The first winners of the THROUGH THE EVIL DAYS ARC contest are Cara Black and Lisa Alber. Please email julia (at) julia spencer fleming (dot) com (removing all spaces.)
LUCY BURDETTE: You all probably know today's guest, because she's already a big presence in the mystery community. But now we are so happy to welcome her to JRW to celebrate her first novel, Death al Dente! Hooray Leslie Budewitz!
Leslie Budewitz: It was August a year ago. “The book”—my first mystery—was due to my editor. I was deep into revising and polishing. Mr. Right and I were headed across the mountains to celebrate my mother Alice’s birthday and I wanted to take her a gift.
“I’ll just pop into the Merc and see what they have,” I thought.
Trouble was, “the Merc”—aka The Glacier Mercantile, purveyors of made-in-Montana foods and locally grown meat, cheese, and produce—exists only in my mind.
And now, at long last, on the pages of Death al Dente, first in my new Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries.
For years, I’ve been writing about the relationship between fact and fiction, helping writers get the facts about the law and straight in their novels, short stories, and screenplays. After nearly thirty years practicing law, I love that. As a trial lawyer, focusing mainly on civil litigation—although I’ve done my share of criminal work—I’ve learned a lot of details. Some pertinent; some, well, impertinent. I often joke that what I’ve learned is how to learn. Another case, another business: radio stations, restaurants, bars, trucking companies, cattle ranchers, mobile home manufacturers, parks, transport companies, day care operators, semi-conductor manufacturers, nutritional supplement companies, insurance companies, and on and on.
And the individuals—oh, my, oh my. Suffice to say real life has given me an ample supply of characters.
All of it comes into play in fiction. Writers are truly amazing. The situations they create cover the waterfront, coast to coast. Any trouble humans can conjure probably happened first in a writer’s imagination. But they don’t always know the law. The law is complex, and constantly changing. It varies tremendously from state to state, and even case to case. Helping writers navigate the legal system and figure out how to both portray it accurately and use it to move their stories forward has been tremendously gratifying.
And of course, it was great fun when the lovely people of Malice Domestic gave me this nifty tea pot.
But on that day a year ago, I realized I’d crossed a line. And there was no going back. I still practice law part-time, but in my heart, I’m a mystery writer. I live in Jewel Bay, Montana, known as the Food Lovers' Village. It’s a town—much like my own—obsessed with homegrown and homemade Montana fare. So when Erin Murphy takes over her family's century-old general store, she turns it into a boutique market filled with local delicacies. But Erin's freshly booming business might turn rotten when a former employee turns up dead.
I am a better, happier person when I spend most of my time with people—like Erin and her family and friends—who only exist because I made them up.
But I am blessed with wonderful friends and family who have urged me on all these years, whether I was writing fact or fiction. And at the head of the line are Mr. Right and my mother. You can wish him happy birthday in a couple of weeks. Right now, it’s her turn.
Happy birthday, Alice.
Hank calls Death al Dente “Clever, charming and completely yummy.” A personalized copy will go to one lucky reader who leaves a comment.
And a bonus: The mother of another mystery writer—not a Red—wore the same wedding dress as Alice. Name the author, and win a personalized copy of her latest book. Hint: SCLAMN. Pour a cup of tea and ponder it... (And no, Mom, you’re not eligible to win.)
Death al Dente, first in the Food Lovers' Village Mysteries, debuts from Berkley Prime Crime on August 6. The town of Jewel Bay, Montana—known as the Food Lovers’ Village—is obsessed with homegrown and homemade Montana fare. So when Erin Murphy takes over her family’s century-old general store, she turns it into a boutique market filled with local delicacies. But Erin’s freshly booming business might turn rotten when a former employee turns up dead…
Leslie is also a lawyer. Her first book, Books, Crooks & Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law & Courtroom Procedure (Quill Driver Books) won the 2011 Agatha Award for Best Nonfiction. She lives in northwest Montana, near Glacier National Park, with her husband and their cat. Visit her online at www.LeslieBudewitz.com or on Facebook.
Celebrating Red Julia Spencer-Fleming's upcoming THROUGH THE EVIL DAY's Reds are
giving away an ARC to a lucky loyal Red commenter each day this week!