Today Samantha (Sam) Barnes is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about A Side of Murder, the first novel in the Cape Cod Foodie mystery series.
Welcome, Sam. 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.
My name is Samantha Barnes (Sam to my friends), and at the moment I’m living inside a novel called A Side of Murder. I never intended to live in a book that had “murder” in the title. I just wanted to go back home to Cape Cod and lie low for a bit while my YouTube notoriety died down (long story, two chefs, one of them me, one my ex-husband, both with chefs knives, you get the picture). Next thing I know, I’m living in this Cape Cod Foodie series and falling over dead bodies right and left. And then finding out whodunit. That part’s kind of fun, I have to admit. And there are other benefits. There’s my charming hometown of Fair Harbor, population, 6,798. Actually, 6,797. Now.
But it’s not all murder and mayhem. There’s sailing on Crystal Bay. And writing restaurant reviews and food features for the Cape Cod Clarion. What’s not to like about free food? Unless, of course, it comes with a side of murder…
Does the writer control what happens in the story or do you get a say too?
We have our little disagreements, but she’s the boss, you know? For instance, just because I stand six foot one inch in my stocking feet, she thinks I’m brave. She sends me out to confront killers! I mean, what kind of friend does that? But she also knows my heart is sore, so she has provided me with a love interest in the form of a pretty hot harbor master, Jason Captiva. Unfortunately, Jason and I have some history to work through, so all is not smooth sailing (pun intended). And she gave me a ginormous puppy, for Pete’s sake. I never wanted a dog. Or the falling down house that he came with. And then she goes and writes it in the first person (in other words, AS ME), so it sounds like all this was my big idea!
How did you evolve as the main character?
Well, my writer was once a restaurant reviewer in New York and she’s always had friends in the restaurant business, so she knows food and she knows that world. And she is still a total foodie. But life took her in other (wonderful) directions, and I sometimes think creating yours truly was her way of imagining what the road not taken might have been like. But equally important, she’s an unapologetic cheerleader for Cape Cod, and she needed someone like me to help her bring paradise to life.
Do you have any other characters you like sharing the story with? If so, why are you partial to them?
Oh, yeah, I have THE BEST other characters in the history of cozies (in my humble opinion). I have my BFF since we were Minnows together in swimming lessons, Jenny Singleton, who comes with three boys whose names I can never remember so I just call them Thing One, Thing Two and Thing Three. And there’s my organic farmer buddy, Miles Tanner, who looks exactly like the overgrown five-year-old he is. If five-year-olds had big, bushy lumberjack beards.
But best of all is my new next door neighbor, Helene Greenberg, a sixty-ish librarian with a mane of silver curls, rings on every finger and a wardrobe that seems to be made entirely of scarves. I just LOVE Helene. She has amazing insights into people (and into me, which can be uncomfortable because she also says exactly what she thinks).
And in defense of the aforementioned ginormous puppy, despite my best efforts, we are now attached at the hip. And I couldn’t be more grateful.
What’s the place like where you find yourself in this story?
It’s probably easiest to describe Fair Harbor the way I do in the actual book:
Fair Haven, when I was growing up, was very much a small town. It had grown, of course, since I’d left, but it still maintained its old-fashioned charm, with Nelson’s grocery store, Livingston’s pharmacy, Karen’s Penny Candy, the Shear Beauty hair salon and Taylor’s Department Store all lined up like cheerful soldiers along Main Street.
The town is clustered around the shores of Crystal Bay. You know how Oprah is always asking people what their one true thing is? Well, this is my one true thing: Crystal Bay is the most gloriously beautiful body of water in the world. On a crisp mid-May morning, dazzled by the sunlight sparkling on its deep blue waters, entranced by the new green mantling its small, uninhabited islands, taking great breaths of the fresh salt breeze, one could be forgiven for thinking that this was what the dawn of the world had looked like.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about you and the book?
Well, I do think it’s important to point out that even though this is a murder mystery, it’s also very much about food, friends and family. Cooking for and sharing a meal with people you love is, in my opinion, one of life’s great gifts. And my writer cannot wait until we can all do that again.
Thank you for answering my questions, Sam, and good luck to you and your author, Amy Pershing, with A Side of Murder, the first book in the Cape Cod Foodie mystery series.
The novel is available at the following online retailers:
About Amy Pershing: Amy is a lifelong mystery lover and wordsmith who spent every summer of her childhood on Cape Cod. In her previous incarnations she was an assistant editor at Viking Penguin, a restaurant reviewer for Playbill magazine’s Restaurant Reporter, and a journalist at the Rome (Italy) Daily American before eventually going on to lead employee communications at a global bank. A few years ago (with the final college tuition bill paid), she waved goodbye to Wall Street in order to write full time (and spend more time sailing on Cape Cod!). A Side of Murder is the first book in the Cape Cod Foodie mystery series featuring Samantha Barnes, a disgraced but resilient ex-chef and the world’s most reluctant YouTube star. While Sam tries to balance her new job as the local paper’s “Cape Cod Foodie” with her complicated love life, a posse of just-slightly-odd friends, a falling-down house and a ginormous puppy, she also discovers a new talent – a propensity for falling over dead bodies … and for solving crime.