Brought to you by OBS reviewer Caro.

  • Be sure to read our review for “The Killer Wore Cranberry: A Second Helping” here at OBS.

Caro: The first installment of The Killer Wore Cranberry was published two years ago. What made you come up with the idea of creating a book of anthologies based on Thanksgiving murders?

JAH: Every year, a slew of books with a Christmas theme are released, and they’re always cheerful and happy and the families all love each other, which is pretty much what we want people to believe the holidays are like and isn’t really the truth. Thanksgiving never seems to get recognized (What? There’s a holiday between Halloween and Christmas?), and nothing breeds contempt and anger better than seating a bunch of people around a table facing each other, stuffing them full of food and waiting for all that simmering resentment and skeletons-in-the-closet to rear their ugly heads. At the same time, I wanted to show the humorous side of mystery writing and not squick anyone out in reading a bunch of gory material with their cranberry sauce. Personally, I love going to Thanksgiving dinners where you’re just waiting for all heck to break loose. Makes up for dry turkey.

Caro: Was it easier to edit this second book, trying to decide which story to start off with and which one to end it with, than last time? I found the way the stories were arranged and the pace of them really good to read.

JAH: Glad to hear you liked the arrangement! Believe it or not, it was actually harder to edit this volume than the original. The original TKWC was pretty much laid out in the order you’d eat your meal: appetizer, main course and side dishes and then dessert. This time around there were some terrific historical pieces and I had allowed for a couple of dish duplications that I hadn’t in the original. So I had to find a way to put the stories in an order where the reader didn’t feel as if they were being jolted around in time, but I also wanted to maintain the order in which you would eat the food as much as possible.

Caro: What was the most shocking or stand out Thanksgiving story that you received? After reading Green Beans & Murder, I felt all squishy inside 😉 yet I thought it was good for this book.

JAH: I’ve gotten a lot of feedback with strong reactions to Arlen Blumhagen’s “Green Beans & Murder,” and I’m glad that so many readers have found a great connection with the piece. It’s also nice to know that my authors are capable of killing their family members in so many ways. I think all of the stories are so incredibly unique that they do a great job of standing out on their own but working cohesively as an anthology as well. So I’m not sure I found any of them necessarily shocking, but all of them really tugged a nerve in me somewhere. No doubt that’s why they all got accepted.

Caro: Let’s say you try to use one of this Thanksgiving methods for next year’s dinner. Which story would you use as a guide? I have my eye set on All in the Family 🙂

JAH: The perfect alibi is one where they can’t trace it back to you, so I think the killer ebook reading devices in Gail Farrelly’s “They E-Done Him Wrong” might be the way to go. Death by tablet is a pretty freaky way to go. Still, everyone should have a grand time if they’re going to knock someone off, and if you can have as much fun as the folks do in Herschel Cozine’s “I Yam What I Yam” then there’s going to be a good time had by all.

Caro: Is it okay to ask for your favorite story? I wouldn’t want the authors using their methods on you.

JAH: Wow. Answering this question would probably get me killed. The beauty of this anthology is that there are so many authors in here that I’ve worked with on other Untreed Reads titles, and I love to see the range of what they’re capable of writing. For example, Arlen Blumhagen had written an incredible western for us. Herschel Cozine has done fairy tale murders. Lesley A. Diehl wrote a hilarious short story for us involving plastic surgery. And now we have all these authors that are new to Untreed Reads who bring along their wonderful talents and are able to merge so seamlessly with our current authors to make a solid anthology. So I can’t honestly say I have a favorite, because I’m so blown away by the quality of the writing that everyone provided, and each one really rocked my world in a different way.

Caro: Do you plan to do and release another The Killer Wore Cranberry: A Third Helping for next year?

JAH: Yep. We’ll be opening up to submissions again next year for The Killer Wore Cranberry: Room for Thirds.

Caro: Now that you’ve seen that the Thanksgiving murder anthologies were a success among readers, are there any plans for other Holiday themed murders books?

JAH: We just released a new anthology titled Year’s End, which is a compilation of horror shorts that all happen on New Year’s Eve. Steve Shrott from TKWC2 also appears in that anthology, as do many current Untreed Reads authors and newcomers alike. That one was also a lot of fun to put together, and again…a holiday rarely celebrated in that particular genre.

Caro: The last days of the year are just around the corner. If you had the opportunity to go on a free vacation to anywhere around the world, where would it be and why?

JAH: I’m actually heading off to Lima, Peru in a week or so, so that’s exciting, but I had to pay for that one! I’d really love to do an around-the-world trip to meet all of our authors, as they’re spread out on every continent and I’ve met so few of them in person. I say throw a global Untreed Reads Author party in Dublin, Ireland and I’m there.

Caro: If you had written a story for this book, what would have been your method of Thanksgiving murder?

JAH: I think you might have to wait until next year’s anthology to find out the answer to that one.

Caro: I have to add, that it was really fun and amazing reading The Killer Wore Cranberry: A Second Helping, I had a healthy laugh with these anthologies, which I’m still chatting about them with everyone I can 🙂 Do you have any last words for your readers?

JAH: I’m so appreciative of the support and enthusiasm that Untreed Reads and its authors have received from the ebook reading community. I hope we can continue to entertain everyone for many years to come. And remember that killing your family during the holidays, although 99% of the time would be considered justifiable homicide, is still illegal.


Thank you to J. Alan Hartman for an amazing interview, hope he’s enjoying his vacation and everyone else! I had a wonderful time reading this book and will definitely wait for the next one 🙂