About the Book
Book: The Last Gasp
Author: Chautona Havig
Genre: Christian Historical Mystery, Fairytale retelling
Release date: July 6, 2021
At the pinnacle of his Hollywood career, Garrison Prince’s reign ends tonight.
As plain old Gary Prinz, he can pursue his Bible education, buy a bungalow in Pasadena, acquire a few chickens, and marry the girl of his dreams. He just never imagined trading the silver screen for a pulpit would wreak such havoc.
A cigarillo girl, Lucinda Ashton spends her days with her boyfriend, Gary, and her evenings selling candy and “gaspers” to the Hollywood elite at the Taj Mahal Theater.
However, when gunshots ring out just as intermission begins, Lucinda finds herself smack-dab in the middle of a brouhaha that leaves three dead, and no one has a clue why.
All the police know is that the evidence points to Lucinda as the killer and Gary as the intended target.
Four new friends, one young orphan, and a potluck of clues that don’t seem to fit anywhere leave the police baffled, Lucinda in fear for her freedom, and Gary ready to trade in his acting shoes for gumshoes if it’ll save his “Cinda.”
The first book in the Ever After Mysteries combining beloved fairy tales and mysteries, The Last Gasp. This Cinderella retelling blends a murder with enough crime and story clues to keep you on the edge of your seat.
Click here to get your copy!
About the Author
Author of the bestselling Aggie and Past Forward series, Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly similar to ours and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her at chautona.com and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.
More from Chautona
What Beautiful, Unexpected Parallel Did I Find Writing this Mystery?
I bought it at Pic-n-Save when I was eleven—an 8.5×11 paperback book of traditional fairy tales. I learned another side of the age-old stories that you don’t see from Disney. Rapunzel? Yeah. That was the story about the queen who was craving rampion (a salad vegetable) so much that she promised to give up her child for it. Rampion—Rapunzel. It’s a thing.
It’s also where I learned Cinderella’s name as “Aschenputtel.” Look, those Brothers Grimm were… well, they were German and that should explain everything. “Puttel” just sings of German, doesn’t it? That tale was also a bit gruesome. The one sister cut off her big toe to make the shoe fit because her mother said, “You won’t have to walk anywhere if you’re a queen. Who needs it!” So the idiotic girl did. Same for the other sister and her heel. Seriously, didn’t she learn from her older sister?
Oh, and it’s the one where mother and stepsisters get their eyes picked out by birds. It reminded me of Proverbs 30:17. “The eye that mocks a father and scorns a mother, the ravens of the valley will pick it out, and the young eagles will eat it.”
Talk about bringing Scripture to life for kids there. *Gulp*
True confession, our kids used to sing that verse to the tune of “All Hail the Pow’r of Jesus’ Name.” You should have heard the lusty voices of our children in our Grand Marquis station wagon (may the wonderful beast rest in peace) singing, “The ravens shall pick out his eyes and eeee-agles eeee-eeaat the saaaammmme!”
Cinderella—I mean, Aschenputtel—really wasn’t my favorite story, though. I liked other stories from other books. Like the Ten Brothers—a Chinese folk tale. You know. Fairy tale.
Know which fairy tale I liked even less than Cinderella?
The Little Mermaid. Seriously, I didn’t like the original (Sorry Mr. Andersen… I just didn’t), and I can’t stand Disney’s. But when we first began planning the Ever After Mysteries, I knew which one I wanted to do. The Little Mermaid had everything going for it. Houdini and a water tank. Can’t you just see it? It would have been great. But a friend asked who was writing about the “cigarillo girl” (as I mention in THIS post), and well… the rest is history. Or at least, it’s set back in history.
But there’s one truth I discovered as I wrote this mystery.
Mystery… that’s a good word for this truth, actually. Cinderella is a beautiful picture of Jesus as our prince. We can be His bride and put on the shoe He has fashioned only to fit us, or we can try to snatch it up and make it suit our wills and hold our overgrown egos (work with me here). He takes us out of our ragged, dirty lives and brings us home… to Him. To His Father.
Is there anything more beautiful? I don’t think so.
In The Last Gasp, Gary knows Cinda long before she knows him—truly knows him. He loves her just as she is. Is it a perfect retelling of the beauty of Christ’s love for his church? Not hardly. It wasn’t intended to demonstrate that relationship at all. But there are tiny nuances that do. And that’s pretty cool.
Interview with Chautona
- When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I was twelve. I’d always “written” in my head or on paper, but I hadn’t realized I wanted to “be a writer” until I read the book A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. When the teacher told Francie to tell what happened and write down “what should have happened,” I knew the solution to many of my problems. I hated lies, but the truth wasn’t what I thought it should be. Here was the solution. I decided then that I’d be a teacher someday. During my three months off in the summer (yes, you can laugh), I’d write a book and then spend the next nine months editing it.
- What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
I leave notes for myself as I write. For example, I might not be able to remember some fact, so I’ll put *figure it out in the middle of the document. Or, I might write something ridiculously cheesy or total purple prose and I’ll mark it with, ***Oh, PULLEEZ, Chautona. I do that to keep me from wasting time figuring stuff out and getting out of a writing groove.
- Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
That would definitely depend on the book. For example, in Ready or Not, I got the idea because I was sick of the way people kept asking me how I “did it” with all those kids when they could barely manage the (1,2,3) they had. I kept saying, “You don’t get them all at once. They come one (or maybe two) at a time and with at least nine months between to adapt.” Of course, my brain thought, “but what if you did get them all at once. What if you didn’t know anything about kids. What if you weren’t married? What if they came with the equivalent of a mother-in-law from the nether regions??!! Aggie was born.
For The Last Gasp, it was more that we had decided we’d do fairy tale retellings in the 1920s… as mysteries. So that part was decided before I even picked out my fairy tale. All I knew is I didn’t want “Sleeping Beauty” or “Cinderella.” And then while talking about them at Bible study, one of the ladies said, “So like… what? Cinderella is a cigarillo girl?” And The Last Gasp (cigarettes were called gaspers then) was born.
- What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Sleep. I do a lot of sleeping. I also like to do paper crafting and design work for other authors. I need a high amount of creativity to keep going, so when I’m off deadline, I choose a different kind of creativity.
- What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book?
That Hollywood was in a time of revival during the 20s. I had no idea. I also didn’t know that Amy Semple McPherson’s kidnapping/disappearance came so close to Agatha Christie’s. I have my own theory that Christie was trying to prove for herself whether McPherson could have faked her own disappearance as easily as some wanted to claim.
- Do you have any suggestions to help someone become a better writer? If so, what are they?
Read excellent writing. Find authors in your genre and authors in other genres you enjoy who are brilliant writers and read great, heaping gobs of their work. There really is something to immersing yourself in excellence to help you learn to see what is mediocre. I did this as a girl when I wanted to learn how to sing. I chose the old folk singers like The Brothers Four and The Kingston Trio as well as older groups like The Mills Brothers and The Ames Brothers. I wanted groups that sang clear and true. No twangs or breathy, airiness. I wanted solid stuff. And then I imitated them down to the note. Over and over and over. I’ll never be an amazing singer, but I can sing clear, true, and on key now because of immersing myself in good music instead of trying to imitate pop stars. I will admit that I had to skip some of the not-so-good stuff that these groups sang. They all have them.
- What’s your favorite part about being a writer? Research? First Draft? Editing?
I think brainstorming and then writing that first chapter. That’s all combined for me, so I can’t say one or the other. But when I’m brainstorming an idea and then I write that first chapter, it’s the moment I get a feel for who my characters are. It’s like meeting a new friend, and I just LOVE it. I have to say, though. I love it all except the final editing pass. That last pass is when I’m DONE. I HATE THE BOOK. I never ever ever want to read it again. And then boom. A few months later, I’m all for it!
- What do you think makes a good story?
There are so many elements that need to fit together to get a really good story, but I’ve read enough books that had just “ho-hum” plots or settings that I loved because the author created a compelling character that I cared about. On the other hand, I’ve read BRILLIANT stories with super cool ideas for the plot and the twists and total originality… and I couldn’t have cared less about them because I just could not connect with the flat, one-dimensional characters. So I’m going to go with a character readers can’t help but fall in love with.
- As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I thought I wanted to be a teacher/writer. Technically, I did. I became a homeschool mom who really hates teaching kids (teaching reading is THE WORST) but who loves teaching workshops etc. And I became a writer. Basically, I’m living my childhood dream. Because as much as I don’t like homeschooling, it’s an honor and a privilege, and I’m so grateful for the years I got with my kids… and that I get to retire this year!
- What project are you working on now, and how do we find your books?
I’m actually working on my next Ever After Mystery. The Nutcracker’s Suite is the story of Clarice Stahl, eyebrow painter in a doll factory. She has a run in with Mr. Topo’s (the mob king’s) enforcer, Milo Natale at the factory one night, and they have to figure out who killed her boss and why. Folks call Milo the “nutcracker” because he leaves his victims in pieces, so I sure hope Clarice is safe with him!
The easiest place to find my books is at Chautona.com/books
Thank you for taking the time to ask a few questions. This was fun!
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For Him and My Family, August 2
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 3
Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, August 3 (Author Interview)
Lots of Helpers, August 4
Inklings and notions, August 4
deb’s Book Review, August 5
CarpeDiem, August 5
Locks, Hooks and Books, August 6
Connect in Fiction, August 6
Texas Book-aholic, August 7
Blogging With Carol, August 7
She Lives To Read, August 8
Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, August 8
Connie’s History Classroom, August 9
Simple Harvest Reads, August 9 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)
Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, August 10
A Modern Day Fairy Tale, August 10
Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, August 11
The Meanderings of a Bookworm , August 11
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, August 12
Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, August 12
Splashes of Joy, August 13
Mary Hake, August 13
For the Love of Literature, August 14
Back Porch Reads, August 14
Through the Fire Blogs, August 15
Mamma loves books, August 15
To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away the grand prize package of copy of the book and a $50 Amazon gift card!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.