I met today’s guest, Erika Chase, thorough contact with my guest from last month, Victoria Hamilton/ Amanda Cooper,/Donna Lea Simpson. In fact, Erika herself is known in the world as Linda Wiken.
She has a series of books, the “Ashton Corners Mystery Readers and Cheese Straws Society” stories published by Berkley Prime Crime,(book #1 made it to #2 on the Barnes and Noble Mystery Best Seller List).
Let’s talk with her!
Hello, Erika! Congratulations on volume #5 of the Ashton Corners Mysteries! As with most cozies, you have a number of romances going on in your stories. Can you tell us how you decided on leaning toward mystery stories?
Believe it or not, I started writing romantic suspense! I’d taken a creative genre writing course at a local college while my son was in nursery school. The teacher was a published romance writer and she gave excellent workshops at the local romance writers association, so I joined. It took a couple of years though before I realized I’d rather be murdering them then marrying them!
Also, I had many years of reading mysteries, which I guess formed the real groundwork for my writing.
Do you feel the romances round out the characters, or do you find that it helps with the mystery aspect, by throwing a little extra tension into the works, maybe clouding some judgments?
The romance element works on two levels. For certain, it does round out the characters and help make them more realistic. Also, who doesn’t like having a little romance in their reading, or lives?
The other aspect is that it balances out the brutal fact of murder. Even though in cozies, the murder is usually off screen and not described in vivid detail, it’s still one of life’s horrid realisms. Romance, on the other hand, brings a tender touch to the scene.
You live in Ontario, Canada. I have many friends there or from there. It really doesn’t seem much different in many ways from many parts of northern U.S. Do you find yourself considering your U.S. readers when you write, or do you not have to worry about any differences?
I certainly agree that many parts of northern U.S. are very similar to Canada, and Canadians. My new series, which I’m writing under my real name, Linda Wiken, is set in Burlington, VT. I’m not too concerned about the overall thoughts and actions of the characters for that reason. We’re close enough in many ways. However, since the Ashton Corners Book Club Mysteries are set in a small fictitious town in Alabama, I try to be conscious about the nuances.
I see that you, as Linda Wiken, are embarked on a series, Culinary Capers Mysteries, also for Berkley Prime Crime. Anyone who has read here at all knows I am the resident ‘foodie’. Can you tell us a bit about the series and your inspiration?
I, too am a ‘foodie’ more from the eating standpoint than the cooking, and oddly enough, so it my main character, J.J. Tanner. She’s an event planner by day, a wanna-be cook by weekend and has joined the Culinary Capers supper club. The five members meet monthly and base the menu on a current and real cookbook, which I mention. The menu is chosen from its contents. They rotate houses, hosting and dishes. They also become great friends and very adept at thrashing out mysteries as J.J. is drawn into solving a murder or two.
What made you chose your nom de plume? Do you use it for your short stories as well?
It was a requirement of the job. The Ashton Corners Book Club Mystery series is what is called a house mystery. That means the story was conceived at Berkley Prime Crime, by my editor, and I’m a writer-for-hire. Whereas, the Culinary Capers mysteries are my idea so will be written under my name.
You have also had a number of short stories published. Do you find them easier or harder than full-length novels?
I find short stories much harder than full-length novels. Every word must be the right one. And, it can be quite a challenge finding the words that imply many things at once, keeping the word count shorter.
Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you or your work?
How often do you have to read a book? I mean, HAVE to because of your job. For the Ashton Corners series, I have to keep on top of the new mysteries coming out each month. HAVE to read them! And now, with the Culinary Capers supper club, I HAVE to read cookbooks. How great it that! What can I say…I love my job!
Thank you for joining us today, Erika Chase!
Find out more about Erika at these sites: