I'm so lucky to have Julie Hyzy as guest blogger today. Item five you didn't know about me - I've been trying to get Julie here for almost a year, now, but how can you push an author who is writing a book on deadline?
And, she's doing it so successfully! Last year, Julie won both the Anthony and
Barry Awards for Best Paperback Novel for State of the Onion.
When she's not a guest blogger, Julie Hyzy can be found discussing food on Tuesdays at Mystery Lovers Kitchen, or on her own blog. Welcome, Julie!
To say I’m excited to be here on Lesa’s wonderful blog today would be an understatement. Lesa’s Book Critiques is always a must-read for me, and I’m feeling quite privileged to be a small part because today marks the official release of Eggsecutive Orders, the third White House Chef Mystery.
With all the excitement surrounding the real White House this past year, and with all the interest in its vegetable gardens, gate crashers and food (Did you watch Iron Chef Sunday? It featured our real White House executive chef, Cristeta Comerford!), I sometimes feel as though I only need to scan newspaper headlines to draw inspiration for the next book.
My protagonist Olivia (Ollie) Paras is the first female executive chef in my fictional White House. Readers often ask if I modeled her after Cristeta Comerford. I do, but very loosely. While I have been fortunate to talk with former executive chef Walter Scheib, I haven’t (yet) connected with Cristeta. But I hope to. From all accounts she’s a talented and innovative chef, just like my Ollie, but that’s where the similarities end. Ollie not only feeds the First Family, she solves murders, gets involved in international conspiracies, and uncovers hidden bombs. All in a day’s work ;-)
From the moment President Obama was sworn in, I’ve been imagining how Ollie might fit in with his administration. Inauguration Day saw me glued to my sofa, taking notes and flipping channels to catch every possible camera angle, every possible commentary. While the Obamas were having lunch at the Capitol after the swearing-in, I thought about Cristeta back at the White House. What was she doing? Was she helping prepare dinner for the kids that night? Was she watching TV and feeling left out? What part did she play in this historic day?
Of course, I mostly thought about how to use all these wonderings to craft Ollie’s future adventures. At that point, Eggsecutive Orders had already been turned in, and even though I’d known the election results for a few weeks before my deadline, that just wasn’t enough time to introduce a new administration into Ollie’s world. Looking on the bright side, however, I knew that I had a whole year to formulate diabolical plans for my chef and her gang. And I have to admit, I had a blast writing Book #4. Tentatively titled: Buffalo West Wing, the manuscript has just been turned in. That one should be out in January of 2011.
One of the things that’s especially great about writing this series is the stream of emails I receive from readers who send me White House news stories and tell me that they, too, think about Ollie and wonder what she might be doing behind the scenes. These letters touch my heart because Ollie is very real to me, and it’s incredibly gratifying to know she’s real for others, too. If there’s anything I like best about writing, it’s this wonderful feedback from readers. That’s just the most exciting part.
Speaking of exciting (or should I say eggciting?), I’m very pleased to tell you a little bit about the book that debuts today. Following State of the Onion, and Hail to the Chef, Ollie’s adventures continue in Eggsecutive Orders when NSA bigwig Carl Minkus dies during dinner with President Campbell. It’s clear Minkus was murdered, and the White House kitchen staff is banished from the kitchen until their innocence can be proved.
Now, if you know Ollie, you also know that she has more than one crisis to deal with at a time. Not only are her reputation and career at stake, this dead dinner guest happened to meet his demise just a week before the annual White House Easter Egg Roll (what eggscruciatingly bad timing!). Ollie should be busy preparing a lavish buffet -- and boiling 15,000 eggs. Instead she’s fighting with the head of the Secret Service, trying to prevent her boyfriend from getting into trouble, and dodging the media. Not only that, her mother and grandmother have just arrived in town for their personal tour of the White House. But she’s not allowed back in!
Toss in some television guest chefs who might have had reason to kill Minkus, sizzle in a love interest for Ollie’s mom, and top with an over-zealous reporter with a flair for stretching the truth, and Ollie really has a recipe for trouble on her hands.
With Eggsecutive Orders just hitting the shelves and Buffalo West Wing in the pipeline, it’s time for me to start dreaming up ideas for Book #5. And that means I’m in the market for a new title. As I mentioned above, I love hearing from readers and I’m interested in your suggestions. A new friend I met at Murder in Muskego – Peter Rozovsky – suggested my current front-runner: Secretary of Steak.
What do you think?
Thank you, Julie! Finally here! Good luck with Eggsecutive Orders Julie's website is www.juliehyzy.com.
Eggsecutive Orders by Julie Hyzy. Penguin Group(USA), ©2010. ISBN 9780425232033 (paperback), 336p.