Today we’re celebrating the release of A Stew to a Kill, Book 4 in the Callie’s Kitchen Mystery series by Jenny Kales.
Welcome, Jenny! Congratulations and happy book birthday!
Jenny has a busy day planned with book launch festivities, but she’s here for an interview about her characters and her books.
The main character in the series, Callie Costas, is the owner of Callie’s Kitchen; each book in the series finds Callie dealing with various seedy elements of Crystal Bay, Wisconsin. In A Stew to a Kill, a new employee in a neighboring shop, Tea for Two, is found murdered and Callie finds herself being drawn into the murder investigation. And when an old boyfriend shows up in town with his sights set on developing a mall that will hurt the small business vibe in Crystal Bay, Callie begins to wonder if his sudden appearance has anything to do with the murder.
I love Jenny’s books and I’m eager to read A Stew to a Kill.
So Jenny, tell us how you came to choose the setting of Crystal Bay, WI, for your series.
Two reasons that I created this fictional town: I love Wisconsin and I wasn’t coming across cozy mysteries set there. That got me thinking. The next time I visited the Geneva Lakes region of Wisconsin, a beautiful area filled with lakes, small scenic, towns, colorful local history and a bustling small community combined with tourists, I looked around and thought: this is it! Also, there is a presence of Greek people in the community, though it is small.
Specifically, I based Crystal Bay on the Lake Geneva and Williams Bay area of Wisconsin. Because I wanted to take liberties with the location, I decided to combine the two into one town: Crystal Bay. I visit the area often and have come up with my mystery ideas each time. It’s fun!
Are the recipes in your books ones that come from your own collection? Are there recipes you’ve wanted to include in the books, but didn’t?
Recipes come from my own collection, including family recipes from my husband’s side of the family. Now, sometimes Greek recipes are hard to track down because nobody writes them down and would look at you oddly if you asked for that. They seem to be absorbed through the DNA! I’ve been lucky in two ways regarding Greek family recipes. My husband’s grandmother (YiaYia) was involved in a 1950 Greek Orthodox Church cookbook produced in 1950. Several copies survived and were gifted to new members of the family. This book is amazing! True, I have tweaked many recipes for fat content here and there, but these are true-blue recipes and they are fabulous. Several years ago, my sister-in-law commissioned a family cookbook and captured many elusive recipes that we now all have.
There are always recipes I’m not able to include, but I try to find some way to share them. For example, I did not include Callie’s “Speedy Pastitsio” recipe in my latest book even though it is mentioned, because I just had too many other recipes to include. However, I plan to include the recipe in a newsletter soon, so make sure that you’re signed up! Speedy Pastitsio is my own creation and my whole family loves it.
Your knowledge of Greek food and culture is obvious, but in a beautifully subtle way. Have you been to Greece?
I have not been to Greece. My husband has been there several times and was briefly a student there. He also worked on an island for a while, many years ago. I get a lot of my knowledge from him! However, I’m hoping we can go at some point because I plan to set my next Callie novel in Greece!
Can you share something about your main character, Callie, that most readers don’t know?
She’s afraid of the dark! Not so convenient for her, considering she keeps finding herself in dangerous situations that often involve it.
Who are some of your favorite cozy authors?
So many! To name a few: Dianne Mott Davidson, Leslie Meier, Lorna Barrett and two I am lucky enough to call friends: Linda Reilly and new author Debra Sennefelder. This isn’t everyone, of course, so I guess you could say I love cozy mysteries, period.
When you’re writing a novel, do you read within your genre, or do you, like many authors, read only books outside your genre when you’re deep into the writing process?
I try to avoid cozy mysteries when I’m deep into writing a novel. One, because I don’t want to unconsciously copy anyone and two, because I don’t want to feel inferior to the author I’m reading, lol. You never want to let the self-doubt creep in while you’re writing. I like to read historical fiction, contemporary fiction, “detective” fiction like the Shetland novels and suspense when I’m writing.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love to spend time outdoors, travel with my husband and family, hang out with my kids, bake and cook, of course, and browse vintage stores. I love vintage clothing, cookbooks, jewelry and I collect classic Nancy Drew novels. I also love to read, (no surprise) and I love mystery TV like Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. She is my idol.
Where do you do your best writing?
Not at home! I have two favorite libraries where I have written most of my books. The key is to find a library with a “quiet room,” and then I go to town.
Do you have a favorite character in your Callie’s Kitchen series? Who is it and why?
That’s a tough one, but I’d have to say George, Callie’s father. I can picture him so clearly in my mind’s eye and his dialogue just flows out of me. Also, he’s funny, sometimes unintentionally, protective to a fault, but loving as can be.
What’s next for Callie?
She is about to set off on a big adventure! I can’t give too many spoilers but as I said above, I’m about 90% sure I will have her visiting Greece and, of course, encountering a mystery there.
Thank you, Amy, for having me on your blog today. It was a lot of fun!
It was my pleasure. Congratulations and best wishes for lots of success with the new book! Readers, you can find A Stew to a Kill by clicking here or by clicking on the picture at the top of the post.
Jenny has a seasonal newsletter: sign up here!
To learn more about Jenny, visit her online!
Until next time,