by Marilyn Meredith
& Terell Byrd
Marilyn Meredith interviews mystery author Avery Aames aka Daryl Wood Gerber, and Terell Byrd reviews her latest book in her Cheese Shop Mystery series, Lost and Fondue. At the end of this post is a chance to win a copy of Lost and Fondue & the first book Long Quiche Goodbye.
Marilyn: I know you lead a double life, what led to you choosing a different name to use as an author?
Avery: Actually, I was approached by the publisher to write A Cheese Shop Mystery series. This is done a lot in Hollywood. It didn’t bother me. I liked the concept and knew I was the right person to write it. Because it was the publisher’s idea, they wanted me to write under a pseudonym. I chose Avery Aames. The double-A in the last name is a Welsh spelling, but I really wanted that extra A because my sweet dog Angel passed the day before I was offered the contract, and I felt she was my angel guiding my path.
Marilyn: Tell us more about your background, where you grew up, etc.
Avery: I grew up in California, in the Bay Area. I was a reader, singer, tomboy. I loved sports. I loved to run and swim and golf. I was a good student and ultimately attended Stanford University. I intended to become a teacher, but I fell in love with the stage, and after graduating moved to Los Angeles to find fame and fortune as an actress. I worked a lot, but I didn’t find the fame. On that path, I discovered that I liked writing screenplays and television shows. I hoped to craft something that I could star in. I was able to get a television sitcom on the air called Out of this World, but as that path of my career was on the rise, my husband got the opportunity of a lifetime to work for ESPN. We moved across the country, and I took up writing in a different fashion – novels. I’d always loved Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie. I thought I could write a mystery. I took classes, studied, networked, and after years and years, was finally offered A Cheese Shop Mystery series. I’m loving it!
Marilyn: When did you realize you wanted to write?
Avery: As a girl, I tried my hand at a Nancy Drew novel. I thought it was really good. My 7th grade teacher, however, squashed my dreams, told me I was horrible, and I should not even think of writing. I put my pen down and didn’t pick it up again until I was an actress and writing screenplays.
Marilyn: What is this great fascination you have with cheese?
Avery:Cheese is so colorful, tasty, yummy, delicious. Did I say super? With the series, I realized I needed to do more research, so I went to store after cheese store tasting and sampling and talking to the owners. I’ve learned so much, and I’m now in love with cheese. There are so many flavors, all derived from cows, sheep, goats, and buffalo. But they are diverse because of the regions, and what the animals eat, and what time of the year they are eating. It’s a science unto itself. And cooking with cheese? Well, that’s just a given. As I worked my way through my twenties, I ran a restaurant, I catered, and I am a home gourmet chef.
Marilyn: I love the titles for you books, will you list them for us?
Avery: The Long Quiche Goodbye (out July 2010 and won the Agatha Award for best first novel); Lost and Fondue (out last May); Clobbered By Camembert (comes out in February 2012), followed by To Brie Or Not To Brie (comes out late 2012)
Marilyn: And the latest, what gave you the idea for this one?
Avery:Clobbered By Camembert is set in winter. I liked the idea of an outdoor festival, like something I’d seen when visiting New York. It started as a short story and evolved into a story about a woman coming to Providence to build an empire. That’s not what Providence is about. The townsfolk like their small town. The tourists want the quaintness. The outdoor festival had ice sculptures and kids playing hockey and an ice rink. It seemed like a beautiful twinkly event. What could go wrong? If you’re asking about Lost and Fondue, I was visiting a vineyard and thought how spooky it would be to be abandoned and go down in to the cellar and find a body. Wouldn’t it be more fun to find jewels and a treasure? I think I had just seen Pirates Of The Caribbean, so I was inspired by dark tails and vengeance.
Marilyn: Do you have other things you love to do besides write?
Avery:As I said, I love sports. I love to golf, swim, garden, read. And I’m an amateur photographer. And occasionally I play the piano and I love to sing. Loudly. In the car with the windows rolled up.
Marilyn: Any advice for aspiring writers?
Avery:Don’t give up. But look at your writing and see if you are writing to the market. The market has gotten so much more narrow. Write from your heart, but also write something that is salable. It sounds so simple. It’s not. But don’t give up. And take classes and get in critique groups (other writers who write what you do).
Marilyn: Anything else you’d like the readers of KRL to know about you or your books?
Avery:There are recipes in these books. I’ve tested them all. I and a number of other writers blog at Mystery lovers Kitchen and we’re always putting up recipes. And lastly, if some of your readers “like” my work, if they would go to Amazon and “like” the book, it seems to make a big difference. They can also come visit me on Facebook or on my Daryl Wood Gerber Facebook page . Look for Avery Aames. And like me there, too. It’s all about word of mouth at this point. That seems to sell the most books. Say cheese!
Lost and Fondue by Avery Aames
Review by Terell Byrd
There was a time when I used to make all sorts of amazing and exotic meals from scratch for friends and family. Lately, exotic is purchased and from scratch is only when it is necessary and must not take longer than twenty minutes. I still fantasize being like the main character in this book, Charlotte Bessette, who runs The Cheese Shop (aka Frommage Bessette) in the small town of Providence, Ohio. She has a busy personal life and a business that is expanding but she still finds time to concoct two brand new dishes a week for customers. Charlotte has a deepening relationship with Jordan Pace, a man of some mystery. She is helping her cousin Matthew raise his twin girls, and trying to expand into wines as well as cheese.
Charlotte really doesn’t have time for mysteries and trouble but they continue to swirl around her in this second book of The Cheese Shop mystery series. Charlotte helps her best friend Meredith with the food for a fundraiser. Meredith, a teacher, is leading a local group that want to use the old Ziegler Winery and the surrounding estate to establish a local college. The Ziegler family is long gone but the legends surrounding them and the Winery remain. There are stories of pirate treasure (there were river pirates in America in the 1800’s) and rumors of bodies buried in the basement. The historic buildings have been restored but the atmosphere of skullduggery still permeates the place.
Part of the entertainment of the fundraising party is a scavenger hunt. No golden treasure is found but a new corpse turns up. Charlotte does her best to discourage her assistant Rebecca from amateur sleuthing. But Charlotte winds up in a dark basement with a suspected murderer and desperately searches for evidence when Meredith’s niece becomes the prime suspect.
Lost and Fondue is a delicious read for summer. Mouthwatering cheese, wonderful characters (especially Grandmere and Pepere, the French immigrant grandparents who raised Charlotte), great local color and a fun puzzling mystery for the reader and Charlotte to solve.
There is the plus of an appendix in the back of this volume that has the featured recipes in the story including; Blue Cheese and Garlic Fondue (doubles as a warm salad dressing) and Vidalia Onion and Bacon Quiche. I plan to try all of them – they are not difficult and there are even gluten-free versions of some of them. Your family and friends will be delighted to help you eat your way through the recipes in the book – be sure to encourage them to pick up the next in the series: Clobbered by Camembert. An excerpt of the next novel is at the end of the paperback version. I can hardly wait!
To enter to win a copy of Lost and Fondue and Long Quiche Goodbye, simply email KRL at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Fondue”, or comment on this article. U.S. residents only please. A winner will be chosen August 20, 2011.
If you love mysteries, why not check out Left Coast Crime:
Mystery Conference in Sacramento, March 29-April 1, 2012.Registration through 12/31/2011 is only $210 (it goes up to $225 after that). Registration information can be found at the conventionwebsite, or by sending an email to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.