’s going to be in my stocking! (wink!)

Do you head out on the 26th into the madness to exchange or shop for anything?

I don’t do the store thing on the 26Th. Ever! Don’t do “Black Friday either.

Thank you so much, Carol. Happy Holidays from our home to yours!

Thanks for spending this time with me! Now I’ll get back to work on book four of my Witch City Mystery series. The name of it is Murder Go Round. Look for it in the fall of 2016. Meanwhile please check out Caught Dead Handed, Tails, You Lose and Look Both Ways in bookstores everywhere and online! Happy holidays to all!

Visit Carol’s website for the latest news.

Copyright © 2016 by Diane Morasco

Interview first appeared on Blogcritics.

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