ABOUT THE BOOKAn amateur sleuth, Sheridan Hendley jumps at the chance to work with the defense when a favorite waitress is arrested for the murder of her ex-husband. Determined to prove Zoe’s innocence Sheridan probes into the victim’s past and why he chose to return to Cold Creek 15 years after the divorce. Personalities clash and Zoe’s family closes ranks as Sheridan attempts to unlock the carefully kept secrets of the family that owns and operates the Grill. The closer she gets to finding the truth, the more her own life might be in danger – a situation that strains her increasingly serious relationship with Detective Brett McMann.
INTERVIEW WITH CHRISTA NARDI
Christa, how long have you been writing, and how did you start?
I’ve probably been writing since elementary school. First, it was those assigned creative writing tasks, and then for fun. I always wrote stories and then in high school also wrote poetry. Since then, most of my writing has been nonfiction and more technical in nature (e.g. textbooks), but occasionally I would jot down an idea or two.
How did you come up with the title of your book?
This is the third in the series and each of the others started with Murder at or Murder in . . . The setting for this one is the family-owned restaurant in small town Cold Creek – the Grill.
Do you have another job outside of writing?
Yes, I do. As noted in the bio, like Sheridan, I am a professor and a psychologist. Thankfully, the stories are all fiction – I’ve no experience with dead bodies or the other characters in the story.
How did you create the plot for this book?
I started with some basic ideas and, of course, the personalities and relationships from the first two in the series. It seemed a bit of a stretch for another dead body to be on the college campus so I needed another location that fit with the setting I’d created – the Grill.
Which character did you most enjoy writing?
Max is still my favorite. He represents the ivory tower stereotype and the old boy network. He is intelligent, smart, productive, and has a good heart, but sometimes lacks common sense. Although a scientist in his work, when it comes to social interactions, he is quick to jump to conclusions. He fully expects that others will defer to him and that makes others crazy. He has the melodrama of an adolescent but spouts science.
Are any of your characters inspired by real people?
I think the characters are all conglomerates of people I’ve known at some point, and then exaggerated like a caricature.
Are you like any of your characters?
I am most like Sheridan, but she is probably my “ideal” self. We share the curiosity, the analytic thinking, and the desire to solve a puzzle. On the other hand, Sheridan is a bit more contemplative and more grounded than I am. She’s never grouchy and she’s more social.
Do you give your characters any of your bad traits?
I do allow Sheridan to be ‘human’ but she has much better self-control than I do and is also better at finding the silver lining.
Who are your favorite authors?
Of current cozy mystery writers, I always look forward to the next one in the series by Vanessa Gray Bartal (Lacy Steele Mystery Series), Kassandra Lamb (Kate Huntington Mystery Series), Ellen Crosby (Wine Country Mysteries) and, of course, Amy Metz (Goose Pimple Junction Mysteries). I recently started reading Dianne Harman too. But there are so many great writers out there, it is really hard to pick favorites.
I'm honored to be on your list! How long is your to-be-read pile?
As of today, I have about 300+ on my Kindle that I haven’t read and a few I still need to write reviews on. Then there is the stack of paperbacks in my nightstand . . . and the ones I have marked in Goodreads . . . I am very glad when Amazon points out that I have already bought a book since I cannot remember all the ones already on the Kindle but not read yet.
Do you have a routine for writing?
(I wish.) I start with a basic idea, a basic plot and key characters, and write – how long I write depends on the demands of my day job and family. The next time I write, I start at the beginning again, and edit, elaborate, and continue the story line. Sometimes I have an idea for a later scene, write it, and then weave it in where it fits best. I envy those who can sit and write 2,000 words at a time and know exactly where their story is going and how to accomplish it (and write multiple books per year).
Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?
Some place relatively quiet, usually at home. I have pulled out paper and pen on a plane or an early morning on vacation when I’m the only one awake when an idea came to me. Most of the time though, I “write” on my laptop.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I love to read – mystery, cozy mystery, romance, and scifi/fantasy. I also love to garden, and spend many hours working in mine. When not writing, reading or gardening, I am likely doing jigsaw puzzles or logic puzzles.
How often do you tweet?
More than I should. I only started tweeting about a year ago and, like most of the Internet and social media, it is a huge black hole – I go to Twitter and time just disappears . . . I retweet a LOT and try to support my fellow indie authors.
You're very good about that! How do you feel about Facebook?
Again, I think it’s very easy to spend way too much time on FB. On the other hand, I have learned a lot about self-publishing and marketing through one of the FB groups – Clean Indie Reads. It’s a great group of authors, all very supportive and helpful. Unlike many others, I don’t tend to post anything ‘personal’ but I enjoy the interaction around writing.
What’s your favorite beverage?
That’s an easy one – Diet Coke (not Coke Zero and definitely not Pepsi!). All my caffeine comes from Diet Coke since I don’t drink coffee. When we go on vacation, before we leave, my husband figures out the closest place to find Diet Coke.
What are you working on now?
The fourth in the series – title TBD. I also have an idea for a new series and started the first of that one (title also TBD). The grand plan is that come fall, both will be done, but we shall see . . .
ABOUT THE AUTHORMurder at Cold Creek College; Murder in the Arboretum is the second in the series. Murder at the Grill is the third. Christa Nardi is a pen name for a real life professor/psychologist from the Northeast who is well published in nonfiction and technical venues.
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