Friday, August 8, 2014

Featured Author: Christa Nardi

About the book:

Sheridan Hendley is a professor and psychologist, not a sleuth. When her colleague at Cold Creek College, Adam Millberg, is murdered, she is charged with helping the Detective assigned to the case. Immediately, her good friend becomes the prime suspect and Sheridan is motivated to help solve the case and prove Kim isn’t guilty. It also becomes apparent that Sheridan is attracted to the handsome detective. As Sheridan tries to implement the crisis plan on campus and connect all the people in Adam’s life, she finds out that many women have a motive for Adam’s murder. Slashed tires are the first indication that Sheridan’s involvement is obviously making someone nervous.

Interview with Christa Nardi 

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?

My first thought for a title was Murder is Academic, but I did a quick search and found that title already used several times. That was a bummer. I had come up with the name of the small town and college because I liked the alliteration, so I used that for the title instead.

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, this is not a true story, not even close.

How did you create the plot for this book?

I started with some basic ideas and then identified the characters. To some extent, the characters almost develop themselves.  They have a role to play in the story – either a key role or a ‘red herring’ role or just an annoyance. They evolve along with the story.

Which character did you most enjoy writing?

Max. 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.

Are any of your characters inspired by real people? 

Wayne is inspired by a few of the men I dated when I was single and much younger. Though I never dated a dentist, I recall a few who only could talk about their job (boring), as well as a few who didn’t quite get the message to move on.

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 isn’t as reactive and she’s never grouchy. She’s also a bit more social.

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.

One of my favorite scenes is the one when Brett wants to interview Max and Max tries to put him off because he is too busy with his research, like his research is more important than a murder investigation. 

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), Debra Burroughs (Paradise Valley Mysteries), Ellen Crosby (Wine Country Mysteries), and of course Janet Evanovich. But there are so many great writers out there, it is really hard to pick favorites.

How long is your to-be-read pile?

As of today, I have about 200+ 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 start with a basic idea, a basic plot and key characters.  So in Murder at Cold Creek College, I started with Sheridan, Kim, and Mitch, and then Adam Millberg. With a back story developed (at least in my mind), I set the stage and put down ideas, write a scene or two. 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. 

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 three books have you read recently and would recommend?

My three favorites of the last several months would be Zero Hero (Kassandra Lamb), Harbor of Lies (Debra Burroughs), and Scandals, Secrets and Murder (Maggie Sefton) – reviews can be found on my blog, Christa Reads and Writes.

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.

What are you working on now?

Murder in the Arboretum (Cold Creek #2).  I had hoped to have it completed for release in July, and I am close! I hope to get it to Beta readers in the next few weeks for their feedback, and then final edits. 

About the author: 

Christa Nardi is and always has been an avid reader.  Her favorite authors have shifted from Carolyn Keene and Earl Stanley Gardner to more contemporary mystery/crime authors over time, but mystery/crime along with romance are her preferred choices for leisure reading. Christa also has been a long time writer, from poetry and short stories growing up to technical, research, and nonfiction in her professional life. With Murder at Cold Creek College, Christa is joining many other reader/writers in writing one genre she enjoys reading – the cozy mystery. Christa Nardi is a pen name for a real life professor/psychologist from the Northeast.

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