Interview with Ann Myers
What genre do you write and why?
The Santa Fe Café Mysteries are culinary cozies. They combine the two genres I can’t resist: cookbooks and mysteries. I’ve long loved cozy mysteries for their fun themes—cooking, crafts, DYI—and for their every-woman heroines who solve crimes and would also make great friends in real life. They’re also fun to write. In what other genre can you combine sleuthing with recipes?
Tell us about your latest book.
Feliz Navidead, the third book in the Santa Fe Café Mysteries series, came out last month (Oct. 25). It’s Christmas in Santa Fe, and Rita Lafitte has convinced her Midwestern mom to come for a visit. Hoping to win over her Southwest-skeptical mother, Rita plans for good food, jolly activities, and most of all, no amateur sleuthing.
However, the holiday peace doesn’t last long. Rita stumbles on a dead man during the premier performance of her daughter’s Christmas pageant. The prime suspect is as obvious as his bloody Santa suit. Rita steers clear of the case, until she learns her daughter might still be in danger. With the help of her elderly boss, Flori, and her coterie of senior rogue knitters, Rita strives to salvage her mother’s vacation, unmask a murderer, and stop this festive season from turning even more fatal.
Who is you favorite character in your book and why?
I have a soft spot for Flori. She’s not exactly a sidekick. Octogenarian instigator is probably a better description. Flori owns Tres Amigas Café, where my protagonist, Rita, works as a chef. Flori teaches Rita about New Mexican cuisine and spices up the story with hobbies such as deadly tai chi and illicit knitting on statues and lamp posts. Flori is also a renowned amateur sleuth, a bold flirt, and a pincher of handsome men’s behinds. One of these things was inspired by my beloved grandmother, but I won’t reveal which.
Why do you think readers are going to enjoy your book?
I love the characters and hope readers will too! Rita isn’t perfect. But while she might flub up dancing or spill soup on customer’s laps, she’s always there for her friends and family. Flori and her Senior Center pals get into fun trouble in each book too. Then there’s the food. Rita and her friends whip up some fabulous dishes—all calorie free to read about. Each book also contains recipes for a complete meal, including treats like anise-spiced pan de muerto in Bread of the Dead, a yummy green chile and cheese soufflé in Cinco de Mayhem, and pumpkin pie with gingersnap crust in Feliz Navidead.
How do you research your books?
Here’s another reason I love culinary cozies: eating at Santa Fe cafés counts as research! Eating aside, I take the setting and culinary aspects of my books seriously. I’m fortunate to spend a lot of time in New Mexico thanks to my husband’s job and the generosity of Santa Fe friends. I also try to keep up on current events in Santa Fe, as well as history, culture, and culinary traditions. Sometimes, my over-prepared-student nature goes too far. Like do I really need to know about nixtamalization, a millennia-old process to chemically transform cornmeal into more nutritious masa dough? A wise editor nixed nixtamalization in an early draft of Cinco de Mayhem. Yeah, I can see how it weighs down dialogue, but I still think about it when I eat tamales. It really is fascinating….
How long did it take you to write your book?
I wrote the first draft of Feliz Navidead in about six months. I won’t say it was easy, but because it’s the third book in the series, I knew the main characters well. I started with just the title—and the accompanying season—and plotted out a story that involved a fun, devilish feature in Santa Fe’s Christmas pageant.
What advice do you have for other writers?
Stop tinkering and finish your book! The exclamation point is there because I’m yelling this at myself (I’ve just been fussing with a first chapter). If I’m stuck in the middle of a story, it always seems easier to go back and edit earlier chapters. But obsessing over perfect wording in a first draft doesn’t get you to the end, and you might change whole sections in revisions anyway. Keep moving forward. Write a full draft and then go back to revise and edit. Hear this, self? Move away from Chapter 1.
What's your favourite quote about writing/for writers?
It’s hard to choose a favorite, but I like this quote by Margaret Atwood: If I waited for perfection, I would never write.
Where can a reader purchase your book?
The Santa Fe Café Mysteries are available as paperbacks, e-books, and audio books at
Amazon http://amzn.to/2gHNdQB, or
Barnes & Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Feliz+Navidead?_requestid=687360.
Or your favorite local independent bookstore. A shout-out to some of my favorites:
From My Shelf Books and Gifts (http://www.wellsborobookstore.com/, Wellsboro, PA), Hooked on Books (http://hookedonbooksco.com/, Colorado Springs, CO), Garcia Street Books (http://garciastreetbooks.com/, Santa Fe, NM), and Tattered Cover (http://www.tatteredcover.com/, Denver, CO).
Where can people find out more about you and your writing?
Please stop by and say hi or catch up on book news on my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AnnMyers.writer/
I also have some recipes and photos at http://www.annmyersbooks.com/