Friday, September 22, 2017
Gone With the Wings - An Interview & Giveaway
I'm happy to welcome Leena Clover to the blog today. Leena writes the Meera Patel Cozy Mystery series. GONE WITH THE WINGS, the first book in the series, was released earlier this summer.
Kathy: In GONE WITH THE WINGS we meet Meera Patel who has moved back with her family after dropping our of graduate school. What makes a small college town in Oklahoma the perfect setting for your mystery series?
LC: College towns have a vibe of their own. Even tucked away in the heartland, they are a melting pot of different cultures and influences. There is a variety of people from across the world interacting with each other. This provides plenty of possibilities for a mystery setting. Anything can happen, and it does!
Kathy: Meera mixes up fusion recipes at Sylvie’s Cafe & Diner in Oklahoma. My mouth watered when I read the words Masala Fried Chicken. What do you love most about South Asian food?
LC: South Asian food is so versatile. All the aromatic spices and rich flavors give a cook plenty of ways to experiment. I love mixing and matching various spices to create unique dishes.
Kathy: Do you enjoy cooking or do you prefer to just write about it?
LC: I love cooking! I’ve been trying out recipes in the kitchen since I was very young. Writing about it allows me to share my creations with my readers. I really hope they try out the recipes given in the books. Some of the recipes like the Masala Fried Chicken are just an extension of the basic recipe and not too intimidating, I hope.
Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
LC: I always enjoyed reading mystery books. I rediscovered the ‘cozy mystery’ genre as it is called today when I started reading on my Kindle. I have always liked a good puzzle. Writing a cozy mystery allowed me to focus on clues without dealing with any guts or gore or profanity. Meera and her friends talk to people and do some old fashioned analysis. Readers can follow the clues and often figure out who the culprit is.
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
LC: Not yet. I want to write more cozy mysteries. Look out for a new series next year.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
LC: The Meera Patel Cozy Mystery Series centers around Meera and her family. Meera finds herself at a crossroads in life. She gets pulled into solving mysteries to help her friends and family. But what does the future hold for her?
All books can be read as a standalone. But there is also an overarching plot about Meera and what is happening in her life.
The series offers a glimpse into South Asian or Indian culture, highlighting food and festivals and certain aspects like the joint family with many generations living in the same house, stress on higher education etc.
Translations are included inline wherever ethnic terms are used and a glossary is also included at the back. Every book contains both fusion and Indian recipes for adventurous cooks.
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
LC: Motee Ba or Meera’s grandma. She raised her own kids, moved to a foreign country and then raised her grand kids. She’s elegant and lady like with a strong loyalty toward friends and family. She is the one Meera always goes to in times of crisis. And she’s an active senior. I hope I have half her energy when I cross 70.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
LC: As a mystery writer, Agatha Christie is my greatest inspiration. With the Meera Patel series, I wanted to depict diversity against a familiar backdrop.
Life in a college town has always fascinated me. The setting is inspired by my own college days. The Patels are immigrants who have almost completely assimilated themselves into the American way of life, although they retain their own customs and culture. Individual characters are partially inspired by people I have known or read about.
I hope readers find the series as enticing as I do.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
LC: Writing a book was part of my life plan. But I had never assigned a timeline to it. I took up the NaNoWriMo challenge one year, where writers pledge to produce fifty thousand words in the month of November. Meera Patel was born and I never looked back.
So publishing a book wasn’t a conscious decision. But now that I have written almost four books in the series, I can’t imagine not being a writer.
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
LC: That’s a hard one. M C Beaton, Donna Andrews, Janet Evanovich and Debbie Macomber.
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
LC: MURDER UNDERGROUND by Mavis Doriel Hay
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
LC: Reading and cooking, and eating of course! I love to try out different cuisines.
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
LC: Tomatoes, rice, pepper and ice cream
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
LC: The fourth book in the Meera Patel series, BACK YO THE FAJITAS is coming on October 11. Join the Patels on an epic road trip to California. There’s more than one mystery with amazing Route 66 experiences.
I am planning a new series for next year. Join my newsletter to be the first to know about it.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
LC: Being an author allows me to reach people across the world. I hope my books give them some respite from their daily drudgery and bring a smile to their face. I love connecting with readers and hearing what they think about my books.
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