Meow, today my guest is author Chris Wenger!
I have worked in the criminal justice field for more years than I care to remember! It seems like I was forever going to school while I was working full time, but in the end, I received a dual master's degree in Probation and Parole Studies and Sociology from Fordham University.
Unfortunately, the knowledge gained from way too many years in night school, didn’t prepare me for what I love to do the most – writing romances for Harlequin and cozy mysteries for Penguin books.
LOVE THOSE COZY MYSTERIES!!
The year 2013 began my series of “comfort food” cozies that are set in a small-town 1950’s diner: the Silver Bullet (open 24 hours, air conditioned). The Silver Bullet sits on the shore of Lake Ontario and many colorful characters, including the owner of the diner, Trixie Matkowski, live in Sandy Harbor or are just visiting.
The first book, DO OR DINER, from Penguin/Obsidian books was released in August, 2013. A SECOND HELPING OF MURDER came out in April, 2014. My third cozy mystery DINERS, DRIVE-INS AND DEATH came out in January, 2015 followed by MACARONI AND FREEZE (July, 2015). Watch for IT’S A WONDERFUL KNIFE in February of 2016).
I’d like to continue with this series for as long as readers keep reading about sleuthing Trixie Matkowski’s way.
JUST FOR FUN
I enjoy watching professional bull riding and rodeo with my favorite cowboy, my husband Jim. We put on our cowboy regalia (I look horrible in a cowboy hat!) and have traveled to events in Las Vegas, Florida, Connecticut, and other states.
Of course I have to do research for my comfort food diner series. That takes me to diners all over the U.S. and Canada. It’s a tough job, but I just have to do it!
Best wishes to you, and I hope you smile when you read my books!
And now, I interview Chris!!!!
- Welcome Chris! Tell us a little about your background
I have worked in the criminal justice field forever and love writing mysteries and romances. Currently I write for Penguin (Obsidian) and Harlequin.
- Tell us a bit about your latest book
MACARONI AND FREEZE takes place in small town Sandy Harbor in the middle of a fundraiser for a new library roof. Trixie Matkowski, the owner of the Silver Bullet Diner, is elected as the chairperson and decides to hold a macaroni and cheese cookoff. Unfortunately, the celebrity judge turns up frozen in a snowbank.
- How do you “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?
MACARONI AND FREEZE is the fourth book of my “comfort food” series. I got to know my characters before I wrote the first book (DO OR DINER).
- How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?
I work from a synopsis for the basic plot, but then I fly.
- Which do you consider more important, plot or character?
Character. If readers don’t care about the characters and what happens to them, then why read the book?
- What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?
The biggest challenge is sitting down to write. I’d rather be playing with my dog or working around the house or shopping! What keeps me motivated is my readers-they keep asking for the next book!
- Do you have an “How I got my agent” story you want to share?
I “stalked” my agent at a conference, and asked to submit to her. We got along wonderfully, and had a great time. Eventually, after more stalking, she signed me!
· What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
I would love to do more “comfort food” cozy mysteries for Penguin Obsidian and continue to write romances for Special Edition (Harlequin). I love doing both!
- What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?
I’d love to say that I work on a regular schedule, but just like homework, I procrastinate and then race to the finish!
· What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?
Keep writing! And keep honing your craft! It took me TWELVE LOOONG YEARS to get published (THE COW BOY WAY, Harlequin), and I gave up 3.4 million times. But soon after those 3.4 million times, I kept writing and kept trying and kept going to conferences, etc. Never, ever, ever give up.
- What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
Probably going on home visits alone, without backup, and without the adequate tools to do my job. It’s lucky that I have a big mouth.
- What’s one thing your readers would be surprised to find out about you?
That I was a probation officer and a supervisor for the county probation department for many years and that I have a dual Masters Degree in sociology and probation and parole studies from Fordham University.
- What question do you wish interviewers would ask? (And what’s the answer?)
QUESTION: “So, Chris Wenger, what would you like to happen next for your wonderful comfort food series?”
ANSWER: “Oh, excellent question! I would love for my wonderful comfort food series to be made into movies for the Hallmark Channel’s Movies and Mysteries TV show. My cozy mystery series would be just perfect for what Hallmark is doing.” (pause for effect) “And if any readers here have a connection to Hallmark, please contact me!”
- Where can we learn more about you and your books?
They say that writers should write what they know, and I know about food and diners and small town life!
Little tidbits of my life are frequently scattered throughout my books. Beware!
Just for Fun:
Night or Day? .Night
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully) I’ love cats! I go to the SPCA to the cat rooms and snuggle them, but I have a golden retriever, age 4, by the name of Blondie (she’s on all of my covers!)
Beach or Pool? Both! And a lake, too.
Steak or salad? Steak. I am a carnivore!
Favorite Drink? Lime green Kool-Aid or ice tea (sweetened)
Favorite Book? A historical western romance
Favorite TV Series? Castle
Favorite Movie? Romancing the Stone
Favorite Actor: Nathan Fillion
Favorite Actress: Melissa McCarthy
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? Pina Colada (with an umbrella)
Hawaii or Alaska? Hawaii (because I’ve never visited there)
Finish this sentence: If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be WALT DISNEY
If I had just one wish, it would be: to make the NY Times Top Ten List!
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be Nora Roberts because she’s such a prolific writer and very generous.
Thank you for a wonderful interview, Chris! You can find her at:
Regular mail: PO Box 1823, Cicero, NY 13039-1823