Friday, August 11, 2017

A Murdered Macaron Interview, Review, & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome R.L. Syme to Cozy Up With Kathy today. R.L. writes the Matchbaker Mystery series.

Kathy: In VANGIE VALE AND THE MURDERED MACARON a dating debacle brings Vangie Vale face-to-face with the Sheriff. Have you ever had a date go horribly wrong?

RLS: It's so funny that you ask this, because the scene in the book is based on a date I went on. (Not with a movie star, and it did not end in murder (or did it....?). But I was at a very fancy restaurant with a guy, and he got a phone call about a family member being in the hospital, and we ended up sitting at the hospital all night. Thankfully, the family member survived... Our relationship did not.

Kathy:Vangie owns a bakery. Do you like to bake? What's your favorite thing to make?

RLS: I love baking, and that's probably why writing Vangie is an easy fit for me. She bakes to relax. I cook to relax. But I do love baking. Probably my favorite thing to bake is cupcakes. But I will say, after doing about five test runs of the macarons from the book, I now love making macarons. Once I got the technique down, they were so rewarding.

Kathy:When you go to a bakery what treat are you most apt to buy?

RLS: Chocolate croissant.

Kathy:I'm a huge fan of The Great British Baking Show. Do you watch that or any other baking show?

RLS: I love all baking shows. I watch the GBBS, as well (loved-loved-loved Chetna from last year), and most everything on the Food Network. I really loved the baking show that Johnny Iuzzini did (The Top Chef version of baking). That was probably my favorite.

Kathy:What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

RLS: I've been reading and watching cozy mysteries my whole life. I think, after writing other brands of fiction for awhile, I found that I kept wanting to inject this mystery into the story, and my editors would say... we need to know more here, but I knew we really didn't. Of course, that's because I'm a mystery fan. And we want to figure it out for ourselves. :) So it's a very natural fit for me, as far as enjoying the genre.

Kathy:Do you write in any other genres?

RLS: I do. I actually write small town romance, and I wrote historical romance for a long time, but I really wanted to put too much suspense and drama in the books for the fans' liking. I like the romps and the adventures, so I am more drawn to cozy.

Kathy:Tell us about your series.

RLS: The Matchbaker Mysteries are all about Vangie Vale, who has been "exiled" to Montana, in a manner of speaking, and has to take over a bakery in order to fill her time. Her "other" job is as a part-time pastor in a very small church, so she has a lot of connections in this little town, and she gets into a *lot* of trouble... :)

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

RLS: Right now, my favorite character is Vangie. I love seeing what she's going to get herself into. She's got such a big heart, and she wants everyone to have a resolved and reconciled life, and for everyone to have justice, and I'm really looking forward to seeing where that crusade will take her.

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

RLS: I think the inspiration for this series is really my home state of Montana. I've been living and working in small towns a good portion of my life, and I love them. I grew up in a small Montana town. I feel like I breathe these little places, and I want to write about them. Saint Agnes is a conglomeration of a lot of small Montana towns, but it's still like my home.

Kathy:What made you decide to publish your work?

RLS: I was published by a house first, and I think I've always known I wanted to be an author. I hadn't finished a novel until I was 21 years old, and then, I just got addicted to finishing books. So, of course, I want to share them when they're done. I love it.

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

RLS: TS Eliot, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Carolyn Keene, and AA Milne. Eliot and Hopkins because their poetry has had a profound effect on my life and I'd just like to spend some time with them. Carolyn Keene because her Nancy Drew books are part of why I became a writer--they're the most vivid reading memories I have of my young childhood. And AA Milne because of Winnie-the-Pooh, which has always been my favorite world. If I could live in one fictional world, it would be Winnie-the-Pooh.

Kathy:What are you currently reading?

RLS: I'm reading THE LIKENESS by Tana French. It's a book I've loved since Margie Lawson first introduced me to it. I adore her writing, and I really love how she weaves mysteries. Her Dublin Murder Squad books are probably my favorite series of mystery/thriller books right now. Aside from Robert Dugoni.

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

RLS: I am a musician--in fact, my longest relationship with any art would be music. I've been playing the piano practically since I was born. My mother and grandmother were both pianists, and my mother is also a guitar player and a singer. My dad is a guitarist, my grandpa was a guitarist. It's like music is the lifeblood of our family. So part of my desire to do music is a nostalgic one, I'll admit. But the piano is what relaxes me. That, and crocheting.

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

RLS: Zucchini, eggs, avocados, and mushrooms. lol. I eat mostly Whole30 and Paleo right now, so my fridge and pantry are pretty healthy, for the most part. But I feel fantastic, I will say.

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

RLS: Yes, there will be many more Vangie Vale books. Not sure how many yet, but as many as I have room in my mind for. She has a pretty complicated backstory (most of which you don't know yet, in the first book), and I'm looking forward to getting into her life. I'm hoping to hang out in this series for quite a few years.

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

RLS: Happy endings. I get to write everyone getting their reconciliation, their answers, their justice. Life isn't always like that. But I love that I can write a world where the uncertainty is always resolved. It helps me to have hope for the world.



The First Matchbaker Mystery

Vangie Vale has been relocated to Saint Agnes, Montana. A part time pastor and more time baker, Vangie is doing penance, biding her time, and creating delicious baked goods in her bakery. When a stuck up southern belle named Scarlet gives a parting dig to Vangie and her friend, Vangie decides to assist karma and gives the woman and her blond James Bond type partner incorrect directions. Yet by giving in to her baser instincts, Vangie unwittingly sets a disastrous chain of events in motion. A woman is found murdered with a box of Matchbaker cookies by her side and the misdirected couple is detained by the police. Now Vangie is going out of her way to put things right. But who's telling the truth? 

There's a lot going on in VANGIE VALE AND THE MURDERED MACARON.  Everybody lies. And most of those lies are accepted as truth. Readers too, are unaware and accept the lies as truths, just like Vangie. As the truth changes, everyone must revisit all they've learned and readjust. There are a lot of characters as well, each important, and each with his or her own issues and agendas. There's also a lot of important backstory of which readers and most characters are unaware. Important information is hinted at and will hopefully be slowly revealed in future books. 

This first book in the Matchbaker Mystery series looks at human nature, and the motivations within us all. A complicated story, VANGIE VALE AND THE MURDERED MACARON, introduces us to a unique protagonist with a hidden background. Vangie Vale is an intriguing character. She's a pastor with issues. She makes mistakes, acts out in anger, and then does all she can to make peace and rectify what she's done.

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  1. Loved the interview. Thanks for the heads up to a new author and read. I am looking forward to reading about Vangie and her case.
    Della at deepotter (at) peoplepc (dot) com

  2. The main character sounds interesting, the actions are not what one expects from a pastor so would am curious about what moves her to the misdirection.
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  3. This is a new series to me. I really enjoy culinary mysteries and this sounds like an amazing read. Looking forward to reading.

  4. This is a new series to me. I really enjoy culinary mysteries and this sounds like an amazing read. Looking forward to reading.

  5. I really enjoy the food cozies. Maybe that's why I'm always hungry.

    Thanks for this opportunity.