Tuesday, January 3, 2012
The Debut: An Appetite for Murder!
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Champagne for everyone! Yes, we know, it’s too early in the day..but then again it’s never too early to celebrate. All the Reds are applauding, cheering, jumping up and down—because our dear Red Lucy has a new book—AN APPETITE FOR MURDER, a Key West food critic mystery--and it’s out today! Can’t wait one more second to have it in your hot little hands? Click here!
And in honor of a An Appetite for Murder, here at Jungle Red we’re also having all kinds of Key West delicacies: conch chowder and fritters and flying fish and margaritas and plantains and sea bass a l’orange (is there such a thing?) and deserts, oh the desserts—frothy chocolate mousse with raspberries, and blood orange soufflé, and of course,….Key Lime Pie! With extra whipped cream, and shaved chocolate, and …
But do let us say—even though our mouths are full--how completely thrilled we are. Lucy (some people call her Roberta, but not where the Key West series is concerned!) is poised to make a huge splash in mystery world with her new series..and you read it here, first!
It’s all about ..well, let Lucy tell it.
First question, Key West! HOW did you pick that? And give us the scoop on this new series.
LUCY BURDETTE: Thank you for all the kind words Hank! My sweet husband and I visited Key West about five years ago and fell in love. The town has so many layers, reaching from the richest of the rich at one end to a significant homeless population on the other. There are folks who were born and raised on the island and lots of others who come to party or who come because they don't quite fit into a traditional lifestyle but find they feel comfortable here. There's a thriving artistic scene, great food, and a fabulous literary history. So when thinking about pitching a new series, Key West was a natural!
The series follows aspiring food critic Hayley Snow, a transplant from New Jersey who's invited to town by a man she barely knows. By the time that relationship sours, Hayley's fallen in love with the island--she'll do anything to stay. Would that include murder? The cops, of course, believe it might.
HANK: Hayley Snow (I love the name..) is a brand new person for you. You've created golfer Cassie Burdette, and psychologist Rebecca Butterman..what's it like to create a compete new person? Kind of fascinating, really, huh? Here's someone who did not exist, not at all, until you brought her to life. I always think about that, with all my characters. Anyway! What is it about Hayley that makes her unique?
LUCY: Great question Hank....but it makes me wonder, maybe these characters
did exist, we just have to carve the excess words away--chip away whatever doesn't fit, like a sculptor works with marble?
HANK: Ah. That's kind of ...cosmic. And when we need them, we just have to figure out where to look? I'll have to think about that. (And it's interesting, too that some characters seem to ping into existence, as if they were just waiting to be found. Others have to be coaxed out. Anyway! Hayley.
LUCY: Yes, Hayley. She arrives in Key West because a man invites her. She barely knows him when she moves to the island, so not a big surprise when the relationship blows up. But then what's a girl to do--return to her mom's guest room in New Jersey? In November? No way! She has to figure out a way to make a new life here on this island--and it has to do with her passion, food.
Working with this new person is so interesting because it's not only Hayley that I have to develop, it's all her friends and neighbors and nemesises (nemesi?) as well. I didn't really have the time to work out all the biographies in advance (and if I'm being perfectly honest, I'd tell you that I wouldn't do that even if I HAD all the time in the world!), so I'm constantly being surprised at how these people evolve.
HANK: Oh, I'm with you. Sometimes I sit at my computer and smile at the magic. Other times..well, other times I could use some PIE! Okay, now, if we're true to your new series, we should have a recipe here.
LUCY: I'm going to cheat a little and give you a link to Emeril Lagasse's Key Lime Pie. You're going to need a piece of Key Lime Pie when you're finished with AN APPETITE FOR MURDER because it's central to the story. I would mail a pie to each of you, but they simply won't hold up well in transit!
HANK: Are you a great cook? The book is so infused with cooking-not just
recipes, but genuinely thoughtful and educated references to the joy of food and eating -how did you get ready for that? Has it changed your life? Next time we go out to dinner-or next time I have you guys over!--should I be afraid?
LUCY: Oh no, please don't be afraid! I'm really an expert eater but not an
intimidating cook. And I'm not big on eating weird stuff--I nix anything with tentacles, for example. Plus entrails and offal and eyes.
HANK: Again, I'm with you. Liver, okay. Snails, yes caviar, yes...but I'm ever wary of calamari when I get the parts with the suckers and tentacles. Oooh. Probably easier (if it ever can be easy...) to write about than actually do..
LUCY: I don't think I'd enjoy being a food critic in real life--have you noticed how often the New York Times food critic position turns over? Looking at that and reading about a critic's life, it seems as though food criticism could eventually ruin the pleasure of eating. And let's face it, when I go to a restaurant I want to order what I want to order, not what I think someone else might want to try.
But I've had so much fun reading about food to get into Hayley's mindset--foodie memoirs, food blogs, fiction chockablock with food, and always, always recipes. Some of my friends are genuine gourmet cooks (Hallie's one of them) so I study how they cook and think about food. However, all the recipes in the book come from me.
HANK: SO, finally, do you look at the world differently now? Has this book changed your life?
LUCY: Don't you think every book changes your life? It's like you've made a whole new set of friends and been somewhere completely new…now I feel like a foodie in paradise!
HANK: Hungry for more? Here’s just a nibble to tempt you..from Chapter 1.
“A hot dog or a truffle. Good is good.” James Beard
Lots of people think they’d love to eat for a living. Me? I’d kill for it.
Which makes sense, coming from my family. FTD told my mother to say it with flowers, but she said it with food. Lost a pet? Your job? Your mind? Life always felt better with a serving of Mom’s braised short ribs or red velvet cake in your belly. In my family, we ate when happy or sad but especially, we ate when we were worried.
The brand new Key Zest magazine in Key West, Florida announced a month ago that they were hiring a food critic for their style section. Since my idea of heaven was eating at restaurants and talking about food, I’d do whatever it took to land the job. Whatever. But three review samples and a paragraph on my proposed style as their new food critic were due on Monday. Six days and counting. So far I had produced nothing. The big goose egg. Call me Hayley Catherine “Procrastination” Snow.
(Read more here.)
HANK: So, dear Reds—let’s talk food today! Did you have anything delicious over the holidays? Any new year’s food traditions? Have you ever actually tried a recipe from a mystery book? And Yay, Lucy!
LUCY: And ps, Hank, I have tried recipes from mysteries--I still remember Diane Mott Davidson's manicotti. And don't they always sound so good???