This week's cozy mystery author in residence in our Cozy Mystery Book Explorer Facebook group is Hillary Avis.
Hillary will be taking over the group from Friday 11th January until Friday 18th January, when we'll be joined by a new cozy mystery author in residence. This is a brilliant opportunity for cozy mystery fans to get up close and personal with the author and to ask them any questions you like, about the characters, series, life as an author, and inspiration behind the books, so please don't be shy.
A Little Bit About Hillary Avis
I write cozy culinary mysteries and I’m so pleased to be the guest author this week.
A little about me—I live in Eugene, Oregon, with my husband and two daughters, ages almost-13 and just-turned-6. You can imagine the noise levels...especially when you add in two dogs, two cats, and five chickens that just started laying (OMG the egg songs they sing). The fish doesn’t make much noise, luckily.
Oh, and we just signed an adoption contract for a 95-pound Great Pyrenees rescue dog. You know, because we don’t have enough going on.
I’ve been a reader and a writer as long as I can remember. My childhood was full of Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie (and some Narnia and dragon books, too), so I guess I’ve always liked books full of sprawling old mansions with secret rooms and rusty keys that open hidden doors and plucky women who go down into the basement to investigate the strange noise.
In the past, I’ve written historical and fantasy novels, but they’ve never seen the light of day. It wasn’t until I tried my hand at a mystery that I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I started publishing cozy mysteries last spring and I haven’t looked back—once I discovered the genre, it was like everything clicked and I knew what I wanted to BE. It only took me until I turned 40, ha ha. Well, my mom always said our family was full of late bloomers. The real joke here is that my former job was as a career counselor.
Let me tell you a bit about my books. I have two series right now, the Neela Durante farm mysteries and the Death du Jour culinary mysteries.
Neela is the character that I’ll always love the most, because she’s the sleuth who showed me I am a mystery writer at heart. I also drew from my personal experience to write her; I earned my undergraduate degree in biology, and Neela is an geneticist who works for a big corporate seed company. Not the typical cozy profession! But she uses her paycheck to support her family’s small organic farm, including her four sisters. Of course, things aren’t very easy for her in the first book, Kernel of Doubt…her colleague is murdered, her sleuthing jeopardizes her job right when her family needs the money the most, her husband files for divorce, and her sweet beagle, Molly, refuses to use the dog door! Luckily, Neela has some allies to help her solve her many problems, including the quirky tech guy at work and her soon-to-be-ex husband who happens to work in law enforcement, as well as her own PhD-level smarts.
I’ve only written one book in that series so far, but I’m looking forward to writing another one this spring/summer! I already have a story idea and a cover, so it’s definitely going to happen.
The Death du Jour mysteries are a culinary series that follows an aspiring chef as she works toward owning her own restaurant. Her quirky friends are also in the restaurant industry—her best friend and roommate is a sous chef at a French restaurant, and another character runs a bakery called the Honor Roll. “On a roll,” get it? I do love puns. The book titles in this series are all puns based around types of soup…and let me tell you, I have a LOOONG list of punny soups stashed away. I could write this series for YEARS and never run out of titles. #authorproblems
Book 2 in the Death du Jour series, Rest in Split Peas, actually released today!
(If you’d like a taste of soup and suspense by the sea, along with some yummy soup recipes, you can grab it here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07KYDQ4NG)
To celebrate, Crime Chowder (A Death du Jour Mystery #1) is FREEEEEE today and tomorrow!
So…if you've made it to the bottom of this encyclopedia entry, any questions about what it’s like writing culinary or farm mysteries? Or maybe you have advice about how to introduce a giant dog named Bruno to a houseful of sassy small pets?