Kathy: I love cookbooks! In fact, I collect them. I love all kinds, but particularly "vintage" ones and those written by groups as fundraisers. However, I rarely cook from them. Do you collect cookbooks, and if so, do you actually use the recipes in them?
DWG: I don’t collect cookbooks, but I do have a bunch of cookbooks. I mainly purchase cookbooks because I see a recipe I “have to have” and possibly a picture or two. I just bought a cookbook about peaches. I adore peaches! This has grilled peach recipes and all sorts of things I wouldn’t have considered.
Kathy: I'd love to visit the Cookbook Nook. Is your shop based on a real store, or is it a dream store?
DWG: I was invited to a booksigning in Occoquan, Virginia at a culinary bookshop called Salt and Pepper Books. I walked in and knew it was where I had to set my new series. The shop is/was darling--was because the owner has been enticed to move to a bigger store with lots more foot traffic at the National Gallery in Maryland. I can’t wait to visit! She sells lots of culinary mysteries. She has darling doodads and kitchen knickknacks. She hopes to offer cooking classes. And yes, she hopes to reopen the smaller store when the larger hits the big time. I’ve added a café to “my” store because I really wanted to offer those cooking classes early and have someone in Jenna’s world who was fabulous cook—enter Katie!
Kathy: What type of cookbooks do you like best?
DWG: Sweets. End of story. I adore sweets! Pies, cookies, cakes. Oh, and breads. I have gluten-free cookbooks for these types of foods, too, since I have to eat gluten-free.
Kathy: Jenna is just learning to cook. How would you rate yourself as a cook?
DWG: I’m pretty good. I’ve been cooking all my life. When I was a girl, I sold chocolate cream pies around the neighborhood. I remember making tons of pies during my teen years. We had fruit trees and berries on the vines. I worked as a caterer, and I waitressed and managed a restaurant. Cooking is where I find my calm. I love to experiment. With Jenna, however, I wanted to introduce a character who is just learning. Many of my fans aren’t cooks. They’re foodies. Jenna loves food, but her mother did all the cooking as she grew up. [This happened to my mother. She became a terrific cook, but she didn’t start until after she graduated college.] She’s on a learning curve.
Kathy: I love the way in that Tigger enters Jenna's life. Have you had an animal enter your life that way?
DWG: We found Angel, our sweet hound/shepherd mix (rest her soul) at the park. She was all skin and bones. She approached us and fell in love with my son. She followed him everywhere. She wasn’t wearing a collar. We asked around the park, but no one claimed her. We already had a golden retriever at home. We took Angel with us, and the deal was she could stay if Barney got along with her. Barney took her in like a champ. He adored her. They were best buds for a long time. When Barney passed on, we went to the pound and found Max, another mutt. Same deal. Now Angel was top dog, so she had to like Max. It was a tough road. She didn’t want to share us…until, two weeks into his stint, he started licking her ears. Oh, man, she was toast after that. They became best buds for umpteen years. They are all in heaven, and we’re just about ready to meet a new friend.
Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
DWG: I grew up reading Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie books, mainly Hercule Poirot stories. When I turned to writing, I started with mysteries, but I also tried my hand at thrillers. I love both genres. I ultimately turned to cozy mysteries because my publisher gave me an opportunity to write The Cheese Shop Mysteries. I love creating a small community. I love writing about an amateur sleuth and figuring out how she becomes embroiled in a mystery. I enjoy plotting how she works with the police and how she finds her own path to the truth.
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
DWG: Yes, I write thrillers. I’m reworking a couple I have previously written and hope to see them published in the future.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
DWG: Final Sentence, the first in A Cookbook Nook series, features Jenna Hart, a former advertising executive who returns home to Crystal Cove, California to help her aunt open a culinary bookshop and café. Jenna, who lost her husband two years ago in a boating accident, seems to have all the right ingredients for a fresh start—until someone adds a dash of murder. As a marketing expert, Jenna wants to make sure the grand opening of the Cookbook Nook draws a crowd, and no one is better at getting attention than her old college roommate, celebrity chef Desiree Divine. But when Desiree arrives in quiet Crystal Cove to do a cookbook signing, the diva stirs up more trouble than business…especially when she turns up dead.
I also write The Cheese Shop Mystery series, which features Charlotte Bessette, a cheese shop owner in the quaint, fictional town of Providence, Ohio. [Just so you know, Crystal Cove is also fictional – north of Monterey, south of Santa Cruz]. In the very first Cheese Shop mystery, The Long Quiche Goodbye, Charlotte’s grandmother, the woman who raised her, is accused of murder. How can Charlotte not get involved?
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character in your new series? If so, who and why?
DWG: I adore Jenna. She is sassy and plucky. She loves her family and friends. Although she has been hurt and had a lot of loss in the past few years, she still has a sense of humor, and she is ready to explore. I want to see her thrive. She is willing to learn how to cook. She takes in a wayward kitten. She attacks her new project with enthusiasm. That said, I love all my other characters. Aunt Vera is a hoot. She has quite a history. She’s independently wealthy. And she loves to tell people’s fortunes. Does she have a gift? That’s yet to be seen.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
DWG: I wanted to set the series where I would like to live, the beach. I grew up in California, and the coast of California has some of the most beautiful stretches of land. In addition, I wanted to build a world that had stores and restaurants that I would like to visit. I wanted the town to feature events that would lure tourists.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
DWG: Every author wants to be published. I didn’t decide, however. My publisher did. I wrote for a lot of years before being published. I took classes. I participated in critique groups. I wrote screenplays, as well, and created the format for a successful TV show, Out of this World.
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
DWG: Only 4?? Will Shakespeare (we would all call him Will), Mark Twain (should we call him Sam or Mark…up to him), Hilary Clinton (I’ve heard she’s a fabulous raconteur), Katherine (Kate, definitely Kate) Hepburn. I think we would hear some great stories, some great gossip. We’d laugh; we’d be inspired. I would want to make sure that a superb chef was on board for the event. Maybe Anthony Bourdain or Anne Burrell? Bobby Flay would be fun, too.
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
DWG: I am currently reading A Cookbook Conspiracy by Kate Carlisle. Next up is a new one by Jenn McKinlay, Cloche and Dagger, and another by Juliet Blackwell, Tarnished and Torn. I just finished The Diva Frosts a Cupcake by Krista Davis and Thread and Buried by Janet Bolin. Both were darling and fun reads. After that, let’s see, a few thrillers, another by Julie Hyzy, Peg Cochran, Lucy Burdette, Victoria Abbott, Cleo Coyle, Sheila Connolly…
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
DWG: I love to cook, garden, and do amateur photography. I take pictures of trees. I also love to swim and walk. Exercise is vital for me to keep my mind churning with ideas.
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
DWG: Cheese, eggs, fruit, brown sugar. I love brown sugar! If I can add a few more items, I’d include gluten-free flour and chocolate so I can make sweets!
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
DWG: Yes. I am writing three for A Cookbook Nook series. Next up is Inherit the Word, out March 2014 then Between a Book and a Hard Place, out October 2014. I am signed to write a total of seven for A Cheese Shop Mystery series. Next up is Days of Wine and Roquefort, the 5th in the series, out February 2014. And, as I said, I’m polishing a thriller I’ve been working on. I’m hoping that will land a publishing contract, too.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
DWG: Writing. Creating. Living with characters in my head that often “talk” to me. It’s total fun coming up with ideas. I never feel like my brain takes a rest. Something in normal life will spark a new idea, a new character, a new bit of dialogue. I love that! I love when writing comes freely. It’s hard when it’s a rear-in-chair day, but the work gets done. Also, I love hearing from readers who enjoy my books. What fun it is to know that I’m entertaining readers!
Would you like to win a copy of Final Sentence? If you live in the US (sorry, only US addresses this go around) just leave a comment by 11:59 EST tonight (July 14) and I'll use random.org to pick a winner. Please leave your e-mail address so that I can easily contact you. I'd also love it if you were a follower of this blog and a fan of its corresponding Facebook page. Thanks and Good luck!