Annette Dashofy is one of those authors you can rely on. She makes us laugh at conventions (like Bouchercon in October) and she makes us hold her breath in her fresh fun mysteries. Like Zoe Chambers, her series heroine, Annette is smart and brave. This year, she’s launching a standalone (or will it be a new series?). And she dared to sit down for a brief chat …

How does a book start for you?

Right now, I’m noodling with two book ideas. One will be the tenth Zoe Chambers Mystery. The other is an entirely new book (stand alone or series, yet to be determined). When I start a new Zoe mystery, I think about the continuation of the character arcs from the previous book. Often the crime and mystery aspect come late in the planning process, although I have to know whodunit and why before I put words on the page. With the new book, I came up with the setting first. Now, I’m fleshing out the characters’ backgrounds, learning who they are and what’s brought them to this point and this place. As with the existing series, the crime will be the last thing I explore as I begin the plotting process. Yes, I’m a plotter but with room to go “off script.” 

Who in your latest book has surprised you most – and why?

My villains always seem to be the characters who surprise me the most. I can’t get too specific without giving away spoilers, but I love it when I delve deeper into their psyche to learn their motivation and end up sympathetic to their reasoning. The same is true with my latest.

When and/or where is your latest book set and is there a story behind that setting?

Fair Gameis largely set at the county fair. I belonged to 4-H as a kid, and the county fair was always a big deal. Many of my former fellow 4-Hers have remained good friends and are avid fans of my books. When the idea of a mystery set at the fair first hit me, I ran it past some of those friends and received a loud and enthusiastic YES in response. I had a lot of fun memories I could pepper into the story. And let’s face it—what’s a better setting for a murder mystery than the annual school bus demolition derby?

What are you working on now?

I have turned in the ninth Zoe Chambers Mystery, titled Under the Radar, scheduled for release in late February 2020. While I wait for my edits, I’m jotting copious notes for the 10thin the series as well as ideas for something entirely new, as mentioned above.

Which question didn’t I ask you that I should have?

The question I inevitably get asked at book events is: “When are Zoe and Pete going to get together?” I swear, this is the main concern of most of my readers, more so than whodunit. The answer is…keep reading!

Annette Dashofy is the USA Today best-selling author of the Zoe Chambers mystery series about a paramedic and deputy coroner in rural Pennsylvania’s tight-knit Vance Township. A lifelong resident of Washington County (PA), Annette has garnered four Agatha nominations including Best Contemporary Novel of 2018 for CRY WOLF. She’s a member of International Thriller Writers, the Pittsburgh Chapter of Sisters in Crime, and is on the board of directors of Pennwriters. FAIR GAME(May 2019) is the eighth in her series. Connect with Annette at