I'm pleased to welcome Christa Nardi to the blog today. Christa pens the Cold Creek Mystery series. Murder at the Theater is the the fourth book in the series.
Kathy: The drama program at Cold Creek College takes center stage in the fourth Cold Creek Book. Have you been involved in a college theatrical production?
CN: I’m afraid I’m not very talented and was always in the sciences rather then the arts. I remember going to a community theater in a neighboring town during high school. More recently, there is a community theater here and my husband and I enjoy the performances.
Kathy: A Christmas Carol, the production in question in this mystery, is a classic. What's your favorite version?
CN: The original, but colorized version, with Alastair Sim, is the one I remember growing up though that probably ages me somewhat. The shorter version didn’t have the same tension and I’m not a fan of animation. But then, I own copies of Holiday Inn and White Christmas with Bing Crosby and watch both every year!
Kathy: Having worked on a college campus for many years, I know the intrigue and drama that can be found there. As a professor, have you had similar experiences and did they influence Murder in the Theater?
CN: I am happy to say there have been no murders on any college campus I’ve worked at or attended as a student! There have been across the settings, people with irritating or quirky “personalities” who may have influenced character descriptions in the extreme. As with any work place, there are always tensions between administrators and faculty of course.
Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
CN: I’ve always loved mysteries and I like most of what would be considered mystery, but I especially like cozy mysteries. The major characters in cozy mysteries – the amateur sleuths – could be anyone, who in the course of doing whatever they do, happens to be involved in a mystery. They have a ‘regular’ life –solving crime isn’t their job or training. I’m a ‘regular’ person so I can relate to them.
Two other things about cozy mysteries appeal to me. There is limited blood and guts or graphic sex – I’m not a fan of “thrillers” or erotica. Lastly, most cozy mysteries do have a romantic subplot - usually the amateur sleuth with a detective and/or someone who may just be the killer or both as an added layer of tension. A little romance is a good thing.
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
CN: Nonfiction count? Textbooks? Not other than mystery in fiction. At one point many, many years ago (like 30), I started a scifi/fantasy, but never got very far and lost it with many moves over the years.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
CN: The Cold Creek Series is a cozy mystery series featuring Sheridan Hendley, a professor and psychologist at Cold Creek College turned amateur sleuth. It all starts with a dead colleague and a very nice detective, Brett, who needs her help to find the killer. In the second book, Sheridan is then asked to help when the Chief arrests a convenient suspect who others believe is innocent. In each book, Sheridan helps with the investigation to prove someone innocent.
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
CN: Of the “extras” in the series, my favorite would be Max and judging from reviews, others would agree. Max is the negative version of what many consider the typical researcher and academic with an added touch of drama. He’s fun to write into scenes.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
CN: Not really. I went with what I remember teachers telling us – write about what you know. I don’t think I ever really left school – I just moved from one role to another and from one setting to another. I knew it would be a mystery and just went from there.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
CN: A friend of mine was active in the regional writer’s group and I went to a meeting, then she dragged me to a writer’s conference, and then… it was easy to get caught up in it all and publishing fiction isn’t all that different than publishing non-fiction (just a lot more fun to write and read).
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
CN: That’s a tough one – hard to pick just four. Daphne du Maurier, J. R. R. Tolkien, Louisa May Alcott, and Ellen Crosby. I’m not sure what the dinner conversation would be like with that combination though. Could be interesting!
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
CN: Send in the Clowns by Julie Mulhern
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
CN: Other than reading or writing, I enjoy travelling, dancing, sports (as a spectator) and photography.
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
CN: Diet Coke (never Pepsi), chocolate, peanut butter, strawberry preserves – yeah, not the most healthy…
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
CN: Book 5 in the series is in the works – barely. I have started a new series as well – mystery but geared for high school and up (teen and young adult) reminiscent of what I enjoyed about Nancy Drew and the Dana Girls. The Hannah and Tamar Mysteries is a joint project with another cozy mystery author, Cassidy Salem.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
CN: My characters can be flawed or perfect or quirky or whatever I choose them to be. I get to solve the mystery I create the way I want. I get to set the story line and let the story unfold – with necessary rewrites and adjustments, of course.
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