Hi Lois, I’m glad to have you as a guest on my blog today. I can imagine the readers would like to get to know you a bit before we jump to talking shop. So, I‘d like to get started by asking you a few personal questions so that we can get a feel of the person behind the author. If that’s okay with you?
Hi Lucy. Thank you for having me on your blog. I am happy to share my thoughts with you and your readers.
Given the choice what would you rather do, play piano, dance, or write the next great novel?
Throughout my youth, my body and mind were molded by the arts. My sense of who I was and wanted to become developed as I studied ballet and piano, and I cherish the lessons learned. At this point in my life I prefer to take the experiences of these two art forms, dance and piano, and transfer it into writing. I was never more than a mediocre pianist, and I haven’t had a ballet class in many years. Yoga fills the need for stretching and flow, with the added benefit of meditation. The afterglow of yoga is conducive to writing.
Are you a restless soul, or are you a rooter? i.e. do you like to travel, or do you rather stay at home?
We’ve lived in the same home for twenty years, so I guess I’m a rooter. I am also an organized hoarder. I save every piece of paper my children have drawn on, family tchakas… I still have my husband and my record albums. That said, I realize there is a big, beautiful world out there with wonderful people who have fascinating cultures. I hope to add more travel to my personal journey.
I know you started out as a blogger. Do you still run the culture and cuisine blog? And what is more gratifying to you blogging, or fiction writing?
I had actually started my first novel before the blog but lacked the discipline to do the work. One of my best friends had an idea for a dinner club, The Culture and Cuisine Club, and she invited four other couples. The hosting couple picks the country and we all contribute courses. We have cooked Ethiopian, Thai, Italian, Polish, Spanish, Cuban, Moroccan, Indian, French, Irish, Australian — and many more. The idea for the blog started after the third shared meal, and I’ve been at it for four years. Blogging has taught me discipline. My blog has morphed a bit and I have added an Authors Eats feature where other authors share a recipe and a story. Although I love blogging on the Culture and Cuisine site I prefer creating fictional stories. I’ve always had a bit of a fantasy world in my head, and now I can dump it into my computer. Also, the books allow me to go into far greater detail about the subjects I love, especially food, fashion, gardening, entertaining, etc. I like to write my novels savory and my characters spicy. I also have to give a shout-out to a great site I blog for, Indies Unlimited. It is an informative blog for writers and authors of all levels of experience. They are a wonderful group of supportive writers and I’m proud to contribute.
Well, that wasn’t too bad, or was it?
No, that was fun and not scary.
But since you’ve come here to talk about your work, can you tell us the title of the book you would like to talk about?
I would like to talk about my murder mystery “Born to Die: The Montauk Murders.” I have always been a fan of murder mysteries; P.D. James, Agatha Christie, and Rex Stout come to mind. One of my favorite movies is Gosford Park. I decided to create a similar story, character driven, full of beautiful people, delicious food, and an incredible masked ball. In this murder mystery I introduce the reader to Miranda Richards, an 80-year-old art world icon. She was inspired by my admiration for Iris Apfel, and is extremely popular with my readers. I was told at one book club I attended that she better be in the next book, which I have recently completed. Miranda is famous for her series of paintings, ThePaint People. She discovered them in the sponge painted walls of her water closet. They are a demanding muse, and as alive to her as you and me.
Did you have difficulty coming up with this title?
The title refers to the jaded way in which we view the expendability of certain people we meet in our daily lives. We move on from tragedy and death all too easily. I added the subtitle because two weeks before I published Lisa Jackson released a book by the same name and I wanted to distinguish mine from hers.
If you would have to change the genre in order to be able to publish it, what would it be then? i.e. would you conform to the market?
The ending of my most recent manuscript didn’t have the spark I wanted. After a conversation with a friend I decided to rewrite the last chapter and changed the ending completely.The last two paragraphs in particular took a couple of days of picking at them, walking away, and revisiting them with fresh eyes. Finally, I knew I had nailed it. That evening I met some friends and we played a couple of sets of tennis. I didn’t play well, but we stopped for a beer afterward and toasted the completed manuscript. It’s great when friends share your joy in an accomplishment.
Can you tell me how you celebrate finally getting that tricky chapter (or para) right?
After a conversation with a friend two weeks ago I decided to rewrite the end of “A Gourmet Demise.” The last two paragraphs in particular took a couple of days of picking at them, walking away, and revisiting them with fresh eyes. Finally, I knew I had nailed it. That evening I met some friends and we played a couple of sets of tennis. I didn’t play well, but we stopped for a beer afterward and toasted the completed manuscript. It’s great when friends share your joy in an accomplishment.
What do you do marketing wise and what do you think generates the most attention to your books?
I have worked hard on developing an author platform through social media, book club appearances, and in my day-to-day interactions with others. I am on Facebook every day, and I’m addicted to Pinterest. Pinterest is a branding mechanism and, I believe, a soft sell for authors. Pinterest is pretty, a fantasy, a visual cornucopia. I read about marketing, branding, and promotion constantly to educate myself and pick up ideas. I know I need to advertise more. Picking the correct site is the key. The KDP Select free days brought me new readers and some nice reviews. I have also used a constant contact newsletter to keep my readers up to date on what I’m doing. I share recipes from my kitchen on my blog, and this hobby is interesting to people. I think this lets a potential reader know more about me. If I could cook for readers, I would. The best I can do is to describe the food well enough to make them hungry.
Is there any food or beverage that is a constant factor in either your books or life?
There is always chocolate in my books. I have a board on Pinterest called “The Other Food Group.” I am obsessed with chocolate, especially when combined with coffee.
What is your favourite dish and can you give me the recipe?
I have loads of favorite recipes, hence the extra weight that refuses to go away. I make a chicken with sherry cream sauce that is delicious and fairly easy to make. The basic recipe: Pound down four chicken breasts, dredge in flour with salt and pepper, and cook in a little veggie oil until just done. Transfer to the oven while you make the sauce. Sauté one minced shallot in a little butter, when translucent add one chopped clove of garlic and one 8 ounce package of sliced baby bella or white mushrooms. When garlic is fragrant add ½ pint heavy cream, 2 tsps. chopped pimento and ¼ cup of good sherry. Cook down a little until all the flavors meld. Serve over chicken and rice pilaf. This is my sister-in-laws recipe and she said I could share it.
Sounds delish! Too bad I can’t post a picture of it.
Would you be able to come up with a credible excuse why you haven’t written a whole day? Remember, I have to believe it!
I have a good excuse: My son is home from college today. First I need to make chocolate chip pancakes. Then, he wants Italian wedding soup, and I have to make the stock from scratch. And the little meatballs. I had a glass of wine while I was cooking, so I’m feeling relaxed and a bit foggy. I fall asleep on the couch watching TV.
Okay now that we have the mandatory questions out of the way, shoot your mouth off. Tell me whatever you want the blab about. But please no cat’s, dogs, or children. Make me laugh, or cry, or even envious. Tell me something none has ever heard before from you. hehehe, love those little dirty secrets, real or make believe. 🙂
I’m laughing because I just used my child as my excuse for not working. Seriously, I greet each day thankful that I have the opportunity to reinvent myself as a writer and an author. I love what I do, even when I’ve face-planted. I am also a proud Jersey Girl and Rutgers College alumni! I don’t know Tony Soprano, but Mario Batali made me a Stromboli once at the Stuff Yer Face restaurant in New Brunswick. New Jersey is a lively state populated with a cast of characters from many different cultures. Living in N.J. with access to Manhattan and wonderful museums, the theatre, concerts and sports was an advantage when I lived there. Here’s a little secret. If I were to be reincarnated I would like to be a hockey player. A defensive player with awesome puck handling skill, speed, smarts, size and the ability to grow a studly play-off beard. Is that personal enough? If not, there was that hot summer night in 1981 when we all decided to…
Thank you so much for this great interview Lois! Now, where can the readers find you online? And you readers, what is a summer you will never forget?