What’s a Culinary Mystery?
A Culinary Mystery combines food, usually recipes, and murder.
How can you not love food and murder all in one place?
This week I’m thrilled to have my friend, the fabulous USA Today Best Selling Author Catherine Bruns on to chat about her latest culinary mystery and writing in general.
(Do you love recipes in your novels? Check out my interview with Jennifer Gold about her debut novel, The Ingredients of Us by clicking the link here.)
Catherine Bruns has lived in Upstate New York her entire life. Her brood consists of a male dominated household: husband, three sons, and several cats and dogs.
She holds a B.A. in English and Performing Arts and is a former newspaper reporter and press release writer. When she’s not writing and has spare time, she enjoys traveling, shopping, and of course, a good book.
To learn more about Catherine, click on her name or photo or any of the following links: Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
The (latest!) Book
Tomato sauce isn’t the only thing that runs red…
Local chef Tessa Esposito is struggling to get back on her feet following her husband’s fatal accident. And when the police knock on Tessa’s door, things just get worse. They’ve discovered Dylan’s death wasn’t an accident after all, and they need Tessa to start filling in the blanks. Who would want her beloved husband dead, and why?
With the investigation running cold, Tessa decides it’s time to save her sanity by reconnecting with her first love-cooking. And maybe the best way back into the kitchen is to infiltrate Dylan’s favorite local pizza parlor, which also happens to be the last place he was seen before he died. But the anchovies aren’t the only thing that stink inside the small family business, and with suspects around every corner, Tessa finds that her husband’s many secrets might land her in hot water.
You have several successful series. The Cookies and Chance Series, The Carrie Jorgenson Series, The Cindy York Series, and now your latest, the Italian Chef Mysteries. How do you keep all your various projects, characters, and storylines straight when you’re working? Do they ever get confused in your mind?
Oh yes! It happens. A lot of writers I know with multiple series keep “Bibles” for each one. I need to get around to making some lol.
I tend to make things more difficult for myself. For example, if I can’t remember something from a previous book in the series, such as the protagonist’s boyfriend’s mother’s name, I do a search through the document. That means I always have about 50 windows open on my laptop.
The main characters in each series never get confusing because Sally, Carrie, Cindy, and Tessa are all very different from each other with different lifestyles.
“I wanted to write a book/series that focused on my culture . . . I enjoy writing culinary mysteries so it seemed natural to weave these things together.”
What prompted your interest in writing about an Italian chef who gets embroiled in solving mysteries?
I wanted to write a book/series that focused on my culture. My father, who passed away in 2000, was born in Sicily. I feel that I wasted many opportunities while he was alive to learn more about my heritage…the language, country, etc.
Plus I enjoy writing culinary mysteries so it seemed natural to weave these things together.
How did being a newspaper reporter help (or hinder!) when you shifted to writing fiction?
I’ve always been a fiction writer first.
To be honest, I never enjoyed working as a reporter. I was very timid back then and hated having to approach people with questions.
But I wanted a job writing and that was all I could find at the time. If it’s taught me anything it’s that life is short. If possible, spend it doing something you enjoy. (Great advice!)
You’ve lived your entire life living in upstate New York. How has that environment impacted your writing? Your characters? The settings for your books?
I tend to set my stories in New York, although different areas, because I am so familiar with the state. I think a lot of writers do that.
My one exception is the Aloha Lagoon series which takes place in Hawaii, but I’ve visited the state twice so I feel my book was researched well.
If you are writing about a non-fictional town it’s important you know the area because a reader will always take notice.
(I’m thinking I need to write a book set in Hawai’i! I should definitely do some research on that . . . And maybe a culinary mystery so I can spend time eating in paradise!)
What is the most challenging aspect of writing a series? Do you ever think about writing a standalone?
With a series, you need to have a good idea right from the beginning of where you want to take your main character. Always leave room for her to grow in each book.
You should also have a plot for at least the first three books in mind when you query. Many publishers will want to see all the synopses before deciding to make an offer.
I do have plans for a stand-alone in a different genre but it’s in the very early stages.
What are you working on now?
I just finished writing Book #2 of the Italian Chef Mysteries. My agent will review and then it will be off to the publisher.
I’m doing some traveling to promote Penne Dreadful’s release during August but also plan to start work on the ninth book in the Cookies & Chance series.
“Never give up.”
Final words of wisdom:
Never give up. If writing is something you enjoy, keep at it. Don’t let the rejections discourage you.
We all get them and you will keep improving your craft over time.
That’s the beauty about writing, we are always improving. Believe in yourself and try to write a little each day, even if it’s only a paragraph. You’ll be surprised at how fast it accumulates.
Congratulations on your exciting new series! I love that you are writing a culinary mystery series about an Italian chef! I love Italian food. Thanks for hanging out with us!
Header Photo by Divily on Pixabay, for more information, click the link here.