FOUR THINGS READERS DON’T KNOW ABOUT WRITING
THE CHOCOHOLIC BOOKS
(And One I Hope They Do Know)
By JoAnna Carl
1. I know practically nothing about making chocolate and less than that about making fancy luxury chocolates like the ones created by my fictional chocolate company, TenHuis Chocolade.
At the time I was inspired to write a series about a chocolate shop, my younger daughter was business manager for such a firm. She gave me a tour, and I interviewed both the company’s owner and the lady in charge of producing the chocolates. If I had a question, I called and quizzed one of them. So it’s their knowledge of chocolate that’s represented in the books. Not mine. I can only hope I got it right.
I was introduced to Elizabeth by Jim Huang, one of the world’s experts on the mystery novel, who at that time owned a mystery bookshop in an Indianapolis suburb. Elizabeth, her husband, and her mother-in-law were all mystery fans who shopped at his store and liked my books. Today, if I need to know about chocolate, I call Elizabeth and ask. Bless her heart, she tells me the answer. Right now we’re planning a big remodeling project for TenHuis Chocolade.
3. I could never have written the Chocoholic series if I hadn’t spent twenty-five years as a newspaper reporter, editor, and columnist. Because, as items 1 and 2 indicate, I still work the same way a reporter does.
A reporter finds a “source,” a person who can explain the information the news story needs. It’s best if the source can give snappy quotes while doing it.
The column showed me I could write something with a lot of myself in it that people liked to read. As a journalist, I had been trained to keep my own opinions and personality out of what I wrote.
When my boss asked me to try a personal column, I had no idea what would entertain readers. My first column began, “My grandmother wrote a recipe in the flyleaf of her Bible.” Basically, the column was about how Gran’s love of cooking was mixed up with her instinct of service and kindness to others. I was amazed when people came up to me at parties and told me stories about their own grandmothers and how they expressed goodness and love. Their stories touched me, and I realized I had touched others.
AND THE ONE I HOPE YOU ALREADY KNOW
5. Some critics don’t like “cozy” mysteries, saying they trivialize crime and evil. I think, instead, that cozies make these things manageable. Crime, evil, and general rottenness are so frightening that I have to add coziness or I can’t handle their existence at all.
So in The Chocolate Clown Corpse I dress up my heroine, Lee Woodyard, like a clown and have her chase another clown up and down the stairs of a hospital. I create a mad chase through the snow – on sleds. In The Chocolate Book Bandit I attack a villain using a library book cart as a weapon.
By making the events slightly ridiculous, I cope with them. And aren’t all of life’s events at least slightly ridiculous?
To find out more about JoAnna Carl visit her webpage here.
The Chocolate Clown Corpse:
A Chocoholic Mystery
14th in Series
An Obsidian Mystery
New American Library(November 4, 2014)
Published by The Penguin Group
Hardcover: 240 pages
E-Book File Size: 643 KB
Revenge is sweet for a killer on the loose—and it all started with the murder of Warner Pier’s most hated clown….
Everyone who knew the bozo wanted him dead. Odd, then, that a complete stranger was accused of bursting Moe Davidson’s balloons. But it’s been a month since the miserable shop owner of Clowning Around was killed, and everybody’s moving on, including Lee Woodyard. Her chocolate shop, TenHuis Chocolade, is next door to Moe’s shuttered tourist trap, and it’s giving her delicious ideas to expand. But over whose dead body?
Moe’s widow, Emma, and her two stepchildren list the property for sale, but when Lee tours the building, she finds Emma unconscious. Now Lee wonders whether Moe’s real killer is still at large and is taking care of unfinished business. Unfortunately, since the town is celebrating Clown Week, there are so many potential suspects in grease paint and floppy shoes it’s not even funny.
For Lee, protecting Emma, freeing an innocent man, and rolling out hundreds of her clown-themed chocolates is a pretty tall order. But so is staying alive long enough to find out which one of her neighbors is a killer in disguise.
Includes Tasty Chocolate Trivia!
Aunt Nettie is on vacations and it’s Clown Week in Warner Pier! The staff of TenHuis Chocolade is busy making hundreds of clown-themed chocolates but Lee is dreaming about expanding the shop. The store next door is up for sale after the owner, a clown no less, was killed and his family wants to move on. Lee would love to move in and can’t wait to check the place out, but the last thing she expected to find was the clown’s widow unconscious in one of the rooms. Maybe the man they have arrested is not the killer and now the town is overflowing with clowns and suspects. Lee knows there is much more going on and she is not clowning around. She decides to use the festive atmosphere and her own clown costume to track down the real culprit before someone else is found with their big red shoes toes up and their lights out permanently.
This story was very entertaining and fun to read. Lee gets herself into more than a couple of tight predicaments and she doesn’t back down. She always puts others first and usually leaps before she looks. Her husband Joe, her aunt Nettie and Police Chief Uncle usually do their best to keep Lee from taking things too far but Nettie and Hogan are off on vacation and Joe is on his own and he has his hands full. As always her “malapropism” or as I call it twisted tongue syndrome that makes her think of one word but say another had her getting several strange looks and me laughing out loud. One of these days those slips are really going to get her in trouble.
Joanna Carl never disappoints. These stories are high on humor and have creative plot lines that are a pure joy to read. She also includes chocolate trivia and wonderful descriptions of all the tasty tempting truffles and other chocolates featured at TenHuis Chocolade. I wish they had an online store because I am more than ready to order today. These virtual chocolates just don’t do the trick.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”