Character Interview (and Giveaway Info!): Fern & Zula Hopkins from Out of the Frying Pan

Posted May 31, 2017 by meezcarrie in Author Interview, Christian, cozy mystery, giveaway, Kelly Klepfer, Michelle Griep, mystery/suspense / 15 Comments

Please join me in welcoming two of my favorite crime fighting sisters-in-law – Fern & Zula Hopkins!

You can read all about their hilarious adventures on their blog and in Out of the Frying Pan by Michelle Griep and Kelly Klepfer.

When the chef of Sunset Paradise Retirement Village ends up dead, life for sisters-in-law Fern and Zula Hopkins is whipped into a froth. Their zany attempts to track down the killer land them in hot water with Detective Jared Flynn. Should he be concerned about their safety or the criminal’s?

But there are deadly ingredients none of them expect. Drugs. Extortion. International cartels. And worst of all…broken hearts–especially when the Hopkins sisters’ niece KC arrives on the scene.

Before the snooping pair gain any headway with the case, it becomes crystal clear that the sisters share a mysterious secret that takes life from the frying pan and into the line of fire.

“A laugh out loud mystery with quirky, lovable characters who find themselves in all sorts of trouble. The storyline is believable and comes with descriptions of mouth-watering food, which makes for a delicious plot! A cohesive and fast-moving novel.” 4-Stars! RT Book Reviews


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Also available to read for free with a Kindle Unlimited subscription!

Hi ladies! Welcome to the blog! I start all of my guests out with a fast four:

apples or oranges

Fern: Fern here. Oranges. They are plentiful in Florida, full of Vitamin C and that all important fiber. And they are delicious.

Zula:  Apples. I can make the lowly apple into a dessert that has made men propose and more than one go into atrial fibrillation. Cinnamon, caramel, flaky crust that melts in your mouth and buttery apples. DI-VINE!

Carrie: Sorry Fern, I’m going to have to side with Zula on this one. Apple pie always wins 🙂

winter or summer

Zula: Well, I kind of like winter because our Florida winters bring snowbird folks — and some of those are handsome men in want of a wife.

Fern: Summer. I just love the heat.

Carrie: Hmmm…

dogs or cats

Fern: Can I say neither? I don’t like pet hair anywhere. Especially on me. But if I have to choose one or the other I will choose cats. Because I currently live with a dog. And someone who is gaga over said dog.

Zula: Doggos are just the sweetest little things. My little Fifikins just loves to love on me, and I love to shower her in treats, and hats, and little costumes. I just adore her.

Carrie: Zula…. I gotta say … that picture of Fifikins is adorable mildly terrifying.

coffee or tea

Fern: Green tea in the morning and a lovely chamomile in the evening. Antioxidants and stress relieving.

Zula: Coffee. Hello! Coffee cake!

Carrie: Fern, that sounds delightfully relaxing. And Zula… I don’t actually think coffee cake is made with coffee but I like the way you think!

Around here I like to say that reading is my superpower. If YOU had a superpower, what would it be?

Zula: Oh my goodness. I would like to fly. Gracious. The outfits I could craft, I’d swoop over gardens, across sunsets. I’d dress in rainbows, glitter and feathers. I’d sing, too, of course. Frank and Dean and a little Bing while I swooped. I feel a little sad now. What a lovely thought.

Fern: I think I’d like volume control and a fast forward switch. Sometimes hearing the same story every single time you run into someone gets tedious. And early morning sing-athons need volume control.

Carrie: As the daughter of a mother who loved early morning sing-athons while I was growing up, I feel your pain, Fern! Zula … maybe bedazzling something while you listen to your crooners would help?

Ok – I have to ask – have you stumbled onto any more mysteries at Sunset Paradise Retirement Village?

Zula: Yes. There was the mystery of the missing notebook that contained my top secret spice blend. I was so, so upset. Unbelievable. Not only was the notebook taken, my spice blend ended up being used and presented at a public gathering. I nearly lost my mind with worry, and then horror!

Fern: Zula. For the last time. You left your notebook on the shuttle. And why on earth do you write down a top secret recipe? Poor Marco. I thought he was going to die from the shame of it all. He meant no harm.

Zula: My name was clearly emblazoned across the cover. He should be ashamed. I’ve got the book back. Mystery solved. But I have my eye on him.

Carrie: <<laughing>>

Finding a body is not a common occurrence for most of us! Thankfully. So what was going through your minds when you discovered that body in the kitchen?

Zula: I have to confess I was thinking that I was going to miss out on those flowers. I nearly overlooked the situation but for the acrid burning oil. Once I realized, oh my, I nearly shut down.

Fern: I must admit I felt like all my training was finally going to be tested. It was horrifying that a man had been murdered and chilling that a murderer walked among us. Goodness. The adrenaline rush was nearly my undoing.

Carrie: Acrid burning oil is usually a good indicator that something is wrong …. or that I’m cooking 🙂

Now, in your expert opinion, what are some essential tools/books that every amateur sleuth needs to have at her disposal?

Fern: Agatha Christie novels and Sherlock Holmes honed knowledge. My dear Art schooled me in police procedure so that very much helped. My Tai Chi classes and yoga/Pilates skills were absolute body savers. You need to be in shape if you are going to be looking for a murderer, I took a few tumbles and did not break my hip.

Zula: Muffins and style. These took me far.

Carrie: I’m making a checklist. Not sure I would survive Pilates but filing that for future use nonetheless!

Just imagine for a moment that Hollywood wants to make a movie about your adventures at the retirement village. Which actresses would you want to play your characters?

Zula: I fancy Cybil Shepherd. She’s a lovely, charming gal. Don’t know about her skills in the kitchen but she’s got the Southern class thing going on.

Fern: Helen Mirren would be lovely.

Carrie: Is Cybil Shepherd old enough to …. Never mind. Excellent choices, ladies! 🙂

As sisters-in-law, as friends, as roommates … what is some advice you would give to younger women to prepare them for the future?

Fern: Your body is your friend. Take care of it. When you hit your mid-sixties you will not regret those sit ups and stretches. Choose your friends well. It’s always nice to have someone to sharpen you and soften you as needed.

Zula: Hone your feminine and culinary skills. The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Southern charm can coat just about anything in sugar, Sugah. Keep a good friend around.  A best friend is a friend who will tell you the truth, then badger you with it, finally giving up with the warning to rub your nose in it if she’s right.

Carrie: Good friends, chosen well, are so important, aren’t they?

Ladies, you are always a delight! Thank you so much for taking time to talk with me! 🙂 Before we say goodbye for today, tell us what‘s coming up next for you.

Fern & Zula: One of the authors is writing other novels and meeting contracts. The other one is working out the details of our next adventure. Rumor has it we will be traveling, and hopefully it will just be a lovely relaxing vacation. 

Carrie: Yeaaah… relaxing vacations and cozy mysteries don’t usually co-exist 😉

I hear voices. Loud. Incessant. And very real. Which basically gives me two options: choke back massive amounts of Prozac or write fiction. I’ve been writing since I discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. I seek to glorify God in all that I write–except for that graffiti phase I went through as teenager.

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Kelly Klepfer had ambitions to graduate from the school of life quite awhile ago, but alas . . . she still attends and is tested regularly. Her co-authored cozy/quirky mystery, Out of the Frying Pan, is the culmination of several of the failed/passed tests. Kelly, though she lives with her husband, two Beagles and two hedgehogs in Iowa, can be found at Novel Rocket, Novel Reviews, Scrambled Dregs, Modern Day Mishaps, and various social media with flashes of brilliance (usually quotes), randomocities, and learned life lessons.

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Fern and Zula, mostly Zula, who are we kidding, would like to invite you to enter our contest for a gift card or free copy of Out of the Frying Pan.

You can read all the instructions here:

The gist is to take a picture of a bouquet. Any bouquet, we’ve had one starring cats and another with a baby in a bouquet crown. Be creative, have fun and get a chance to win a Hobby Lobby, Trader Joe’s or Amazon gift card.

Tag Michelle or Kelly on Instagram –, Twitter or Facebook or comment on the Fern and Zula page on Facebook.

Also to make sure we don’t miss any entries let Kelly know via email

What about you? Who are you most like – Fern or Zula?

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15 responses to “Character Interview (and Giveaway Info!): Fern & Zula Hopkins from Out of the Frying Pan

  1. Janet Estridge

    I would say that I’m more like Zula. I am southern to the core and have an accent that is so thick you could pour it on pancakes.
    Thanks for entering me in your giveaway.

  2. Andrea Stephens

    I loved this interview! I don’t think I’m really like either one. I don’t like to cook, and my body fell apart on me despite my efforts at taking care of it.
    I actually forgot that I own this book. I went into manage content and had it delivered to my kindle fire tablet.

    • Andrea, thanks so much. So glad you enjoyed the interview and I hope you like the book as much as the interview! And for the rest, I’m thinking this is one of the reasons its classified as fiction. Oh, if I only had Fern’s take on health and Zula’s ability to wear stilettos without breaking a bone I’d rock my fifties like they do their sixties.

      One fun note on our leading ladies is our inspiration! My grandmothers both lived past 90 and were stubborn and full of zest and spice. Michelle’s mom is still high kicking (attitude anyways) in her 90’s and I work in Internal Medicine where some of my favorite patients are feisty and living life to the fullest whether its still gardening and canning or epic family dinners or teaching dance moves at the senior citizen center.

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