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Author Interview, Character Traits

Meet Violet Whitehouse of A Caterer’s Guide to Holidays and Homicide

Jessica Thompson’s novels are an interesting mix of murder and cooking. A fellow darkstroke books author, she has released two: A Caterer’s Guide to Love and Murder and A Caterer’s Guide to Holidays and Homicide. And key to her culinary cozy mysteries is the character Violet Whitehouse. Here, I will let Jessica tell you about her in what I call my Character Traits series.

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JESSICA THOMPSONViolet Whitehouse. Here I will let Jessica tell you about her — and her books — in what I call my Character Traits series.

Who is your character?

Violet Whitehouse, newish bride, struggling caterer, and neat freak that hates being called a neat freak.

What does she look like?

Like a younger Jennifer Connelly. Think of her at about 25 years old or in the movie Inventing the Abbotts.

What is your character’s back story?

It hasn’t come up in a book yet, but she used to be that little kid that was always dirty. She didn’t avoid dirt because she didn’t care, until she got a staph infection at about ten years old. For the week or so that Violet was in the hospital, she learned to appreciate good food (and not the hospital food) and clean conditions. She has been learning to cook and avoiding dirt and chaos ever since.

What is your character’s role in your novel?

Violet is the main character. In this book she is acting as a personal chef for a group of ladies on a pre-holiday retreat, but usually she is a caterer for events big and small. She is also recruited to investigate the murder that happens because they are snowed in and the police won’t be able to get to them for days.

Why should readers care about this character?

I think I care about her because she cares about things so much. She wants things to be clean and she wants to make it a perfect retreat for her clients. She loves her husband and so wants to become a mom. She puts so much care into the food, into cleaning, and into this murder investigation.

Here’s an excerpt featuring.

“Watch the knives!” Jake winced and lunged forward, but he was too late.

Violet’s whole body was already tense from the cold weather and the long trip, but her muscles clenched into paralysis as she heard her bag of tools tip and clatter to the ground.

She shifted the box she had just taken out of the back of their rental van and swept aside her curtain of chestnut hair with her free hand. She forced her green eyes open, steeling herself to look down. The kitchen tools she had brought with her on this trip, the ones she couldn’t live without, lay scattered over the packed and soiled snow of the lodge’s parking area.

Violet’s skin crawled and her scalp tingled as she thought of the dirt, engine oil, and even traces of animal poop that were probably on her tools now.

As Jake, her husband and fellow caterer, took the box from her arms, Violet attempted a return to sanity with a deep breath and a look around at the glittering scenery. Other than the parking lot, clean, fresh snow covered the landscape and swept all the way up to the frozen pond and brightly lit windows of Summerhaven Lodge. The mounded snow shone coral in the waning evening light and eased her jangled nerves. She noticed tiny hopping footprints from a rabbit near the tree line and got close to smiling. The air was still and biting and she wrapped her favorite white scarf more tightly under her chin to keep it out. The scarf was a thick wool and didn’t get enough use back home in Austin, Texas.

This week would be a welcome break for all of them. Violet and Jake had been so tense the last few months that they had eagerly accepted the request to travel to another state and cook the entire week before Christmas for Carina Moretti, the mother of their friend Laurel. Laurel had spoken so highly of Violet’s cooking, and maybe a bit about her sleuthing, during her wedding last year that most of Violet’s clients these days wanted to hear the story while they tasted her creations.

Jessica Thompson’s bio

When Jessica discovered mystery novels with recipes, she knew she had found her niche.

Now Jessica is the author of the Amazon best-selling culinary cozy mysteries “A Caterer’s Guide to Love and Murder” and “A Caterer’s Guide to Holidays and Homicide.” She is active in her local writing community and is a member of the Writers’ League of Texas and the Storymakers Guild. She received a bachelor’s degree in Horticulture from Brigham Young University but has always enjoyed writing and reading mysteries.

As an avid home chef and food science geek, Jessica has won cooking competitions and been featured in the online Taste of Home recipe collection.  She also tends to be the go-to source for recipes, taste-testing, and food advice among her peers.

Jessica is originally from California, but now has adopted the Austin, Texas lifestyle. She enjoys living in the suburbs with her husband and young children, but also enjoys helping her parents with their nearby longhorn cattle ranch.

A Caterer’s Guide to Holidays and Homicide synopsis

While acting as personal chef for a friend’s mountain retreat, Violet and her husband, Jake, must set aside their stress over infertility and create a magical and delicious holiday – until tragedy crashes the party.

Being snowed in and unreachable from town, Violet and Jake end up hired for a different kind of job – finding out which of the guests committed murder and why they’re trying to frame their hostess.

Violet must find a balance between following her gut and keeping it all under control until the police can reach them, while still managing the kitchen. But can she sniff out the killer before anyone else bites the big one?

A Caterer’s Guide to Holidays and Homicide will give you a culinary holiday you won’t forget!

Another excerpt

Violet was furious with herself for not seeing it before. Her gut had led her in all the wrong directions. Mercedes had been the one to rebelliously go outside, and apparently it had not been an isolated incident.

It made Violet fume. How many times has Mercedes come outside? she thought. She was angry with Mercedes, but mostly she was kicking herself. Why had she thought that trusting her instincts would be a good idea? Her gut had definitely not done her any favors last time she had investigated a murder. She was mad at herself for not seeing it all, mad for ignoring Mercedes’ trips outside, and mad for looking past the woman just because she had made hot chocolate and been kind to her. All of that must have been an act. She must have been doing it to manipulate people. Perhaps the real Mercedes was the one that had erupted out during her argument with Carina.

The rage and the glowing fury that had shown in Mercedes’ face during that argument should have been a dead giveaway.

Violet followed the smell of cigarette smoke that lingered in the chilled air and mingled with the clouds of her breath. Cigarettes usually made Violet’s skin crawl, but she was too indignant to care now.

Violet caught a glimpse of a cloud of breath coming from behind the tool shed that formed one wall of the carport and crunched over the refrozen snow of the parking lot.

“Yes, sir. I’ll put you on speakerphone so you can hear, but it’s usually best to let Violet talk. She really has a way of getting these ladies to talk.”

Violet didn’t hear any of it. The blood was rushing through her ears as she whipped around the corner of the shed to find Mercedes huddled behind it.

Mercedes had been bent over, but now rose with terror in her eyes as Violet felt her face contort with disgust.

“It was you!”

Book links

http://mybook.to/catererholiday

http://mybook.to/caterersguide

Social media:

http://Jessicathompsonauthor.com

https://instagram.com/jessicathauthor/

https://facebook.com/jessicathauthor/

https://twitter.com/jessicathauthor/

https://pinterest.com/jessicathauthor/

http://goodreads.com/jessicathauthor/

https://www.bookbub.com/profile/jessica-thompson-ede71ffc-5762-4778-a116-3c3a048cb45f

http://amazon.com/author/jessicathompsonmystery

https://tiktok.com/@jessicathauthor

 

http://amazon.com/author/jessicathompsonmystery

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Character Traits

Character Traits: Meet Didier Duclos

Angela Wren, a fellow author at Darkstroke Books, has written a crime mystery series with an interesting twist in that it is set in France. Angela does a wonderful job transporting the reader there. Her main character is the very determined investigator,  Jacques Forêt. But Angela is going to tell us about another character in her series — the fifth was published late last year. Here. I will let her take over.

Hi Joan, thanks for inviting me and my character Didier Duclos onto your blog today. I write the Jacques Forêt cosy crime mystery series set in the Cévennes in south-central France. Didier is AngelaWrenAuthorPicJacques’ right-hand man. However, he didn’t quite start like that!

After Messandrierre (book 1 in the series) was published, I knew that Jacques was going to strike out on his own. In the village, he had been mostly a one-person official police presence with a bit of help from a fellow gendarme Thibault Clergue and five-year-old Pierre Mancelle who wanted to be a policeman.  They made a neat team, but once Jacques had his own investigation business, I knew he would need someone else.  Whilst I was creating the second book, into my head walked Didier Duclos.

I took his name from a war memorial in a village near St Pourcain.  I liked the alliteration and the short sharpness of the words.  It set the tone for who I thought my character was going to be.

We first meet Didier in Montbel, (book 3), when Jacques conducts a team briefing in his office in Mende. Didier is described as a … tall, lean man with a lived-in face that showed him to have earned every crease and line acquired during his sixty-one years, Didier had come to Vaux Investigations to work as a general office manager and investigator. He had been the first person Jacques had recruited following the internal reorganisation across the whole of the Vaux Group in the first few weeks of 2010. Having worked as a detective in the Police Nationale in Mende, Didier had taken early retirement to care for his terminally ill wife. Within the year she had died, and Didier had needed a distraction. …

Didier works closely with Jacques from then on.  He provides a measured approach which sometimes keeps Jacques from acting the maverick.  In Marseille (book 4), we learn more about

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Didier as a person.  He had a life before the police force.  As Jacques and Didier wait on the harbour in Marseille for a contact with crucial information about the case to arrive they watch a traditionally built yacht come in to dock. Didier shares his experience… “A tall ship, Jacques. A long time ago. I once crewed on a 19th-century schooner…”  “Beautiful vessel, four-masted, gaff-rigged…” He tells Jacques. As he smiles to himself, Didier goes on to say… “Just eighteen and had the time of my life!”

That experience and the knowledge that Didier gained becomes essential when he and Jacques move on to the investigation in Mercœur.  Didier’s expertise and his tenacity put him at the forefront of this investigation.

Blurb for Mercœur (Jacques Forêt Mystery No. 5)

On a quiet forest walk, Investigator Jacques Forêt encounters a sinister scene.  Convinced there is evidence of malicious intent, he treats his discovery as a crime scene.

But intent for what?  Without a body, how can he be sure that a crime has been — or is about to be — Village&5BksV01committed?  Without a body, how can Jacques be sure that it’s murder, and not suicide?  Without a body, how can the perpetrator be found?

A baffling case that tests Jacques to his limits.

Author Bio

Angela Wren is an actor and director at a small theatre a few miles from where she lives in the county of Yorkshire in the UK.  She worked as a project and business change manager – very pressured and very demanding – but she managed to escape, and now she writes books.

She has always loved stories and story-telling, so it seemed a natural progression, to her, to try her hand at writing, starting with short stories.  Her first published story was in an anthology, which was put together by the magazine ‘Ireland’s Own’ in 2011.  She also works with 8 other northern writers to create the series of Miss Moonshine anthologies.  Most recently, Angela contributed a story set in the 19th century to the DARK LONDON collection.

Angela particularly enjoys the challenge of plotting and planning different genres of work.  Her short stories vary between contemporary romance, memoir, mystery, and historical.  She also writes comic flash-fiction and has drafted two one-act plays that have been recorded for local radio.

Her full-length novels are set in France, where she likes to spend as much time as possible each year.

Links

Amazon : AngelaWren

Website : www.angelawren.co.uk

Blog : www.jamesetmoi.blogspot.com

Facebook : FacebookAngela Wren

Bookbub : BookBubAngelaWren

Goodreads : GoodreadsAngela Wren

Contact author : Angela Wren

 

 

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Author Interview

Alice Castle’s New Mystery

Great news for fans of mystery series. Alice Castle’s Calamity in Camberwell, the third book in her London Murder Mystery series, officially launches Aug. 13. And the next is not far behind. She and I have a few things in common including a career in journalism, an interest in mystery, and our publisher — Crooked Cat Books.

Before turning to crime, Alice Castle was a UK national newspaper journalist for The Daily Express, The Times and The Daily Telegraph. Her first book, Hot Calamity in CamberwellChocolate, set in Brussels and London, was a European hit and sold out in two weeks.

Death in Dulwich was published in September 2017 and has been a number one best-seller in the UK, US, Canada, France, Spain and Germany. A sequel, The Girl in the Gallery was published in December 2017 to critical acclaim. Calamity in Camberwell, the third book in the London Murder Mystery series, is available to pre-order now and will be published Aug. 13, with Homicide in Herne Hill following on Oct. 3. Alice is currently working on the fifth London Murder Mystery adventure, Revenge on the Rye. It will feature Beth Haldane, DI Harry York, a mysterious artist, an ageing Labrador, and an out-of-control cavapoo puppy.

Alice lives in south London and is married with two children, two step-children and two cats.

More about Calamity in Camberwell:

Beth Haldane, SE21’s answer to Miss Marple, worries she is losing a kindred spirit when her friend Jen, the only other single mum in the playground, suddenly gets remarried and moves to nearby Camberwell.

Soon Beth has to face much more pressing fears. Has something gone horribly wrong with Jen’s marriage? What is her new husband really up to? Why is her daughter leading Beth’s son astray? And where on earth IS Jen anyway?

As Beth’s friends push her to start dating again, Beth turns to Met Police DI Harry York for help. But will they solve the mystery in time, or will it turn out that in south east London, not everyone gets to live happily ever after?

About the opening of Calamity in Camberwell:

Calamity in Camberwell opens with Beth Haldane, single mum and amateur sleuth, stuck in traffic – an all-too-familiar experience for anyone who lives in the London suburbs. But this brief hiatus in Beth’s busy day, between rushing around looking after her son, Ben, and working as the archivist at prestigious local school, Wyatt’s, gives Beth the time to reflect on recent changes in her life. Her good friend, Jen, has remarried and moved away. Meanwhile Ben is about to take school entrance exams which will map out his future. Beth is poised to make some difficult, potentially life-changing decisions – and, as usual, she is worrying about every single one.

What she hoped to accomplish with the opening:

In the opening pages of Calamity in Camberwell, my aim is briefly to reacquaint the reader with Beth, the heroine of the books, and then throw them right into her latest dilemmas. She starts off worrying about her son, but ends the chapter thinking seriously about her friend, who has just got married for the second time and should be glowing – but is she? This nagging doubt sows a seed. Beth is a worrier by nature, but is this more evidence of her own inability to relax and trust others, or is she right to be concerned? She is also intrigued, yet terrified, by the idea of dating herself, when friends suggest it’s about time she got out there herself, eight years after the death of her husband.

Was it spontaneous?

“I love writing these London Murder Mystery stories and, once I had the initial idea for Calamity in Camberwell, Beth very kindly wrote it for me herself. I had to make a few changes here and there but at this stage, we know each other pretty well. She’s a lot more reckless than I am, as you’ll see. Sometimes I just have to cover my eyes while she gets on with it.”

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Excerpt from Calamity in Camberwell:

Beth Haldane leaned forward in the driver’s seat to twiddle the car radio dial. We found love in a hopeless place was blasting out of the tinny speakers of her Fiat 500. She knew some Dulwich wags would say the lyrics were hilariously appropriate for a visit to her newlywed friend, Jen Patterson, in Camberwell, but Beth wasn’t like that. The area, with its wide Georgian streets, herds of red buses sweeping towards central London and the optimistically-named Butterfly Walk shopping centre, was fine, absolutely fine – though of course it wasn’t quite SE21. But she still loathed the song.

Just as she’d found the comfortingly stuffy tones of Gardener’s Question Time instead, the car in front of her shuffled forward a couple of feet and she had to follow suit, slamming the car into gear, lurching on a little, then yanking the handbrake on again. Oh, the joys of the rush hour. Though why it was called that, when no one was able to rush at all, was one of life’s mysteries, she thought, with a flick of her heavy pony tail. Maybe it was the whoosh of drivers’ blood pressure ascending, as the centipede of traffic wound its way down East Dulwich Grove, past the no-nonsense gates of the College School and the red brick behemoth that was the old Dulwich Hospital.

Calamity in Camberwell buy links:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07DP3KG84?tag=geolinker-21
https://www.MyBook.to/CiC

Launch date:

The book is available to pre-order NOW but is published Aug. 13.

PicMonkey ImageSocial media links

Alice is also a parent blogger and book reviewer via her website: https://www.alicecastleauthor.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alicecastleauthor/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DDsDiary?lang=en

Links to buy first two books in the London Murder Mystery series:

http://www.MyBook.to/GirlintheGallery

http://www.myBook.to/1DeathinDulwich.

Previous novel: http://www.myBook.to/HotChocolate

 

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Author Interview

6 Ws with Author Seamus Heffernan

Seamus Heffernan is the next Crooked Cat Books author to be featured in this series. This Canadian author’s debut novel, NAPALM HEARTS, launches April 24.

The novel’s main character is a successful American P.I. who is bored out of his mind spying on cheating spouses in his adopted city of London. Let’cover art hi-ress just say his next case will shake things up for him.

Here’s one thing Seamus says about writing: “Fiction is the natural extension of our need to share stories.” I like that.

Here are his responses to my 6Ws — who, what, when, where, how, and why. (How does end with a W.)

Who is Seamus Heffernan?

Well, I’ve been a lot of things in a lot of different places—high school teacher, policy wonk, freelance journalist, marketing/communications mercenary, speechwriter— but right now I work in politics and live in British Columbia, Canada, where I split my time between Abbotsford, Mission and Vancouver.

What does he write?

Crime fiction. My debut novel, NAPALM HEARTS, is a detective story about a successful but lonely American PI working in London, England. He works infidelity cases and while he’s making a good living, he’s bored as hell. He accepts a case from a wealthy client who wants him to find his much-younger and missing trophy wife. It’s set to be the first in an ongoing series.

When did he begin writing?

When I was a kid, my dad used to bring me to this used bookshop in my hometown of St. John’s, Newfoundland, where I became an obsessive reader of comic books and cheap paperbacks. That got me writing a lot, both in school and on my own, but so much of it was just dreck. In the back of my head, though, even as I got older, I always knew that this is what I wanted to do. I wanted to write cool stories and create characters people cared about. I wanted my book to someday be on that book shop’s shelf. Life kept getting in the way, like it always does if you let it, but the last couple of years I just dug in, stopped wasting time, and committed to it.

How does he write?

It’s like the gym: I carve out time and force myself to do it. I have a theory that a lot of writers actually hate the process. I’m lucky in that I like the writing part, especially when you get going and it all starts to click. But the whole getting started part… well, that’s always a lot trickier.

When I’m working, I will often have music on or play movies in the background, if only for the company and occasional distraction. Silence has always been off-putting to me, which comes as exactly zero surprise to any of my friends.

Where does he write?

In my living room or one specific corner of a local coffee shop. The baristas there have become very supportive of my alleged creative efforts, which I appreciate.

Why does he write?

This should be where I say something like “Oh, I write because I must” or “I simply have no choice, I’m an artist” but none of that’s true. I love the craft of writing, I love the world-building it demands, and I love the satisfaction of creating a story that just hums along while it draws people in. But I never really feel like I have to do this. I’m envious of those who have that kind of discipline and devotion, frankly.

It’s probably the most human thing about us, to share stories. We all do it, all the time. Oh man, my boss reamed me out today. Hey, did I ever tell you I was in a band in college? Listen, I’m doing this cleanse and I’m literally gonna die if I don’t get a burger. Watch anybody at a party, mingling. We swap tales to get to know each other.

Fiction is the natural extension of our need to share stories. That’s why I write. This thing where we make up stories and throw them out into the world is just this wonderful, precious thing we get to do. I’ve personally decided to use that gift to write trashy detective novels, but what the hell. We don’t all get to win a Nobel for Literature.

ABOUT NAPALM HEARTS:

Find the girl. Find the truth.

Thaddeus Grayle is a successful but bored American private investigator who has grown weary of snooping after the cheating spouses of his adopted city of London, England. Recently divorced and even more recently sober, he fills what little free time he has with movies, baseball and his own torrid affairs. He wants a change, and it finally arrives thanks to a wealthy businessman desperate to find his hard-partying wife—a young woman who might be in the biggest trouble of her life.

NAPALM HEARTS may be ordered here.

SEAMUS HEFFERNAN ON SOCIAL MEDIA:

Official Website

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Thanks for having me, Joan!

 

 

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