I'm pleased to welcome Suzanne Trauth to the blog today. Suzanne pens the Dodie O’Dell Mystery series. Show Time, the first book in the series, was released earlier this month.
Kathy: In Show Time we meet Dodie O’Dell who manages a restaurant that dishes dinners themed around the community theatre’s latest productions. Have you ever prepared themed dinners? If so, what were some popular themes, or some unpopular ones?
ST: I’ve been in a book club for many years and in the early years we had a theme dinner (with costumes) for each book we read! There were hits and misses…we read Memoirs of a Geisha and while the kimonos we wore were wonderful, we ended up eating dried, salted fish from an Asian market. It was a challenge to eat. Now we also read several books with southern themes and ate fried chicken, greens, mashed potatoes, and pecan pie! Delicious!
Kathy: My undergraduate degree is in theatre and prior to that I performed in various community theatres. Have you ever been involved with community theatre?
ST: I’ve worked at many theatres – academic, professional, and community as a director, actor, playwright, and producer. I’ve been immersed in the performing arts for most of my life.
Kathy: The Etonville Little Theater is putting on a production of Romeo and Juliette. Is this a favorite Shakespearean play for you?
ST: I am a Shakespeare nut! I love all of his works and love seeing a wide variety of interpretations. Even on roller skates! But Romeo and Julie is special. I’ve seen a number of productions of the play. It just seemed to lend itself to the mystery series: love story, potion, challenges with verse! And of course it’s quite a challenge for the Etonville Little Theatre…
Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
ST: I started reading mystery stories when I was young – Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden – and then graduated to adult cozies and thrillers. I love the whodunit aspect of the cozy mystery. And I enjoy a good sense of humor!
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
ST: Yes, I write both plays and screenplays. It’s interesting to change it up when writing, moving from one genre to another.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
ST: The Dodie O’Dell Mystery Series features Dodie O’Dell who moves to Etonville, New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy destroys her home and place of work. She manages the Windjammer restaurant which is located next door to the Etonville Little Theatre. Voila! Themed dinners to promote both the plays and the restaurant. But of course she finds herself knee deep in the affairs of the theatre so in Show Time when her good friend and ELT member is found murdered, she HAS to jump in and help investigate…
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
ST: Of course I love Dodie for her proactive approach to problems, sense of humor, and creative problem-solving! But I get a kick out of the gossip-mongers Banger sisters and computer whiz Pauli – who is essential to Dodie solving the mysteries.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
ST: Though Etonville is fictional it is based on a couple of northern New Jersey towns near where I live. Besides my experience in the theatre, I also work at a gourmet soup kitchen and my time there offers lots of restaurant/dining/menu ideas!
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
ST: I’d published plays and academic books prior to this but I decided I’d try my hand at fiction. The folks at Kensington Books have been very helpful.
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
ST: Well, William Shakespeare, of course, Elizabeth George, a wonderful mystery writer, David Sedaris (love his sense of humor), and Janet Evanovitch.
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
I recently finished Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life and Anne Tyler’s A Spool of Blue Thread.
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
ST: Besides reading a range of mystery and non-mystery books, I love movies and crossword puzzles to relax and give my mind a break! There are also wonderful series on TV these days and with DVR I can save and view later.
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
ST: Peanut butter, tea, orange juice, and frozen yogurt!
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
ST: Yes, the second Dodie O’Dell Mystery – Time Out - will come out at the beginning of 2017, and a third book is on the way.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
ST: I love the creative freedom and feeling of getting lost in the writing process. It’s also such fun to see the cover of the book for the first time and know that something is really being born!
SHOW TIME by Suzanne Trauth
The First Dodie O’Dell Mystery
Hurricane Sandy destroyed much of the Jersey Shore including Dodie O'Dell's place of employment. So Dodie packed up and moved inland, to the small town of Etonville, where she manages the casual Windjammer restaurant. Dodie also joins forces with the Etonville Little Theater, located next door, creating dinner theatre events for residents of their community. The theatre's director has chosen to perform Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, perhaps biting off more than the little community theatre can handle. When Lola, her good friend and troupe member, asks Dodie to help organize rehearsals, Dodie jumps in to lend her managerial skills. Dodie finds herself almost as in over her head as the director when Jerome, a fellow mystery reader and treasurer of the theatre is found murdered. Now it's up to Dodie to calm her boss, who's worried over a new restaurant in town, assist the good looking chief of police, whether he wants her help or not, and make sure that the show goes on!
SHOW TIME is an engaging new series turning the fun as well as the challenges of community theatre into a backdrop for murder. The mystery itself is compelling and well plotted. Character foibles add intrigue as well as red herrings as Dodie and Chief Bill Thompson search for the truth. Dodie is a down to earth, likeable protagonist with enviable organizational skills and a penchant for trouble. The spark of romance between Dodie and Bill adds an extra dimension to the mystery as each needs to balance what information is shared with the other.
Suzanne Trauth introduces us to a new world in SHOW TIME. Family restaurants, community theatre, and charming small town New Jersey make Dodie, as well as readers, feel at home. Despite many issues, murder included, one must never forget that in the end it's show time!