Today Rebecca Grubb is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Cast Iron Stake Through the Heart, the latest novel in the Cast Iron Skillet mystery series.
Welcome, Rebecca. Let’s get started, shall we?
Tell us about your novel. Is it part of a series? If so, please tell us about the series too.
Cast Iron Stake Through the Heart is book four in The Cast Iron Skillet Mystery Series. My BFF Jodi Rath writes the series, and I have been a huge fan since day one. I have edited several books in the series. But when she asked me to co-write book four with her, I was stunned, excited, and terrified. It has been a fantastic experience.
Cast Iron Stake Through the Heart starts with Jolie and Ava teaching an online cooking class on top of running their restaurant and investigating local crime. (I know! I wish I had half their energy!) Almost immediately, it becomes clear that things aren’t what they seem. Then, one of their online students is stabbed on screen! There are so many twists and turns in this story before the mystery is solved, readers will be guessing until the end!
The series takes place in the fictional village of Leavensport, Ohio. It’s a cozy little place, full of neat shops and restaurants and quirky villagers. Jolie, the main character, co-owns a favorite local restaurant, Cast Iron Creations, with her BFF, Ava. Jolie has a big family that loves getting in her business, especially her on-again, off-again relationship with Detective Mick Meiser. They show up at the most unfortunate moments!
Where did the idea for the mystery that is central to the story come from?
When Jolie and Ava are in the Dominican Republic in Blueberry Cobbler Blackmail, they want to learn about Dominican cuisine. They end up taking an online cooking course while they are there. From that point on, the idea of a murder taking place on-screen during an online class was born!
Is there a theme or subject that underlies the story? If so, what prompted you to write about it?
In many ways, this book is about Jolie’s personal journey. Because of her past, Jolie has a difficult time trusting. She has built a lot of walls. She is mindful of this, and so she journals and talks to her therapist, Tabitha. Her growth is really tested in this book.
Rising above your past is a concept many people can relate to. We hope that this series could be uplifting for someone who needs it. And, as always in this series, the goodness of humanity prevailing is a foundational idea.
How do you create your characters? Do you have favourite ones? If so, why are you partial to them?
The characters in this series have little pieces of real people in them, little pieces of the author’s self. My favorite character is Ava because she is sassy and has no filter. She says what she thinks, and when you get on her bad side, you know it.
How do you bring to life the place you are writing about?
We draw pictures, storyboards, and maps to help us visualize. I made a map of a new location in this book that looks kind of like a four-year-old drew it, but it got the job done! We also take pictures of buildings, shops, parks, and libraries and mix and match ideas until we come up with the perfect feel. Leavensport certainly has flavors from real places blended in!
If the author can see the place in their mind, they can bring it to life with rich detail in the story. Leavensport is so vivid in my mind that I sometimes forget that it isn’t a real place.
What research do you do to provide background information to help you write the novel?
We use personal experience, published resources, and experts in the field to help us make sure our work is accurate. That includes cooking, forensics, police procedure, chemistry, biology, physics, you name it!
Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about the book?
We had a lot of fun with the recipes in this book. There were so many tasty dishes in the story, so we included more recipes than ever before!
Thanks for answering my questions, Rebecca, and good luck with Cast Iron Stake Through the Heart, the latest book in the Cast Iron Skillet Mystery series.
Readers can learn more about the Cast Iron Skillet Mystery series by visiting Jodi Rath’s website and her Facebook, Goodreads, Bookbub and Pinterest pages. You can also follow her on Twitter (@jodirath).
The novel is available at the following online retailers:
About Rebecca Grubb: Rebecca utilizes her experience in the high school English classroom and her decades as a bookworm to coach writers and edit fiction and creative non-fiction. She enjoys reading and writing books, particularly mysteries and science fiction. She lives in a small town in Ohio with her husband and the three mischievous children.
About Jodi Rath: Moving into her second decade working in education, Jodi Rath has decided to begin a life of crime in her Cast Iron Skillet Mystery Series. Her passion for both mysteries and education led her to combine the two to create her business MYS ED, where she splits her time between working as an adjunct for Ohio teachers and creating mischief in her fictional writing. She currently resides in a small, cozy village in Ohio with her husband and her nine cats.