Today Tina Kashian is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Mistletoe, Moussake and Murder, the latest novel in the Kebab Kitchen mysteries series.
Welcome, Tina. 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.
First, thank you for inviting me to chat with your readers about the next book in the Kabab Kitchen cozy series, “Mistletoe, Moussaka & Murder.”
“Mistletoe, Moussaka & Murder” is the fifth book in my Kebab Kitchen cozy series. My amateur sleuth, Lucy Berberian, is a refugee from a Philadelphia law firm. She returns home to her family’s Mediterranean restaurant, Kebab Kitchen, at the Jersey Shore. Lucy may not have wanted to stay in Ocean Crest. After all, her ethnic family’s expectations can be as sticky as her mother’s baklava syrup. But friends and an ex beau—who is now the head chef at the restaurant—can change a lady’s mind. Lucy ends up managing the restaurant for her parents who are semi-retired.
Where did the idea for the mystery that is central to the story come from?
What is the most adventurous thing you have done? In “Mistletoe, Moussaka & Murder,” Lucy signs up for the Polar Bear Plunge to raise money for the local senior center. She immediately doubts her wisdom because she hates the cold, but she knows it is for a good cause.
Is there a theme or subject that underlies the story? If so, what prompted you to write about it?
The theme for my books is always that the support and love of family and friends will help you through the worst times and celebrate the best times with you.
How do you bring to life the place you are writing about?
This is easy. My Armenian parents owned a restaurant near the Jersey Shore for thirty years. I grew up in the restaurant business. I rolled silverware in cloth napkins as a tween and worked as a hostess and waitressed as a teenager. The tips paid for my prom gown. We also vacationed at the Jersey Shore every summer. I built sandcastles, boogie boarded, and rode the boardwalk Ferris wheel. Now that I have my own two girls, we take them there every summer.
How do you create your characters? Do you have favourite ones? If so, why are you partial to them?
I love my amateur sleuth, Lucy, of course! Another favorite is Lucy’s best friend, Katie Watson. Lucy is a first-generation American who comes from a diverse background whereas Katie can trace her roots back to the Mayflower. Their funny camaraderie reminds me of Lucy and Ethel from “I Love Lucy.” They make a great crime fighting team.
As for my other characters, many are based on people I knew in my family’s restaurant. Sally is based on a friendly, long-time waitress, the line cook, Butch, is crafted after one of our talented chefs. And Lucy’s parents, Angela and Raffi Berberian…well…they have a little of my own parents in them. Both my mom and dad have passed away and this is my tribute to them.
What research do you do to provide background information to help you write the novel?
My years working in the restaurant business provides the best “research.” I enjoy writing about gossipy wait staff, chatting with customers, and dealing with temperamental cooks in a hot kitchen. I love it all.
As for my fictional town of Ocean Crest at the Jersey Shore, it’s a combination of Ocean City and Wildwood Crest, two of my favorite Jersey Shore towns. We visit numerous times every year and stroll the boardwalk. It’s all in the name of research!
Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about the book?
The series is straight from my heart. I come from a diverse background and I love sharing my family’s Mediterranean recipes for shish kebab, moussaka, hummus and baklava. Enjoy!
Thank you for answering my questions, Tina, and good luck with Mistletoe, Moussaka and Murder, the latest book in the Kebab Kitchen mystery series.
The novel is available at the following online retailers:
About Tina Kashian: Tina is an attorney and mechanical engineer whose love of reading for pleasure helped her get through years of academia. She is the author of the popular Kebab Kitchen Mediterranean cozy mystery series for Kensington Publishing. Tina spent her childhood summers at the Jersey shore building sandcastles, boogie boarding, and riding the boardwalk Ferris wheel. She also grew up in the restaurant business, as her Armenian parents owned a restaurant for thirty years. Tina still lives in New Jersey with her supportive husband and two daughters. Please visit her website at http://www.tinakashian.com to join her newsletter, receive delicious recipes, enter contests, and more!