Author Olivia Matthews answers all things "Murder Out of Character" for Hallmark Publishing fans!

What made you want to write this book/series? Did anything in particular spark the premise?

I used to fantasize about being locked in a library overnight – who among us hasn’t? All those books... My love of libraries was the inspiration for my Peach Coast Library Mystery series. I believe libraries do more to support our communities than most people realize. I learn something new about library services all the time, and those services evolve with the needs of their communities. I try to convey that through my librarian amateur sleuth, Marvella “Marvey” Harris. One of the fun things about Marvey is that she’s a fish-out-of-water; she’s a native New Yorker who’s moved to a small, Southern town, and I’ve always wanted to write a fish-out-of-water protagonist!

Who was your favorite side character to write and why?

Don’t ask me to choose between my characters! I love writing all of them. Marvey brings her fast-paced New York perspective to this slower-moving Southern town. Spence is humble, although he’s practically a celebrity. Jo’s obsessed with her alma mater. Corrinne’s serene. Viv’s caring. Adrian’s endearing, and Floyd’s deliciously grumpy. I even love writing more minor characters like the coffee shop regulars. Now, if you’re asking about my favorite character to write in Murder Out of Character, it was hands down Brittany Wilson, owner of Coastal Cycles bike shop. Oh, my word! She’s so distrusting of everything and everyone. So fun to write!

Jo, Spence, and even Phoenix are all such supportive friends and staples in Marvey’s life. Are there relationships, friendships, siblings, pets, or colleagues in your life that you modeled these characters and dynamics after?

A lot of my stories’ female friendships—like the one between Jo and Marvey—have echoes of my relationship with my sister. In an earlier novel—I won’t tell you which one!—I killed the protagonist’s friend (it’s a long story). My sister, who’d recognized herself in the friend, called and asked if we needed to “talk.” Ha! It never occurred to me she’d recognize herself. Similar to the way my protagonists’ healthy relationships have echoes of my relationships with family and good friends, my stories’ antagonists are often patterned after past horrible bosses! For example, the mayor of Peach Coast—Byron Flowers—is every bad boss I’ve ever had!

Which character in ‘Murder Out of Character’ would you most like to meet IRL and why?

Easy choice. For today, I’ll pick Brittany Wilson. As I mentioned earlier, I had a lot of fun writing her. She’s a competitive triathlete and a successful entrepreneur, so she has a lot of exciting experiences to share. She also has a lot of advice about starting and running a business. And as I mentioned, she’s prickly. I’d like to find out more about what causes her to be so distrusting!

If you could be any character in ‘Murder Out of Character,’ who would you want to be and why?

I want to be Phoenix the cat! Right now, spending my days basking in the rays of sun that stream into the foyer and my evenings stretched out on the sofa chilling sounds really good!


Murder Out of Character, Matthews' second cozy mystery in her Peach Coast Library Mystery Series, is available September 13 in eBook, paperback, and audiobook. Publishers Weekly calls it "the prose equivalent of a Hallmark family movie"!