Today Sugar Calloway is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Quiche of Death, the latest novel in the Sugar & Spice mystery series.
Welcome, Sugar. 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.
Well, I live in St. Ignatius, a small town in Iowa. But I guess, St. Ignatius lives inside the Sugar & Spice Mystery Series. Don’t you just love that name? It’s called that after the cookbook business that I own with my best friend, blue-ribbon baker Dixie Spicer.
The story kind of starts just as we are starting our business. You see, we publish cookbooks. But not just any kind of cookbooks – these are community cookbooks. You know, the kind where the glee club or the church group or the soccer team collects recipes, puts them in a book, and then sells the cookbooks as a fundraiser. Dixie and I help them do that.
The series started with Game of Scones and then moved on to Risky Biscuits and I don’t know if I should broadcast this or not, but there were murders in both of those books. Which Dixie and I solved, by the way.
And now, here we are, in Quiche of Death. We are working on something a bit different – a cookbook for the Arbor family. And they have invited us to spend the weekend with them at a family get-together. The weekend gathering seemed like a good way to collect the recipes they wanted include and maybe pick up some colorful stories to include as sidebars in the book. But I have to say I can already tell, there are some weird dynamics going on with this group.
Does the writer control what happens in the story or do you get a say too?
My writer is what I would call a control freak. She figures it all out ahead of time and expects me to stay in line. Though I don’t always do as I’m told. So sometimes I like to throw a wrench in her well-oiled machine. For instance, she had not planned on a little explosion in the middle of the story. But I thought it was more fun than what she had in mind. And then there was the glue incident…
How did you evolve as the main character?
I’m not really sure. I guess I kind of like being in charge and so it just shook out that way. I’m not pushy, but when I decide to dig into something, I stay the course. I’m not snoopy, but I’m willing to keep asking questions. Plus, I’m the outlier. Most everyone in the books has lived in St. Ignatius most of their lives and I’m new to the town. Sort of an outsider.
Do you have any other characters you like sharing the story with? If so, why are you partial to them?
Oh, my stars, where do I start? I adore my best-friend and business partner
Dixie Spicer. She has a heart as big as all outdoors. If you find yourself in any kind of trouble and need help, she’ll be there. Plus, she’s the best cook in the world and I get to taste whatever she’s cooking.
And then there’s Greer Gooder, my landlady and my role model. She is self-sufficient, no nonsense, unwaveringly upbeat. When I am eighty, I want to be just like her.
And I can’t forget, Max Windsor. Greer calls him Handsome Max and he’s all that and more. He’s an extremely talented professional photographer and we use to take photos of the food for the cookbooks. Why am I partial to Max? I like his intensity when he’s working. I like his vivid blue eyes. Most of all, I like that he gets me.
What’s the place like where you find yourself in this story?
Do you mean place as in the actual location? Well, as I said earlier, I live in St. Ignatius, which I love.
I rent a house, though I have my sights set on buying it when Greer is ready to sell. It’s a beautiful Queen Anne Victorian on a big lot with a maple tree that turns a bright beautiful crimson red in the fall. The yard is bordered by lilac bushes and oh my, the wonderful smell in spring. The only drawback is my neighbor, Mrs. Pickett, who just plain doesn’t like me. I’ve tried and tried to be friendly, but no dice. I truly believe that one day I’ll break her with my kindness.
The town itself is a beautiful clean midwestern community with a town square that has a limestone courthouse at its center. The square is bordered on all four corners by local shops. One of my favorites is the Red Hen Diner, a chicken-themed restaurant where not only does everyone know your name, pretty much everyone also knows your business. A handy spot when I’m trying to solve a murder.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about you and the book?
Well, one important thing to note is that though the books are focused around solving murders, we have a lot of fun, too.
Though I have to say, that’s mostly thanks to me. Remember what I said about the explosion. And the glue.
Thank you for answering my questions, Sugar, and good luck to you and your author, Mary Lee Ashford, with Quiche of Death, the latest book in the Sugar & Spice mystery series.
Readers can learn more about Sugar and her author, Mary Lee Ashford by visiting the author’s website and her Facebook, Goodreads, Bookbub, Instagram and Pinterest pages. You can also follow her on Twitter.
The novel is available at the following online retailers:
About Mary Lee Ashford: Mary is a lifelong bibliophile, and avid reader, and supporter of public libraries. In addition to writing the Sugar and Spice series for Kensington Books, she also writes as half of the writing team of Sparkle Abbey, author of the national bestselling Pampered Pets mystery series from Bell Bridge Books.
Prior to publishing Mary Lee won first place in the Daphne du Maurier contest, sponsored by the Kiss of Death chapter of RWA, and was a finalist in Murder in the Grove’s mystery contest, as well as Killer Nashville’s Claymore Dagger contest.
She is the founding president of Sisters in Crime – Iowa and a past board member of the Mystery Writers of America Midwest chapter, as well as a member of Novelists, Inc., Romance Writers of America, Kiss of Death the RWA Mystery Suspense chapter, Sisters in Crime, and the SinC internet group Guppies. She loves encouraging other writers and is a frequent presenter for writers’ groups. Mary Lee has a passionate interest in creativity and teaches a university-level course in Creative Management to MPA candidates, as well as presenting workshops and blogging about creativity.
She currently resides in the midwest with her husband, Tim, and cat, Zoey. Her delights are reading and enjoying her two sons and daughters-in-law, and six grandchildren.