Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Freezer I'll Shoot by Victoria Hamilton. This book is the third in the Vintage Kitchen Mystery. I really enjoy this series, and envy Jaymie Leighton all her kitchen goodies. I just started this adventure-but Jaymie is avoiding her mother by hanging out at the island cottage instead of her home. Her mother, as well as the mother of her sort of boyfriend are NOT playing nicely. We also catch a glimpse of the good looking detective sans crime far.

This book will be released November 5, 2013. I'll have an interview with the author November 3rd. Be sure to stop by!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Relative Danger Spotlight & Giveaway

Relative Danger is the first Cealie Gunther Mystery by June Shaw.


Relative Danger is book one in a trilogy featuring widowed Cealie Gunther, who “thinks” she wants to avoid her hunky lover Gil Thurman, but he opens Cajun restaurants wherever she travels — and she is so bad at avoiding tempting dishes and men.

The book features spunky widowed Cealie Gunther is a woman of a certain age whose zeal for adventure keeps her in the thick of things—like trouble. She pops up in town early to watch her motherless granddaughter Kat graduate, only to discover that because of a death—accidental—or murder?—graduation might not take place.

Determined to find the truth, Cealie snags a job as a substitute teacher, exposing much violence, lurking menace and more disturbing questions than answers. The only thing certain is that a killer has decided she and her grandchild need to be expelled—permanently.

Untreed Reads is giving away an e-book copy of Relative Danger to a reader of this blog! Just leave a comment and remember to include your e-mail address, as well as the format of your e-reader for a chance to win. I'll use to choose a winner. This is a relatively quick giveaway-you must leave a comment by 11:59 EST Monday night, October 28th.

If you want to learn more about June Shaw check out the following links:


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading an advanced readers copy of Paws for Murder and am loving it! This book is the first in a new series by Annie Knox, a Pet Boutique Mystery. Izzy McHale had a plan: marry her high school sweetheart, help him through medical school, then become a fashion designer in NYC. Well, the first 2 parts of the plan worked-then her husband dumped her and moved to NYC while she remained in Merryville, Minnesota to design fashions, but for 4 legged customers. Izzy has opened the Trendy Tails Pet Boutique. While Izzy creates custom clothes and collars for pets, her friend, Rena, bakes them treats. The local protester has the boutique in her sights and the night of the grand opening, after creating a scene, is found dead-with Rena as the number one suspect.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

An Interview with Pamela Rose

Pamela Rose joins us today. Pamela pens the Finn Sherlock Mystery series.


Kathy: Our amateur sleuth is named Finn Sherlock and her store, Sherlock's Home Mystery Bookstore, adjoins the 221b Bakery. May I hazard a guess that you are a fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle? How did you discover Sherlock Holmes?
PR: I have been a fan of Sherlock Holmes since I was a pre-teen.  The little country school I attended didn’t have a lot of books but they did have several belonging to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  Having already cut my teeth, so to speak, on Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys and Trixie Belden, I was looking for the next ‘flavor.’  Sherlock Holmes was a dream come true for this amateur sleuth with his methods of deduction.

Kathy: Finn has a twin sister, Echo. Is their relationship more akin to Sherlock Holmes and his brother, Mycroft, or Sherlock and Dr. Watson?
PR: Since readers know more about Dr. Watson and Sherlock, I guess they’re more like each other than we are allowed to know about Mycroft and Holmes, although some of that’s probably conjecture on my part.  Finn and Echo certainly squabble with each other, but just like Holmes and Watson, they’ve got each other’s back.
Kathy: There is a Civil War hiding place inside the bookstore. Are you a Civil War buff?  
PR: I’d have to say ‘no,’ and I think that time period has been romanticized somewhat.  I do have photos from that era, including one of a one-armed soldier with a hand-scrawled notation across the back, “Uncle Matthew.”   Many Americans aren’t aware that the Civil War was one of the bloodiest wars every fought, not only in deaths but in dismemberment of arms and legs—even more chilling in light of the fact that this was frequently brother against brother, or other family members.  (Maybe this is a good place to say that I have a friend who IS a Civil War buff!)

Kathy: It's almost Halloween. Are you a fan of the holiday? Have you ever participated in an event similar to the Fright Night Halloween Tour in the book?   
PR: Are you kidding?  I LOVE Halloween!  If you’ll pardon the pun, a ‘monster’ was created when I was a tiny little girl and my mother handmade me an Indian princess costume complete with dyed pigtails (supposedly black, but strangely with a purple cast to them) and leather moccasins.  She entered me in the local Halloween Parade Contest and I won first place!  I remember being lifted center stage with everyone towering over me, my hands full of prize money and candy and loving every minute of it.  Altogether it was pretty heady stuff for a six-year-old!

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
PR: About the same time that I discovered Sherlock Holmes, I started reading Agatha Christie.  I loved Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot.  The carefully woven plots with clues scattered here and there caused me (as they were intended, I’m sure) to pit myself against their attempts to uncover the murderer.  As time went by and other author’s works were added into my reading repertoire, this fondness for ‘amateur sleuthing’ only intensified.  Of course, it’s a malady I still succumb to…thankfully I don’t think there’s a cure!  Now, as a mystery writer myself I get a charge out of being on the other end of scattering the ‘red herrings,’ something which I equally enjoy.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?  
PR: My first book, “The Eyes of the Jaguar” was a mystery adventure taking place over a span of about five centuries, so it also has historical overtones, although it’s far from being a historical novel.  It’s still under the mystery genre, just a little different approach.  In other words, same church different pew.

Kathy: Tell us about your series. 
PR: The Sherlock’s Home series features my protagonist, Finn Sherlock.  There are a total of 26 books roughed out in the series, one for each letter of the alphabet.  ‘Contentious Crone’ was the first, the second, with a working title of ‘Indigo Idiot,’ is next.  From there…my muse has to give me a little direction, which so far, she has been loath to do!

Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?   
PR: I probably don’t have to tell you that characters are a little like children, you try not to have a favorite!  However…I will say that I love Uncle Oz.  He’s such a fun character, lots of unexpected behavior and yet he can be counted upon in the clinch.  I think perhaps I’m just enjoying exploring a male persona as opposed to the double X contingent!

Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?   
PR: Other than the Sherlock Holmes associations, the only inspiration is more like aspiration…I aspire to be as good a plotter as Agatha Christie!  However…that’s a skill I’m still developing.  Also, I’d love to be able to replicate Louise Penny’s facility in juxtaposing opposing human emotions into her mysteries.   She does this so skillfully a reader can get whiplash from the reversal in emotional direction; ‘pinballing’ from tense drama to delightful humor in the blink of an eye!  Now THAT’S skill.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?  
PR: You could say that I finally succumbed to the thought, “Gee…I’d like to publish a book someday.”  Lots of people say that…fewer actually do it.  You have to put those dreams in motion.  Also, I think it’s fair to say that as a person who has earned a pretty good living writing in advertising and other related venues, writing a book seemed like a natural progression.  Happily, that thought did not disappoint!

Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?  
PR: For me, that’s kind of an easy question, since I’ve had the opportunity to mull over the premise that there’s a reason my favorite authors are just that.  Living authors:  The aforementioned Louise Penny and another beloved fellow writer, William Kent Krueger.  If I could shoehorn in one more living author: Reed Farrel Coleman.  His Mo Praeger series is delightful.  Two that are deceased are Lewis Carroll who was so skillful at creating strange, new worlds and Pearl S. Buck who was not only a facile weaver of tales, but she did go on to win that little nugget called the Pulitzer Prize for ‘The Good Earth.’

Kathy: What are you currently reading?   
PR: Ah, I knew you’d ask that!  I just finished Louise Penny’s “How the Light Gets In” and I just started reading “Uneasy Spirits” by M. Louisa Locke, billed as a ‘Victorian San Francisco Mystery.’

Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?  
PR: Other than writing, I also love to repurpose old furniture and architectural pieces.  I’m now in the process of turning a vintage iron gate into a fireplace screen.  This process for me is a ‘two-fer.’  I get to create something beautiful and functional…and re-use something that might otherwise get discarded.  My home is French country which also has a lot of that whole ‘shabby chic’ thing going on.  Repurposed items figure into that quite nicely.  (It’s good for the planet too!)

Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.   
PR: Soy milk, Umami sauce, texturized vegetable protein…and dark chocolate.  Can you tell that I’m a bit of a health nut?  I bill myself as a vegetarian, but I suppose flexitarian might also work as I eat primarily a vegetarian diet but very occasionally will have a bison burger and try to eat fish a couple times a week for the omegas.  Boring…I know! (LAUGHS)

Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?  
PR: I’m working on number two in the Finn Sherlock series:  Sherlock’s Home and the Adventure of the Indigo Idiot.  I’ve fleshed out the plot and now I get to do the actual writing.  In this book, the Sherlocks are introduced to a person who’s ‘shtick’ (don’t you love that word?) is being an ‘indigo adult’…someone who is supposedly a link in the next step of human evolution.  Stay tuned…

Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?   
PR: There are so many things…primarily, I suppose, I like the outlet for expressing all the creativity.  It’s like a cartoon I posted on my Pamela Rose page on Facebook:  it shows a man in his underwear sitting on an exam table with the doctor gesturing towards the x-ray on the light board that shows a book inside the man’s chest cavity.  “Good news!  You’ve got a book in you just waiting to come out.”  In my case, I think it’s a flash drive since there are lots of books in there, elbowing around and waiting to get written.  Thank heavens that the birthing process for books is at least marginally easier than through the traditional birth canal!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Hero Worship by Dawn Calvert. Not a mystery, this book is a romance, a time-travel Regency romance. The book has a unique twist.  Andi Lofton-Hale is a modern day English teacher who falls in love with the hero of a Regency era novel. She wishes upon a wishing stone (given to her when she purchased the book) and is transported back in time, into the book itself. The problem is, she's not the heroine, she's just a minor character. The twist is that these characters know they are part of a book and are wont to go against the wishes of Louisa, the author. Andi struggles to overcome her character, be herself, and get her hero. I like the book, but am not enthralled. I thought I'd enjoy it a lot more and I'm not sure why I don't.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Fashionable Murder - An Interview with Barbara Jean Coast

I'd like to welcome two authors to the blog today, Andrea Taylor and Heather Shkuratoff, together known as Barbara Jean Coast. They write the Poppy Cove Mystery series.

Kathy: I've heard that publishers believe that US readers are less likely to buy a book set in Canada than in the US. I know that some Canadian authors do set their stories in the US, including you. Was it your decision to set the story in California? If so, was it more to do with the plot, or marketing? For the record, I'm a US citizen who enjoys books set in Canada too. I actually live near the border of Southern Ontario.

BJC: Honestly, we never thought in terms of borders, regarding writing, or life in general – American, Canadian, anywhere, it never crossed our minds. We spend a great deal of time in California, so it was a naturally creative inspiration to set the series there, from the appeal of the culture, lifestyle and time. It had everything to do with the plot, the setting almost becomes its own character and drives the story lines. We do have plans for a series possibly set in Canada in the future, but the muse of California spoke first and we did the most natural thing for us and answered the call.

Kathy: Barbara Jean Coast is actually Andrea Taylor and Heather Shkuratoff. How do you write as a team? Does one person work more on the plot while the other writes the actual words?

BJC: We talk a lot. We sit and write together, talking out the scenes and plots, it’s truly a joint effort.

Kathy: Strangled by Silk takes place in 1957. What made you choose this time in which to tell your story.

BJC: It was a time when the clothing was beautiful and the handcrafting of a custom made garment was a skill that was valued, but not out of place in a mid-sized community. Also, the social mores and attitudes of the time were fascinating. Underneath the polished veneer, bad things still happened, and the way they were handled in the public just lent itself to a mystery.

Kathy: Margot and Daphne own their own dress shop. Are you a fashionista?

BJC: Both of us really appreciate fashion. Heather comes from a background of dressmaking and design, more of the technical side of it, and Andrea loves beautiful clothes and accessories, the overall picture of an outfit perfected.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

BJC: We’ve both been reading them for years. We like how the characters develop and the details of their lives, work, hobbies and communities.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

BJC: Andrea writes a couple of blogs, one on creativity and the other is poetry. She’s also got a novel on the go set in the 1800’s.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

BJC: Poppy Cove Mysteries is a cozy book series set in the fictional town of Santa Lucia, loosely based on Santa Barbara in the late 50′s, early 60′s and revolves around the glamorous comings and goings of the social set of the town, with a little murder and mayhem thrown in for good measure. STRANGLED BY SILK, published by Cozy Cat Press, is the first in the series.

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

BJC: Daphne and Margot, of course, we love. They are their own sense of fabulousness!
AT: I also really like Loretta Simpson, the Santa Lucia Times Society Editor. She always gets the scoop!
HS: I have a soft spot for Nancy Lewis. She seems to get the short end of the stick at times. I’m rooting for her to get it right.

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

BJC: Probably the love of the beautiful setting, the glamorous time period, and the love of feeling fortunate to be given the gift to be able to tell it and share it with others.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

BJC: We were very pleased and honored when Patricia Rockwell at Cozy Cat Press chose to publish our first novel, and it felt like the right fit. We are very happy in our publishing home and feel fortunate to be in the company of some very talented writers.

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

AT: Tracy Chevalier, Charles Dickens, Susan Wittig Albert, and Michael Ondaatje. An eclectic group, there’s so many others as well.
HS: Let’s see to narrow it down, Lawrence Durrell, Daphne du Maurier, Alice Hoffman and Carl Hiaasen.
Our joint apologies go out to all those who we have to miss…can the rest of the unmentioned sit at the kids’ table ;-)!?!

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

AT: Pinkerton’s Sister by Peter Rutherford, Calamity at the Carwash by Sharon Rose and The Other Woman by Hank Phillipi Ryan.
HS: The Fall of Atlantis by Marion Zimmer Bradley and Don’t Cry Over Killed Milk by Stephen Kaminski.

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

AT: Reading, writing, cooking, collage, watching movies and television, really enjoying Downton Abbey, Sherlock and Mad Men lately. Jogging, yoga and meditation helps keep me centered and organized in my busy days.
HS: I definitely agree with the jogging, yoga, and meditation. I also read and enjoy cooking, listening to music, especially alt/indie and jazz. Sewing, even though I had done it as a past profession, is still a great passion for me.
Keeping up our Barbara Jean Coast persona through Daily Tweets, quips on Facebook and Pinterest from her fashion perspective gives us great joy and inspiration.

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

AT: Wine, peanut butter, cheese and jam.
HS: Nice one, Andrea. Caviar, olive oil, crackers and chocolate.

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

BJC: We’re currently writing our second in the Poppy Cove Mystery Series (we’re bumping off a Beauty Queen!), and have a solid outline for the third, with more to come. We’re talking out ideas about a couple of other series, but they’re still in the ruminating stage.

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

BJC: Being able to share our stories with anyone who is willing to read them, to welcome them into our world. It’s nice that the voices in your head have a place to go!

Want to learn more? Check out these links:




Facebook: "Friend" Barbara Jean Coast & "Like" Poppy Cove Mysteries


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Cake on a Hot Tin Roof. This book is the second in the Piece of Cake Mystery series by Jacklyn Brady. Rita Lucero is dealing with her first Mardi Gras as owner of Zydeco Cakes in New Orleans when her aunt and uncle arrive from New Mexico for a surprise visit. All is not well and things get worse at a party Rita is hosting. Obnoxious Big Daddy Boudreaux winds up dead after an altercation with Uncle Nestor.

I'm enjoying my second visit to Zydeco Cakes. Author Jacklyn Brady builds tension and knows how to hold it. Recipes are included.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Bloody Lessons-An Interview with M. Louisa Locke

I'd like to welcome M. Louisa Locke to the blog today. She writes the Victorian San Francisco Mystery series.
Kathy: San Francisco at the end of the 1800's has a unique historical vibrancy. What led you to choose this place and time to set your series?

MLL: I did a dissertation for my doctorate in history on late 19th century working-women, and one of the cities I researched was San Francisco. In 1880, this city was unusual for its rapid growth, ethnic diversity, social fluidity, and the sheer beauty of its hills and the Bay. After a detailed statistical analysis of the 1880 Federal Census and years of research reading diaries, memoirs, and other primary documents of the period, I knew the city well, and it was natural for me to pick it as the setting when I wrote Maids of Misfortune, the first of my historical mysteries. Subsequently, I have found that readers, whether they live in San Francisco, have visited there, or would like to visit, are very excited learn about what the city would have been like in the Victorian era.

Kathy: Historical mysteries require an extra special brand of research. What's your favorite method to research this time period?
MLL: Since I spent years doing primary research on San Francisco, I don't do a lot of new research for my novels. However, the internet has made the supplementary research for each story much easier. For example, there are websites that tell you when the sun and moon rose on a given day in 1880, what words were in common usage then, and what a Victorian corset feels like.

Because the parts of San Francisco my novels are set in were devastated by the Earthquake and Fire of 1906, I do have to spend a good deal of time pouring over old maps and photographs to make sure my descriptions are accurate. But I also visit San Francisco frequently, trying to come at the same time of year that the current book is set in to get a feel for the weather, where the sun hits buildings, and so forth. I guess that is the favorite part of my research!!

Kathy: Spiritualism as a religion began in the mid 1800's in Western New York and was flourishing by the end of the century. It was not uncommon for fashionable members of society to host seances and seek guidance from the spirit world. Annie Fuller is a "reluctant clairvoyant". How does she see herself in this role and the role of Spiritualism in society?
MLL: During my doctoral research, I was intrigued by all the women who advertised themselves as fortune-tellers, clairvoyants, and spiritual mediums in the San Francisco newspapers of this period. I knew that many Victorian era women used their supposed connections with the spirit world to justify participation in non-traditional activities like public speaking and giving medical advice—saying that it wasn’t them—but the spirits they were channeling—who were responsible. So it made sense to me that if my protagonist, Annie Fuller, had special economic expertise (having been educated in finance by her father) that she would have to “pretend” to get her advice from some sort of clairvoyance in order to be taken seriously.
However, she doesn’t claim to get these powers from the spirit world because this touched too closely on people’s religious faith for her comfort (and mine). Instead, as Madam Sibyl, she pretends to read her clients’ palms or cast their horoscopes. In Uneasy Spirits, Annie’s discomfort with her pretense is intensified when she is asked to investigate a fraudulent trance medium who is bilking innocent people of their money. At the same time, she also encounters a young woman, Evie May, whose odd clairvoyant talents she can’t explain and an honorable woman whose Spiritualist beliefs are deeply held, leaving her confused about whether Spiritualism was real or not.
Kathy: Bloody Lessons, while a historical cozy mystery, is also described as romantic suspense. I enjoy a bit of romance in my mysteries. What role does romance play in your writings?
MLL: I believe that romance is one of the chief ways to develop important parts of your characters’ personalities. Annie Fuller, a widow who had a disastrous first marriage, is understandably reluctant to get involved again, yet is attracted to Nate Dawson, the lawyer who helps her in her first case in Maids of Misfortune. He, in turn, is alternatively attracted and upset by her independence and flouting of social norms. Their romantic struggles and developing relationship in each book are one way to illuminate the social gender attitudes of the period, and it also provides possibilities for their own personal growth.
However, romance also helps tie the books in the series together. People who read mysteries want the crime to be solved by the end of the book. However, as an author, I want readers to continue onto to the next book—and the mystery of how the romantic relationship between couples is going to develop provides that motivation. Each of my books can be read as a stand-alone, but I would hope that a reader who starts with a later book might be tempted to go back to see how the relationship between Nate and Annie started and then read on to find out what happens next.
Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
MLL: As a professional historian, I spent most of my career reading and lecturing about serious and difficult topics like racism, poverty and war. As a result, I wanted to read something lighter for my entertainment. Mysteries in general appeal to me because they provide a puzzle that stimulates my intellect, but I like cozies in particular because they create a world where there is less ambiguity, where the people are generally likeable, and where evil is vanquished. They also have characters and situations that make me laugh. What’s not to like?
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
MLL: No. Writing is my second career, embarked upon at the age of 60, and while I like to read in a wide range of genres, I have never had the desire to write anything but historical mysteries. In my senior high school year-book, I wrote that I wanted to write “happy books.” That was 46 years ago, and I can’t think of a happier genre to write in than cozy mysteries!
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
MLL: My Victorian San Francisco Mystery series features Annie Fuller, a young widow who runs a boarding house and supplements her income as Madam Sybil, a pretend clairvoyant. Nate Dawson, a local lawyer and her romantic interest, and the people in her boarding house, aid her in her investigation of crimes. The books are accurate representations of San Francisco in the late 19th century, considering real historical issues like the narrow occupational options for women, the anti-Chinese movement, and the difficulties facing public school, yet the tone is light-hearted and humorous, with a touch of romance.
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
MLL: I conceived of my main protagonist, Annie Fuller, over thirty years ago, and I never grow tired of her. I find it amusing that when I first created her, I was just a few years older than she was, and since it took so long for the first book to be published, she is now younger than my own daughter. I suspect Annie Fuller is keeping me young at heart! But I confess, Dandy, the Boston terrier in my books, is my favorite character. I always am happy when I can insert him into a scene, and I even gave him his own short story, Dandy Detects. He reminds me of the two wonderful Boston terriers I had in my life, and he always makes me chuckle.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
MLL: While reading a diary by a 19th century San Francisco servant, Anna Harder (who kept getting locked out of the house when she returned from her one night off), I thought about how this was the perfect scenario for a locked door mystery. Then I thought about the fact that very few people would ever read my dissertation about working women, but if I wrote a series historical mysteries, each focusing on a different female occupation, I would be able to educate and entertain at the same time.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
MLL: Like many authors, I was frustrated by the traditional publishing route. I had no problem getting agents over the years, but never a publishing contract. Then small press I worked with went out of business before the first book ever saw the light of day. I also had friends who had successfully sold books in the 1990s, but a decade later couldn’t even get an agent to look at their work. I decided I didn’t want to spend my retirement years fruitlessly wasting time sending my one book out to agents and editors. So, fascinated by the opportunities that ebooks and independent publishing presented, I took the draft of Maids of Misfortune (written 20 years earlier), and self-published it. It turned out that people liked the book, and at the end of 2 years I was making enough income to retire completely and devote myself full time to writing and marketing my work. Best decision I ever made!
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
MLL: Georgette Heyer, Dorothy Sayers, Laurie King, and Deborah Crombie.
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
MLL: I am a member of the Historical Fiction Authors Cooperative (you can see website here), and I am currently reading and edition a draft by one of our members, a sweeping Victorian England romance, entitled Gods and Monsters, by V.R. Christensen.  
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
MLL: Reading has always been my primary hobby, although writing and marketing don’t leave me as much time to read as I would like. Now that I work from home, going out to lunch and talking on the phone with friends fulfills my need for social contact, and I have a water aerobics class 3 times a week that keeps me from becoming ossified wile sitting in front of my lap top.
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
MLL: Milk, almond butter, jam, and cheese. My husband gave me a Cheese of the Month Club subscription this year, and boy, am I having fun. 
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
MLL: My goal from the start was to feature a different female occupation with each of my books. Maids of Misfortune has my protagonist go under cover as a domestic servant. In Uneasy Spirits, it was the world of spiritualists that was described, and in Bloody Lessons, it was public school teaching. In my next novel, I hope to explore the women who made their living as printers and bookbinders. This was one of the oldest skilled trades held by women. In 1880, since the San Francisco Typographical Union barred women, they were forced to form their own associations. I don’t have a plot yet, but as I do research on this group I am sure I will discover some sort of crime for Annie Fuller to investigate!
But first, I am in the process of writing a short story that will feature Mr. Wong, a character from my first book. Wong was the cook in the household where Annie Fuller went undercover as a servant, and so many fans have asked to have him reappear that I thought I should give him a story of his own.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
MLL: I get to inhabit the world of my imagination, filled with men and women (and a dog called Dandy) that I have deep affection for, and then I get to share those people and that world with thousands of other people and actually make money doing so. I loved being a college professor, but I confess…this is better!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Murder and Marinara- Interview & Review

I'd like to welcome Rosie Genova to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Rosie writes the Italian Kitchen Mystery series, the first of which, Murder and Marinara, was released this past week.
Kathy: Victoria Rienzi is a popular mystery author who wants to write something different, a historical novel based on her family. Are you interested in genealogy? Have you researched your own family?

RG: I’ve talked to lots of family members, my mother in particular, about our family history. My great-grandmother had 17 children; my mother had 41 first cousins. There’s lots of story there! Recently, my son Adam began researching on an internet site, where we uncovered some interesting primary source documents, and tracked down relatives we didn’t know we had.

Kathy: Although Victoria grew up around a restaurant, one reason she wants to return to the Jersey Shore is to finally learn to cook from her grandmother. Did your grandma teach you to cook? How do you rate yourself as a cook: beginner, expert, somewhere in between, or don't even ask?

RG: One of my grandmothers specialized in Neopolitan cooking, and the other Sicilian. I spent time in the kitchen watching them, but I would say I taught myself to cook. I’m a good cook, particularly with rustic dishes. I’m not fancy and I’m not quite an expert, but I make a darn good pasta fagioli and my Bolognese sauce is more than respectable.

Kathy: Murder and Marinara is the first Italian Kitchen Mystery. If you could only eat one Italian dish for the rest of your life, what would it be?

RG: Homemade fresh pasta with marinara sauce, of course.

Kathy: Gio Parisi is a slimy reality show producer. What's your feeling about reality TV?

RG: It’s mixed. I dislike shows in which people are humiliated or encouraged to debase themselves. But I adore Project Runway and Top Chef. So you could say I’m conflicted about it.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

RG: My agent, who suggested I try my hand at one!

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

RG: I write women’s fiction as Rosemary DiBattista. I’m working on a limited series of romantic comedies based on Shakespeare plays.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

RG: The Italian Kitchen Mysteries are set at an Italian restaurant at the Jersey shore, featuring Victoria Rienzi, a mystery writer and amateur sleuth.

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

RG: My favorite character is Nonna, Vic’s grandmother. She’s based on my own grandmas, whom I miss very much.

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

RG: Several—the Jersey shore, my own family, and my love of good food. I’m also a fan of the Golden Age mystery authors, such as Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, and Josephine Tey.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

RG: I’ve wanted to be published my whole life, so it wasn’t really a decision. More like an obsession.

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

RG: William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, George Eliot and Virginia Woolf. And I’d be too terrified to engage in dinner conversation with any of them.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

RG: I am avidly following Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series, re-reading the late Barbara Michaels’ romantic suspense novels, and about to start Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies. Jo Baker’s Longbourn is also on my TBR pile, as I am an Austen fanatic.

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

RG: I love antiques, old movies, Shakespeare, walking around New York City, sitting on the beach, and when I get the time, sewing. Reading, of course, tops the list!

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

RG: Pasta, beans, tomatoes, and fresh fruit.

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

RG: I’ve signed for three books in the Italian Kitchen Mystery series. I’m playing with an idea for a time travel mystery series set in the 1950s. (If you love the idea, please tell my editor.)

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

RG: Meeting other authors. Learning from them, and forging friendships. It’s an exciting world.

You can find out more about Rosie Genova at her website or Facebook page



Murder and Marinara by Rosie Genova
The First Italian Kitchen Mystery
Did you ever want to do something different? Spread your wings a bit and do the unexpected? That’s what Victoria Rienzi wants to do in Murder and Marinara by Rosie Genova. Although she’s a successful mystery writer, Vic wants to write her dream story, a historical novel based on her family history.

She leaves New York City and heads home to the Jersey Shore and her family’s Italian restaurant, The Casa Lido. Instead of quiet writing time and family research, she discovers her former boyfriend is the new sous chef and her family is in the middle of a protest against a rowdy reality show and its slimy producer. When said producer winds up dead in the restaurant’s garden after eating a Casa Lido meal Vic finds herself in the middle of a real life murder mystery.

Rosie Genova has crafted an intriguing mystery with authentic Italian flair. Murder and Marinara transported me to the Jersey Shore. I could smell the cotton candy and feel the beach breeze even though I’ve never physically been to New Jersey. Victoria, Vic Rienzi is not only likable, but believable. In fact, all of the main characters have a depth to them, making them more real.

Rosie Genova delivers an enjoyable mystery filled with authentic characters. I see the possibilities within them and I look forward to watching them grow in future books. Although this particular mystery ended I want to come back to the Jersey Shore to see what else will develop. Plus, although Nonna is quite formidable, I’d love to learn some of her recipes!

Recipes are included in this book.