A Wicked Welcome to Gabby Allan **plus a giveaway!**

by Julie, grateful for the break in the heat wave in Somerville

I first met Gabby Allan in Mechanicsburg, PA at a tea festival. I was struck by her wonderful dresses, cheerful demeanor, and love of writing and her readers. I’m delighted to welcome her to the blog today to celebrate the first in a new series.

Heading back to Catalina by Gabby Allan

There are so many elements to any story but one of my absolute favorites is setting. Now, I love writing the characters and the community, and heck yeah on the murder investigation with its twists and turns. But setting is pretty high up on the list of things I feel are part of a strong foundation for stories, especially if it’s going to keep showing up in a series.

So when I decided to set my books on Catalina Island off the coast of California, I of course, made the ultimate sacrifice for my art and headed over to research––that’s what we’ll call it on the taxes anyway…

And when I arrived in Catalina with my aunt, we dove into being tourists, but also trying to get into the nitty gritty of island life so I could make it come alive on the page. We visited restaurants and stores, walked around the streets and admired the homes. My favorite stop was definintely the golf cart rental place! I am prone to asking weird questions, and I did not disappoint when I asked the poor guy at the counter if it was possible to chirp the tires of a golf cart. He gave me the side-eye, which I totally don’t blame him for, but then we got down to logistics. And the answer is, if you were wondering, only as you’re stopping because the take off on a golf cart is not powerful enough within their fleet to chirp at the start. Disappointing but still usable.

I also took in the smells and the sounds, the way the light hits the ocean at certain times of day, the fact that there are a lot of boats anchored out in the water some distance from the shore. I asked questions about groceries and how to get a car on island (thirty-five years on the waiting list is not out of the norm), and then marveled at how some very ingenious people found a way to get a car on island without having to wait. The amount of small cars with the bumpers chopped off in order to fit the length requirement was astounding!

And this will all go to into the ground work within the story. I might not use any piece ever, or I might pepper them in throughout each book. I might turn the fact that you have to pay to have everything shipped to the island into a reason why most people don’t have very heavy furniture. I might use the discovery that they filter salt water for fresh water on the island. But all of it is there for my taking to make the setting almost a character of its own.

Because in the end, I want any reader to be able to escape to the small island of Santa Catalina off the coast of California. I want you to be able to feel the breeze in your hair coming in off the ocean as you read about murders and shenanigans with Whit and her chonky cat Whiskers, especially if you’re sitting in the middle of America wishing any breeze would kick up and ruffle even just the grass at your feet.

To me that’s one of the greatest things, helping the reader put away whatever is happening around them and dive into not only the mystery but the community, check in with the characters you wish were real so you could go ask them out for coffee, mentally hop into the golf cart with Whit, or watch as she tries to (just once) get Whiskers to do as she asks. Feel the sand between your toes as Goldy walks along the beach in her high heels and cover-up. And that all starts with setting.

Readers, do you have a favorite aspect of mysteries? No answer is ever wrong. It could be characters, justice, animals, the chase, clue finding…whatever floats your boat, I’d love to hear it! I’ll choose a commenter and send them a copy of Something Fishy This Way Comes. US only.


After writing plays for her friends to act out as a kid, bad poetry in high school, and her high school Alma Mater song, Gabby Allan finally found her true passion—cozy mysteries. Being able to share her world with readers, one laugh at a time, and touch people’s hearts with her down-to-earth characters makes for the best job ever.

About the book:

Since returning home from mainland California and finding her groove with the family tourism business, Whitney Dagner’s daily routine has become a wonderfully chaotic adventure. She and her nimble kitty, Whiskers, often find themselves at the center of the action on Catalina, from staged treasure hunts to gossipy birdwatchers. But before Whit can get too comfortable in the place where she grew up, a gift shop order leads to a stunning discovery—someone’s dead body . . .

One of Whit’s best boat tour client’s, Leo Franklin was young and newly engaged when he unceremoniously took his own life. Only it doesn’t seem like that’s what really happened—not after the suspicious activity displayed by his family’s old rivals at the scene of his death. As a bitter, generations-long feud between Leo’s kin and the local Ahern clan comes to a head, Whit and her police diver not-so-ex-boyfriend must lead a dangerous investigation into years of scandal and bad blood to figure out who’s innocent . . .and who’s covering a killer’s tracks.

52 Thoughts

  1. I enjoy the relationships between the characters and It’s a plus if they have a pet or 2. I also enjoy a good location too, my favorite is a beach town or city. Strange characters show up in beach towns thus the mystery. I loved the first book in your series. Thank you for this chance at your giveaway. pgenest57 at aol dot com

    1. You and me both and thank you so much for loving Much Ado About Nauticaling! ~Misty who is also Gabby Allan 🙂

  2. Do so love to do some armchair traveling through the books I read. Being so realistic I feel like I’m there makes for some awesome reading. Glad you enjoyed your “research” to be able to bring life to the books location. 🙂

    Also love when the author’s taken the time to mesh the characters well. Now mind you, they don’t all have to be friends. They can be friends to enemies and everything in between. However, the connection between them all needs to make sense and flow easily to make sense to me. As in life, we all walk a different path, but we have to co-exist together in the same world.

    Thank you for the fabulous chance to win a copy of “Something Fishy This Way Comes”. Shared and hoping to be the very fortunate one selected because I would love the opportunity to read and review.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    1. Everything you said is spot on! Thank you! ~Misty who is also Gabby Allan 🙂

  3. Gabby, I’m so envious of your trip to Catalina. I sailed there once with the girl scouts but we didn’t spend a lot of time on the island. Best of luck with the new books!

    1. Thank you! You should head back some day. It’s totally worth every second. ~Misty who is also Gabby Allan 🙂

  4. I love the characters, how they interact and become your “friends,” but a good setting is way up on the list. I thought you nailed it in the first Whit and Whiskers mystery.

    Oh, and how you suffered to make it so authentic! It must have been pure torture. LOL

    1. Aw, thank you so much for the compliment 🙂 And yes, it was torture but sometimes we all must make sacrifices… ~Misty who is also Gabby Allan 🙂

  5. I read the first book and loved it! I would love to try this one as I adore quirky characters snd mysteries!!

  6. I agree that setting is so important as it sets up context and background so beautifully. And I appreciate all that authors must “suffer” when doing research for their settings. 😉 But I really love finding clues and trying to see if I can solve the mystery before the MC does! Congratulations on the new book!

    1. Oh, now you’re speaking my language! I think of it as a game between us as you read and I try to make sure that all the clues are there but that the solution doesn’t come too soon. I think as an author we do like to win most of the time or you might stop reading the books if it’s too easy! ~Misty who is also Gabby Allan 🙂

  7. I loved your description of your writing process. I am so drawn to books that take me to the setting and help me feel the sand and breeze beside seeing the mystery. Can’t wait to read y our book. A plus would be winning it.

    1. Thank you! You and me both on the sand and the breeze. ~Misty who is also Gabby Allan 🙂

  8. I agree with you that setting so important! Coastal towns, mountain towns, towns with castles, I really enjoy reading about new areas and meeting fun, smart characters especially with pets! Love that cover, too!

  9. Welcome back! I love a different setting too. In the early 90s I lived in San Pedro, CA for four years. We could see Catalina and it was an indicator of how much smog was in the air by how clear the view was. The helicopter that flew there was back and forth over our house all day. But we never went — why? why? At least I can visit through your books.

    1. Thanks, Sherry! My cousin lived in San Pedro and it was so cool to be at the docks. ~Misty who is also Gabby Allan 🙂

  10. In addition to characters, I do like good settings. Such a great opportunity to visit somewhere you’ve never been, or see what it is like to live in a deadly small town! Congrats on the new book!

  11. Congratulations Gabby and thank you for writing about my favorite SoCal attraction: Santa Catalina Island!!! What I love most about cozies is the descriptions of the locale, but intertwined with getting to know the characters and their complexities. When an author goes on and on and on describing bushes and every flower for paragraphs at a time, for me it is just “filler” and I usually speed-read through until something “meatier” pops up. Something Fishy This Way Comes sounds delightful, and I know I will like it. Thank you for sharing your writing talents with us eager readers! Luis at ole dot travel

    1. Thanks! And I love that you love Santa Catalina! ~Misty who is also Gabby Allan 🙂

  12. I like the layering and the peeling back of those layers in order to solve the mystery/crime. I like how each little later reveals another clue that sometimes adds more questions than answers . You need to pay close attention to what you find under all these layers because there lies the answer to who dunnit. It’s amazing how an author can construct all these many different sometimes minute, miniscule aspects to the crime and make it all come together and make sense in the end.

    1. Totally with you on the clues and the subtlety! ~Misty who is also Gabby Allan 🙂

  13. Location often makes me pick up a book, but the characters make me stay with it. I haven’t been to Catalina in a long time, and this brought back memories. A friend had a sailboat but unfortunately I would start hurling as soon as we got outside San Diego Bay. So I would take the ferry (carefully staying up top) — and once the helicopter! — and meet him there for the Jazz Trax festival at the Casino. I don’t remember any cars back then (unless you count the jitney bus tour up to the bison ranch) but the residents sure loved to bling up their golf carts!

    1. LOL so true about the bling and yes I don’t remember cars from when I used to visit there either but they were definitely on display when I was there last time. It was eye-opening and so interesting to see what they’d do to keep within the length restrictions 🙂 ~Misty who is also Gabby Allan 🙂

  14. Settings and relationships top my list.

    As an east coast girl, Catalina is on my bucket list, think I’ll visit with Whit and Whiskers first! Especially as I also own (or am owned by) a chonky ginger.

    1. Woohoo on the chonky ginger! And see what you think with Whit and then go explore on your own 🙂 ~Misty who is also Gabby Allan 🙂

  15. Congratulations on the book! It sounds wonderful. First I look for pets, then I look for baking or books, then I look at setting. Sometimes I just like the covers.

  16. It’s hard to pick one favorite thing about why I love mysteries! First, I like mysteries because they are like a puzzle to solve. I also enjoy the setting very much. It’s important to have a protagonist that I like. She may be unlike me in some ways, but that is okay! I LOVE it when there is a cat involved in the story. (Cats are so special!) I also like it when the main character has a best friend who has a spitfire personality and who always has her friend’s back. I am sure there are other things that I like, but I have said enough already.

    1. All great answers! Whit’s best friend is Maribel and she is all about the sass! ~Misty who is also Gabby Allan 🙂

  17. I enjoy the puzzle and the characters. The setting can definitely appeal to me, but it’s the first two that keep me coming back. (No need to enter me in the giveaway.)

  18. Hi , I love mysteries, because alot of times I think I know what happens next and nope, it didn’t happen like that, I love it when they keep me on the edge of my seat and I love the characters. Have a great weekend and stay safe. Thank you for the chance.

    1. Exactly, Alicia! I love when an author has me totally set up to see it one way and then wham! it’s something totally different! ~Misty who is also Gabby Allan 🙂

  19. I consider the setting as a character. I have to really “see” the setting to get into the book. I want to feel as if I’m walking next to the protagonist throughout the story. All of the other things mentioned are important, too, of course. And cats…

  20. I enjoy the setting and the characters. I also look for the book having pets. Thanks for the chance! Love the book cover!

  21. I do not want to be part of the giveaway. This is a fabulous book. You will not see the end coming. Enjoy. Thank you for sharing. God bless you.

  22. The characters and the relationships between them are my favorite aspect in a mystery.

  23. I love everything about a mystery. I especially like the characters and how in a series you get to know more and more about them and I love ones with dogs or cat. One of my favorite things is, despite all the clues, I am fooled and can’t figure out what happens or who dunnit.

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