Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Marinating in Murder by Linda Wiken

Jenn McKinlay: One of my very favorite people to see at conferences is Linda Wiken. She always has a sparkle in her eye and she always makes me laugh. Our mutual love of food and books helps, too, so I am thrilled to have her here today to talk about her latest release! 



Linda: Some of the questions I’m asked by writers just starting down the publishing path are: what do you think about using a pen name (I am aka Erika Chase, and soon, as Essie Lang); where do you get your ideas; and, who comes up with the book titles? All good questions but here’s some advice I’ll throw in, without being asked. Think long and hard before writing a foodie mystery!

I know, an odd thing to be saying since the third book in my Dinner Club Mysteries, MARINATING IN MURDER, has just come out.


Jenn: And isn't this cover spectacular?

Oh sure, it’s fun to make and make-up recipes. Pouring over cookbooks and cooking magazines for hours on end is very satisfying – not to mention, they are tax deductible. But the hidden downside in all this becomes evident fairly quickly. The expanding waistline – not your character’s but your own! And then there’s the inability to walk past a chocolate shop without going in to sample. You must! It’s your duty to make sure your characters are eating only the tastiest truffles. And, don’t get me started on the amount of wine that must be consumed, all in the name of matching said wine with a dish or an entire meal.

My main character, J.J. Tanner and I share so much, but not the expanding waistline. That is mine alone. She is the newest member of the Culinary Capers Dinner Club and is easing into the cooking experience. Her main thing is the cookbooks. She has an impressive collection of cookbooks, all with color photos. She loves pouring over them, reading the short notes about far away places, when there are some. And, now that she’s having to actually make a dish a month for their dinners, she’s finding each new success makes her a bit more daring in the kitchen.

That’s me, and my brave family and friends who are my “guinea pigs” and to whom I am eternally grateful. But again, I must point out, her waistline does not grow; only her cooking and sleuthing skills. Because there’s always a body. But since the Culinary Capers use real cookbooks – you can find them in your local bookstore – there’s no poison involved. Spoiler alert, I know.

The calories are all mine but so is the fun in trying out new recipes, watching a whole pile of shows on the Food Network, and landing a spot on the culinary mysteries panels at conferences with other foodies who love talking about eating, cooking…and writing mysteries.

 What about you, Reds and Readers, do you love murder with a side dish? If so, what's your favorite type of foodie mystery?


Want to read all about the latest sleuthing adventure of J.J. Tanner and the Culinary Capers Dinner Club? Just leave a comment and be entered in a drawing for a signed copy of MARINATING IN MURDER.


Linda Wiken writes the Dinner Club Mysteries as herself, is writing the new Castle Bookstore Mysteries as Essie Lang, and has written the Ashton Corners Book Club Mysteries as Erika Chase.  She was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel and has also been short-listed for an Arthur Ellis Award from Crime Writers of Canada for Best Short Story. She is a former mystery bookstore owner and still loves reading all the mysteries she can get her hands on.  She also loves singing in a choir, which is not always so pleasant for her Siamese cat, Keesha, who must endure hours of practice.

71 comments:

  1. Well, yes, I certainly do enjoy a bit of yumminess along with my murder mystery. I have a particular fondness for several authors in this genre and it’s always fun to see how it all works out in the end.
    I do enjoy books in which the author gives me recipes or writes a story that gives me an idea for something new and different to cook or bake . . . .

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    1. I love recipes, too. I have a friend who reads cookbooks before going to bed because she says it clears her mind. I'd likely dream of food if i did that.

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    2. I'm happy to hear that, Joan. Food and murder do go well together.

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    3. Jenn, one of my sisters started buying lots of cookbooks, with full color photos of the completed meals, while recuperating from a badly broken jaw! She said that if she couldn't eat the food, she could at least look at it!

      DebRo

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  2. Congratulations, Linda, on the new book. I'm looking forward to reading it.

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  3. I hear you on the waistband, Linda! I also write two foodie series, and I do enjoy tinkering with recipes to make them my own. Then sometimes I'll throw together a dish on the fly and it comes out so good I wish I'd written down the amounts so I could recreate it. Best of luck with the new book, and the new name and series, too.

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    1. It's funny, though. I ran an informal poll on a Facebook cozy-fans group, asking who actually made the recipes in my and other foodie books. Almost nobody!

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    3. Edith, I've had that experience too many times! I don't like beef, and wanted a hearty stew. I made it with chicken and threw in some ingredients and spices not normally associated with stew. It was delicious! I called my mom and asked if she wanted some. She loved it and wanted the recipe. Uhh... I couldn't remember enough of it. I haven't made it since but may try to recreate it eventually. Even my picky-eater sister, who lived with my mom, loved it.

      DebRo

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    4. I've had a few people make the recipes to disastrous results - I never know what to say when they email me. How am I supposed to know what went wrong when I wasn't there?

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  4. Congratulations, Linda, your tasty books are definitely on my TBR. Diane Mott Davidson's books were the first foodies I encountered, and I was hooked. I still make some of her recipes - sans poison!

    My favorite type of foodie mystery are all of them. It's so much fun to read about food, the quintessential nurturing event of the day as a weapon of choice!

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    1. I agree, Kait. And I love how inventive the writers are with getting their amateur sleuth involved in crime solving - it definitely takes some creativity!

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    2. Thanks, Kait. I think Diane Mott Davidson got a lot of us started on our foodie cozy addiction!

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  5. Hi Linda! nice to have you here:). Of course you know I love food in mysteries, as we share space on Mystery Lovers Kitchen. Congrats on the new book--love this title.

    Edith, I can't tell you how many people have made my lime cupcakes with lime cream cheese frosting. And I almost always take pics and write things down--it's a sinking feeling to realize you made something delish but can't remember how:)

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    1. Oh, I love Mystery Lover's Kitchen, Lucy! I think I'm visiting in April. Cupcakes, anyone?

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    2. Thanks, Lucy! So lovely to be here.

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  6. Congratulations on the new book, Linda! I love reading about gourmet meals. I'd love it even better if someone would come prepare them for me.

    Mary/Liz

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  7. Love your books! Can't wait to read this new title.

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  8. Wow, that cover would make a wonderful jigsaw puzzle. Congrats on the new book!

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    1. Jim, that's brilliant! I wonder if there is a jigsaw puzzler's mystery series? Hmm...

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    2. What a great idea, Jim.
      Jenn -- the mystery series idea is yours!

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  9. Culinary mysteries are so much fun, and I appreciate the hard work (and expanding waistlines!) that goes into them.

    I've made some of the recipes, but more often than not have used them as inspiration for creating my own dishes, at least savory ones. Baking is a lot harder, since it is usually more precise.

    Authors with more than one pen name: that must be a tricky mental exercise, to remember "who" you are, whether writing or giving author talks. How do you manage the split personality thing? I still don't understand why publishers prefer new names.

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    1. Linda/Erica/Essie - if she ever needs to flee the country, she's got it covered.

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    2. It's beyond me too, Karen. Sometimes it's helpful to be someone else! And at coffee bars, I take turns giving them a different name each time! Such fun.

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    3. That's too funny, Linda! I'd forget who I was supposed to be.

      Jenn, spoken like a true mystery writer! LOL

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  10. Linda, congratulations on the new book! It's good of you to do all that sampling for the sake of your readers! Way to take one for the team!

    Do you write books for your different series at the same time? If so, how do you keep things straight?!

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    1. LOL. The sampling...I think the cupcake series needs to become the salad lover's series. What do you think, Linda, is there a market there?

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    2. Go for it, Jenn! You're going to be busy...cupcakes, salads, jigsaws! :)

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    3. I asked for a lot of advice before wanting to take on a second series and I was told, write one book at a time. Finish it. Go onto the next. I have some very smart friends.

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  11. Congratulations Linda! Foodie mysteries are delightful and special as I enjoy the plot and the food is always fun and enticing to read about especially when there are recipes.

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    1. Agreed. I think the food acts as a compass point for the mystery. When the sleuth had to mull over the case, she cooks or bakes.

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  12. I"m a fan of culinary mysteries, too. OF COURSE our own Lucy Burdette's Key West series (LOVE the food from that part of the world, too). And Katherine Hall Page's Faith Fairchild series. I love movies about food, too. I also love cookbooks, though a few years ago I deep-sixed most of mine because these days whatever you need is on the Internet, in multiple versions so you can split the differences. I'm not a baker so recipes recipes for what I cook are almost always approximate.

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    1. I too am not a baker, Hallie so I, and my character, leave that part to friends. Always happy to eat it, though.

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    2. I'm more of a baker than a chef. I am happy to bake anything - cookies, pie, cake, cupcakes, but dinner...bleh, so bored,

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  13. Hi Linda! I love culinary mysteries--in fact, I just love reading about food, in books, in cookbooks, in magazines. And while I wouldn't call my book-in-progress a "culinary" mystery, one of the characters is a chef, and I can't tell you how many hours I've spent pouring over the above mentioned cookbooks and magazines, planning my chef's menu for a charity event. I also went to several Michelin-starred restaurants on my last research trip--and, yes, my waistline did expand. You have my sympathy! And I'm very much looking forward to your book!

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    1. Thanks, Deborah -- I can see you do take your research seriously!

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  14. Yes to food and mysteries! And the recipes are usually so good and so reliable (well tested by conscientious authors!). Thank you, Jungle Reds, for your recipes. Even mysteries without the recipes included can make me hungry! Donna Leon! Louise Penny!

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    1. You're so right, Denise Ann. So many books mention food and it always gets the imagination working!

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    2. I love a good food description, too, and then dinner reservations.

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  15. I enjoy foodie mysteries. Sometimes I even try one of the recipes. The real mystery to me is how to get one of those magic kitchens that always has delicious foods to make a meal of!

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  16. I love the cover! It reminds me of a Stephen Morath painting. If you haven't heard of him,Google him. You'll see what I mean. He's also one of my favorite artists.

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    1. Thanks for the tip, Karen. I'll check him out.

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  17. love the cover!! I read recipes and cookbooks like novels!!

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  18. I’ve read all the previous books in the series. I mainly read culinary mysteries. I don’t have a particular type. I’ve made quite a few recipes.

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    1. Thanks, Sue. Glad you're into the foodie mysteries.

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  19. I do enjoy foodie mysteries and reading about the food in non-foodie mysteries, too. I'm finishing up Rhys' The Tuscan Child today, and my mouth has been watering as I read about the amazing food in the Tuscany setting. I even had to fix my baked spaghetti yesterday, a recipe that takes a bit of work and makes a mess, but is worth it all. And, in the foodie category, there's no series I love reading more than Lucy's Key West Food Critic mysteries. Key West is one of my favorite places, and I love the food there, so following Haley Snow as she visits the restaurants there and reading about Haley's own cooking and baking is pure heaven for me.

    Linda, your Dinner Club Mysteries sound, well, delicious. I will be checking them out. And, that cover is fabulous.

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    1. Ditto on the mouth watering, Kathy. I think foodie mysteries need to come with take out cartons. I don't want to wait to try the meals!

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    2. Gee, Julia. this is one of the best suggestions I've ever heard!

      I've made cookies or tea breads from recipes in mystery books. People sometimes ask for the recipes. When I tell them that I got it from a mystery, I always specify that nobody was poisoned! (At least not by cookies or tea breads!)

      DebRo

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    3. Thanks, Kathy. I hope you'll enjoy it. I'm a big fan of Lucy Burdette's series, also. Love the setting!

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  20. The book cover is a real attention grabber!

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    1. THanks, Helen. I love the cover art for the whole series. I really lucked in!

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  21. Libby Dodd
    I marvel at how you keep track of all the aliases!
    libbydodd at comcast dot net

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    1. She's amazing, isn't she? Can't wait to hear more about Essie Lang.

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  22. I love foodie mysteries, especially with recipes. I've made some of the desserts. When I cook, I tend to wing it. My family followed that Asian chef on PBS years ago who said "if you don't have it, you don't need it". I just use what I have and think sounds good. Yes, I can't recreate meals that well.

    I mostly give my books to the library after I've read them but I keep ones with recipes that sound interesting.

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  23. Congrats in your new release! I really like foodie mysteries, i don't have a specific favorite. I do make copies of recipes from the books that I want to try some day.
    diannekc8(at)gmail(dot)com

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  24. It looks really good, doesn't it?

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  25. OUR POWER IS BACK! YAY. Sorry to have been so absent today, but yeesh. And I love the recipes, but I don't make them--I learn from then, though! SO Linda, imaginary cooking is still wonderful!
    Love to you all from the blizzard...xoxo

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  26. If the book cover is any indication, this book will be a good read! Thanks for the info!

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  27. Love the cover Linda! Good luck with this release.

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  28. A red letter day for me was when I discovered Dianne Mott Davidson's books -- I was hooked and made her delicioius Scout's Brownies before I even finished the book. I now love reading anything "foodie" with recipes incuded.

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