Interview: Loretta Ross, author of Death & The Brewmaster’s Widow

They call it “the Brewmaster’s Widow”; the abandoned brewery where Death Bogart’s brother died in an arson fire.

With his girlfriend, Wren Morgan, Death goes home to St. Louis to take on a deeply personal mystery. When Randy Bogart went into the Einstadt Brewery, he left his broken badge behind at the firehouse. So why did the coroner find one on his body? Every answer leads to more questions. Why did the phony badge have the wrong number? Who set the brewery fire? What is the connection between Randy’s death and the mysterious Cherokee Caves, where the opulent playground of 19th century beer barons falls into slow decay?

Not understanding how and why he lost his brother is breaking the ex-Marine’s heart. But the Brewmaster’s Widow is jealous of her secrets. Prising them loose could cost Death and Wren both their lives.

Q: Loretta, thanks for stopping by! Tell us about the protagonists, Wren and…Death? 

A: The female lead, Wren Morgan, is an auctioneer who works for a family-owned auction business in the small town where she grew up. She’s a very stable individual, with a strong network of friends and family members, and she’s intelligent, kind-hearted, self-sufficient, and protective of those she cares about.

The male main character, Death Bogart, is a disabled Marine combat vet turned private eye and part-time bounty hunter. He went through a lot before and during the first book and that’s left him more vulnerable. He still thinks of himself as this big, strong, tough guy, but the reality is that he’s facing new challenges and basically having to reinvent himself.

Q: How much of you is in Wren–or even Death? How would you feel about them if you met them in real life?

A: Gosh, that’s tough to answer. I think we always put a lot of ourselves in any character. I think maybe Wren is someone I wish I was. She has a lot of my foibles, like driving carefully and getting lost a lot. And a lot of the random, oddball stories I tell about her are things that have actually happened to me. On the other hand, she’s more confident than I am, and a lot better organized.

I think if I met them, I’d like both Wren and Death a lot.

Q: Do Wren and Death change and evolve throughout the series?

A: Yes, they do, both as individuals and as a couple. They met in the first book and now, in the second, they’re going together. That relationship is going to continue to grow.

Q: Have you ever thought of killing someone that you know in real life–on the pages of a murder mystery, I mean?

A: Oh certainly. That’s what obnoxious people are for, right? Inspiration?

Q: How realistic is your setting? Do you take liberties, or are you true to life?

A: The series is set in and around the town of East Bledsoe Ferry, in Rives County, Missouri. That town and county are both fictional, but both are based on the area where I live. This particular book, Death and the Brewmaster’s Widow, is set in St. Louis. I researched the area and tried to be as faithful to the general location as I could, but you couldn’t use it for a map reference. For example, one of the things mentioned in the book is the Lemp and Cherokee cave system. That does exist and its history is as I described it, but the location where Death and Wren enter the caves is entirely fictitious and I took liberties with the layout of the actual caves.


Q: When the movie or TV series is made, who plays the major parts?

A: I’m not very good with actors and actresses, as I watch very little television and rarely see a movie. I do love the TV show Supernatural and of course Jensen Ackles is a fantastic actor, so I kind of think it would be fun to see him play Death and for his real-life wife, Danneel Harris, to play Wren.

Q: What’s the worst and best advice you’ve heard or received as an author?

A: The worst advice was from a critique group that I belonged to years ago. There was one member who would count the words in every sentence and then mark them as WRONG if they didn’t fall within a certain range. It’s the same as people who say that you should never use adverbs or never split infinitives. In fact, there are no hard and fast rules. With the right author and the right circumstances, almost anything can work.

The best advice, and I’ve gotten it from multiple sources, is simply to read widely and just keep writing. That’s the only way to improve.


About The Author

Loretta Ross is a writer and historian who lives and works in rural Missouri. She is an alumna of Cottey College and holds a BA in archaeology from the University of Missouri – Columbia. She has loved mysteries since she first learned to read.

Keep up with Loretta

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