Kari Lee Townsend is back and she’s ready to talk to us about her latest Cozy Mystery, A Touch of Malice. Out on October 11th, it’s the third in her A Kalli Ballis Mystery series and it’s just so much fun. Stick around until the end to find out how to enter to win your very own copy! You won’t want to put it off, either, because it’s only for today (10/5)!

So, Kari, we sat down a few months ago to talk about your book, Frozen Waters, but that one was released under Kari Lee Harmon. This one is Kari Lee Townsend. For curious readers, what sets this, and your other Cozy Mysteries under your Townsend name, apart from the others? What makes you choose one name over the other?

Great question! First, thank you for having me here again. So, Townsend is my married name and Harmon is my maiden name. I decided right from the start that I wanted my readers to know what to expect when they pick up a Townsend book versus a Harmon book. My Townsend books are cozy mysteries and middle grade, so they are sweet, aka no swearing or sex. Where my Harmon books are my romance, women’s fiction, and suspense books, where nothing is off limits 😉

Are these more fun to write than your more serious books? Why or why not?

I enjoy going back and forth between the genres because it keeps me from getting bored. I am having a blast with my Greeks. These are slower paced and more about solving a murder by figuring out clever clues and red herrings rather than being on the edge of your seat with a bad guy after you.

What is it about the Cozy Mystery genre that keeps you coming back?

In my other novels, you have a different hero and heroine in each book. With my cozy mysteries, the hero and heroine are always the same. It’s the mystery that’s different each time. I love cozy mysteries because you really get to know the town and all the fun quirky characters who live there. I make sure my characters always evolve and grow, so it’s fun to see how their lives change throughout the series.

For readers who don’t know, Kalli Ballis, who is quite the germaphobe, gets the gift of mindreading in the first book of the series, but she can only read minds if she’s touching the person. What inspired you to combine these two?

I thought of the TV show Monk. He’s a huge germaphobe who investigates murders. I love paranormal books. I wanted to do something different than my fortune-teller series, so I came up with the ability to read minds. Then it hit me. What if you could suddenly read minds but only when touching the person. Even better, throw that ability in with a germaphobe and add in a big boisterous family. I love humor and this series lends itself to so many hilarious possibilities.

Indeed it does!

In your Sunny Meadows Mysteries series, Sunny also has a special gift. She’s a psychic. Is there a chance that they both exist in the same fictional world? How do you think Sunny and Mitch would do teamed up with Kalli and Nik? Would they get along? Would they catch the killer?

Funny you should ask that. I have always wanted to do a crossover book like they do with TV shows. I was thinking Sunny and Mitch would take a cruise or go to an all-inclusive resort on an island. Kalli and Nik would be there as well. A murder would happen, and the couples meet when they start investigating. I think at first, they would step on each other’s toes, but then they would work together to solve the case. And of course, the women would team up and use their abilities, putting themselves in danger and driving their detectives crazy.

That sounds amazing and we’re totally here for it! Let us know when you write it so we can all mark off a few days on our calendars to plop down and lose ourselves in it.

So, speaking of Kalli and Sunny, if you could have either of their gifts for a day, which one would you choose? And if you could keep it, would you?

Hmmmm, I’m not sure I would want to know what people were thinking all the time, and it would definitely be scary to have visions of what will happen in the future. I love being surprised by life. But if I could have one gift for only a day, I would probably choose to be psychic. I would love to look into the past and see what kind of life I lived before. How fascinating would that be?

So fascinating! Sign us up for that one, too. 

We think it’s fabulous that Kalli’s adopted. We don’t get to see that nearly enough in main characters. What influenced your choice in who her adopted family would be?

I agree, and I wanted to do something I hadn’t seen much of. Kalli is grateful for her family and loves them dearly, but I love that she’s so different from them. Again, it’s all about the humor. A germaphobe who doesn’t like to be touched, is quiet and shy, and has anxiety being raised by a loud, boisterous Greek mama, who’s all about hugs and kisses. I’m smiling as I type this. These books are so much fun to write.

Is there a member of the family that you never tire of writing for?

I love Aunt Tasoula! She is fun and quirky. I have such a visual in my head whenever I write a scene with her in it, especially when she teams up with her sister Ophelia (Kalli’s Ma). They tend to get into a whole lot of trouble. With my Sunny Meadows series, I love Granny Gert. She is based off my own Grandmother Gertrude. It’s my way of immortalizing her. Same with Great Grandma Tootsie. She is the real-life great grandmother of my husband, and she will be 108 years old on Christmas day.

Okay, we’re getting very close to spoiler territory if we go any deeper, so, finally, in ten words or less, why should readers pick up A Touch of Malice? What’s your one-floor elevator pitch for it?

Monk meets My Big Fat Greek Wedding with a twist!

Thank you so much for having me. Comment below for a chance to win a signed copy of the paperback. Good luck and happy reading 😉

 Thanks so much, Kari, for taking time out to talk to us! And you heard her, everyone, go leave a comment for Kari down below and it’ll enter you for a chance to win a copy of A Touch of Malice!


Kari Lee Townsend is a National Bestselling Author of mysteries & a tween superhero series. She also writes romance and women’s fiction as Kari Lee Harmon. With a background in English education, she’s now a full-time writer, wife to her own superhero, mom of three sons, one darling diva, one daughter-in-law & two lovable fur babies. These days you’ll find her walking her dogs or hard at work on her next story, living a blessed life.

You can find her at her website,  on Instagram,  on Twitter here and here, on Facebook here and here, and yes, even on TikTok!