Everything I Learned About Writing I Learned in the Kitchen … Well, Maybe Not Everything by Lauren Carr, Author of Killer in the Band

First of all--I have loved every mystery book that I have read from Lauren Carr.  I love her writing style, her characters, her sense of humor, her real-world grounding--and her mystery development.  

My readers probably know that I am either in the kitchen cooking something or reading a book most days!  So--when Lauren Carr sent me a food related guest post for today's spotlight for her latest mystery, Killer in the Band--she had my interest immediately!  

Enjoy Lauren's post--learn about her latest mystery (which I am reading this afternoon!)--and enter to win a wonderful prize in the book tour giveaway at the end of this post!

Everything I Learned About Writing I Learned in the Kitchen … 
Well, Maybe Not Everything
By Lauren Carr

I love to cook and eat. I’m not the only one. Don’t believe me? Maybe you should peek in my window one night when my husband discovers that I’ve eaten the last Klondike.

I’m a gourmet cook who is adventurous when it comes to cooking … and eating. I have no fears when it comes to trying new techniques and eating something wildly exotic.

Likewise, I’m never afraid to investigate a new twist in one of my storylines!

Now, since they say, write what you know, gourmet food and cooking has to seep into my mysteries. It is no accident that my protagonist Mac Faraday owns a resort complete with a five-star restaurant, or that Joshua Thornton’s daughter Tracy is a student at the CIA (that’s Culinary Institute of America). It is also no accident that the Lovers in Crime love ice cream (that will be me!) and frequent Cricksters, a genuine retro restaurant in Chester, West Virginia, which I love to stop in when I visit my childhood home.

My years in the kitchen have taught me many things about writing and life, which have spilled over into my books. It isn’t just the ice cream.

When it comes to character development, you are what you eat. In the Lovers in Crime, Cameron Gates has a love for good food. She doesn’t worry about fat content or cholesterol, good or bad. She has more important things on her mind—like catching killers. In one scene of Killer in the Band, she makes a quick stop home for lunch on her way to interview murder suspect. Joshua notices that her quick lunch consists of a couple of slices of lunchmeat between two slices of bread—no cheese, lettuce, tomato, or mayo. She didn’t have time for such luxuries.

Joshua Thornton is almost as reckless—almost, but not quite. A father, and the moral compass of the Lovers in Crime, Joshua is responsible for trying to keep his teenaged son Donny and the couple’s adopted daughter, Izzy, on the straight and narrow when it comes to eating. He has to set a good example, but he doesn’t always succeed. In one of the opening chapters, when Izzy and Donny witness a fight between Joshua and Cameron, Donny offers to distract Izzy from the unpleasant scene with—What do you think?

“Guys?” Donny said from the bottom of the stairs.

Joshua and Cameron looked over the stair railing to see that Donny and Izzy were gazing up at them. It was the first time Izzy had seen her adoptive parents fighting, and her eyes were wide.

Cameron looked over at Joshua. Tearing his gaze from them, he turned around and headed down the hallway to their bedroom. As she walked to the railing, she forced a smile onto her face. “We’re just having a passionate discussion. That’s all. We’re okay.”

“Let’s go get some ice cream,” Donny said, urging Izzy to follow him to the kitchen.

“I think I may be emotionally traumatized enough by their fight to need a double helping,” Izzy said.
“Me, too.”
A teenaged bottomless pit who still has a lot to learn, Donny will eat anything and everything anytime or anyplace. His eating habits haven’t developed that much yet—just like his character.
Possibly, one of the more complex characters introduced in the Lovers in Crime’s Killer in the Band, is Joshua’s eldest son, Joshua Thornton Jr. (J.J.).

J.J. returns home to shake things up a bit for the Thornton family.  A recent law school graduate, he’s expected to carry on the family tradition of law and order. His father has high expectations for his son. But, J.J. has some surprises in store for his father. To Joshua’s shock and dismay, J.J. moves into the main house at Russell Ridge Farm and Orchards, the largest dairy farm in the Ohio Valley, to rekindle a romance with Suellen Russell, a onetime leader of a rock group who’s twice his age. Quickly, they learn that she has been keeping a deep dark secret.

The move brings long-buried tensions between the father and son to the surface—tensions that Cameron attempts to soothe over with—what else? Pie!

Here’s an excerpt of that scene from Killer in the Band:
Upon taking the rural country road behind Oak Glen High School, a newcomer to the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia would never realize that he would soon come upon one of the largest dairy farms and some of the largest apple, pear, and peach orchards in the Ohio Valley. The splendid family-owned farm blended into the rolling countryside, which was made up of dense woods, cornfields, hayfields, and horse and cattle farms.

Two miles before a simple Welcome to Pennsylvania sign nailed to the top of a fence post, there was a long paved driveway to the right. The white four-rail fencing appeared to be out of place on the worn country road. A white sign with black block letters told drivers that they’d arrived at Russell Ridge Farm and Orchards. Lined with tall evergreens on both sides, the long driveway crossed a creek that fed a pleasant pond, snaked up a tall hill between two horse pastures, and ended at a long white equestrian barn with black trim and a matching two-story farmhouse resting among an array of floral gardens.

“Wow,” Izzy said from the backseat of Joshua’s SUV when he turned into the driveway. 

As she sat in the backseat of the SUV next to Donny, Izzy, who was petite for her age and had a mass of long dark-blond curls, looked like Mutt to Donny’s Jeff. 

A die-hard animal lover, she was not as impressed with the big white house as she was with the small herd of horses escorting Joshua’s SUV up the long lane. The herd consisted of three mares and two colts, who stuck close to their mothers. All of the horses were covered in dirt from the pasture. On the passenger’s side of the car, a single black stallion.

             “So this isn’t the original house?” Careful not to jostle the pie, Cameron climbed out of the SUV while Joshua held the door for her.

“The old farmhouse is on the other side of the orchard, where the dairy barn is,” Joshua said

“Dad?” J.J. had come out onto the front porch to investigate the dogs’ barking.

Clinging to his arm with both hands, Suellen stood one step behind him. Joshua saw Tad slip out of the open door and move to the porch railing on the other side of the front steps. 

“The future of your whole relationship with J.J. depends on how you handle the next few minutes,” Cameron whispered.

“That’s what I like. No pressure,” Joshua said with heavy sarcasm.

J.J. broke away from Suellen to meet Joshua at the bottom of the steps. Unsure of his father’s motives, he had a questioning expression on his face. Like a white flag, a symbol of peace, Cameron held the pie out to him.

Taking in a deep breath, Joshua looked from J.J. to Suellen, who appeared to be holding her breath, and then to Tad, who had his arms folded across his chest. His eyes landed on J.J., who was looking beyond him to Cameron. Upon seeing the pie, surprise crossed J.J.’s face. It was not something he’d expected.

“I’m sorry” was all Joshua was able to get out. It came out as a whisper that only J.J. could hear. “I was rude—”

J.J. cut off his apology with a hug. Holding him close, J.J. whispered, “I love you, Dad. You know that, don’t you?” He patted his father on the back.

Unable to speak, Joshua nodded his head and wrapped his arms around his son.  

Not wanting to intrude on the father-son moment, Cameron scurried past them with the peace offering in her outstretched hands. “I have pie.”

Suellen met Cameron on the steps and took the dessert from her. “I’m Suellen Russell, the cougar Josh probably told you all about.”
"And I’m Cameron, the evil stepmother J.J. told you about.”

“A cougar and an evil stepmother.” Tad held the door open for them. “Sounds like your average dysfunctional American family.”

The Thorntons may be dysfunctional—but they eat well!
Author's Bio:

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, romance, and humor.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, son, and four dogs (including the real Gnarly) on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Connect with Lauren: Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook

Quick Summary of Killer in the Band:

Summer of Love & Murder

Joshua’s eldest son, Joshua “J.J.” Thornton Jr., has graduated at the top of his class from law school and returns home to spend the summer studying for the bar exam. However, to Joshua’s and Cameron’s shock and dismay, J.J. moves into the main house at Russell Ridge Farm, the largest dairy farm in the Ohio Valley, to rekindle a romance with Suellen Russell, a onetime leader of a rock group who’s twice his age. Quickly, they learn that she has been keeping a deep dark secret.

The move brings long-buried tensions between the father and son to the surface. But when a brutal killer strikes, the Lovers in Crime must set all differences aside to solve the crime before J.J. ends up in the cross hairs of a murderer.

Praise for Lauren Carr’s Mysteries:

“Lauren Carr could give Agatha Christie a run for her money!”
​- Charlene Mabie-Gamble, Literary R&R

“As always, Lauren Carr brings an action-packed story that is almost impossible to put down. Her mystery plots have so many twists and turns that I didn’t know if I was coming or going. And the action just didn’t stop from the very beginning till the very end.” - Melina Mason, Melina’s Book Reviews

Buy the Book:

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Win a Fire Tablet, 7" Display, Wi-Fi, 16 GB 
(Open internationally) Winner will be person to use #LoversInCrime most often)

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  1. This was such a fun post to write! Thank you for posting it, Angela! Personally, I only recently realized how much food I have in my mysteries. Hope you enjoy KILLER IN THE BAND and here's wishing each of your readers luck in the giveaway!



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