Nicole Asselin is visiting Ascroft, eh? today to tell us about Concession Stand Crimes, her latest novel in the Ballpark Mystery series.
Welcome, Nicole. 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.
It is a series! The Ballpark Mystery series starts with MURDER AT FIRST PITCH. That book introduces Madeline and the Abington Armadillos to people. CONCESSION STAND CRIMES continues to follow her adventures. They can be read as standalone books, but the series makes a lot of sense in order.
Where did the idea for the mystery that is central to the story come from?
I’m not 100% familiar with the world of concession stand management, but I wondered if it was as cutthroat as the restaurant industry. Would people kill for a prime concession stand in a ballpark? People have killed for less! I thought the drama of that whole situation might make an intriguing storyline in a small ballpark. Plus, I got to add in a partying socialite beer heiress, which was fun to write. And I got to name her after one of my favourite drag queens from RuPaul’s Drag Race, Alaska (NSFW last name).
Is there a theme or subject that underlies the story? If so, what prompted you to write about it?
Family is the most important theme of the book. It’s a family run ballpark, and Madeline comes to realize just how much support and love she has from her family during the trying times. After going away to college and having a separate career, she comes back and finds a comfortable spot at home which makes her wonder what she was looking for in previous jobs. Her brother has the opposite journey. He’s worked for the family for years and is now yearning to spread his wings. My family is very important to me, even if we sometimes get on each other’s nerves.
How do you create your characters? Do you have favourite ones? If so, why are you partial to them?
Most of the characters are loosely based on people in my real life. Not perfect recreations of them, but they have some personality traits they share with real people. Madeline is loosely based on me. I’ll get that out of the way now. Everyone who knows me and reads the book tells me they picture me. Which is nice! Madeline’s a good character! I also love writing Eliza. She’s the spunky side character and just encapsulates all my friends from here on the South Shore of Massachusetts. She’s just the type of friend a person would need. Not afraid to tell someone when they were being stupid, but also there for whenever their friends need them.
How do you bring to life the place you are writing about?
I decided to set my series in the actual town I live in. While part of it was practicality (I know where everything is!), another part of it was because the vibe of Abington, MA was the vibe I wanted for my ballpark. While there is no actual ballpark here, most of the other landmarks are as described. Luckily the town has been accepting of me since I moved here 10 years ago, and I wanted to spread that love!
What research do you do to provide background information to help you write the novel?
A lot of my research involved going to baseball games. Or watching baseball games. And reading tons of mysteries. Which to me is the best kind of research. I also read a book call “The Only Rule is it Has to Work” which is about two twentysomething dudes who bought an independent league baseball team in California to see what it would be like. I mean, that’s the dream. Just being able to by a team and park. Baseball everyday? I’m into it!
Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about the book?
You don’t have to be a baseball fan to like this book! Like other cosy mysteries, the location is a supporting character, not the main focus. If you think baseball is boring, which I disagree with, you’ll still like the family elements of the story. If you like baseball, you’ll find easter eggs for baseball fans everywhere. If you’re a mystery fan in general, you should enjoy this series!
Thanks for answering my questions, Nicole, and good luck with Concession Stand Crimes, the latest book in the Ballpark Mystery series.
The novel is available at the following online retailers:
About Nicole Asselin: Nicole spent her formative high school years in the middle of Pennsylvania but always identified with her New England roots. Nicole’s family is originally from Connecticut, and her Grandpa Asselin introduced her to the Red Sox nation where she has been a member for her whole life and her Grandma Asselin introduced her to the world of mystery novels. Now those two loves are combined into her new Ballpark Mystery series.
Nicole graduated from Curry College in Milton Mass with a degree in English/Creative Writing, minoring in Dance in 2004. She also attended George Mason University and received a Master’s in Arts Management. She worked in the Government sector for over ten years before transitioning to Healthcare. Now working just outside of Boston as a Technical Writer, she lives on the South Shore of Massachusetts with her three cats Julia, Jacques, and Madeline (no relation to the main character of her book).