Sunday, June 23, 2013

Meet Erika Chase & the Ashton Corners Mystery Readers and Cheese Straws Society

I'd like to welcome Erika Chase to our blog today. Erika writes the Ashton Corners Book Club Mysteries. Read and Buried is the second book in the series following A Killer Read.

Kathy: Thanks to Molly and Nathaniel, Lizzie gets to eat some delicious goodies. I'm dying for some of those cheese straws! However, no recipes are included in the books. Is that your decision or your publishers? Can we hope for some recipes in future books?

EC: That's so nice to hear, Kathy. However, I'm the first to admit, I'm not a cook nor a baker (although I have been known to contribute the odd blog and recipe to Mystery Lovers Kitchen). But I do love food. So, I include dishes that ring true to the setting and to my characters' tastes. Including recipes was never part of the discussion I had with my editor and I think, at this stage in the series, it's not going to happen. But, that's not to say it never will.

Kathy: Lizzie enjoys her time in the choir. Do you sing?

EC: I do sing. I've sung in several choirs over the years and absolutely love it. I don't do solos nor duets but have been found in a sextet at one time. I love the music, the challenge of making it sound right, and of course, the great friendships that evolve

Kathy: I love animals and enjoy finding them in my books, whether they play a large role or not. Edam and Brie (whose names I love, by the way) are a comforting addition to Lizzie's life. How did they come to play a role in the series? Are they based on any animals you know? Do you have cats of your own, or any other pets?

EC: Edam and Brie are in real life my Siamese cats, Mojo and Keesha. I've always been a cat person, although a dog did share our house for several years, much to the chagrin of the cats. I can't imagine not have a cat or two in my life and so it seemed natural to include them in LIzzie's life, too. Everyone needs a cat to keep them in line.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

EC: I blame it all on Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden. And years later, after attending my first Malice Domestic in 1989, I was hooked once again. I do read other types but prefer a good cozy where friendship and community are such a strong part of the novel. Also, in a cozy you know that justice will prevail and a happy ending is in store. I like my movies 'cozy' as well. I can get more than enough of the grittier stuff by reading the newspaper or watching TV news.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

EC: No, I do not. I was a reporter at one point and I have written non-fiction, mainly magazine articles.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

EC: The Ashton Corners Mystery Readers and Cheese Straws Society was challenged right at its very first meeting with solving a murder, other than what was between the book covers. The mixture of ages and tastes in reading of the members keeps the meetings hopping, while they unite in purpose when murder happens on their doorstep.

Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?

EC: I like them all but Lizzie is my favorite. She's a gal with a lot of sadness in her past -- her daddy was killed in a car accident when she was ten, her mama is now in an assisted living facility,and she has no siblings -- but she's optimistic and basically, happy with her life and her choices. She's not afraid to stand up for what she believes and she's tenacious enough to keep sleuthing to the conclusion.

Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?

EC: My own book club, which remains nameless -- because after twenty years, we still don't have a name -- is a source of friendship, lively discussion, along delicious food and wine. Our number one rule is, 'there must always be chocolate'. It's this sense of community that I wanted to develop in the Ashton Corners book club and being a good basis for some cozy sleuthing.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

EC: The guestion is really, what made me decide to write this series? The answer, because it's what my agent presented to me. It didn't take long for me to really get into the book club characters and how they interact both in their everyday encounters and in investigating murder. Coming up with the murders was easy.

Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?

EC: It would be an internationl dinner party and I'd invite: Andrea Camilleri, because I love his Inspector Montalbano series and its exotic setting of Sicily; Jeffrey Siger, so that he could present a slide show of the Greek Islands where detective Kaldis does his investigating; Martin Walker, who hopefully might bring some superb French wine from his Captain's village in the Dordogne; and, Colin Cotterrill because he's certain to be as witty as his character, Dr. Siri and have some interesting tales of Laos.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

EC: I'm reading Vicki Delany's latest Const. Molly Smith novel, A COLD WHITE SUN. It's the sixth in the series, set in small town B.C., during ski season. I'm a big fan of her police officer, with all her bravado and insecurities.

Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?

EC: I'm an avid walker and like to power walk every morning at dawn...okay, a bit later in summer since dawn is so much earlier. Reading and singing, of course, take up a large chunk of my time. I'm also involved with a local magazine shop that is now stocking mysteries -- I do the ordering for them, since I once owned my own mystery bookstore. I also love to travel but you know the saying, so little time, so little money!

Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.

EC: Almond butter; Almond Breeze; Cocoa Nymph Classic Dark Nymph chocolate bar; Key Lime Greek yogurt.

Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?

EC: I'm working in the fourth book in the series, BOOK FAIR AND FOUL, which will be out next year and, not surprisingly, involved a book festival.

Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?

EC: The writing. I love it when I'm in the zone, actually feeling a part of the action, and when everything clicks.

If you want to learn more about Erika Chase check out her website, Facebook page, and Twitter account.