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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Interview with Lisa Harris!

Today we welcome Lisa Harris, whose new book is just out!
1. Your first cozy mystery just released. Tell us a little about Recipe for Murder.

This was such a fun story to write. A couple years before getting the contract for this book, I had the idea of a cozy mystery series set in South Africa with a fun-loving, busybody, Pricilla Crumb as the heroine. Past retirement age, Pricilla was anything but ready for the rocking chair. When Barbour first opened up their submissions for their new cozy line, I immediately thought about Pricilla who kept popping up from time to time in the recesses of my mind.

In her first book in the series, Pricilla Crumb’s guest list turns into a suspect list. . .for murder. And while Pricilla never expected to be involved in a real life mystery, that’s exactly where she finds herself when she joins her son at his hunting lodge in the beautiful Colorado Mountains. Pricilla, a superb cook and articulate hostess, plans an informal buffet for her son, but the dinner party turns to chaos when a guest is found dead after sampling one of her salmon-filled tartlets. Her determination to save her reputation and find out the truth begins her unofficial career as a novice detective.

2. Did you consider having an older protagonist a risky venture? Pricilla is 64. What challenges did you find in making her a romantic heroine?

There were times when I wondered if I’d stepped too far from what I knew in trying to write about a heroine in her sixties, but since three of the closest women in my life are in their sixties, (my mom, my mother-in-law, and my aunt) most of the time it seemed natural. Not that any of these women would ever try and pull off some of the stunts Pricilla does, but I do think that their influence in my life helped me to portray her more realistically.

I believe, as well, that falling in love, no matter what your age, can be beautiful and exciting. It’s definitely not just for the twenty-something crowd. Age can bring an additional level of maturity, commitment, and depth to a relationship. While at first Pricilla is a bit wary of falling in love a second time, I loved exploring the growth in her relationship to longtime friend Max. Max is the first to realize that he’s in love with Pricilla, but even this confession doesn’t make for a smooth-sailing relationship. There are unique challenges the second time around, but in the end, Max and Pricilla prove that falling in love can be wonderful at any age.

3. Pricilla is always cooking up yummy-sounding menus in your books. Do you like to cook? Care to share a recipe?

Oh, I do love to cook! Or I suppose I should confess that I loved to cook before I had three kids, started home schooling, and started meeting writer’s deadlines. But still, I do enjoy it. Especially ethnic foods from different countries. I’ve learned how to make dishes like Groundnut Stew from Ghana, Fufu from Togo, Raclette from France and lately, beans and rice from Brazil.

This Stroganoff recipe below has become one of our favorites. Brazilians do love their stroganoff (and so do I!) I've never been one to follow a recipe, but you really can't go wrong on this one, so experiment and have enjoy! It's fast and easy. Even my kids love it.

2 pounds chicken breasts or beef strips
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion chopped
1/2 tsp. nutmeg (don't leave this out!)
1/2 tsp. oregano
4 Tbl. catsup
3 Tbl. yellow mustard
About 1 cup of heavy cream or creme fraiche. (You might be able to find Brazilian-style creme de leite in a Latino market.)

Cut up meat into small strips or pieces. Saute the meat, onion, and garlic and cook until meat is done. Add catsup and mustard and mix well. When ready to eat, add cream and cook for one minute.

Serve over rice and sprinkle matchstick potato chips on top. Delicious!

4. Now I’m hungry! Did you find writing books 2 and 3 easier than book 1, or harder?

I think the main stress in writing books two and three comes from all the time that has passed since writing the first one. There are certain threads that need to be carried through the entire series, especially the characteristics of the cast. I typically use an excel template to keep track of these things, but I have to admit that I never seem to be organized enough. Still, whatever your method, it’s essential to keep these facts straight! If nothing else, make sure you write down the basic physical characteristics of your characters, ages, and any quirks they might have.

5. You’ve lived in Africa several years, and are now in Brazil. Has this flavored your novels?
Honestly, I’ve had to be very carefully not to let my travels flavor my stories too much. When I do, this is typically where my editors start chopping away. Recently an editor made me cut an entire section because I was sounding more like a travel journal. ☺

But on the positive side, it’s given me the chance to spend years observing people and different cultures. How they live and love, motivations to how they act, how the past has colored the present, etc. I think this has helped me when it’s time to sit down and write about characters like Pricilla who are very different from me.

6. Where can the readers find more about you and your books?

(http://www.keepmeinsuspensecontests.blogspot.com/) for a chance to win a copy of Recipe for murder.

And if you’re interested in learning more about my other books, or want to take a peek into my life in Africa, please visit my blog http://myblogintheheartofafrica.blogspot.com or my website at www.lisaharriswrites.com

To learn more about how to join Heartsong Presents: Mysteries at http://www.heartsongmysteries.com or our authors blog at http://www.spyglasslane.blogspot.com/

Thanks, Lisa! Readers, be sure to visit our contest blog today and leave a comment. You will be entered to win a copy of Recipe for Murder.
Posted by Susan


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