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A Chat with Ashton Corners Mystery Author Erika Chase

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Erika Chase pens the Ashton Corners Book Club mysteries for Penguin/Berkley Prime Crime. In an alternate realm Chase is also known as Linda Wiken. As Wiken she owned the mystery bookstore, Prime Crime Books in Ottawa, ON, Canada. Chase is a member of The Ladies’ Killing Circle.

Chase is also a short story writer. Chase’s short stories have appeared in the seven Ladies’ Killing Circle anthologies (three of which she co-edited), and in the magazines Mysterious Intent and Over My Dead Body. Chase has been short-listed for an Arthur Ellis Award, Best Short Story, from Crime Writers of Canada.

Besides writing and reading mysteries, her other passion is choral singing, and she is a member of two choirs. Although, her ultimate passion is chocolate!

Erika, please share how you came up with the concept for your Ashton Corners series?

The series was my editor’s idea — she came up with the book club set in a Southern state and I had fun planning and plotting the murders.

When you’re deeply connected and immersed in a book, Erika, have you ever had a dream that you felt was not your dream?

No, but I do hear voices at times. Fortunately, they’re my character’s voices and always in my head.

Do your characters dream within you?

Not yet. Please don’t give them any ideas!

Have you had a dream that was one of your characters?

I have dreamed about a character, which turned out to be a great way to finally resolve a tricky part in a plot.

What do you love most about the cozy genre?

I love the fact that there are so many elements involved — the characters whom I become quite fond of, the setting which I love researching, and of course, the puzzle and all the red herrings and clues that make up the whole.

Erika, please share the titles of three cozies on your nightstand?

Arsenic and Old Cake by Jaclyn Brady, Threaded for Trouble by Janet Bolin, and Grace Among Thieves by Julie Hyzy.

Who are some of your favorite mystery writers?

I love Andrea Camalleri and being swept away to Sicily each time I pick up a book; also, Zoe Ferraris for her sense of place and culture; Brad Smith because his series always makes me laugh; and, Mary Jane Maffini for the same reason. Of course, P.D. James and Raymond Chandler top the list.

How do you find balance?

My family and choral singing add balance to my life, along with much pleasure.

What is the guilty pleasure you find the naughtiest?

Not sure if I should say…we are discussing cozies, aren’t we? But I will admit to indulging in a chocolate a day, even though I’m not supposed to eat them.

What did you learn about yourself while penning Read and Buried?

How much I’ve gotten to enjoy re-writing. At one time, I dreaded the process but now, I love finding just the right word, re-arranging a phrase, or coming up with an entire new plot twist.

What challenges did you endure while penning Read and Buried?

The major challenge was having to pull myself out of the plot each time there was an editing process or anything related to A Killer Read. It was often difficult to set aside the new story and immerse myself (or even remember) the older one.

What did you learn about yourself while inking A Killer Read?

I was delighted to find that I could stay on track and produce a (somewhat) polished manuscript within nine months.

What fears were you facing with the release of Read and Buried?

That not enough readers who had picked up A Killer Read would want to read the second in the series. Writers are basically very insecure people.

What are you most ambivalent about when you sit down to write your series?

I find I’m most ambivalent towards the end of a novel, when I’m anxious to keep on writing but know that means I’ll soon reach The End.

What do you want your readers to walk away with after reading your books?

A sense of community. I want the friendship and support that’s part of the Ashton Corners Book Club to be evident and enduring.

If you were able to go on a sojourn to Paris with whomever you want (past or present), who do you pick and what are you talking about and dining on?

Having recently read A Paris Wife by Paula McLain, I’d love to have dinner with Hadley Richardson Hemingway and hear more stories about her impressions of Paris, the fascinating people they met, and her life with Ernest Hemingway.

Thank you so very much, Erika.

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