Summertime, and the living is umm–not as easy as Mina had hoped. But, she finally has a full-time job, working alongside her new boyfriend, Jack (that is, Chef Jacque, when they’re at Squirrel Run Acres). That’s good, right? Except that poor Mina and Jack have been working together a lot lately–specifically fourteen hour shifts in a sizzling kitchen–for months. When tempers flare hotter than fat on a fire, Jack steps up and splurges for a romantic get-away to Cape May Point, New Jersey. All is forgiven and soon Sunset Beach winks from the distance, until Mina’s stuck with dog sitting duties for Jim, her buddy Bauser’s three-legged dog. Complicating the canine conundrum is Bauser’s last minute plea to deliver Jim to a client location, in Bumville, New Jersey. No biggie, except that Bumville lies in the polar opposite direction from Cape May. And Vito and Miriam also happen to be visiting the client–who is none other than Vito’s niece, Helena Pryzchntchynzski. Oy. Further jeopardizing their journey through Jersey is Jim’s discovery of Babette Bernstein. Her murder launches a connect-the-dots of corpses that ripples dangerously around Mina and Jack. Oh–and the kidnappings, plural–are a little scary, too. Will Mina and Jack escape the bad guys? Will they survive their first vacation together? More importantly, will they finally have one? If you’re in the mood for funny fiction, a cast of chatty pets, and unsolved murders–read on. Juicy Jersey packs a roller coaster ride of murders, mayhem and mojitos. Come root for Mina, boo the bad guys and nibble a nosh, courtesy of the author’s recipes in the back of the book, vetted by her real-life favorite chef, her husband, Chef Andrew.
Lizz, from the book summary we can see that ‘Juicy Jersey’ is going to be a new wild ride for Mina. How did the idea for your book begin?
From our honeymoon on Cape May Point, which has morphed into annual family vacations… just had to include a Cape May setting.
Did you do any research to when you were writing this book?
Mostly in the form of total recall of prior Cape May vacations… and, of course, having grown up in New Jersey (please don’t hold this against me).
No, I won’t hold that against you unless you start talking too much like those Jersey Shore Housewives! Did you draw on any life experiences when you were writing this book?
Like I said, I’m a former Joisey gal; once sported complete big hair and everything. So, the trip Mina and Jack take to visit Vito at his brothers is umm… pretty normal. I mean, for New Jersey. Also, my husband is a chef–so I do draw on the ups and downs of the stresses of that kind of relationship inside, and outside, of the kitchen.
Is there a conscious choice to incorporate themes or relationships like that into your books?:
Hmm… dunno. Unless you are referring to the pile up of corpses?
Not particularly, but that does seem to be a something that does come up often in your writing, so I guess that it counts. Aside from the mounting pile of corpses, how do the other characters come to you?
I’m going to have to go back and punt to one of my voices again here… but honestly, they pretty much just come to me–following an extremely detailed outline. Also, I’m very visual–so I have an actual physical image in my head of what that person looks like; what they like to wear; eat; drink… this is where my former training as an actor really comes in handy (Syracuse University, BFA Musical Theatre).
As you can see your characters so clearly, did you have any of them that you wanted to stay with longer, or were your favourites to write?
Back to the Flying Gambinis… they were a lot of fun. And, they travel with the circus–so they could perform anywhere. Who knows? It’s a possibility…
Never say never. You’ve mentioned that your training has an actor has allowed you to visualise your characters. Have you found that your job has also influenced your writing?
I’ve had several; mainly administrative/organizational and currently marketing – which helps me focus a bit on the “cogs inside the machine” and pushing things forward to get the word out.
And, just for curiosity’s sake, how long did it take for you to write this book?
About 3 months; 1 month of editing and running past beta readers.
What are you working on next?
A new young adult series, The Chronicles of Thaddeus McPhee. It will be a series of 3 novels; I am almost finished with the second and plan to plot out the third soon. After that, look out for Mina Kitchen #6, Diabolical DC – which, voices willing, I hope to release October/November 2016.
I look forward to seeing both the new adult and next Mina adventure. Now, I’d like to get your opinions as a reader. Who are your favourite authors?
Janet Evanovich, Marian Keyes, Dave Barry, Erma Bombeck.
What are you currently reading?
Oh my. I’m embarrassed to admit I download other authors’ promotions at least 3 times a week. Always some kind of mystery.
What was your favourite book as a child?
Harriet the Spy.
I do see a bit of a tend for mysteries appearing here. Is there a book that you wish that you would have written?
The Incredible Journey.
Do you have any philosophies that you live by?
As one vulture said to the other: “Patience, hell. I’m going out to kill something.”
Laughs. I haven’t heard that one before! Good advice. How about your favourite quote?
“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” Yogi Berra
Interesting, that is the second time that we’ve had that particular quote referenced in the less than 10 author interviews that have been conducted.
Finally, Is there a question that you haven’t been asked that you’d like to be?
Favorite ice cream: French Vanilla. Really.
Good choice. I do have to admit to being a bit more of a sorbet girl myself. Thanks for the time that you’ve given us today and I hope to catch up with you again soon.
Want to find out more about Lizz Lund, Juicy Jersey or the other adventures of Mina Kitchen? Contact her at the following locations: