For the first time in nearly thirty years of marriage, Art McElroy Sr. buys his headstrong, disapproving wife a dozen yellow roses. Hours later he discovers her lifeless body seated on the toilet. Mae Rose McElroy’s sudden death leaves a void in her family and in the entire Midwestern farming community of Fairview. It’s a void Mae Rose will attempt to fill, herself, from the hereafter by meddling directly in earthly affairs.
Mae Rose’s meddling leads to her spiritual expulsion from heaven, and she winds up in the body of Mary Lee Broadmoor (Scary Mary), a crusty writer and director of exquisite horror movies. Mary Lee refuses to succumb to stage-4 pancreatic cancer until she gets one final shot at an elusive Oscar. Like Mae Rose, who argues with God for a return to earth, Mary Lee pleads, from her Hollywood deathbed, for more time to complete her work, as her hospice nurse, Gertie Morgan, looks on.
The two women’s spirits work together, and Mae Rose provides her host with a new script idea: a love story, based on her life! The script earns Mary Lee her coveted Academy Award, but the movie’s release shocks and disturbs Mae Rose’s family. They set out to find, and confront, the woman who has somehow co-opted, and publicly revealed, their personal tragedy.
Along the way, new love emerges as the reader meets a caste of crazy, eccentric, but highly memorable characters. “Death by Roses” suggests that relationships don’t end at death, but continue until their ultimate purpose is achieved. The universe has every resource at its disposal to get the job done. It also has an amazing sense of humor.
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Molly: What music, if any do you listen to when you write?
Vivian: Interesting question! There are books I have written to specific music but ‘Death by Roses’ didn’t have that component. That being said, I wrote a song that appears in ‘Death by Roses’ that has been recorded and is available to hear on our website. It is titled, “The Richest People in the World”. Web address is vivianprobst.com.
Molly: Are you a full time writer, or part time writer?
Vivian: I have a national consulting business related to an affordable housing tax program so I must split my time between both. That being said, my mind is always working on a story, even when I’m not sitting in front of my computer. Is it OK to confess that I get input particularly while I am in the shower or on the—ahem—toilet? If you’ve seen the cover of ‘Death by Roses’ that might be so shocking. I don’t know why that is, but it works.
Molly: Do you hope to one day be a full time writer?
Vivian: It is my dream to be a full-time writer. At the same time I realize that having another business keeps me attached to the real world, which could be important since my writing can put me in a different world—does that make sense? I have to remind people that I might be looking at them and carrying on a conversation, but if I pause, it’s because I’m getting a download or story piece coming in and I have to let it take priority at that moment.
Molly: Do you have a word count per day you try to hit?
Vivian: I don’t work with daily word counts. It could be because my life is shared with another business. I write what I am given, when I am given it. Sometimes it’s full days, other times it’s part days, some days not at all. I wonder sometimes about writer’s block and if that comes from demanding that the artistic mind keep working even if it wants a break. I don’t know the answer to that but it’s how my writing life works.
Also, there are days when I must do research which I count as a writing day even if I don’t put anything on paper.
Molly: When you finish writing a book, how long before you begin writing the next one?
Vivian: When I finish a book, the next one is usually waiting impatiently for me to give it attention. I do give myself time off to celebrate before I launch a new project but at times, I’m working on two books at once. It depends what is coming up each day. I like multi-tasking and variety so that seems to work.
Vivian Probst is an award-winning author and speaker whose message comes from an inner fire that compels her to search out the unique brilliance of every human being. She is an indefatigable researcher into matters of heart, mind, soul, women’s issues, science, language and the afterlife. Vivian ‘suited up’ for this work with a deeply religious background and early training in culture and linguistics.
A former missionary, then displaced homemaker living in poverty, Probst rose to become a national consultant to the affordable housing industry. She has captured the hearts of thousands with her unique gift of insight, humor, and her passion to bring out the best of who we really are through stories.
Since 2013, Probst has been a certified Practitioner of Akashic Records. She lives in Wisconsin and is happily married.