The Food Conundrum

Finished Product (1)

The recipe I came up with for Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen–shrubs!

When you write cozies, there is always the food issue. That is, do you include recipes or not?

Now, for some folks, that answer is an easy one. They’re centered around food, so of course! There’s even a great blog called Mystery Lovers Kitchen that is about mysteries and food. It features a huge array of cozy authors. They let me do a guest post in August. I made shrubs, which are discussed in Chime and Punishment. Part of the challenge is taking pictures of the process that look somewhat appetizing.

I like mysteries with food. In fact, Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swenson series is a go to for cookie recipes for me. There’s even a cookbook, which I own and have given as gifts.  Her Highlander Cookie Bar recipe is one of my go-tos when I need to impress. (Shortbread on the bottom, brownies on top. Oh. My.)

Several of the Wickeds have series that include recipes. In my Clock Shop series, there was a natural fit if I featured recipes from the Sleeping Latte. But, then I learned some of the “rules”. The recipe needs to be original. And, since I know I try them on occasion, they need to taste good. I bake, and cook, but I couldn’t take the pressure.

For my Theater Cop series, a food tie in doesn’t really work as well. Though, I did mention cinnamon and sugar french fries with a cream cheese frosting dip that I thought sounded pretty interesting in book 2, which will be out next September. I totally made them up, so the recipe isn’t in the book.

I am writing a new series (stay tuned), and I’m not sure if I’m going to have recipes. But I do find myself mentioning food a lot, just in case. I plan to have the nieces help me develop a couple to see if I can pull it off. We’ll see how it goes.

Today, my question for you dear readers, do you like cozies with recipes? Do you try them? Trust them? Should I try and pull this off? Let me know in the comments!

Wicked Wednesday: SINC-Up

Sisters in Crime is sponsoring a September SINC-Up, to spread the good word about good books and their authors. They suggested a few questions, so we’ve selected one for this one and one for the following week. Part of it is also to link to another author’s or authors’ blog, so each of us is doing that, too. The guidelines are here, if you’d like to take part. Just be sure to tweet your link using the hashtag #SinC-up or #SinCBlogHop and include @SINCnational.

The question for today is:

Which male authors write great women characters? Which female authors write great AndGrantYouPeace-final-4male characters?

Edith: I love Kate Flora‘s Joe Burgess. Also Susan Oleksiw‘s Joe Silva. Both of these police officers are human, fully drawn, conflicted men I could like (a lot) in real life, and they don’t spend much (if any) time commenting on women’s legs and boobs. And I’m holding off on answering the first part, because my stupid brain is refusing to cooperate! Or more likely, it’s that I don’t read male authors much because they don’t write great female characters. But I’m glad to be proven wrong by the rest of you, readers included.

For those of you who love to eat, my SINC-Up this week is the  Mystery Lover’s Kitchen blog – new recipes by mystery authors (including regular Wickeds contributor Sheila Connolly) every day!

Jessie: While not a mystery author, I believe Wally Lamb writes women incredibly well. In fact, while I was reading She’s Come Undone I kept turning to the author photo to try to convince myself the author was not a woman. In the mystery world I think Alan Bradley of Flavia de Luce fame does a wonderful job crafting an authentic voice for a young girl.

As to women writing men well, I feel unqualified to answer. I’d like to think the protagonist in Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants rings true for men. The men in that book with smaller roles felt vivid and believable to me too.

For a blog recommendation I’d like to mention Dru’s Book Musing. She has regular guests, giveaways and reviews. Check it out for yourself!

AlexanderMcCallSmithBarb: For a man who writes women well, I’m going with Alexander McCall Smith. From Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, to Isabel Dalhousie to the horrid little girl Olive from the 44 Scotland Street series, they all ring, in some cases hilariously, true. Smith is generous toward all his characters, no matter what their foibles, which is an inspiration to me.

longwayhomeOf course, women have written male detectives from the beginning, from Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot to Dorothy L. Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey to P.D. James’ Dalgliesh to Ruth Rendell’s Wexford. Continuing in that tradition, I have to give my shout out to Louise Penny. Her Gamache has that larger than life edge that makes him a great protagonist, but I often find her portrayal of Jean-Guy Beauvoir most affecting.

Great blog recommendations, Edith and Jessie–two of my faves. I can’t let this first round go by without mentioning the Jungle Red Writers, who have, in one way or another, inspired all the Wicked Cozys.

Edith: Agree about Alexander McCall Smith! Love the Ladies Number One Detective Agency books.

Liz: Harlan Coben does a great job writing women. He’s spot on every time. I just listened to the audiobook of Hold Tight and while he does a great job in all the characters’ heads, the female protagonist is amazingly well done, as are the secondary women characters he writes in this standalone.

As far as women writing men, there are so many to choose from! I do love Julia Spencer-Fleming‘s Russ Van Alstyne in her long-standing series. These books are hauntingly captivating, and while the plots are terrific, it’s the characters that drive the books.

Along with the three blogs above, I also love Killer Characters, a fun blog spanning a wide range of authors including our own Jessie Crockett with a regular gig. All posts are written from a character’s perspective. Check it out!

Sherry: I love J.A. Jance’s J.P. Beaumont series set in Seattle. He’s flawed and authentic. Craig Johnson does a great job portraying Victoria Moretti and other women in his Longmire series. I’m so excited he will be at Crime Bake this year. Barbara Ross also blogs on the great Maine Crime Writers blog. It is about so much more than Maine and crime writing!

Julie: Late to the party, but jumping in. I always liked Robert B. Parker’s women, especially Susan. In thinking about it, it may be seeing her through Spenser’s eyes, but she had such an impact on the series. As for a blog to hop to, the Cozy Chicks are a very fun group!

Readers: add your response!