Saturday, January 2, 2016

Top Six by Julie Hyzy

LUCY BURDETTE: I invited Julie Hyzy to visit today because she has big news on her beloved White House chef mystery series. I'm sorry because I love these characters, but I also completely understand. Take it away Julie!

JULIE HYZY: You know how sometimes you can make the absolute right decision but still feel a tiny bit sad about it? 

That’s where I am today, just a few days before the release of my new White House Chef mystery, Foreign Eclairs. I’m ecstatic to have a new book to promote, of course. That’s a thrill that never gets old. In fact, my husband and I always find ways to celebrate launch day. But this time, things will be different. When Tuesday rolls around, our celebration will be bittersweet. 

Why? Because Foreign Eclairs is not only the ninth White House Chef mystery, it’s also the final one. At least, the last one with my name on the cover.

I’ve explained why the series is ending on my blog (All Good Things) so I won’t rehash all the details here. But if you’re interested in some of what goes on behind the scenes in a work-for-hire arrangement, I invite you to give it a read.
The decision to walk away from the series wasn’t easy and come January 2017, I’ll be bereft that I don’t have a new release to cheer about. 

But, because I’m the sort of person who prefers to focus on the positive, I’m here today to share my Top Six List of why ending the series is a good thing. I realize (thanks to David Letterman) that this should be a top ten list, but -- have I mentioned that this decision was bittersweet? -- I can only come up with six.

So, here goes. My Top Six List of why I’m happy to be ending the White House Chef Mystery series now:

#6 A small subplot in Foreign Eclairs involves President Hyden’s bid for reelection and how that affects his young son, Josh. Walking away from the series now gives me one less presidential election to worry about!

#5 I’ll have more time to read.

#4 I’ll no longer be stressed about recipes. On my blog, I briefly touch on the difficulties I had with the company that owns the series. If Berkley had been able to obtain copyright from them in order to keep Ollie going, I’d have been responsible for creating recipes myself. Although I’m a good cook, I don’t have the patience required to create new dishes. I thoroughly enjoy experimenting in the kitchen. But, remembering to stop and record the steps, ingredients, and measurements? Ooh…Way out of my comfort zone!

#3 My characters Ollie and Gav could, conceivably, give up their White House jobs, change their names, and move cross country. If that happens -- and if they let me in on their plans -- I could, conceivably, pick up their lives with a new series <grin>

#2 Ollie has – countless times over the course of nine books – saved the lives of her colleagues, the president and his family, and visiting dignitaries. Through it all, she’s fed the First Family, managed the White House kitchen, and developed a gratifying personal life. Ollie knows that her exploits stretch the bounds of believability a tiny bit (ahem). She and I agree that it’s best for her to bow out now, before she starts jumping sharks.

And the number one reason I’m excited to be walking away from the White House Chef series is…

#1 Time.
I have far more stories bouncing around in my head than I’ll ever have time to write. Years ago, when I first started submitting, I leaned toward darker themes, but then the White House Chef opportunity arose and I jumped on it. Now, with only one deadline per year (for Grace, the Manor House series), I’m looking forward to rediscovering my roots.
How appropriate that all this is coming together just as a new year begins. Although I’ll miss Ollie, I can’t wait to start this new chapter in my career.

Thanks, so much, Lucy, for inviting me to join Jungle Reds today!

Julie Hyzy is a New York Times bestselling author who has won the Anthony, Barry, Lovey, and Derringer awards for her mystery fiction. In addition to her nine books in the White House Chef mystery series, she currently writes the Manor House Mysteries, the seventh of which (Grace Sees Red) comes out in June. She lives in the Chicago area. Visit her slightly outdated website.

Flash news: the winner of Juliet Blackwell's book, The Paris Key, is Roxie Faubian!


  1. While I understand making the right decision and still feeling sad, I must say it's so distressing to have this happen. However, all of us readers who love Ollie and Gav and all the rest have been so fortunate to have had you share nine wonderful books with us . . . .

    Here's hoping Grace and the Manor House stories will be ours to enjoy for a long time.

  2. Thank you for writing the most wonderful series! Ollie will be missed but Grace will keep us entertained. Looking forward to new adventures/characters/series that are percolating in your head! Happy New Year.

  3. You're putting the positive twist on the situation and I applaud that! I have Foreign Eclairs on order and can't wait to read it - as well as whatever new direction you turn in.

  4. I will miss Ollie but as you said having Time is the best reason to end a series. Looking forward to reading my copy.


  5. Julie, once again you have impressed me with you grace.

  6. Julie: Me, applauding! I personally can't wait to see what you write next.

  7. Sad for us, happy for you. Will see what characters come to us from you in the new year.

  8. life is about moving forward with great joy and anticipation. best wishes, and see you at a Chicago MWA event or at the Midwest writer's workshop in July.

  9. Julie, brava! I can't wait to see what you write next.

  10. Julie, hurray! My mother always said: "Never return to the scene of a former triumph." So you have bravely and gloriously decided to got out on top, change your direction, and keep control. LOVE that!

    Transition is always difficult, and it will be AMAZING when you come back here next year t this time--wonder how you'l be feeling then? I predict many wonderful things.

    And isn't it perfect to be moving forward at this time of year? You are such an inspiration!

    Tell us about Grace, in case any Reds are new to her!

    xoxoo and Happiest of new years

  11. This series is one I need to put on my TBR series list. It sounds delightful.

    Dear Reds, some of you already know that my husband was in an accident on New Year's Eve day, gun powder and a kerosene heater. He's in the burn unit at University of Louisville, and I am here with him. His burns aren't that bad, but he's having some respiratory issues and has a breathing tube. This morning he's running a fever, so he's not resting as well as he was, but all the people are wonderful. Just wanted to explain my absences here.

  12. Kathy, so sorry to hear about your husband. (Heard on FB and he has been in our prayers.) Of course we understand if you're not around as much as usual. Our thoughts are with you both.

  13. Thank you so much, Jungle Reds, for having me here today. Joan and Karen - I hope Grace and the Manor House hang around for a long time, too! And Dru and Edith - thanks for keeping mum about Ollie's news. Kaye -- What a lovely thing to say. Thank you!
    Thank you, everyone, for your wonderful support!
    I love your mom's advice, Hank! Perfect! And thanks for asking about Grace.

    Grace is a protagonist of my heart. She's taken a little while to find her strength but she's there now and is forging her way in the world with her newfound (and mostly chosen) family. I love wandering magnificent Marshfield Manor with her.

    Hugs to you all!!

  14. I love reason #3! I could see Ollie and Gav joining the witness protection program and living new lives on the west coast. It would make perfect sense!

  15. Kathy, very sorry to hear about your husband. Here's hoping he recovers quickly.

    Julie, I read the original blog a while ago. I applaud your grace in what must be an incredibly difficult time. Best of luck with your future books.

  16. So very sorry to hear about your husband's accident, Kathy. Best wishes for his recovery.

  17. Thank you, Mary!

    Jennifer... yep.

  18. Kathy, I'm so sorry to hear ... take care of him and take care of you. Heck of a way to start the new year. xxxx

  19. I really like number three. And number one. But they are all good points. Thanks for entertaining us through the series!

  20. Kathy, so sorry to hear about your husband's accident; our thoughts and prayers are with both of you.

  21. I'll miss Ollie and friends too, but I am glad to know I have your other work to enjoy. Thank you for your candid info on the workings of the writing industry in this situation. Very instructive for new authors. Here's to an ever-better New Year!

  22. Julie, so sorry to hear this, but looking forward to the last book.

  23. Kathy, how scary and distressing. In some ways, it's harder to have your spouse be injured or ill than it is to be hurt or sick yourself. I know University Hospital is very highly regarded, so at least you have the comfort of knowing he's getting the best of care. Virtual hugs, and I'll keep you both in my prayers.

  24. Julie: Kudos to you--for making the decision that's right for you--we don't just write stories on demand--we are full of stories to be told--and it will be great fun to see what comes next for you!

    Kathy: Gunpowder and kerosene?! Wrong kind of bang for the New Year--stay strong--you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers!

  25. Thanks for this post Julie, and I am sad that a series I love will end, but also excited for the new things you are going to write for us.

  26. Kathy, thinking of you both..ah. So scary. We love you.

  27. Oh, gosh, Kathy, good wishes for swift healing. So frightening.

    Good wishes, Julie.

  28. I vote for #3: put them into witness protection and send them somewhere new. That'll show the publishers! They can drop in little comments like, "Remember when we?...oh, we can't talk about that, can we.

  29. I admire how positively and courageously you face change, and the grace you show, finding positives in even negative, somewhat exploitive, treatment. Looking forward to your new explorations. <3

  30. After the way the last book ended, I have been waiting anxiously for the next book in the series to come out and am so disappointed to learn it will never happen. The story-teller brings a story to life so even if someone attempts to continue the series, it will not be the same.

    I understand your decision, however I will miss everything about the stories you have drawn. Please do consider writing a spin-off including Ollie and Gav. There is something special about this particular series.

    BTW, the way you have handled yourself is truly "grace under pressure." I appreciate your positive attitude.