Valerie Burns is visiting Ascroft, eh? today to tell us about Two Parts Sugar, One Par Murder, her first novel in the Baker Street Mysteries series.
Welcome, Valerie. 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.
Two Parts Sugar, One Part Murder is the first book in my new Baker Street Mystery series. This is a culinary cozy mystery series about a young woman, Madison Montgomery, who is a social media influencer
Where did the idea for the mystery that is central to the story come from?
I was born and raised in a town that was 90 miles from Chicago. After graduating from a college, I lived in Southwestern Michigan on the shores of Lake Michigan. At the time, I marvelled at the price difference between lake front property in Chicago compared to that along the same lake in Michigan. Eventually, word spread and Chicago residents began buying up all of the lakefront property. There was even a rumor that Chicago’s mayor and several individuals connected to organized crime had vacation homes in Southwestern Michigan. The cut throat world of real estate development is the theme at the heart of the story.
Is there a theme or subject that underlies the story? If so, what prompted you to write about it?
My protagonist, Maddy Montgomery, is a social media influencer who inherits a house, a bakery, and a 250 lb English mastiff named Baby. Maddy has never owned a home, cooked, run a business, or taken care of anyone else other than herself. When it comes to fashion or posting on social media, she’s confident and sure. In other areas of her life, not so much. She’s relied on others to support her and to tell her what to do, including her father, a navy admiral. Over the course of the book Maddy learns to bake, run a business, care for Baby, and catch a killer.
How do you create your characters? Do you have favourite ones? If so, why are you partial to them?
I love to do what I call “Frankensteining” characters. This involves taking elements of different people and putting them together to make a fictional character. I may take one person’s laugh, another person’s eclectic style of clothes, and a third person’s nervous habit. I combine all of those into one unique new person.
My favorite characters are Nana Jo and “the girls” from my Mystery Bookshop Mystery series. These are a group of senior citizens that are energetic, vibrant, fearless, and brave. These feisty seniors don’t care what people think about them and I wish that I had their spunk.
How do you bring to life the place you are writing about?
Usually, the settings in my books are fictionalized versions of real places. New Bison, Michigan won’t appear on any maps. However, New Buffalo, Michigan will. I used to live in Southwestern Michigan, so I’m very familiar with the area and can draw on various places which I know, while writing.
What research do you do to provide background information to help you write the novel?
Research is one of my favorite parts of writing. However, I have to limit myself. I love learning new things and if I’m not careful, I can spend hours reading, and surfing the Internet. I love looking for specific details that make a fictional person or place feel real.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about the book?
The Baker Street Mystery series is a culinary cozy mystery and includes delicious recipes that readers can try at home.
Thanks for answering my questions, Valerie, and good luck with Two Parts Sugar One Part Murder, the first book in the Baker Street Mysteries series.
The novel is available at the following online retailers:
About Valerie (V. M.) Burns: Valerie is the author of the Mystery Bookshop Mystery series. Her first book, The Plot is Murder, was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Debut Novel. She is the author of the Dog Club Mystery Series, the RJ Franklin Mysteries, a three-time finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards, and an Edgar Award-nominated short story. Her newest series, Baker Street Mysteries, will release later this year, and her Pet Detective Mystery series will release in 2023. Valerie is on the board of Sisters in Crime and the Southeastern Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. She is also a member of Dog Writers of America, Crime Writers of Color, and International Thriller Writers. She is a manager for a Fortune 100 company and a mentor in the Writing Popular Fiction Program at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, PA. Born and raised in northwestern Indiana, Valerie currently lives in the southeastern United States with her two poodles.