A Cajun Christmas Killing: A Cajun Country Mystery
by Ellen Byron
THE PULP AND MYSTERY SHELF!
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A Cajun Christmas Killing: A Cajun Country Mystery
3rd in Series
Crooked Lane Books (October 10, 2017)
Hardcover: 304 pages
E-Book ASIN: B06XW23LPG
Maggie Crozat is back home in bayou country during the most magical time of the year. In Pelican, Louisiana, Christmastime is a season of giant bonfires on the levee, zydeco carols, and pots of gumbo. Except, this year, the Grinch has come to stay at the family-run Crozat Plantation B&B. When he floods travel websites with vicious reviews, Maggie thinks she’s identified him as rival businessman Donald Baxter. That is, until he’s found stabbed to death at Maggie’s workplace. And Maggie and her loved ones become top suspects.
The Crozats quickly establish alibis, but Maggie’s boyfriend, Detective Bo Durand, remains under suspicion. With Bo sidelined during the investigation, Maggie finds herself forced to work with an unlikely ally: longtime family enemy Rufus Durand. Her sleuthing uncovers more suspects than drummers drumming, and lands her in the crosshairs of the murderer.
The sleigh bells are jingling, and the clock is ticking for Maggie and Rufus, who must catch the killer or it will be the opposite of a Joyeux Noël in A Cajun Christmas Killing, the recipe-stuffed third installment of USA Today bestselling author Ellen Byron’s Cajun Country mysteries.
Interview With The Author
What initially got you interested in writing? My dad was a Mad Man. I was Sally Draper growing up, visiting my father at all the advertising agencies that inspired the show, Mad Men. He always thought I should write, but I wanted to be an actress. Oh, I wrote bad poetry all through high school, but that was about it. Then in my mid-twenties, I got the chance to join the Actors Equity union. That sounds great, but it means I couldn’t do non-union theatre. And since Holly Hunter and Ellen Barkin were getting all the roles I auditioned for, I had a lot of free time on my hands. I wrote a play, submitted it to a theatre, which snapped it up for a reading. I wrote more plays, they got produced and published, and I was a writer. I supported myself as a freelance magazine journalist until I moved to Los Angeles, where I’ve had a fruitful career as a sitcom writer/producer.
What genres do you write in? As an author, I only write mysteries, both traditional and cozy. I’m currently also writing a stand-alone that I’ll call a traditional suspense.
What drew you to writing these specific genres? I LOVE mysteries. I’ve read them since I was a kid. Yes, I’m another woman whose love of the genre began with Nancy Drew. Then when I was fourteen and commuting to Manhattan for a six-week acting program at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, I needed books to read on the train ride and discovered Agatha Christie. I think I’d read every one of her books by the end of the acting program
How did you break into the field? A mystery author I know, Denise Hamilton, happened to mention she was going to a convention called ThrillerFest. I wondered if there was something similar for cozy and traditional mysteries. I did a Google search and found the Malice Domestic Convention. I saw they had a grant program, applied for one, and won. You Can Never Be Too Thin or Too Dead, the book I wrote that won the grant, has yet to sell but it got me my agent, and while it was on submission, I wrote Plantation Shudders, the first book in my Cajun Country Mystery series. And that did sell. So here I am!
What do you want readers to take away from reading your works? I’d love the takeaway to be that Cajun Country is a fascinating region with a wonderfully diverse and unique culture. I’d love my readers to feel like my books are a mini-vacation – albeit with murder! But justice and goodness will always triumph in the end, at least in my books.
What do you find most rewarding about writing? I get such pleasure when I’ve crafted a really great sentence or character description. There’s an odious character named Philip Charbonnet in A Cajun Christmas Killing, and I have to say that I love my description of him: “His sandy hair had thinned, a muffin top spilled over the leather belt holding up his chino pants, and the rosacea blooming on his face and nose warned of a drinking problem. None of this dimmed his arrogance. Philip Charbonnet was a catch, according to himself, and no one was more surprised than he that three wives had already fled his company. “
I also love when readers tell me they were so touched they cried at the end of Body on the Bayou. Ever since I was a playwright, my goal has been to make people both laugh and cry with what I write. It means they were deeply affected by it.
What do you find most challenging about writing? Doing it! There are SO many distractions these days. It takes enormous will power to sign off Facebook and hunker down with a manuscript.
What advice would you give to people wanting to enter the field? Be passionate about your genre and commit to a long end game. It still took me nine months to find a book agent, despite the fact that I have a successful television career. There was more than one day when I put my head down on my desk and wept from a rejection. But I never gave up.
What type of books do you enjoy reading? I love traditional mysteries and non-fiction. I also become obsessed about a subject and read everything I can get my hands on about it. I’ll read anything about the Brontes, the Titanic, the discovery of King Tut’s tomb, and Bernie Madoff. I went through a period where I was fascinated by Houdini, and read about four biographies of him.
Is there anything else besides writing you think people would find interesting about you? I love Bollywood music and dancing. There was a Bollywood dance class at my gym for a while, and I got totally into it. I now have a Bollywood playlist on my phone that I’ll put on and dance to when I’m home alone! Our dogs have no idea what’s going on, but try to dance with me.
What are the best ways to connect with you, or find out more about your work? You can check out my website and email me through it: http://www.ellenbyron.com/. You can also “Like” my Facebook author page, https://www.facebook.com/ellenbyronauthor/
and follow me on Twitter , https://twitter.com/ellenbyronla
Body on the Bayou, the second in Ellen’s Cajun Country Mystery series, won the Left Coast Crime Lefty Award for Best Humorous Mystery, and was nominated for a Best Contemporary Novel Agatha Award. Her debut book in the series, Plantation Shudders, made the USA Today Bestsellers list, and was nominated for Agatha, Lefty, and Daphne awards. Ellen is also a recipient of a William F. Deeck-Malice Domestic Grant from the Malice Domestic Convention. Her TV credits include Wings, Still Standing, and Just Shoot Me, as well as network and cable pilots. As a journalist, she’s written over 200 magazine articles for national publications. Her plays, published by Dramatists Play Service, include the popular Graceland and Asleep on the Wind. A native New Yorker and graduate of Tulane University, Ellen lives in the Los Angeles area with her husband, daughter, and the family’s spoiled rescue dogs.
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September 18 – Bibliophile Reviews – INTERVIEW
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Fun to learn a little more about Ellen, as I have followed this entire series!