Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Guest Blogger, Julie Hyzy

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.


Kay said...

Thanks for sharing with us, Julie. Your series is on my radar for this year. I have the first two books here already and just need to get them started. Maybe after Cece Hunnicutt?

I've always loved mysteries set in Washington DC and especially set in the White House. These should be right down my alley.

Lesa, you have the best guests!

Lesa said...

Thank you, Kay! It's always so much fun to host them as well. As I said, I've been trying to get Julie here for a year. After CeeCee, you'll have to try Julie's books!

Julie Hyzy said...

Hi Kay,
Thanks so much for putting me on your radar. I love everything about the White House and Washington, too. And, after Lesa's review of CeeCee I know I'm adding that one to my TBR pile!

Lesa - thanks for commenting on Mystery Lovers' Kitchen today to let folks know I'll be here! This is such a fun site and I'm so glad you invited me. (Sorry it took so long!)

Lesa said...

Don't be sorry, Julie. We'd rather have your books than guest blogs, no matter how much we want them!

So, do you have all kinds of ideas for Ollie for vegetable dishes, using the White House gardens? I was able to see about 20 minutes of the show Monday night. I'm glad Christeta's team won. She does seem very calm in the kitchen. It must come from working in such a small space in the White House.

I'll be looking for Eggsecutive Orders this week. I checked Borders the other day, but they didn't have it yet. And, I'm too far from the Poisoned Pen to run over and pick up a book, although I'm sure they have it. I'm sure I'll find it! (Borders did have your earlier books on the shelf, Julie!)

Thank you again for blogging here today!

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Hi Julie! Congratulations on your new release! I'm really looking forward to reading it.

I think it's cool that your books have given you a whole different perspective on Washington and the White House. I think I'd rather be thinking about what's going on in the kitchen at the White House than all the political mess, too!

Mystery Writing is Murder

Michele Emrath said...

Thanks for the interesting post on your latest and next books. I only recently became familiar with your series and can see how much fun you have playing with words. And now I've found this great book review site as well! Wonderful times to be a mystery writer. Julie, should I start with 'Hail to the Chef' or just read them in any order?


Lesa said...

Oh, Elizabeth, I definitely agree with you! I'd rather be thinking about the White House kitchen than politics. It's a shame. I was a political junkie, but I'm so turned off by it in the last year that I try not to listen. But, Julie makes the White House interesting!

Lesa said...

Welcome, Michele! I'm glad you found your way here, and, I hope you come back often.

I'm not Julie, but, until she comes back, I'd say, start with "Hail to the Chef." You'll get to know Ollie, her relationships, and the people she works with.

Mason Canyon said...

Congratulations on the release of "Eggsecutive Orders" today. Ollie is a wonderful character. Couldn't put the other books down, I'm sure this one will be the same way. Looking forward to it.

Avery Aames said...

Julie, you know I adore you and your work. Lesa, thanks for spotlighting our pal today! RE: a title. Hmmm. The garden is definitely in the forefront of my mind, after Iron Chef. Digging Washington Dirt? I know, too long. Digging DC Dirt? Stakes of the Economy? Staked Out? Political Potato Soup. Okay, they're all bad and not worth a Hill of Beans, but perhaps they'll get your brain ticking. Best of luck!


Lesa said...

Thanks for stopping by, Mason. I'm looking forward to it as well.

Lesa said...

Avery, I always enjoy highlighting authors. And, it's a pleasure to allow someone else to do the blogging work once in a while. (smile) I've been waiting for Julie!

Julie Hyzy said...

Hi Michele - Thanks for stopping by and for your question. I would suggest you start with State of the Onion, which introduces Ollie and (although we kinda know part of the end because the series continues...) it focuses on her quest to become the Executive Chef.

Julie Hyzy said...

Hey Elizabeth (Blog-buddy!) Absolutely - the politics of the kitchen are - to me - way more fun for me than the real politics. I try to stay away from Dem versus Republican. But the threats to national security are always fair game...

Mason - Thanks so much! I'm so happy to know you enjoy the books!

Avery - oh man, you've just given me my first big laugh of the day. Great suggestions! I love them!

KoffeeBean said...

Julie, I can't wait to read your latest! Diane

Julie Hyzy said...

Hey, Diane! So nice to see you here! Thanks so much.


Cleo Coyle said...

Julie - Your White House Chef series is so much fun and so well researched. I can't wait to dig into your latest! For anyone who wants to take up Julie's suggestion and watch the real "First Chef" in action, the Food Network will be re-broadcasting their special White House Iron Chef on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday - here's the sked...

Jan 7 - 8 PM ET/PT
Jan 8 - 12 AM ET/PT
Jan 9 - 4 PM ET/PT

(Love the Secretary of Steak suggestion for your next book! Buffalo West Wing had me ROTFL - now I can't wait for next Jan!)

Congrats again!
~ Cleo

Julie Hyzy said...

LOL, Cleo, I love Secretary of Steak, too ;-) Thanks so much for sharing these rebroadcast times. Totally worth watching!


Lesa said...


Thanks for stopping by during the day, and correcting my error, when I answered the question. She definitely needs to start with the first book in the series!

Peter Rozovsky said...

It's a hell of a title.

(Er, do I get a vote?)
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

Ingrid King said...

Congratulations on your new release. I hadn't heard of this series, but it's on my TBR list now - it sounds wonderful! Leave it to Lesa to bring great new books to my attention.

Julie Hyzy said...

Hey Peter! I swear, Secretary of Steak will be the next title after Buffalo West Wing. Fingers crossed they let me keep it! ;-)

Ingrid, thanks for the congrats! Lesa is amazing, isn't she? That's why I love this blog.


Lesa said...

I'm with Peter. I like Secretary of Steak as well.

Thank you, Ingrid and Julie. I really enjoy hosting authors, and pushing people to try new books!

Linkmeister said...

Ambassador of Artichokes? Served with Pinot Grand Fenwick, if you want to give Leonard Wibberley a nod.

Lesa said...

Oh, I like that Pinot Grand Fenwick, Linkmeister. Funny!

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

SO late to the party--but yay, Julie. (And Hi Lesa!) Julie, your books are truly...what can I say: They are classy, smart, witty, intelligent, thoughtful, clever and laugh out loud funny. Congratulations. I'm a huge fan.
And I'm now obsessed with a title for you. There's got to be something about Kitchen Cabinet, doesn't there?

Lesa said...

Hi Hank,

Like you, I kept trying to come up with ideas for Julie's new books. I like Kitchen Cabinet, or something with that! Very nice. I'm going to see if I can find Julie's book over the weekend. I didn't find a copy here last week.
Thanks for stopping by!

Linkmeister said...

Lesa, I grant that Ambassador of Artichokes was weak. ;)

If readers want a taste of the Cold War as satirized by a genius, The Mouse That Roared and its sequels is absolutely hilarious.

Kitchen Cabinet may have been trademarked by Harry Truman or his followers.

Linkmeister said...

Oh by the way, I have now placed requests for Ms. Hyzy's first two books at my local lending library.

Lesa said...

Very good, Linkmeister. I'm glad you were able to place holds on Julie's books. You're right. I read The Mouse That Roared books years ago, and they were terrific.