By Cathy Clamp
Say Cheese! Not only cheddar, roquefort and swiss but . . . bodies? Not at all expected and that’s what makes it so fun. Avery Aames’ CHEESE SHOP MYSTERY novels are quickly becoming a favorite of cozy mystery readers. With cute, quirky titles like THE LONG QUICHE GOODBYE, LOST AND FONDUE and the upcoming TO BRIE OR NOT TO BRIE, terrific recipes, and interesting information about the cheese industry, the books are quickly going to attract loyal readers.
The novels center around a Providence, Ohio cheese shop owned by Charlotte Bessette and her cousin Matthew. Although the The Fromagerie Bessette was handed down by their grandparents, Charlotte and Matthew quickly put their own stamp on the shop and the crackers and wine flow as smooth as the brie. But murder keeps happening right under their noses with a smell worse than French Maroilles. Why does Charlotte keep getting involved? Because her family and friends keep getting accused of the crimes. In LOST AND FONDUE, when her friend, Meredith, decides to throw a fund-raiser to create a liberal arts college out of a long-abandoned winery–a winery that is rumored to hold not only buried bodies but buried treasure–Charlotte’s joie de vivre deflates like a bad souffle. Charlotte’s fears are realized when an art student is found dead in the wine cellar, and Meredith’s niece is the main suspect.
ITW Contributing Editor Cathy Clamp chatted with the author about her new book and the future of this engaging cozy series:
ITW: This new book is the 2nd in the series. If readers haven’t tried the series yet, should they first read THE LONG QUICHE GOODBYE in order to understand the plot or characters in this new book?
AAMES: I’ve done my best to make sure that LOST AND FONDUE can stand alone. However, if a reader wants to find some great recipes and know the origins of a couple of storylines, they might like to take a peak at THE LONG QUICHE GOODBYE, as well. 🙂
ITW: What was the inspiration for the plot of this book? Did it come out of a subplot of the first book, or was it ripped from the headlines (or your own mind?)
AAMES: The plot for this book came from an old memory. There was a mysterious house in a “small” forest near my house. My sisters and I liked to steal into the forest and peer at the house and make up stories about who lived inside. At one point, I think we’d come up with an old woman with thirteen cats who killed off her husband. We were a little wicked at the time. But rumors…isn’t that a great basis for any story?
ITW: Is there anything interesting (or funny!) that you discovered during the research for this book that may or may not have made it onto the pages?
AAMES: I did a whole lot of research about fondue. I came up with different recipes and experimented with different cheeses. At the time, all my research said that sheep’s cheese didn’t melt well, so I never tried it. But just this past month, I tasted a Manchego and Provolone fondue that was delicious. It’s not a funny story, but it’s tasty.
ITW: Are there more Cheese Shop novels in the works? If so, what can readers look forward to?
AAMES: Yes, there are three more contracted at this time. Clobbered by Camembert will be coming out in January, 2012. To Brie or Not To Brie will come out in September or October 2012. The fifth is untitled. In Camembert, there’s a surprise visitor, someone from Charlotte’s past. In To Brie, there will be a wedding. Whose? Hmmm, that’s a secret for now.
ITW: Will you be doing a signing tour for this book? If not, where might you be that readers can get an autographed copy? Will you be at ThrillerFest?
AAMES: I will be signing in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Scottsdale. I will also be attending Malice Domestic (April 28-May 1), Oakmont, Mystery Lovers Bookshop (May 2) and yes—Thrillerfest in July and Bouchercon in September. What fun for me!
ITW: What are your contact locations on the web? Do you have twitter or Facebook pages outside of your website?
AAMES: Yes! I have a website, Facebook and Twitter account for Avery Aames:
Facebook: Avery Aames
I also have a website, Twitter and Facebook for Daryl Wood Gerber: http://www.darylwoodgerber.com
Facebook: Daryl Wood Gerber. Also, just so you know, Daryl (Avery’s alter ego), has a short mystery story anthology that just came out: Fish Tales: A Guppy Anthology. We have a Facebook page. My contribution is “Palace on the Lake.” I also BLOG at Mystery Lovers Kitchen (a blog for mystery writers who love to cook up crime): www.mysteryloverskitchen.com and I blog at Killer Characteres (a blog where authors’ characters share daily stories) www.killercharacters.com
ITW: Is there anything you’d love the readers to know about you or your characters that wouldn’t fit in the books?
AAMES: Sure. I’ve uploaded documents about A Cheese Shop Mystery characters on the Avery Aames site. I’ve also provided book club questions for readers. I’ve put downloadable recipes on both sites. I happen to be a celiac (and need to eat gluten-free), so I’ve included a number of those recipes, as well. One of the characters in the series is gluten-free, so Charlotte (the protagonist) is always aware of the allergy. By the way, most cheeses are okay to eat if you need to eat gluten-free. Yeah!!!
ITW: I know readers would enjoy something special from you. Any recipes you’d like to share with cozy readers who might not know much about cheese?
AAMES: Sure! Here’s a favorite called DOUX DE MONTAGNE FONDUE:
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons chopped yellow onions
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons Half ‘n Half
8 ounces Doux de Montagne cheese (may substitute with cream cheese)
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup (packed) grated Gruyère cheese
1 pound new potatoes
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine 6 cups water and salt in large saucepan. Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and add potatoes. Cook until potatoes are just tender when pierced with skewer, about 6 -12 minutes. Drain. Cut potatoes in half or quarters (bite-sized). Transfer potatoes to bowl. Add olive oil and parsley; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Potatoes may be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover refrigerate. [Reheat potatoes in 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.]
Heat oil in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onions; sauté until soft, about 4 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Add Half ‘n Half and cheeses. Whisk until smooth, about 3 minutes. Stir in nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat. [If it feels too thick, add a little regular milk to thin.]
Place potatoes on platter. Spear each with skewer. Serve with warm fondue.
For readers who might like to watch it being done the first time, I have a YouTube video of making the fondue here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MfkDes623y4 It’s also up on my website http://www.averyaames.com/video_howtomakefondue.html
ITW: Thanks so much! I know readers are going to love this! Good luck with the book. Can’t wait to read it.
AAMES: Thank you! I look forward to meeting people this year and hope they love reading the books as much as I loved writing them.
Avery Aames is the author of A Cheese Shop Mystery series. The first in the series, THE LONG QUICHE GOODBYE, debuted as a national bestseller and is nominated for an Agatha Award, “Best First Novel.” LOST AND FONDUE is the next in the series. Avery loves to cook and enjoys a delicious cheese and tasty wine.
Visit Avery at www.averyaames.com