Meow! Today my guest is author Erika Chase!
The first in the Ashton Corners Book Club mysteries by Erika Chase, A Killer Read, hit the bookshelves last year and was nominated for the Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Read and Buried followed in Dec., and Cover Story this month. Erika also writes short stories and is part of those dangerous dames, The Ladies’ Killing Circle. She has been shortlisted for an Arthur Ellis Award from Crime Writers of Canada. She was the owner of a specialty mystery bookstore in a previous life. And then, as now, has been ably distracted by her two Siamese cats.
R: Hello, Erika, and welcome,meow!
E: Thanks, ROCCO.
R: How did you become interested in writing?
E: I got hooked on writing in the eighth grade when my teacher, Mr. Ross gave me top marks on an essay. His encouragement led to my first attempt at writing a novel. The plot was about a young girl on a horse ranch, as horses were my passion. Weren’t they for every 14 year old? The book did not go far – into my bottom desk drawer as a matter of fact but the urge to write remained. Fast forward to my Journalism degree and doing everything from reporting to writing radio ads, to editing a community newspaper. Eventually, I ended up writing novels once again.
R: Tell us about your latest release.
E: The lastest in the Ashton Corners Book Club Mysteries is Cover Story, released Aug. 6th. It revolves around an old childhood friend of one of the main characters, Molly Mathews, who returns to Ashton Corners, now a widow and a writer. The book club hosts a book launch, and murder and mayhem ensue. First the books are stolen and Molly is attacked; the publisher is found dead; another body is found; and the main suspect is a book club member….so of course, Lizzie Turner and gang go sleuthing again.
R: How did you decide to write in the “cozy mystery” genre?
E: I have to give full credit to my editor at Berkley Prime Crime. She suggested it; I leapt on it.
R: Tell us about your beautiful Siamese cats, meow! How did they come into your life?
E: Keesha is a lively 15 years old and came into my life after another cat, Sheba passed at age 21. Mojo, now nine, joined the family as a companion to Keesha. I just felt so guilty about leaving her alone so much. Now I can’t imagine life without two Siamese!
R: What is your favorite genre to read? Who’s your favorite author?
E: Cozies are the closest thing I have to a favorite genre, although I also love British police procedurals. As for favorite author, there are so many and so many are good friends, that I daren’t name just one! Sorry.
R: Do you have a “How I got my agent” story to share? How did you feel when you got “the call”?
E: I had the right friend at the right time. My close friend Mary Jane Maffini (now writing at Victoria Abbott, along with her daughter) got a call from her agent asking if she knew anyone who might want to try writing a cozy for Berkley Prime Crime. I bit and she liked what I sent her. The rest, as they say, is history. When I heard it had sold, I was in a state of shock, until I phone Mary Jane and her screaming brought me back to reality.
R: What’s a must have for you when you’re writing and what aids your creative process?
E: I always have music in my life, especially classical. I find the baroque instrumentals help my creative process, although to get into the southern spirit when writing A Killer Read, I was known to play some Leonard Skynard, the soundtrack from The Big Easy, and other mood setters.
R: If you had access to a time machine, where would you travel and why?
E: I’d love to go back to the Jazz Age. The music, the fashions, the joy of life…it seems so glamorous from this stage in time.
R: If a movie were to be made of one of your books, which one would you want it to be and who would you pick for the lead?
E: I’d like to see Cover Story on the big screen. It was a very visual book as I was writing it and I think it has the elements to keep viewers glued to the screen. Lizzie would have to be played by a young Sandra Bullock and Mark Dreyfus, the police chief and Lizzie’s love interest, would be a younger (and bald) Paul Gross. Ellen Burstyn (think Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood) would be a very elegant Molly Mathews.
R: What is the one thing your readers would be surprised to learn about you?
E: I’m an introvert with a capital ‘I’. The life of solitude side of writing suits me to a ‘t’; it’s the ‘get out there and promote yourself’ part that’s challenging.
R: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
E: My business partner (Mary Jane Maffini) and I had just purchased Prime Crime Books, a specialty mystery bookstore in Ottawa, Ont. That would be about 20 years ago. Next thing we do is attend MWA in New York, and knowing that we wanted a skeleton for our window, we checked the yellow pages and hit the ‘bone’ shops. We found our guy at a shop on Broadway, had ‘him’ packaged and left. Declaring him at the border was another matter. The customs guys had no idea how to classify our purchase. Believe it or not, they’d never had anyone traveling with a skeleton before – go figure. Best they could come up with was ‘novelty’. Our skeleton, Sam, was deeply offended.
R: What do you hope your readers take away from your writing?
E: I hope they will take away a sense of pleasure. I want my books to be enjoyed, the characters to become friends, and the plots to be a satisfying read.
Just for FUN:
Night or Day? Day
Dog or Cat? Cat (EXCELLENT answer, meow)
Mountains or Beach? Beach
Steak or Salad? Salad
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? Dirty Martini
Hawaii or Alaska? Alaska (I think you are the first person who answered that, meow!)
Book: The Age of Doubt by Andrea Camilleri (because I just finished it and love the series)
TV Series: Castle (Meow – we just did a fundraiser for Nathan’s charity!)
Actor: Sean Connery
Actress: Judy Dench
Finish this sentence: If I could meet anyone in the world it would be….
Carole King. Love her song writing and want to know how she gets there.
If I had just one wish it would be…..that I could travel more
If I could trade places with anyone it would be…. Sally Armstrong. I greatly admire her reporting, her causes, and her courage. She’s someone who’s making a difference.
Where can readers find out more about you?
People can find me at: www.erikachase.com
I’m also on Facebook at Erika Chase, author
and tweet me at @erika_chase
I also blog on the 7th of each month at http://www.killercharacters.com
Meow, thank you for a great interview, Erika!
Folks, Erika will be giving away a copy of COVER STORY to one lucky commenter!
To enter, leave a comment on this blog post with your name and email address (entries without email will be disqualified). For extra entries, you can do any or all of the below:
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* Friend me on Facebook (+ 1 point) (Link: https://www.facebook.com/ToniLotempio)#!/
* Mention the contest on Facebook (+ 1 point)
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Winner will be chosen at random using random.org. Don’t forget to mention all you’ve done in your comment. Good luck!
Coming in September:
Incredible Blogging Cat