The Phantom of Oz (An Ivy Meadows Mystery) by Cindy Brown
Creepy munchkins. A mysterious phantom. And a real Wicked Witch. Are you ready for it?
Actress and part-time PI Ivy Meadows has been hired to uncover the cause of the creepy accidents that plague the roadshow The Wizard: A Space OZpera and find out who dropped a chandelier on the Wicked Witch of the East.
Was it the ghost who haunts the Grand Phoenician Theatre? A “wicked witch” in the cast? Or is it someone—or something—more sinister?
It’s Ivy’s most personal case so far.
Her best friend Candy, who’s touring with the show, is caught in a downward spiral of self-destruction, and is in more danger than she knows.
To save her friend and the show, Ivy must answer even tougher questions: Do spirits really exist? What is real beauty? What does friendship mean?
Ivy needs to learn the answers, and fast—before Candy reaches the point of no return.
Earlier Books in the Ivy Meadows Humorous Mystery Series:
Cindy, welcome to Island Confidential! Can you tell us a little about your protagonist, Ivy?
Ivy Meadows is an actress who works part-time in her Uncle Bob’s detective agency in order to pay the bills. She’s slightly goofy but determined, a misfit with a knack for getting herself into—and ultimately out of—trouble. She’s becoming a good PI for the same reason she’s a good actor: She has a high E.Q. (emotional quotient), which gives her empathy and insight into others’ situations and motivations. Ivy Meadows is her stage name: her real name is Olive Ziegwart (her dad used to tell her that Ziegwart meant victory nipple. She’s not sure how that was supposed to make her feel better).
Are you and Ivy at all alike?
There’s more than a little of me in Ivy. I was an actor for years, I love detective novels and cop shows, and I can be slightly silly at times.
If you met her in real life, what would that be like?
I’d definitely like Ivy, though I might be frustrated if I wanted to be her close friend. She’s been gun shy about relationships ever since being emotionally abandoned by her parents after her brother’s accident
Do your characters change and evolve throughout consecutive books in the series?
Definitely. Ivy has a character arc in each book and throughout the series. Actually, she has three arcs: She develops as an actor, she becomes a better detective, and she grows as a person, becoming smarter, more down-to-earth, and more open to love.
Have you ever thought of killing someone that you know in real life–on the pages of a murder mystery, I mean?
No. I can’t think about real people when I’m writing. I can’t even name a character after someone I know well. That said, real people’s mannerisms, habits, and speech patterns do work their way into my subconscious and onto the page.
How realistic is your setting? Do you take liberties, or are you true to life?
My settings are definitely based on real places, but I fictionalize those places. For example, Sunnydale in The Sound of Murder is based on the retirement community of Sun City West, and the Grand Phoenician Theatre in The Phantom of Oz is based on Phoenix’s Orpheum Theatre.
Why not just use the actual locations?
I like to mash up the real and the fictional settings so I can add fun elements (like the haunted spring in the basement of the theater in Phantom), but also because I would feel bad killing people in real places.
When the movie or TV series is made, who plays the major parts?
I can completely see Zooey Deschanel as Ivy (did you know Zooey’s really a blonde?); John Goodman would make an awesome Uncle Bob; and Josh Groban could be a lovably nerdy but crush-worthy Matt (though I’d have to give him a song because…that voice. Sigh.)
What’s the worst and best advice you’ve heard or received as an author?
Hmm. I’m not sure I’ve ever had bad advice, because I think I take in what I need at the moment and ignore anything that doesn’t fit. The best advice probably boils down to three ideas:
Be yourself, and write what you want to write. Don’t worry about what others are writing, or what they’ll think of your writing.
Don’t worry so much. Your subconscious will write a lot of the story for you.
And maybe the most important piece of advice:
Don’t stop. Just keep going.
About the Author
Cindy Brown has been a theater geek (musician, actor, director, producer, and playwright) since her first professional gig at age 14. Now a full-time writer, she’s lucky enough to have garnered several awards (including 3rd place in the 2013 international Words With Jam First Page Competition, judged by Sue Grafton!) and is an alumnus of the Squaw Valley Writers Workshop. Though Cindy and her husband now live in Portland, Oregon, she made her home in Phoenix, Arizona, for more than 25 years and knows all the good places to hide dead bodies in both cities.