Please welcome today, Maya Corrigan, author of By Cook or by Crook who has stopped by to answer some questions and tell us a little about her cozy mysteries. (Maya would love to hear from you so please leave comments for her in the comments section)
Tell us a little about BY COOK OR BY CROOK
The first in the Five-Ingredient Mystery series, BY COOK OR BY CROOK, is set in a historic Chesapeake Bay town. The series features a café manager who solves murders with help from her foodie friends and curmudgeonly grandfather. The books include five-ingredient recipes.
Haunted by the car accident that ended her career as a cookbook publicist, Val Deniston has traded the excitement of New York City for a quieter life. Living with her grandfather in a large Victorian house isn’t glamorous, but she enjoys running the Cool Down Café at the fitness and racket club. After a club patron is murdered, Val cooks up a scheme to find the killer who framed her cousin. While she investigates five suspects and uncovers five key clues, Granddad takes up cooking, creating havoc in the kitchen even when trying recipes that have only five ingredients. But kitchen disasters are the least of Val's problems when a murderer targets her.
Which authors inspire you?
I admire any writer who keeps a long-running mystery series fresh and avoids writing to a formula. Nevada Barr succeeds at it. Her sleuth is a U.S. park ranger who tackles crimes in a different park in each book. A lot of series go stale after a few books because the author is tied to a particular geographic area and to a set of recurring characters. Barr has the same main character and a few recurring ones, but by changing the setting, she injects new characters and gives readers insights into the varied challenges rangers face in parks around the country.
I just finished Lisa Scottoline’s latest book. Her series takes place in a women-only Philadelphia law firm. She has recurring characters, but the point of view varies from book to book. She focuses on different lawyers in different books. We’re familiar with the characters, but they each have unique stories and personalities. Their backgrounds involve them in different types of cases.
I also read Jennifer Crusie’s books. She’s better known for romance than mystery, but her dialogue is so good that I’ve read all her books and reread several, to study her technique.
What are you working on next?
I’ve just started writing the third book in the series. I can’t talk about that because anything I say may not be true by the time I finish it, so I’ll say a little about the second book in the series, Scam Chowder, scheduled for publication June 30, 2015. It focuses on a rampant crime that is underreported and under-prosecuted in our country—frauds against senior citizens. Val’s grandfather has a larger role in this book than in the first one because of the subject matter and because he’s a scene stealer.
Tell us a little about you
Before I took up a life of crime on the page, I taught writing and literature on the college level. I wrote my first novel when I thirteen. It wasn’t a mystery. It was about a group of teenagers who go on a trip in a van across the United States, and have wacky experiences in each location where they stop. After I pecked out each chapter on a manual typewriter, I gave it to my best friend and then I watch her read it. It thrilled me to see her smile and laugh. Knowing I'd created a story that entertained someone made me want to be a writer. I spent a lot of my professional life writing nonfiction, academic papers and technical manuals—decidedly not entertaining, but that’s what people paid me to write. Now I’m delighted to be writing fiction again and hoping that my books are as fun to read as what I wrote when I was thirteen.
What's one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?
Join a critique group, ponder the comments you get, and take what’s useful from them. You’ll also learn a lot about writing by analyzing what other people in the group write.
What's your favorite season/weather?
Warm and humid, believe it or not. Unfortunately, I can’t have it year-round because I live around Washington, D.C., where there are four seasons. Winter is my least favorite.
Who do you imagine is your reader?
My reader enjoys the puzzle element of a traditional whodunit and does not want a brutally real depiction of violence and crime. The newspaper and 24-hour TV news provide that. My books have no serial killers, terrorists, child molesters, or drug lords. Yet such people have the same motives for murder as our neighbors might have—greed, warped love for a person or a cause, self-protection, and revenge. I can write a realistic mystery by exploring the reasons people resort to violence, but I don’t need to put the blood and gore on the page.
Where is BY COOK OR BY CROOK available?
BY COOK OR BY CROOK came out as a mass market paperback and an e-book in all formats. A large-print hard back will come out in March. You can buy a paper copy at Barnes & Noble and mystery bookstores. You can also order it from Kensington (the publisher), from Amazon, and from independent bookstores. The ebook is available from the usual vendors.
How can readers find out more about you?
My website, mayacorrigan.com, has more information about the first two books in the series, trivia and quizzes on mysteries, details about the short stories I’ve published, and a complete short story, “Delicious Death,” my first culinary mystery.
Val parked in front of Nadia’s Cape Cod, bleary-eyed from a late night. Describing and pricing the mouthwatering dishes she could prepare for the club party had taken longer than expected. She walked past Nadia’s Lexus in the driveway and glanced at the bed of river rock where the wood tennis racket had burned. A good rain would wash away any trace of the fire. No rain in today’s forecast though. No cool breeze off the bay either.
The creek behind the house had barely a ripple, and Nadia’s kayak sat motionless next to her dock.
Val climbed the porch steps and rang the bell twice. She pounded on the door. No answer. Nadia wasn’t the type to oversleep or forget an appointment. Unlikely a woman in her forties would have a heart attack, but maybe she’d fallen and hit her head. Val tried the knob. It turned.
She poked her head into the hall. “Nadia?” No answer. “Anybody home?” she shouted up the stairs. Again, only silence.
She walked toward the back of the house, the floorboards creaking with each step. She froze at the entrance to the kitchen.
Nadia lay on the floor. An alabaster doll with open eyes. . .
Thanks for stopping by today, Maya.