Kathy: I am so lucky in that I live in the heart of New York Wine Country. Three different viticultural regions are a stone throws away from me. I take full advantage of this proximity going to different wineries for tastings and events.A setting in British Columbia wine country is of obvious interest to me. What can you tell us about the wines and wineries of this region?
CA: The Okanagan viticultural region is the northernmost "serious" wine producing area in the world, and it is Canada's oldest. Originally making wine for religious uses using largely north American stock to grow a small variety of grapes, the 1980's saw a lot of changes. "Old country" stock was introduced and the numerous micro-climates in the region allow for many different varietals to be grown. Now producing a wide range of single grape and blended wines around the chain of lakes that stretch over 125 miles from Salmon Arm in the north to Osoyoos in the south, right on the Washington State border, there are about 200 wineries, numerous hotels and B&B's as well as an ever growing number of wonderful restaurants, which often specialize in creating meals from locally grown produce. This is possible because the Okanagan is also famous for its fruits, vegetables, and herbs, as well being close enough to the coast to have access to world-class wild Pacific salmon, as well as many fish from the clean rivers in the area, and some excellent grazing land for all sorts of livestock. The wineries might have tiny, homey tasting rooms, or grand, well-developed public properties, including golf courses, concert arenas and offering many classes in horticulture, viticulture and crafts. Kelowna is the main city in the area, and it offers access to long sandy beaches on the lake, as well as a vibrant cultural and sporting life.
Kathy: I enjoy all sorts of wines, but my favorite is Gewurztraminer. Do you have a favorite?
CA: I’m a red grape girl! Other than champagne, which, in my case is a given, Mt Boucherie Family Estate Winery produces a delightful Blaufrankish, which pairs well with any food, a rich Melange Noir, for steaks and spicy foods, and a light Gamay Noir, which I pop in the fridge for summer evenings.
Kathy: Cait is a foodie. Are you a foodie too? If so, do you enjoy cooking yourself, or just enjoying the culinary delicacies of others?
CA: I think that, like Cait, I'm a fledgling foodie, more of a gourmand than a gourmet, but, also like her, I enjoy eating adventurously and lavishly when I have the chance to do so. However, I also love to be in the kitchen. Every meal I prepare is from scratch, though I don't make my own pasta (I've tried, with disastrous results!) or bread (ditto!). I think the most important ingredients in a kitchen are salt, butter, wine and love.
Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
CA: All my Mum's fault! She encouraged me to read Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, and Enid Blyton's Famous Five and Secret Seven series when I was young, then, aged about ten, I was allowed to "graduate" to her collection of Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh and Dorothy L Sayers books. Those authors' works are my oldest friends.
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
CA: Having published nine under-grad and post-grad marketing textbooks, I much prefer what I do now! That said, in my collections of short stories and novella, I have also written police procedurals (Detective Inspector Evan Glover cases) and madcap PI tales (The Ladies of the WISE Detective Agency). I enjoy writing the Cait Morgan Mysteries, but, if I have the chance, I'd like to be able to take my other characters on some more adventures of their own in the future.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
CA: Welsh Canadian Cait Morgan is a single, middle-aged professor of criminology at the University of Vancouver who specializes in victim profiling. She's able to use her incredible memory, her ability to read people and her psychological training to solve crimes which, sadly, present themself to her when she'd really rather be over-indulging in her foodie pleasures. She likes to travel - which is surprising, given what happens to her when she does. My books have been likened to “Christie or Marsh with a bouquet of Kinsey Millhone” (Globe & Mail).
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
CA: I like Cait. She’s feisty, and somewhat bossy, yet vulnerable. She's far from perfect: she's got a bit of a checkered history when it comes to relationships, so has become highly self-reliant and doesn't see her own faults as quickly as she sees those of others. She shares many of my own shortcomings – but I’ve given her some of her very own as well.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
CA: I'm Welsh Canadian, and I love to travel, and eat and drink as I do so...all I did was throw in my love of closed-circle mysteries, add a few quirks that are NOT my own, and Cait was born.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
CA: My Mum and Dad were very proud when my textbooks were published, and were over the moon when a short story I’d written was produced for BBC Radio 4 in the UK. When my Dad died I realized that I wouldn’t have forever to do what I wanted, and, coming from the generation I do, I suppose I thought that “traditional publishing” was something to which every writer aspired. I self-published two volumes, used them to try to interest a publisher (my second attempt worked) and then, on May 11th 2011, which would have been my late-father’s birthday, I was offered a contract.
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
CA: Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, PD James and JRR Tolkien. If Shakespeare were to drop by for dessert, I’d pull up another chair . . . or stand up myself and let him sit.
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
CA: I’m not, because I’m writing. I cannot read when I’m writing – I even find the newspaper a challenge! The last book I read was “The Complaints” by Ian Rankin, and I have “Death Comes To Pemberley” by PD James ready for when I have finished writing this book.
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
CA: I’m an avid gardener. We live on five acres and garden a lot of it. Living in a climate that’s relatively damp and mild, I’m able to indulge my love of rhododendrons (we have a couple of hundred now), hydrangeas and aspera (only about a hundred), roses (about fifty) and all manner of what one would call “English Country Garden” plants, like columbine, hostas, rudbekia, day lilies and lots of beautiful trees – we’ve planted about a hundred since we moved here ten years ago. My husband is a great hole-digger, whereas I enjoy ripping at the weeds while I plot!
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
CA: Well, they are always both pretty well stocked…but if I look as though I’m running out of any of these four things, I panic! Champagne (not necessarily Veuve Cliquot, which is my #1 choice and reserved for special occasions, more often than not it’s Cipes – a sparkling wine made using the champagne method by Summerhill Wines in the Okanagan), butter (salted for eating , and cream for baking), eggs (scrambled on toast, poached and tossed onto salad leaves, or to make an omelette/frittata, they are the perfect ‘go-to’ food) and, currently, my obsession is Nona Pia’s Merlot Cabernet balsamic reduction, made in Whistler, BC…wonderful on anything from strawberries to steak!
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
CA: In spring 2014 Cait visits Pacific coastal Mexico in THE CORPSE WITH THE EMERALD THUMB, and I’m currently writing the fourth book in the series, due out in the fall of 2014. There’ll be two more Cait Morgan Mysteries in 2015.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
CA: I get to work at home, with my dogs (two chocolate Labradors) at my feet – which is exactly where they are now!
Kathy: Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions.
CA: You’re very welcome – thanks for having me!
Want to learn more about Cathy Ace? Check out these links!