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Suspense-thriller writer  Avery Aames has not sold one of her novels yet she has a book coming out in early July. How did that happen?

According to Avery, an agent who liked her work knew about this work-for-hire series. “A Cheese Shop Mystery,” she said. “Think you can write it?”

Seems like Avery could.

She auditioned and got the job. “I’m truly lucky. I couldn’t be more passionate about a topic. Life is great; cheese makes it better!”

Actually the series seems tailor-made for Avery.  She took Berkley Prime Crime’s idea for a cheese shop in an Ohio town and not only embraced the idea but made it her own. She draws on her restaurant and catering experience that is further enriched by the fact she is a gourmet cook. Because she was an actress, she is able to better understand (and write about) the grandmother who runs the local theater. She also added a character (the niece) who needs to follow a gluten-free diet just like she does.

With all this expertise, Avery still does research. As she puts it, “So many cheeses, so little time. I had no idea how many cheeses are in the world.” As she learns about a new cheese, she creates recipes and tries them out on her husband before they are included in the Cheese Shop Mysteries or on the Mystery Lovers Kitchen website.

In the first book, The Long Quiche Goodbye, we meet Charlotte Bessette who has just opened Fromagerie Bessette, or the Cheese Shop as the residents of Providence, Ohio call it. At the shop’s grand opening, between the various cheese and wine samplings, a little thing like a crime of passion touches Charlotte’s world.

The most difficult part of writing the Long Quiche Goodbye was made easier by Avery’s preferred use of outlining. “The schedule was tight but editors were changed in the middle so the first manuscript didn’t get read or approved until well into January. And then my second outline which my editor required wasn’t approved until February 1st and she needed a completed manuscript by May 15th.” In an uncharacteristic understatement, Avery adds, “Fifteen weeks to write thirty chapters requires focus.

gerber-daryl.jpg“I’ve always worked from an outline, but now I work from a very detailed outline. My editor appreciates it. She can see the red herrings, the clues, the motives for all the suspects. It works well for both of us.”

Avery feels it helps her stick to a schedule and finds freedom in writing chapters from an outline already vetted by her editor. She does make changes to the outline but she knows the main goal, who did it, and why.

Her schedule for writing falls into a comfortable routine. She gets up early and loves to write first thing (think 6AM) for about an hour or so. Then she walks her dog, eats, exercises, and get back to writing. Her first session takes place in her home office, filled with to-do lists and PR materials. Since she doesn’t like to see all that her second writing session is often at a coffee shop because “there are absolutely no distractions. Put in the iBuds, turn on music (without words – Latin, jazz, classical) and write. I’ll sit there for two hours writing steadily. It’s an incredibly alpha state to be in.”

It is here she is working on her next projects. Next up is the second Cheese Shop Mystery, Lost and Fondue where Charlotte’s friend Meredith turns an abandoned winery into a college. To commemorate the event artists come to town and one ends up dead and Charlotte gets involved to clear her friend’s niece.

About those suspense-thrillers. Avery’s current work here involves a male protagonist set in the Bay area nearer to San Jose. Her other books have female leads and are set in Lake Tahoe or San Francisco. She says, “No common threads except that they all lean toward the thriller and not the mystery.”

When not writing her own works, she takes time to read her favorites. “I adore Lisa Gardner’s work. Michael Connelly, Harlan Coban, Lisa Scottline, Sue Grafton. I read inspirational quote books when I’m feeling low.

Needless to say, Avery is excited about The Long Quiche Goodbye hitting the bookstores with Lost and Fondue not far behind. She has poured her passion into the work , as she does with all her writing. For her you direct you passion and “write one book. Then write another, and another. Keep at it. Believe you can.”

Yes with her passion, drive, and desire, expect to see more than the Cheese Shop Mysteries in the bookstores. I’m betting we see some of her suspense thrillers in the not too distant future.

Terry DiDomenico
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