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.
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?
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,
Tell us about your work in
progress. Has Lizzie Turner, your
protagonist, used her sleuthing skills yet again or are you trying something
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.
Your mysteries are in the cozy genre.
When running Prime Crime bookshop you had many genres to choose from. Why
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.
'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?
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.
Your first book, A Killer Read, was nominated for an
Agatha Award for Best First novel in
2012. Tell us about that experience.
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
a ‘nom de plume’? How was Erika Chase hatched?
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.
Writing, cooking, and music are big parts of your life – do
you have other items on your “bucket list”?
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.
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?
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.
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!
collaborative writing something you would consider?
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.
is your favourite author and do you style your writing after anyone in
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.
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?
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
Thanks Linda for sharing your thoughts
on Erika’s journey. We wish you well with your future books.
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.
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