Monday, September 27, 2010

Accidental Princess Reincarnates Elvis

Accidental Princess Reincarnates Elvis
By Peggy Webb

Kathy the Fearless said introduce myself, so I’ll admit right off the bat that I’ve worn a beauty queen crown. But it was purely by accident. About a million years ago when I was living on a farm in northeast Mississippi and dreaming about being a writer, I was Joshilyn Jackson’s Longed-For Good Girl – 4-H All Star, straight A student who starred in all the high school plays, and budding blues pianist who headlined all the piano recitals, but skinny, skinny, SKINNY. (Now don’t I wish!)  Never in a gazillion years did I dream of wearing a crown. Then one day my 4-H leader said nobody showed up for the local Dairy Princess contest and would I be the princess?  And I said, “As long as I don’t have to wear a swim suit and do the beauty queen wave.”

Because, although I did go on to win the state title and wear the crown all over Mississippi, and although I’m from the Deep South where beauty pageants are a religion, I never aspired to ride on the back of a convertible in a pink evening gown with net ruffles that itch.  I wanted to write.

And so I did. First  poetry, published in the National Anthology of High School Poetry. Then later more than two hundred humor columns published in trade magazines, and finally almost 70 (I’m not kidding) published books. (My printable book list is on my website.) By the time my first book came out (1985), I was married with two children and had entered graduate school (University of MS in Oxford). But while I was penning my thesis to complete a Master of Arts Degree in English, I had targeted the vast, booming romance industry and was also secretly writing a comedic romance novel.  At first the editors said, “Your writing is too funny,” and tried to change me. But when they realized I’m a born comic, they threw up their hands, threw down their blue pencils and stopped trying to delete my funny bone.  In 2009 I was honored at Romantic Time’s International Book Conference in Orlando with a Pioneer Award for paving the way for the sub-genre of Romantic Comedy.  Think Meg Cabot.

Umpteen novels and many birthdays later, I could only vaguely recall what romance was, so I abandoned sex and turned to murder. Now I spend my days writing comedic romps for the amateur sleuths in my Southern Cousins Mysteries (hardcover, Kensington).  The fun of these books is that I reincarnated the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll as a basset hound and gave him a voice. As one of the two narrators, my Elvis is funny and wise, self-confident and snarky.  According to a recent review, he “ruminates on the foibles of felines and folks.”  That’s about right.    

And that’s about it. I’ve left out a bunch of stuff - like my teaching stint as adjunct instructor at Mississippi State University and how my beloved-but-dearly-departed retriever Jefferson was the inspiration for Elvis and how I always write with music, usually the Native American flutes of Marina Raye, and a cup of Big Train’s green tea chai on my desk, and how my hips are gradually taking on the size and shape of my chair, but that’s okay as long as they don’t get as big as my car.  

Anyhow, you get the picture. If you live near Tupelo, join me for a book party this evening at Barnes & Noble at the mall from 6 to 8 to launch book three of the series – Elvis and the Memphis Mambo Murders. I’ll have cake and punch and door prizes. Elvis will be there, too. No, I didn’t spot him at Piggly Wiggly and ask him to come. This Elvis is Tribute Artist Dale Rushing.

One more thing… I am so grateful to you, my loyal fans and faithful readers, for making it possible for me to live my dream.

Peggy Webb is currently sipping green tea chai while plotting to kill Santa in the fifth Southern Cousins Mystery.  She was going to dance naked in the moonlight for inspiration, but the neighbors have binoculars and her children said to take a cane in case she stepped in a hole, and that ruined the whole effect. Please visit her at www.peggywebb.com.  Send accolades and chocolate. 

6 comments:

Angela said...

I hope you had a fantastic book launch party!

Susan Cushman said...

WHEN did you write so many books? My goodness, you are prolific! Inspired me to get hopping! Enjoyed your post.

Karin Gillespie said...

Wish I could be there, Peggy. Have a great launch.

Peggy Webb said...

Twenty-five years is a long time to write. I used to write four and five books a year. Now it's only two, Susan.

THanks, Karin and Angela. It's always intimidating to walk into a bookstore and see piles of books at my table waiting to be signed. Having cake and punch helps bring people to the table.

Anonymous said...

You did leave out tons of stuff especially one of my favorite parts...that you were nominated for the Pulitzer with the book DRIVING ME CRAZY.
Hope you have a blast tonight!!
Much love to you!!!!
Anita Webb
P.S. I am cracking open my copy of ELVIS & THE MEMPHIS MAMBO MURDERS right now!

Peggy Webb said...

Enjoy the latest antics of Elvis and the gang, Anita. Planning for a big party tonight!