Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Today's Mystery Author Guest: Chrystle Fiedler

As promised yesterday, fellow mystery author Chrystle Fiedler is visiting my blog today. To read her bio and see her photo, please page down to yesterday's post.

Above is the cover photo for her recent release (yesterday!), Death Drops, the first book in her new natural remedies mystery series. In the book, Dr. Willow McQuade, N.D., a twenty-eight-year-old naturopathic doctor specializing in natural remedies, has decided to take sabbatical and visit her Aunt Claire, the owner of Nature’s Way Market and Cafe in idyllic Greenport, Long Island. But the idea of rest and relaxation is quickly forgotten when Willow arrives from a morning meditative walk to discover her Aunt Claire dead in the store, a strange almond-like smell emanating from her mouth and a bottle of flower essences by her side.

Despite her Zen nature and penchant for yoga, Aunt Claire had a knack for getting into confrontations with folks. An activist, she held weekly meetings for different causes every week in the store. The police want to believe the death is accidental—but Willow thinks she may have been poisoned. Things get worse when Aunt Claire’s valuable recipe for a new natural age-defying formula, Fresh Face, is stolen during a store break-in, and an attempt is made on Willow’s life. Desperate for a way out of the mess, she turns to a handsome young cop Jackson Spade. Together the two set about solving the case the natural way—through a combination of hard work, common sense, and a dose of luck.

Below are Chrystle's answers to my interview questions. Please leave a comment for her, and if you have a question of your own for her, ask it!

1. Who or what inspired you to start writing and when did you start?

I’ve been writing since I could hold a pencil! When I was younger I wrote children’s books and plays, as I got older I became a copywriter, then a journalist, a non-fiction author and now, a cozy mystery author. Diane Mott Davidson, author of the catering mysteries inspired me to write my first mystery. I read Dying for Chocolate and I thought I can do that!

2. Tell us about your new cozy mystery novel.

My fiction debut is Death Drops: A Natural Remedies Mystery (Gallery/Simon and Schuster) which went on sale on February 21st. I’m very excited! The book is the first to feature a naturopathic doctor (Willow McQuade) and a wide variety of natural cures. Naturopathic doctors take a holistic view of patients, treating body, mind and spirit. It’s set in my hometown, Greenport, which is an idyllic village on Long Island’s East End. Dr. McQuade takes over her Aunt Claire’s health food store Nature’s Way Market and CafĂ© when she is murdered and sets out to find the killer with the help of a hunky cop on disability, Jackson Spade. Sparks fly!

3. How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?

I have never outlined before Scent to Kill, which is the sequel to Death Drops: A Natural Remedies Mystery. Before that, I just started writing and let it flow. The characters told me what they wanted to do and say. I didn’t want to know who “dun” it. But after Death Drops, my editor at Gallery Books wanted an outline for the second book so I had to do one. I found that it was so much easier to have that framework. It makes it easier to get started every day and to keep going if you feel like stopping.

4. In the age-old question of character versus plot, which one do you think is most important in a murder mystery and which one do you emphasize in your writing? Why?

When it comes to a cozy mystery, I think both matter, but I’ll go with characters. I think if readers like and identify with the characters you create they will want to read more. In the case of my books, I consider the setting to be important, too. Greenport is an idyllic town located on the East End of Long Island in New York. Forbes names it one of the prettiest villages in America. Plot is certainly important but I think it’s the little details that matter most. How can you make your reader feel like he or she is “there?” I want readers to be able to escape into my cozies.

5. What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?

Starting! What people who don’t write may not understand is that the action of starting to write is painful. At least it is for me. You have to pierce the barrier of inertia. Once I get started I’m fine. I lose myself in the process and time flies.

6. What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?

My best writing happens in the morning until I have lunch, usually around noon, and after 4. For some reason 12 to 4 aren’t as productive. Must be my circadian rhythms. I don’t set a number of pages; that’s too much like a real job! It’s usually difficult to get started, but once I do, I feel like I’m transcribing. The words just come. I write 5-7 days a week. If I feel inspired or I’m under a deadline, I write, write, write!

7. What do you do when you have writer's block?

I rarely get writer’s block, but I did when I started Scent to Kill, the sequel to Death Drops. My friend who is also an author for Gallery Books suggested I relax and let the words flow instead of “trying” to MAKE something happen. Writing comes from a different place than thinking, she said. I know now that it’s true!

8. What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?

Only write if you must. It is a difficult profession. You must have perseverance. You must handle rejection. That said, if you are a writer and have an idea you really believe in, NEVER give up. It took me over 10 years (off and on – I worked in Hollywood in the early years) to get my first mystery published. And you know what? It was worth it!

9. Now here’s a zinger. Tell us something about yourself that you have not revealed in another interview yet. Something as simple as your favorite TV show or food will do.

I love reality shows. I can’t wait for the new Survivor and Amazing Race to start. I even watch Big Brother in the summer. Yes, I admit it. I call it “mind candy.” It gives my mind a break. We all need that sometimes.

10. What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?

I’m about to start the rewrite of Scent to Kill, the sequel to Death Drops: A Natural Remedies Mystery. It will be hard work, but I know I’ll have a book for my editor that is ten times as good when I’m through. It’s all about making the book better for readers.

11. Is there anything else you would like to tell my blog readers?

I really appreciate being your guest today, Beth. Thank you so much for having me! As for my writing, I hope that readers enjoy the mystery of Death Drops and learn about natural remedies they can try at home, too. They can visit my website for more info. I’m happy to speak to book clubs anytime. I’m also the Saturday blogger at Killer Hobbies. Please stop by and say hi!

Thanks, Chrystle! Now, who has a comment or question for her?


Beth Groundwater said...

Here's a comment from Cris on Facebook:

"Excellent interview, Beth! And one more new cozy series for me to read! Yay! Thank you, Chrystle Fiedler!!"

Marja said...

Very interesting interview, and a unique idea for a series. I think I see another new book in my future. :) Thanks for sharing.

Ricky Bush said...

Doesn't surprise me that Chrystle enjoys "Survivor" and "Amazing Race". Those shows are about perseverance and not giving up until the goal is achieve--much as she advises for those who choose to write.

Fran Stewart said...

I've been a fan of natural remedies for years, and at a healthy 65, I say good for you for promoting an approach to health that doesn't involve pharmaceutics. It's great fun to educate people without preaching at them!

Chrystle Fiedler said...

Yes it is fun! The next book Scent to Kill which I'm working on now is about aromatherapy which I love.

Marja - I hope you like Death Drops!

Fran - my mom is 83 and still going strong too!She has always been into natural cures. She even has a homeopathic kit. Swears it works on stopping a cold!

You are very perceptive Ricky! I do believe you are right. Thank you!

It was a pleasure to be with you today Beth! Thank you!

Gloria Alden said...

Very good interview, Beth. It makes me want to read Chrystle Fiedler's book and visit her hometown, too.

Beth Groundwater said...

Thanks, Marja, Ricky, Fran, and Gloria, for stopping by, and thank you, Chrystle, for visiting. Be sure to check back tomorrow for more comments!

Chrystle Fiedler said...

Thanks for having me over! It was fun!