I'm pleased to welcome Gloria Oliver to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Gloria writes the Daiyu Wu Mystery series. BLACK JADE is the first book in the series and was released May 11, 2021.
Kathy: In BLACK JADE we meet Daiyu Wu, a Chinese blind woman living in Texas. Why did you choose to make your protagonist blind?
GO: I wanted to have an unusual sleuth who worked with a different set of evidence than your standard mystery. I also wanted to highlight that despite a handicap, people can rise above the shackles it imposes on them and that they can contribute as much, if not more, to society than those around them expect.
Kathy: Your series is set in 1930 Dallas, Texas. Why choose this time period and locale for your series?
GO: Certain time periods are very popular in mysteries, and I wanted to work with one that wasn't used often. There might be more out there than I know of, but at the time I was looking into it, that was the impression I got. 1930 is a pivotal time frame in history; the Great Depression was descending rapidly on the entire United States and abroad. A lot of changes permeated the time frame—social, technological, and more.
Kathy: Period costume is a particular fascination of mine, and I'm constantly amazed at how deadly women's clothing could be. Are you particularly interested in historical clothing?
GO: Fashion has never been my strong suit, whether historical or modern. (I'm a fashion walking disaster.) But it plays a part in any age, so I researched the tastes and styles of the period. This time frame saw the decline of tailor-made clothes and the increase of mass-produced apparel.
Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
GO: I've always enjoyed mysteries, but it's not the genre I normally write in. But I've never had a series and wanted to do one, and nothing lends itself better than cozies for creating multiple connected books. Plus, working on Black Jade and thinking of sequels also helped me figure out how to extend an urban fantasy work-in-progress to becoming a series, too! Everything I've written up to now has been standalone books.
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
GO: I do! I have books in fantasy, urban fantasy, young adult, and science fiction. I even have a horror novelette.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
GO: The Daiyu Wu Mysteries are cozy historical mysteries set in the 1930s in Dallas, TX. Multicultural dynamics give them a wide range of topics to explore.
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
GO: My favorite character changes from book to book. Currently, it would be Jacques from "Black Jade." He's very down-to-earth, loyal, and not afraid of stating his opinion unless he's being asked by Dai's mother, the dragon.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
GO: There's no specific inspiration for the series aside from Sherlock Holmes and the fabulous Irene Adler series by Carole Nelson Douglas. Barbara Hambly also has some great historical mysteries set in Louisiana in the mid to late 1800s. With authors, you never know what will spark an idea or get tucked away for later use. It's a combination of experiences, books, movies, and people that stand behind everything I write.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
GO: I've had the writing bug since high school. But I only started pursuing to get published in my 20s. I had stories to tell, and I wanted to share them. But, unfortunately, the traditional route was changing and taking longer and longer to get a manuscript seen. So I shifted my focus and submitted the three manuscripts I had at the time to a small press, and they accepted two of the books for publication. I have not looked back since.
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
GO: That's a tough question. There are too many fabulous authors out there! I've been lucky in that I've gotten to meet several authors I adore in person—Terry Pratchett, Rachel Caine, Tad Williams, George R. R. Martin, and many more. It would be a blast to have a dinner party with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes) and Maurice Leblanc (Arsene Lupin). Not only are these two men very different from their characters, but they are also fascinating men. Doyle believed in the supernatural, and while Leblanc was accused of plagiarism (he put Holmes in his Lupin novels), they both suffered from the fact that their popular characters overshadowed all their other writing efforts. H. G. Wells would be another fun dinner guest. Last but not least, I would enjoy meeting Edgar Rice Burroughs, the creator of Tarzan, and so many other fantastical books. The more I think about this, the more authors I want to invite to this dinner party! Lol.
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
GO: I am currently reading "The Confession of Arsene Lupin" by Maurice Leblanc. I had known about the thief Lupin for years, primarily because of a Japanese anime based on an ancestor of the Gentleman Thief. But, until recently, I hadn't realized that Lupin wasn't an actual person but a character from a ton of books and short stories! So I hunted the first book down, and I was hooked! I've read five of the books so far. This one is a compilation of short stories.
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
GO: I have several hobbies, though I am not hardcore about any of them. Reading, watching movies, TV, anime, Korean dramas, reading all sorts of manga (Japanese comics), and listening to show and movie soundtracks. I also enjoy playing PC games and a few console games. I'm currently playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons. So cute! (I played the original Animal Crossing with my daughter back in the day.)
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
GO: Olives, we always have olives. I've loved those suckers since I was a kid. We also have spaghetti boxes, as we have spaghetti almost every week. Bottles of malta—a drink I grew up with as a kid in Puerto Rico. It's a fermented non-alcoholic drink. Last but not least, cheese! Several varieties of cheese, in fact. Though the American cheese is mainly for the dog, so we can give Serenity her daily allergy medicine. (Why, yes, pets can have allergies!)
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
GO: Absolutely! I've already started work on book two of the Daiyu Wu Mysteries. I'm switching back and forth on book two and the urban fantasy "Breaking Dawn Cleaners" I was working on before Dai and Jacques took over.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
GO: The writing! While at times painful, getting that first draft down is my favorite part of the process. Though I usually have a general idea of the direction the story/novel will take, I am often surprised by the tangents the characters, the research, or the story itself takes me in as I write it.
The First Daiyu Wu Mystery
Daiyu Wu may have been born blind, but her other senses are razor sharp. When she detects the scent of burned garlic at her family's laundromat she quickly sends her companion, Jacques, to look for a green dress. Her innate curiosity and a keen intellect leads to not only discover this most unique murder weapon, but to undertake the search for its victim, much to Jacques' dismay. With overprotective parents and the racism inherent of 1930s Dallas, Texas, Dai, with the assistance of Jacques and her dog, Prince Razor, will nonetheless venture out to solve a mystery and bring a killer to justice while making friends, and perhaps an enemy or two, along the way.
Dallas, Texas in 1930 is an uncommon time and location for a cozy mystery. A blind Chinese woman as a protagonist is also fairly rare. Add an unconventional method of investigation that starts with an unusual murder weapon and you get an ingenious new mystery series that left me totally delighted.
Daiyu Wu is a fascinating protagonist. Different in a variety of ways, she's able to straddle two worlds while not quite fitting into either. Despite that, or perhaps because of that, she's smart, happy, and eminently capable. Dai is able to transmute disabilities into great ability. Jacques is a great companion to her; in many ways a Watson to her Sherlock Holmes (or should we say Irene Adler). For the most part I share Jacques' opinion of the popinjay. Although I do believe he has a good heart, it makes my skin crawl every time he calls Dai "China Doll". Despite her diminutive stature and the tendency of her mother to make her wear too many frills, Dai is a smart woman, fully capable of knowing her own mind. Minor and not so minor characters make a big impact as well. From the Dragon to Prince Razor, they all have distinctive memorable traits which add to the richness of the book.
I truly enjoyed this unique engrossing mystery. Touching on subjects not often seen in cozies, BLACK JADE looks at class, race, and relationships while providing an intelligent, well plotted mystery.
Black Jade: A Daiyu Wu Mystery by Gloria Oliver
About Black Jade
Black Jade: A Daiyu Wu Mystery
Historical Cozy Mystery 1st in Series
Publisher: Dimension Palace Publishing (May 11, 2021)
Paperback: 246 pages
Could an old-fashioned ballgown be used to commit murder?
Daiyu Wu is aware that fear of the Yellow Terror has made her nationality a rare breed in the Lone Star State. Being Chinese and blind makes her doubly unique in 1930: Dallas. Despite these impediments, anyone who dismisses her for either fact does so at their peril.
One day, at her family-owned laundry business, Dai detects the scent of burned garlic. With the help of her companion, Jacques, the source is soon discovered. It is a green ballgown. The gown has money pinned inside it to pay for the cleaning, but oddly, it came with no address label to identify its owner. Her extensive knowledge leads Dai to believe someone has committed murder using arsenic. The perpetrator is trying to use White Laundry to hide the evidence. But no mention of foul play turns up in the newspapers, and there's not enough proof to convince the police there's been a crime.
Her curiosity and intellect stimulated like never before; Dai ignores the possible consequences and sets out to solve the mystery with the help of her canine companion, Prince Razor, and her confidant, Jacques Haskins. It's either that or let the killer get away with it — assuming a spoiled popinjay, his jealous self-appointed girlfriend, and Dai's overprotective parents don't get in her way.
About Gloria Oliver
Gloria Oliver lives in Texas, staying away from rolling tumbleweeds while bowing to the never-ending wishes of her feline and canine masters. Her previous works have been fantasy, urban fantasy, and young adult fantasy novels. Several contain romantic and mystery elements. Her short stories of speculative fiction can be found in many anthologies, covering things from the fantastic and strange to a Bubba Apocalypse.
Her latest release, "Black Jade - A Daiyu Wu Mystery" is Gloria's first cozy historical mystery novel. This is her ninth published novel.
Gloria is a member in good standing of BroadUniverse though she has yet to make the list for Cat Slaves R Us. In her spare time (what's that?), she watches TV shows, movies, anime, plays PC games, and reads books.
For some free reads, novel related short stories, sample chapters, appearance schedule and more information on her and her works, please drop by and visit her at www.gloriaoliver.com
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