For the second time, I’ve had the opportunity to interview an author and share the experience with readers here on The Poisoned Martini. Today, The Poisoned Martini is fortunate to have the privilege of speaking with author Christine Wenger, whose forthcoming mystery, Do or Diner, is due out in August 2013.
The Poisoned Martini: Hello, Christine, tell us a little about your forthcoming book?
Christine Wenger: After writing nine romance novels, Do or Diner is my first cozy mystery and it is being published by Penguin Obsidian Books. The primary character is Trixie Matkowski who buys a diner and a dozen guest cottages on Lake Ontario, New York, from her aunt Stella. Suddenly, the health inspector is found dead in her kitchen with his face in a plate of the daily special. Now her diner is empty of customers and a balloon payment is due to Aunt Stella! Trixie has to solve the mystery before she goes under and loses her family’s legacy.
The PM: What’s the “daily special” and can readers expect recipes to be included?
Christine: The special at the Silver Bullet Diner that day was pork and scalloped potatoes. That dish is actually my mother’s specialty and all of us (siblings, friends, relatives, etc.) have begged her for the recipe, but she maintains that she doesn’t have one. She “just makes it!”
However, I’ve finally documented her recipe in Do or Diner. I have also included several other recipes from various people who I know….er…uh…who Trixie Matkowski knows.
The PM: Formerly you’ve written several romance novels, how or why did you decide to write a mystery novel?
Christine: I had never heard of “cozy mysteries” before until a fellow writer in my writer’s group introduced me to them. Intrigued, I came across several “cozies” at Barnes and Noble and decided to take a chance on reading them. Yum! I was hooked. After further investigation, I realized that “cozies” were different from some mysteries in that there were no “blood and guts” and they featured amateur sleuths. I liked that idea.
The PM: How was the experience different from writing a romance novel?
Christine: In a romance, I concentrate on the romance. In a mystery, I concentrate on the mystery.
With that said, I did find myself adding a love interest for Trixie, a cowboy cop from Houston who relocates to little Sandy Harbor, New York! In the story, he gets in Trixie’s way, and vice-versa. Being newly divorced, she’s not interested in a romance, but she can’t help looking!
The PM: Which mystery authors have inspired you?
Christine: I am going way back, but I loved the Nancy Drew mysteries and Trixie Belden. I also loved the gothic-type mysteries as written by Mary Stewart, Phyllis Whitney, and Daphne DuMaurier.
The PM: Most of your previous work is set elsewhere, why did you choose to set your mystery in the more local locale of Upstate New York?
Christine: The setting just came to me, and I love diners. Also, I love the people who frequent diners. They come from various walks of life, and all are just looking for a great meal, lots of food, and a casual setting.
I remember visiting a diner in northern New York where there were fisherman, boaters, locals, farmers, tourists, etc., and it was one crazy mix of everyone talking to each other as we waited for a table. Once seated, the conversations kept going. What fun!
This ends Part One of the interview, but there’s more to this conversation! I’ve chosen to post the interview in sections for easier reading and to give readers the chance to digest the text. Read Part Two of my interview with Christine Wenger here.
Can’t wait to read it – the description of the setting reminds me of the lake cabins next to SUNY Oswego and Ruby’s diner across the street right on Lake Ontario. Many fond memories of visiting my daughter when she went to college there!