Monday, August 25, 2014

A chat with Erika Chase





Today’s guest is Erika Chase. Oops I mean Linda Wiken. This talented writer was formerly a mystery bookstore owner in Ottawa. She uses the name Erika Chase to write the Ashton Corners Book club mysteries.        

Jamie:
 Welcome Linda to Jamie Tremain’s blog. Thanks for being here. Congratulations on your fourth book in the series.

You have a fantastic blog ‘Mystery Maven’.You post and invite others to bare their souls. Your reviews of other authors are always spot on. Is a blog essential to today's writer for their ‘platform’ or is this just something you like to do?

Linda:

Thank you! And the answer is, both. Part of the writing experience is promoting our works. Gone are the days of relying on publishers to do all of it, unless you’re a big name author, of course. So, along with launches, signings and readings, social media has become indispensable and along with Facebook, Twitter and those others I haven’t even started looking into, there are blogs. So many readers are now bloggers and reviewers and that’s great! It’s a boon to authors and we’re happy to be involved in the experience. However, I really enjoy wearing my other hat and being a blogger. I get to learn more about my colleagues and ‘meet’ readers, too!

  
Jamie:
Tell us about your work in progress. Has Lizzie Turner, your protagonist, used her sleuthing skills yet again or are you trying something different?

Linda:
Book #5, by Erika Chase, which is due on my editor’s computer at the end of this month, does involve Lizzie Turner and the Ashton Corners Mystery Readers and Cheese Straws Society. This time, they get a big surprise when Bob Miller’s long lost granddaughter turns up and confronts him. But that’s not the only surprise she has in store. And, you know there’s gotta be a murder, too!
As soon as that’s on its way, I’m starting a second series with Berkley Prime Crime, the Culinary Capers Mysteries. This series will be written by the real me – Linda Wiken.

Jamie:
Your mysteries are in the cozy genre. When running Prime Crime bookshop you had many genres to choose from. Why cozies?

Linda:
Although I do read a bit of everything, I mainly read for enjoyment. And there’s nothing more enjoyable and yes, cozy, than a traditional mystery. I like the sense of community, the puzzle and the chase a cozy provides.
I also watch TV and movies for enjoyment. If I want gritty and bleak, I read the newspapers. Real life provides enough of that.

Jamie:
'Ashton Corners' is located in Alabama. How did you find your voice to sound like those southern folk? Do you have connections there or do you rely on pure research?

Linda:
Talk about find a voice. I actually borrowed from the public library a set of tapes for actors who are working on accents. I love Southern accents and when I’m writing, I hear the dialogue in ‘Southern’.  Although, sadly, I’m not able to replicate it at readings. I’ve done a lot of research on the internet using various site,s and Google street view, too. I buy a couple of magazines from the South, each month. I read lots of books, mysteries and others set there. And, I have a couple of “sources”, one who lives there, one who used to live there. It all combines on the page.


Jamie:

Your first book,  A Killer Read, was nominated for an Agatha Award  for Best First novel in 2012. Tell us about that experience.

 Linda:

Incredible! I could not believe it when I got the phone call. There are so many cozies published each year in the U.S., and Malice Domestic has such a large attendance, I never even dreamed about a nomination. But wow, it was sure fun. They treat their nominees real nice and I have a lot of happy memories. Plus, it’s great incentive to keep writing!

Jamie:

Why a ‘nom de plume’? How was Erika Chase hatched?

Linda:
The idea for a book club series came from my editor at Berkley Prime Crime. This happens a lot at big publishing houses and they usually require their authors who write those series to use a pen name. I chose Erika in honour of my late father, Erik. Chase, because it’s near the beginning of the alphabet.
This new series, which was my idea, will therefore be under my real name. 


Jamie:
Writing, cooking, and music are big parts of your life – do you have other items on your “bucket list”?

Linda:

Travel! There are so many places overseas I’d love to visit. I adore old European towns and head to those parts in any city I visit. There are still so many countries I haven’t seen.

Jamie:
 
Speaking of cooking – if you could invite any author, living or dead, to a home cooked dinner, who would you invite and what would you serve?

Linda:

That’s easy. Alice Munro. I have most of her books and just love her use of words to share the lives of her characters. Everyone is important in her short stories. Every word counts.
What to serve is a different matter. My secret is that although I’m a foodie (I love books, magazines, TV shows about food), I’m not a very creative cook. But I think I’d go for something light, like a quinoa salad, grilled chicken breasts and also, while the BBQ is going, some veggies. And then again, if Alice Munro were coming, I’d stew about it for many days and end up changing my menu at the very last minute. It’s been known to happen!


Jamie:
Is collaborative writing something you would consider?

Linda:

I’ve never considered it so don’t really know if it’s for me. Except, if someone suggests it, I’d think seriously about it. I really admire those of you who are able to do that – to make the work read seamlessly and to remain on speaking terms!  I think of Victoria Abbott, Charles Todd, and Jamie Tremain of course.
Jamie:
Who is your favourite author and do you style your writing after anyone in particular?

Linda:
I don’t have a single favourite author when it comes to mysteries. There are so many I admire, truly. A lot of times it depends on the mood I’m in when reading. But I must admit, I do keep going back to Andrea Camilleri and Martin Walker, probably because of their settings!  I also try to read most of the Canadians and wouldn’t dare name a favourite for fear of…well, you know, we do write mysteries and know how to kill people.
I try not to style my writing after anyone however, I do read a lot of my colleagues in the Berkley Prime Crime cozy world who I think do it right. They’re inspiration.

Jamie:
Conferences, book signings and readings are all part of an author’s promotional role. Is this something you enjoy or are you itching to get back to the writing?

Linda:
Although it takes up a lot of time that should be spent writing, I really enjoy all of the promoting part. It’s fun to meet with other authors, to get to know readers and hopefully attract new ones, and to just take a break from the computer. But there’s always a part of me that wants to get back to the writing, and my brain keeps an eye out for anything that could be considered “research” at any event.


Linda/Erika at a recent book signing with the dynamic duo known as
Victoria Abbott.       



Thanks Linda for sharing your thoughts on Erika’s journey. We wish you well with your future books.


BIO
Erika writes the Ashton Corners Book Club mysteries for Penguin/Berkley Prime Crime.  In a parallel life Erika Chase is also known as Linda Wiken. A former mystery bookstore owner (Prime Crime Books in Ottawa, ON, Canada), Linda is also a short story writer. She is a member of those dangerous dames, The Ladies' Killing Circle.

Her short stories have appeared in the seven Ladies’ Killing Circle anthologies (three of which she co-edited), and in the magazines Mysterious Intent and Over My Dead Body. She has been short-listed for an Arthur Ellis Award, Best Short Story, from Crime Writers of Canada.

Before life in the world of mystery, she worked as an advertising copywriter, radio producer, journalist and community education worker.  Besides writing and reading mysteries, her other passion is choral singing and she is a member of two choirs.

Okay, maybe one more passion -- chocolate!

She shares her house with Keesha and Mojo, her two Siamese cats. Actually, they allow her to live there.

You can find Linda at   Erika Chase  and   Mystery Maven 
Canada


Talk soon,

Slainte,

Jamie






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