Today Chef Charlie Cooke is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Mousse and Murder, the first novel in the Alaskan Diner mystery series.
Welcome, Charlie. Let’s get started, shall we?
Tell us about the novel that you live inside. Is it part of a series? If so, please tell us about the series too.
MOUSSE AND MURDER is my first adventure, kicking off The Alaska Diner Mysteries. The cozy series follows me, Charlie Cooke, owner and manager of The Bear Claw Diner as I juggle the responsibilities of running a diner and going about the occasional criminal investigation. I live at the center of the tourist trade in the great 49th state of Alaska. Tourists come from all over to see and maybe climb the world’s tallest North American mountain, Denali, and to view the spectacular aurora borealis. My job is to feed them and help them on their way to arctic splendor. Unfortunately, there’s usually trouble brewing and I’m called (or not) to help out our understaffed law enforcement community. So far in the series (Mousse and Murder, May 5, 2020) and Fishing for Trouble (due November 2020)), my team and I have solved two homicides, and lived to talk about it!
Does the writer control what happens in the story or do you get a say too?
This is my writer’s 4th pen name, Elizabeth Logan, which is nothing like her real name, Camille Minichino. This makes me think she’s in the Witness Protection Program. Who knows how she got there, but I’m kind of afraid to go against her, so I let her lead me around as she wishes.
How did you evolve as the main character?
I dabbled around as a young person, pursuing various jobs and interests, including law school and, ultimately, culinary school in San Francisco. So now at 33, I’ve settled in as owner and manager of the Bear Claw, in a small town in Alaska. When my mom announced that she was retiring and I could have the diner, as well as her orange tabby, Benny (short for Eggs Benedict), I didn’t hesitate. I think I’ve finally found my niche, and it’s right back home again, no matter what Thomas Wolfe thinks!
Do you have any other characters you like sharing the story with? If so, why are you partial to them?
My support team is great—my staff at the Bear Claw, the State Trooper who’s known me since I was a kid, and Annie, my BFF from grade school. Then there’s Christopher, the town’s one and only newspaper reporter. We all work together on cases that come up, but I’m still trying to figure out where Chris and I are going, if anywhere. We did eventually have a “date date” once, but of course we devolved into talk about the case we were working on with Trooper. I can hardly wait to see where this relationship goes. As we speak, my writer has me on a road trip with him to solve another crime.
What’s the place like where you find yourself in this story?
Elkview is very close to Talkeetna, the stepping stone to Denali. The scenery in every direction is breathtaking—mountains, fjords, lakes, glaciers, parks, and wildlife. And it’s not uncommon to find a herd of elk in my expansive back yard.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about you and the book?
I enjoy being featured in this book and in the whole series. Also, I love seeing my name CHARLIE COOKE in print, so if you could post a review, I’d appreciate it!
Thanks for answering my questions, Charlie, and good luck with Mousse and Murder, the first book in the Alaskan Diner Mystery series.
The novel is available at the following online retailers:
About Elizabeth Logan: Camille Minichino writes as Elizabeth Logan and she is turning every aspect of her life into a mystery series. A retired physicist, she’s the author of 28 mystery novels in 5 series, with different pen names. She’s also written many short stories and articles. She teaches science at Golden Gate U. in San Francisco and writing workshops around the SF Bay Area.