Please welcome author Daryl Wood Gerber (aka Avery Aames), the Agatha Award-winning author of the national bestselling Cheese Shop Mystery and Cookbook Nook Mystery series. She is our special guest blogger, so please make her feel welcome.
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People often ask: how do you come up with your plots? I have a very vivid imagination. Very. As a girl, I was often putting on shows…for my family and friends. My sisters weren’t always happy with that scenario. As an adult, now, I often watch people and listen to them, and I think: what if. What if that woman is really a spy? What if that man is having an affair? The question: what if is a great starter for coming up with new ideas. Sometimes, I draw inspiration from reading the news. How about the cheerleader’s mother who wanted everything for her little girl? How about the cop who wound up killing his wife’s lover? Ick, I know, but stories like these happen every day.
Other people ask: how did you come up with the setting for the Cookbook Nook mysteries? I was at a book signing for one of my Cheese Shop Mysteries at a culinary bookshop in Occoquan, VA. The shop was called Salt & Pepper Books. (I’m so sad. The shop has since closed. Luckily, the owner has moved on to a whole new adventure!) Anyway, I fell in love that day. With the display of cookbooks, with the variety of culinary mysteries, and with the darling culinary gift items like salt shakers and peppermills, cutting boards, decorative spatulas, and aprons that she stocked. All of this fed my imagination with a what if I was to create that kind of store. What if the bookshop owner was an amateur sleuth? Perfect, right?
Most people ask: why do you write culinary mysteries? I love to cook. I love eating. I love reading about food. During college and while pursuing an acting career, I catered and ran restaurants, so creating settings in and around food and kitchens comes naturally to me. In the Cheese Shop Mysteries, the protagonist, Charlotte Bessette, is a cheese shop owner in the quaint fictional town of Providence, Ohio. Charlotte adores cheese and loves to cook. In the Cookbook Nook Mysteries, the protagonist, Jenna Hart, a former advertising executive, moves back to the fictional coastal town of Crystal Cove, California to help her aunt run a culinary bookshop and café. Jenna, like Charlotte, is an avid reader and foodie, but she’s not an experienced cook. In fact, recipes with more than five ingredients panic her, but she’s determined to learn.
You might ask: why did you make Jenna a non-cook? I based that aspect of the character on my mother, who was a brilliant woman but before graduating high school, she hadn’t learned how to cook. Her mother had done it all. Over the years, my mom taught herself to cook, and subsequently became a wonderful cook. If she were alive today, she would love my choice of career. Among keepsakes I have of hers are a couple of newsletters she wrote for her school in junior high and lovely letters to her grandmother. I’d bet, if given the chance, that she, too, would love to be a published mystery author.
Last question: Do you have lots of other series ready to go? I have lots of novels written. I’m not sure which will get the next green light. For now, it’s enough to have a wealth of ideas. I won’t be able to write or publish all the stories that come to me, but I love the fact that my mind continues to dream them up. A vivid imagination—what a blessing.
What questions do you ask authors?
THANK YOU Daryl Wood Gerber for that fun post.
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