I'm pleased to welcome Nicole Leiren to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Nicole writes the Cocktail arc of the Danger Cove Mystery series.
Kathy: HEROES AND HURRICANES is part of the Danger Cove Mystery series in the Cocktail Mysteries. Do you enjoy cocktails? Have you ever had a hurricane? What is your favorite mixed drink?
NL: I love this question! 😊 Yes, I do enjoy cocktails very much. I had my first hurricane at Pat O’Brien’s in New Orleans. Now, to be honest, I think their version of hurricanes is a bit stronger version than your average bar’s rendition, but it went down smoothly and went straight to my head! That was the first drink I had that night and, after it, I only managed a couple more before we had to call it a night. I stand by my belief that their secret ingredient HAS to be high octane alcohol 😊 My favorite mixed drink is Malibu and Diet (Pepsi/Coke, either works.) It gives me enough caffeine to keep me going and how can you go wrong with coconut rum? (Just ask Jack Sparrow, he’ll back me up on this one!)
Kathy: Lilly Waters gets a bartending job at the Smugglers' Tavern. Have you ever tended bar? Or wanted to?
NL: Sadly, I have not ever had the opportunity to tend bar – I’m always on the other side of the equation. It is, however, one of those things I’d like to learn and do – even if it’s just for a short time and for fun – once in my life. I love meeting new people and hearing their stories – what better place to do that?!
Kathy: Lilly is new to Danger Cove and is trying to reconnect with her ancestral roots. Have you ever looked into your own family tree?
NL: My mother has shared with me some information about my family tree – going back at least a couple generations. I was excited to learn my great, great grandmother was full-blooded Native American. It is kind of cool to see how those traits (dark black hair and deep brown eyes) are in two of the four children my grandmother had. The other two (my mom included) are both fair skinned and light complexion. Ancestry is fascinating! I have never formally looked into it though by going to some of those websites or sending DNA in, etc. I have a friend who does that though and she’s met some family she didn’t even know about and learned so much about her family history. Maybe I should put that on the bucket list too!
Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
NL: I have LOVED mysteries for as long as I can remember. I cut my mystery teeth on Encyclopedia Brown, then grew into Nancy Drew and Hardy Boy mysteries. I’m pretty sure I read some cozy mysteries when I was younger, not even realizing they were officially cozies 😊 In the last few years, I started reading them more, including one of my favorite series by Julie Hyzy, The White House Chef Mysteries. I still love the “whodunnit” aspect of the stories and enjoy reading for the little clues the author has dropped throughout the story. I think that’s what draws me to it the most – solving the puzzle!
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
NL: I’ve written some contemporary, sweet romances (Heroes of the Night series) that were published in 2015 and 2016. I’ve also written a story that is unpublished as of right now that combines mystery, suspense, and a touch of romance (those are a few of my favorite things LOL)
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
NL: The Danger Cove series has many different story arcs (quilting, bakery, farmer’s market, etc.) I write the cocktail portion of the series. The great thing about these stories is that even though they’re written by different authors, they take place in the same town. The authors work hard to have crossover of characters between their stories so it’s lots of fun for the readers and you definitely get that small town feel.
My Heroes of the Night series is a military romance and tells the story of three men who served together in Afghanistan. They are what I like to call real-world heroes. They weren’t special forces – just regular guys serving their country in the best way they knew how. My stories deal more with how they work to adjust to life AFTER completing their service to the country. It’s definitely an opposites attract romance that should make you smile, laugh, and maybe even cry from time to time.
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
NL: I love Lilly Waters, of course. She’s my main character in the cocktail mysteries, so she goes without saying. However, each of the other characters are special to me in their own way. A recurring character in both Heroes and Hurricanes and the upcoming release, Deadly Dirty Martinis, is Abe Sanders. He’s a grandfather figure to Lilly and I love the way the two of them interact. I love Mandi’s trivia that she shares – sometimes at the most inopportune times LOL And Tanner – well… Okay, so I guess I can’t pick a favorite 😊
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
NL: As I mentioned earlier, I love meeting people and hearing their stories so when I was asked to submit an idea for the Danger Cove series, my first thought was Smugglers’ Tavern! My experience with the hurricanes at Pat O’Brien’s and the hero theme I have had for years now, all combined to create the inspiration for Heroes and Hurricanes. The idea of Lilly’s grandfather being MIA from Vietnam came when I visited the Palm Springs Air Museum and saw the commemorative bracelets that had been made during the time of the war to help raise money and awareness for the POW/MIA soldiers. That touched me deeply and so I wanted to be able to incorporate it in some way into my story. Lilly’s charm bracelet was a tribute to that inspiration.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
NL: I had been writing fanfiction for probably seven years and loving it! I had a large number of readers who enjoyed my work and so I thought that maybe I should/could create my own characters and tell their story. I met a man on a plane who sparked the inspiration for the character Daniel in the first book of my Heroes of the Night series, More than One Night. The rest they say…is history. 😊
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
NL: Oh this is a tough one! Limiting it to four is difficult 😊 I would definitely have Sara Paretsky on the invite list. I’ve been reading her V.I. Warshawski novels for years and admire not only how she tells a story (set in the area I live in!) but also how she helped blaze a trail for women authors in the area of mystery. I’d love to meet Brian Haag as he’s one of the few authors that have been able to surprise me with plot twists and turns in his story. I literally gasped out loud in Union Station while reading one of his stories as I didn’t see something coming! I’d love to have J.K. Rowling at the table to talk to her about plotting and world building. And, if I have to limit it to just one more…I’d say Jeffrey Deaver. He’s a master at story telling and getting you to look one way while things are happening in a completely different manner.
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
NL: I’m currently reading an ARC for an author friend. The title is Another Lifetime by Karen Bedore. It combines beautiful descriptions of the Renaissance era, a love story, and a little time travel just to keep things interesting 😊
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
NL: I love music and dancing. My tastes are very eclectic – on my playlist you’ll find anything from hymns, acapella music (love Pentatonix), The Piano Guys, all the way to pop, hip hop and even some rap.
Truthfully, between working a full time job, family, and writing, there’s not a lot of time for other interests or hobbies. I do enjoy getting to sleep some every now and then and naps have become a favorite pastime!
My favorite place/thing to do in the world is sitting on the beach, watching the sunset over the ocean. It’s peaceful and I find a great sense of contentment there.
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
NL: Lemon or lemon juice (I drink lots of water and love to have lemon in it.)
Chips and queso/salsa. This is one of my favorite snacks!
Chocolate. No need to elaborate on that one LOL
Cherry/grape tomatoes. I LOVE just walking by the counter, grabbing a few and popping them into my mouth. A nice little treat (and without any guilt! Total win/win 😊)
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
NL: Deadly Dirty Martinis, the next book in the Danger Cove Cocktail series is due out in November. Tequila Trouble has an anticipated release date next summer.
I’m also working on a new cozy series, set in the fictional town of Applewood, Wisconsin (in the Door County area for those of you who are familiar with that area of the country.) I hope to get something to my publisher in the next month or so. I hope to have the first book in that series out maybe late 2018.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
NL: Hard to narrow it down to just one thing! If I had to, though, I think it would be meeting (either in person or online) someone who has read one of my stories and having them share with me how it affected them – made them laugh, cry, smile, etc. As a storyteller, I find no greater honor than knowing someone read my story and allowed it to be a part of their life for the time that they were immersed in my version of the world.
For more information check out the following links:
"Heroes of the Night" Series - https://goo.gl/1ecdph
Heating Up The Night (Killer Beach Reads Anthology) - More Than One Night - Remember The Night
Danger Cove Mysteries:
Heroes & Hurricanes - May 23, 2017 - https://goo.gl/1ecdph