I'm happy to welcome Maya Corrigan to the blog today. Maya writes the Five-Ingredient Mysteries series. Final Fondue, the third book in the series, was released June 28th.
Kathy: When I was a little kid I remember my mother always getting out the fondue pot when entertaining, at least for adult occasions. Were fondue pots a special thing when you were growing up?
MC: Though my mother never served fondue at home, it was popular when I was a teenager. I got married in my early 20s and received a fondue pot as a wedding gift, as did many others who married at that time. One pot wasn’t enough to hold a fondue party. I bought a second one so that I could serve different types of fondue. When fondue was no longer popular, my pots went to a thrift shop. I lived to regret that move. While writing Final Fondue, I bought a vintage pot similar to the one I received as a wedding gift so that I could try out recipes.
Kathy: In Final Fondue Val helps her grandfather perfect his chocolate fondue. My mom usually made a cheese fondue. Do you have a preference? Or a special fondue recipe?
MC: I’m partial to chocolate fondue. Final Fondue includes two recipes for dessert fondue: First Fondue (the Swiss Toblerone milk chocolate recipe that started the chocolate fondue craze) and Fast Fondue (my updated dark chocolate fondue made in a microwave, no special fondue pot required).
Kathy: Do you currently break out the fondue pot for parties?
MC: My book launch party for Final Fondue will feature cheese and chocolate fondue. I also plan to serve my grandsons fondue when they visit because they love dipping their food in sauces.
Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
MC: I enjoyed reading the classic mysteries of Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, and Ngaio Marsh, as well as the pioneers of the modern cozy, like Carolyn Hart, Joan Hess, Dorothy Cannell, and Nancy Pickard.
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
MC: The Art of Deceit, my literary suspense-romance, won the Daphne du Maurier Award and the New England Readers’ Award for unpublished mystery/suspense and was a finalist in the Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Competition. Since I began writing my cozy series, I haven’t had the time to look for a publisher for that book, but I plan to do that next year.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
MC: My Five-Ingredient Mysteries feature café manager Val Deniston and her grandfather, the Codger Cook, who solve murders in a historic town on Maryland’s Eastern Shore near the Chesapeake Bay. Each book has five suspects, five clues, and Granddad’s five-ingredient recipes.
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
MC: Granddad is my favorite character. He serves as Val’s confidante and sidekick, although he would say she’s his sidekick. He’s good for comic relief when his cooking experiments go awry. Because they have different value systems and challenge each other’s assumptions, Val and Granddad arrive at conclusions that neither would reach alone. They make a good team though their relationship is not always smooth. They have typical male-female and old-young conflicts, as well as generational differences in food, cooking, and eating that I enjoy exploring in the book.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
MC: I based the grandfather character on my father. I grew up in a traditional family with a stay-at-home Mom who planned and cooked every meal we ate. When she was 82, she underwent chemotherapy, which left her barely able to get out of bed for months. So my father, at age 85, took over the cooking and housekeeping, doing all the things for her that she’d done for him for the previous 60 years. He continued cooking even after my mother recovered and often boasted about how few ingredients he used to make dinner. That’s the story behind Granddad’s obsession with five-ingredient recipes.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
MC: I wrote my first novel when I was thirteen, pecking it out on a manual typewriter. As I finished each chapter, I gave it to my best friend and watched her read it. It thrilled me to see her smile and laugh. Knowing I'd created a story that entertained someone made me want to be a writer. I spent a lot of my professional life writing nonfiction, including academic papers and technical manuals—not the most entertaining fare, but that’s what people paid me to write. Now I’m thrilled to be writing fiction again and hoping that my books are as entertaining as what I wrote when I was thirteen.
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
MC: I enjoy wit and verbal fireworks, so I would invite Jane Austen, Edgar Allan Poe, Oscar Wilde, and Tom Stoppard. I also enjoy mixing guests from various backgrounds at dinner parties. Those four wrote in different eras and a variety of genres. Though they might not agree with each other, the conversation among them would sparkle.
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
MC: I’m currently enjoying Curtis Sittenfeld’s Eligible, a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice. While reviewers have praised the book, many ardent Jane Austen fans feel Sittenfeld doesn’t do justice to the depth of Austen’s characters. She does, however, create believable 21st-century characters and conveys the complexities of modern marriages. She also satirizes society through its courtship rituals, just as Austen did two centuries ago.
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
MC: When not reading or writing, I enjoy cooking, crosswords, trivia, tennis, and snorkeling.
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
MC: Only 4? I keep a lot of different kinds of food around. Here are 4 items I can’t live without and would go out to buy in the middle of the night if I ran out of them: butter, garlic, crusty bread, and eggs.
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
MC: I’m currently writing the 4th book in the Five-Ingredient Mystery series and have a contract for a 5th book in the series.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
MC: As a left-brain person, I’ve found it wonderful how my right brain gets into the act. I have an outline and many details worked out before I start writing a book, but in the process of writing, my creative side kicks in and tells me to go in a different direction from the way I’d planned. So the story changes as I go along. Sometimes I go to bed with a lingering writing problem. I can’t figure out how to liven up a scene between two characters or where to insert a clue. The next morning I wake up knowing what to do because my subconscious has been busy during the night. It’s a great feeling to use the whole brain.
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