Kathy: In Dim Sum of All Fears, we find Lana Lee not only working at her parent's restaurant, but actually left in charge while her folks are on vacation. Have you ever been left with a major responsibility that you weren't looking for?
VC: Fortunately nothing as major as handling a family business. When I was little, my mom did own a Chinese gift shop--(That little room in the back of Ho-Lee Noodle is a real place!)—and she would tell me all the time that one day it would be mine to run. Since I was so young, it didn’t really phase me, but as an adult, I’m not sure how I would have handled it if she was like, “Ok, I’m retiring now, good luck!”
Kathy: Having once lived in Cleveland, Ohio, I was delighted that your series is set there. How did you choose Cleveland to be the home of your Asia Village?
VC: First reason being, it’s my home and I absolutely love it here (despite the winters). Cleveland is a great city with a lot of history and so much to offer, I wanted to feature some of that in my writing.
Kathy: Your Noodle Shop Mystery series is filled with delightful characters, my favorite being the enigmatic Mr. Zhang. Would you rather take one of his remedies or play mahjong with the Mahjong Matrons?
VC: I wouldn’t mind spending some time at Wild Sage with Mr. Zhang and learning all he knows about herbal remedies, but I’d really have to pick an afternoon playing mahjong with the Matrons…their stories alone would keep me entertained for hours.
Kathy: If you had to work in the Asia Village, whose business would you choose?
VC: I would love to work at any one of the shops there, but I think I’d choose to work at the plaza’s bookstore, The Modern Scroll. (Although, I don’t know how much work would actually get done…I’d be too busy browsing the stacks!)
Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
VC: The first cozy I ever read was Cleo Coyle’s coffeehouse mystery, On What Grounds, and I was immediately hooked. The story was a lot of fun, the characters were all lovable, and I got to read about coffee in the process. After that I learned about the immense world of themed cozies and I couldn’t stop searching for new series.
The thing I enjoy most about them is that even though they’re on the lighter side of the genre, they are amazing, well-rounded stories. It’s not just the mystery you get sucked in to, it’s the people, their lives, and their interests.
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
VC: Prior to writing mysteries, I did dabble in a few other genres. I attempted horror for a short time and then later chick lit (complete opposites, I know). But the majority of my time was spent working on paranormal fiction. The novel that came as a product of that ended up turning into a paranormal mystery. I hope to have it published someday.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
VC: Lana Lee is down on her luck and grasping to make sense of her messy life. In hopes of putting it back together, she gives in and starts working at her parents’ Chinese restaurant. All seems normal in the beginning, but she ends up going on adventures she never imagined…and, of course, those adventures equal murder.
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
VC: It’s hard to choose just one! I enjoy Lana most of all because I feel the closest to her character and the journey she’s on. But I have to say, from a writing standpoint, I do love Kimmy Tran. She’s a fun character to write and I never know who she’s going to dish attitude to next.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
VC: I can’t really say there was a specific thing that brought me to writing the Noodle Shop mysteries. However, one thing that stands out above the various reasons was the idea of having something larger than just a shop or a stand-alone restaurant. It was about having a small community of people who all sort of work together on a daily basis and what secrets they keep. The setting gives me the opportunity to explore how these different people react and how it may affect the way they treat each other.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
VC: I’ve wanted to be an author since I was pretty young, and my desire to have a published book grew over time. I think every writer dreams to have their voice heard by whoever will listen. And, having a book sit on a bookstore or library shelf is such an honor. I feel special (and lucky!) to be on the shelf among my favorite authors. Before I knew I was getting my first book deal, I would go to the bookstore and look for the spot where my name would be on the shelf and hope one day it would actually be there. I never imagined that dream would ever come true.
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
VC: Anne Rice, Sue Grafton, Stephen King and Charles Bukowski. I feel like that would be a VERY entertaining dinner party.
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
VC: Imagine a society dominated by a worldwide, virtual reality game that the government was trying to take over, add in an underdog who is fighting to keep that from happening, and you’ve got... Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – Amazing storyline, great 1980s references, and of course, a video game! I’m not typically into science fiction, but this book is phenomenal.
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
VC: Well, let’s see…I’m a video game fanatic (I’m a Playstation girl, if anyone was wondering), I enjoy long walks in the bookstore, occasional crafting, and decorative planning. Yes, you read that right.
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
VC: -Coffee! It’s a must in life, especially during writing marathons!
-Blue corn tortilla chips…these are my new favorite addiction
-Noodles – I always have udon or lo mein noodles in the house. A girl can never be too sure when she’s going to have a craving
-Hummus – After all, I need something to go with those tortilla chips ;)
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
VC: Yes, I actually just signed a new contract with St. Martin’s Press for books four through six of the Noodle Shop series. Aside from Lana’s adventures, I do have a couple ideas up my sleeve for other series that will hopefully see the light of day.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
VC: The fact that I get to put my imagination to good use is extremely attractive. But I think the best part of being an author is getting to connect with so many different people. Since the publishing of my first book, I’ve talked with several readers, librarians, and bloggers in various parts of the U.S., and even some in other countries. Hearing that people are enjoying the story I’m trying to tell or that they can relate to one of my characters is the most amazing feeling in the world.
DIM SUM OF ALL FEARS by Vivien Chien
The Second Noodle House Mystery
Ever grateful for the safety net her parents' restaurant provided, Lana Lee is now ready to move on. But her new job is lost before her interview when her parent's announce they are going on an extended trip to Taiwan and leave Lana in charge of the Ho-Lee Noodle House. At least Lana can spend time with her new friend. Isabelle and her husband Brandon recently opened a souvenir shop in Asia Village, and although Brandon seems a bit sketchy, Lana enjoys Isabelle's company. While things are running smoothly at the restaurant Asia Village suffers another tragedy when Isabelle and her husband are found dead in an apparent murder/suicide in their shop. Did Brandon kill his young wife before killing himself? Or was he a victim as well? Lana is determined to find the truth and justice for her friend.
I loved this second outing in the Noodle House Mystery series. Each page was a delicious morsel, the mystery, fulfilling fare. While still unsure of her future, Lana is coming into her own. Her attitude, the strength of her friendships and loyalty, make her an admirable woman...even if her life is uncertain and a bit of a mess. I would be proud to call Lana Lee a friend.
DIM SUM OF ALL FEARS is a novel of many layers. First there's the intricately plotted, detailed mystery. The well developed characters illustrate complex family dynamics, as well as relationships between friends, neighbors, and co-workers. There is no shortage of humor. Several moments had me grinning, if not laughing out loud!
Vivien Chien has created a world I want to visit and people I would like to call friends. DIM SUM OF ALL FEARS is a top notch mystery with a wonderful cast of characters. The only problem is that I have a craving for noodles!
When she’s not writing, Vivien can be found frolicking in the bookstore or searching for her next bowl of noodles. She has a soft spot for doughnuts, a healthy love for coffee, and an extreme need to participate in random acts of crafting.
She currently lives in Cleveland where she is hard at work on the fourth book in her Noodle Shop series and writes side-by-side with her toy fox terrier.
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