Saturday, December 6, 2014

Death with All the Trimmings & Book Giveaway

Lucy Burdette joins us today to talk about her new book, Death with All the Trimmings, and tell us all about her writing process. Don't forget to comment below to enter to win a copy of the book (US residents only).


Where did you get the idea for this book?  

Since this is the fifth book in the Key West food critic mystery series, I already had many of the characters developed. The challenge with each new book in a series is to shift the focus to a new mystery and figure out why my food critic character would be nosing around looking for clues to solve a murder. I had been reading some articles about women chefs—how life in the professional kitchen is harder for them, and how ascending the ladder to take the helm at the best restaurants is harder yet still. That gave me the idea for an ambitious new chef/owner in Key West who yearns for her new restaurant to be successful—without the presence of her ex. But someone is sabotaging her kitchen and she asks Hayley to help her finger the culprit. 

Aside from the plot, I had such fun setting this book during the period leading up to Christmas. The holiday season is a magical time anywhere, but it’s particularly beautiful in Key West: White lights wound around palm trees, a lighted boat parade, a Christmas tree made out of lobster pots…you get the idea!

What’s the best thing that’s happened as a result of your writing?

Definitely the people I’ve met, fans, friends, and other writers. I love hearing from people who’ve read the books and connected with the setting or the characters. And mystery writers are so amazing—generous, smart, and quirky. My husband was passing through the living room one evening where my writers group was meeting. We were discussing how it would work to hide a body in a trunk and whether one woman could handle the job wrestling the corpse into the car. “I can see why you don’t meet at Starbucks,” he said. “You’d all be arrested.”

Do you ever base characters on people you know?

Oh yes! And this is such fun in Key West, where my writer’s brain is always spinning. For example: wandering through the crowds at the Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square, I spotted a tarot card reader set up at a card table, wearing a deep blue turban with an enormous teardrop rhinestone bisecting his forehead. What if my protagonist, Hayley Snow, was addicted to having her cards read because she was insecure about her own decisions? And what if her tarot reader saw a card scary enough that even he got rattled? And what if she his reactions to dig herself into deeper trouble? And so Lorenzo the card reader was born as a character. 

Then, as I walked around the city, I noticed that homeless people were everywhere, including perched on the stone walls around Mallory Square watching the performers and the tourists. Though they blended into the scenery, they probably noticed all kinds of things that visitors wouldn't see. And so Turtle and Tony became characters. 

And then I attended the Key West Police Department’s Citizen Police Academy. And the cops showed us how to search abandoned buildings and look at a crime scene and even how a SWAT team would operate. Officer Steve Torrence answered my questions, so he entered the cast of characters too.

And there were names and characters given to me that I couldn't refuse. I offered an auction item to benefit the Waterfront Playhouse--naming rights to a character in TOPPED CHEF. The auction winner sent me a photo and bio of the character he wanted me to include--Randy Thompson, an actual drag queen who performs at the Aqua bar as Victoria. So I took the real Randy to lunch to chat about the psychology of drag queens and watched him (her) perform a few times, and then, what the heck, threw Peter Shapiro, the man who’d bought the character, into the mix too.

Do you ever have doubts when you are in the middle of the writing process? How do you get past them?

I always have doubts! DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS will be my thirteenth published book and I still get stuck every time in the middle. Where is this book going??? What’s the point? Why is she doing this? Who will ever want to read this?

A few things help keep me sane in this situation. One is to keep writing. Apply butt to chair and write 1000 words a day. It also helps to write out a sentence or two the night before about what I will cover the next day. My other best tool is brainstorming with my writer friends. They are invariably generous, and fresh eyes can see paths out of my plot when I feel hopeless. 

Thanks so much for hosting me today—and I hope you enjoy DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS!

BIO: Lucy Burdette (aka Roberta Isleib) is the author of 13 mysteries, including DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS, the fifth book in the Key West series featuring food critic Hayley Snow. Lucy’s books and stories have been short-listed for Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards. She's a past president of Sisters in Crime.

Blogs: Mystery Lovers Kitchen and Jungle Red Writers 

About DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS (#5 in the Key West Food Critic mystery series):

It may be Christmastime, but thoughts of peace on earth, good will toward men, don’t seem to extend to the restaurant business. Food critic Hayley Snow has been assigned to interview Edel Waugh, chef/owner of Key West’s hottest new restaurant. But off the record, Edel reveals that there’s been sabotage in the kitchen and asks Hayley to investigate. Things heat up fast when the restaurant is set on fire—and a body is discovered in the charred wreckage. Is someone out to destroy the chef’s business—or actually kill her? Amid holiday festivities like the lighted boat parade, and visiting relatives who stir up mixed emotions, Hayley needs to smoke out an arsonist and a killer before they turn up the heat again…on her!


  1. A great series! I'm looking forward to reading "Death with All the Trimmings".

    patucker54 at aol dot com

  2. I'd love to start reading this series. It sounds like a good one! Thank you for the giveaway!
    mittens0831 at aol dot com

  3. It looks great; I hope I get a chance to read it :)

  4. thanks ladies for the kind words! and thank you for inviting me to visit the Mystery Playground!

  5. Living in the north, a story about someplace warmer is a definite want to read. Thanks for sharing your interview with us.

  6. Reading this would be pure escape for me. I love the cover and would really like to go there right now!


  7. A delightful and ideal giveaway which I would love. Many thanks. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  8. travel to this idyllic place. Love it. Thanks. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  9. This book sounds like it would be a great read.

  10. I love reading holiday themed cozies, especially at Christmas time.

  11. Great title to add to my TBR list

  12. Love this series and look forward to this book

  13. I love this series. Glad to see a new book released and hope I WIN!!!!!
    Sandy Hemsher

  14. I love this series. Glad to see a new book released and hope I WIN!!!!!
    Sandy Hemsher

  15. I would love to read this book—thanks for the opportunity to win a copy!

    skkorman AT bellsouth DOT net

  16. I love the Key West food critic mystery series and Hayley! I think it's great that her card reading started from your real life observances of a card reader in Key West! Sounds like a great place for material..and the food.. thanks for all the food material too!!!

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  18. Our winner is Kiki! Look for an e-mail shortly.