Kacey Vanza is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Charred, the latest novel in the Whipped and Sipped mystery series.
Welcome, Kacey. 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 Kacey Vanza and I live across the hall from the owner of the Whipped and Sipped Café, Alene Baron. This is the third “Whipped and Sipped Mystery,” and I had a big role in books 1 and 2: “Battered” and “Smothered.” The first book opened with the death of my father, and I’ve got to admit that I wasn’t sure I’d survive it.
My parents, who later divorced, moved into this building when I was a baby, so Alene and her sister used to babysit for me. I had some tough years, made some bad decisions, and Alene was always there for me no matter what I did. After my father was murdered, and I started spinning out of control, Alene helped me get through it. Now in book #3, CHARRED, my boyfriend Kofi happened to see a dead body on the site of a burned down building (he was looking for materials for his sculptures) and I’ve sworn Alene to silence. This might be the worse thing I’ve ever done to her after all the good things she’s done for me, because she can’t tell her boyfriend Frank. He’s a homicide detective. And his partner is a jerk. I like Frank, but his partner is the kind of cop who will arrest Kofi just because he can.
Does the writer control what happens in the story or do you get a say too?
I think if it was up to the writer, I wouldn’t be such a terrible friend, I wouldn’t ask Alene to put her relationship at risk for Kofi, and all the characters would be as nice as Ruthie Rosin, Alene’s best friend and the pastry chef. Ruthie is like an angel, always thinking about everyone’s feelings and never screwing up like me. I think that’s more the kind of character the writer likes.
How did you evolve as the main character?
Uh oh – did I say I was a main character? I’m a really important character since Kofi is my boyfriend and it’s because of what he saw that might cost Alene her relationship with Frank, but those two are at the center of the story. Alene’s dad, Cal and his shady brother Finn who suddenly shows up during the height of the pandemic -they’re also main characters. Ruthie Rosin, she’s a main character because duh, she’s the pastry chef, and her husband is important because the fire site was where he was building affordable housing. And Alene’s three kids are main characters because they’re driving her crazy now that all the schools are closed because of the pandemic. Looking back at the events of 2020, I have to say that Alene considers everyone in her life to be important!
Do you have any other characters you like sharing the story with? If so, why are you partial to them?
Obviously, I love sharing my days and my stories with Kofi Lloyd – he’s an amazing sculptor, and a totally good guy. It’s because of his loving care that I’m completely clean – no shooting up, no pills, not even an occasional beer. Of course, Alene helped too, but Kofi has his head on straight – he’s even trying to get me to take college classes, and he’s gotten me interested in photography (as if I could ever be as good an artist as he is). The rest of my gratitude goes to Alene – she’s always been loving, kind, and accepting – even though her only customers these days are for pick up or delivery, and she can’t afford to keep on so many employees, I think she’s doing whatever she can not to fire any of us. I can’t even say how much I appreciate having a job right now…what would I do all day if I couldn’t hang out at the Whipped and Sipped Café?
What’s the place like where you find yourself in this story?
We live in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago – it’s at the northern most tip of Lincoln Park, and our building is right off Jean Baptiste Point DuSable Lake Shore Drive (We just call it Lake Shore Drive, but it was recently changed to honor the first nonindigenous settler in Chicago, who was African American). Everyone knows that Chicago is a great city, with stunning architecture, fabulous cultural institutions, a magnificent park system, Lake Michigan, and hardly any crime (that last part might not be true, but I’m not the author so I can say whatever I want!)
Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about you and the book?
I wish I could say more about everything that happened in the summer of 2020 to Alene and the Whipped and Sipped gang, but it was kind of complicated, and I don’t want to give away anything. There was the dead body that Kofi stumbled over, and did I mention that the jacket on the dead body had a Whipped Sipped carry-out bag in its pocket? Or that the name of one of Ruthie Rosin’s kids was stamped on the collar? Did I say anything about Frank’s difficult daughter or how she refused to get tested for Covid (Alene was worried that her dad would catch it)? And that whole story about Alene’s uncle who suddenly showed up – that was kind of weird. Sorry, I can’t really say anything else about the book except that I hope everyone notices how well I’m doing!
Thank you for answering my questions, Kacey, and good luck to you and your author, G. P. Gottlieb, with Charred, the latest book in the Whipped and Sipped mystery series.
Readers can learn more about Kacey and her author, G. P. Gottlieb by visiting the author’s website and her Facebook, Goodreads, Bookbub, and Instagram pages. You can also follow her on Twitter.
The novel is available online at Amazon
About G. P. Gottlieb: Known for her imaginative baking and fabulous dinners, G.P. Gottlieb was always an avid reader. She enjoyed several careers, but after recovering from cancer, turned to writing in earnest, melding two passions: nourishment for mind and body, and recipe-laced murder mysteries. She is also the host for New Books in Literature, a podcast of the New Books Network.
Thanks for posting my character interview, Dianne!
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