Someone at the retreat has apparently iced the bartender, a well-known flirt with a legendary temper-that is, before a killer beat him to the punch. Then, from out of nowhere, Jules’s own ex-husband shows up at the shop-and soon becomes a suspect. With accusations piling up higher than the snow-and thicker than a chocolate mousse cake-Jules has to think outside the (recipe) box to find the real culprit…and make sure he gets his just desserts.
“A delectable tale of murder and intrigue.”-Portland Book Review on Meet Your Baker
Q&A with the Author
1) Can you tell us a bit about your background?
My degree is actually in speech pathology. I spent the early part of my career working in a birth to five early intervention program which doesn’t seem like it would lend itself to writing but it really does. As a speech therapist you have to be a good listener to figure out where things are dropping off or falling apart. You also have to take extensive notes after each therapy session. I use both of those techniques in my writing. When I’m working on dialog and character development, I’ll go to coffee shops and bakeries and sit and listen and really observe and take notes on what’s happening around me. I think it helps my writing and characters feel more authentic.
2) Where and when did your writing journey begin?
My writing journey began when I was a young reader. My mom would take me to the library once a week when I was growing up and I would read everything I could get my hands on. In my early years I read all of the Little House on the Prairie books, followed by Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden. One summer I read all of Agatha Christie’s books. I wrote my first mystery when I was in second grade titled the House on the Hill. It had very little plot but obviously I had the writing bug at a very young age.
3) Who are your favorite authors and how have they influenced your writing?
I have very eclectic interests when it comes to reading. Some of my all-time favorite authors are Jane Austen, Willa Cather, Katherine Mansfield, Ursula Le Guin, and P.D James. They are all masterful storytellers first and foremost which I believe is the most critical piece of writing. The story drives everything forward. Without a compelling plot there’s no reason to turn the page. Katherine Mansfield is the exception as she wrote short stories, poetry, and beautiful prose. Her writing is almost lyrical which I think is also important. Each word should flow with its own rhythm, even in fiction. Of course, there’s also Shakespeare. My dad was an English teacher and introduced me to the classics at a young age which certainly influenced my writing and was the inspiration for setting the Bakeshop Mysteries—Ashland, Oregon.
4) What does a typical day in your life look like? And how does your writing routine fit into your day?
I write 2,000 words every day. I’m definitely a morning person, so as soon as I’ve had my first cup of coffee I head to my office and start writing. I don’t leave my office—except for coffee refills—until I finish my word count. Then I’ll spend the rest of the day testing recipes for the series in my home kitchen or researching details about upcoming productions at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The routine and structure of writing every day and setting a word count allow me to write fast first drafts. It usually takes me a little over a month to write a complete first draft. It’s a terrible draft, but it gets the story out and then I can start editing and adding in layers of smells, and sounds and all the things that make a story rich.
5) How did you come up with the idea for your novel?
My parents used to throw Midsummer Night’s Eve parties. Everyone would dress in Elizabethan costumes and they would serve an old-English style feast under the stars. We would also visit Ashland, Oregon every summer to see outdoor plays. When I decided I wanted to write a mystery series, I thought it would make a perfect setting. It’s a vibrant small town with a community of artists and outdoor lovers, and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival attracts people from all over the world which is ideal for writing mysteries because there are always new suspects popping into town. Food is also a huge part of my life, especially baking. I love writing about food because it’s a way for Juliet to escape into her thoughts as she’s kneading bread dough or whipping up a light soufflé. Food is a love language and I enjoy getting to share that with readers.
6) What do you think sets your novel apart from others current on the shelves?
It has a unique combination for a mystery series—one part bakeshop with delicious handcrafted family recipes, one part mystery with a sleuth who is puzzling through the clues, and then a touch of whimsy with Shakespearean references.
7) Which character in your book is your favorite and how much of yourself is reflected in that character?
That’s a tough question. It sounds cliché but I love them all. I’ve become so attached to the characters that sometimes I forget that they aren’t real. But if I have to pick, I would say that Juliet is my favorite because the story is told in her voice. What I like most about her is that she’s returned home to heal her broken heart, but she’s not broken. I think that’s an important distinction. She loves to bake, as do I. However she is a professionally trained pastry chef and I am definitely NOT!
8) Which scenes in your book did you have the most fun writing?
In On Thin Icing we meet Carlos, Jules’s estranged husband for the first time when he shows up unannounced at Lake of the Woods. I really enjoyed writing the scenes between Jules and Carlos because there’s so much chemistry between them and so much conflict.
9) What do you hope for your readers to take away after reading your book?
I hope that the book offers them a moment of escape from the real world. That they can curl up with a steaming mug of coffee or tea and a delicious pastry and transport themselves to the warm and welcoming town of Ashland, Oregon for a few hours.
About the Author:
Ellie Alexander is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing pastry recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses nearby. When she’s not coated in flour, you’ll find her outside exploring hiking trails and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter to learn more.
Prizing provided by the author. Must be 13 or older and have parental permission if under 17. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary to win.
This event was organized by CBB Book Promotions.