The Right Ingredients for a Delicious Read

When the meanest gossip in Brea Ridge dies mysteriously, suspicions turn to cake decorator Daphne Martin. And all she’d done was deliver a cake…”

Gayle Trent writes the Daphne Martin Cake Decorating Mystery series for Bell Bridge Books. The second book in that series is Dead Pan. Both Thorndike and the English publisher BBC Audiobooks will be releasing the first book in that series, Murder Takes the Cake, in large-print, hardcover format in the coming year.

Gayle also writes an embroidery series under the pseudonym Amanda Lee for NAL/Penguin. The first book in that series is due to be released in August of 2010.

1. Tell us about Dead Pan.
Dead Pan is the second book in the Daphne Martin Cake Decorating Mystery Series. When the book opens, a police officer is questioning Daphne about a cake she took to the Brea Ridge Pharmaceutical Company Christmas party.  Many people at the party got sick, but most recovered after being treated with a vaccine manufactured by the company. Only one, Fred Duncan, went into a coma and died. Coincidence? Or did somebody have it in for Fred?

2. What would you like to overhear people saying about your book?
“I laughed so hard when–” A local book club selected Murder Takes the Cake as one of their books; and when I attended the meeting, I was delighted to hear that they thought this or that part was funny. I also love it when people say, “I never guessed ______ was the villain.” Also, there was a review where a woman said she loved the main character’s relationships with various members of her family–that they were beautifully or realistically drawn. I felt like, “Oooh, she got it!” Actually, I’ll take anything that’s not negative. 🙂

3. What inspired you to write Dead Pan?
I was reading an article in Wired magazine about clinical drug tests. I did some further investigation, and I came across some fascinating stuff.

4. What do you advise new writers to do?

Read the genre they’re interested in writing. For instance, when my agent pitched my first three chapters of the embroidery mystery to the editor, the editor said she liked it but didn’t love it. I needed to revise it to make her love it in order for her to buy the book. I asked my agent who the editor had published recently. With two names in hand, I went to the bookstore and bought two books. I read them and found they were more descriptive than my own books. I went back, added more description and gave the heroine a bit more spunk, and the book sold. Sometimes you have to be flexible.

5.  Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

1) There is a feral cat who comes to visit us on holidays. We’re pretty sure he belongs to somebody because he’s always well fed. We think we’re his “other family.” We first realized his penchant for visiting on holidays when he came and cried at our door on Mother’s Day. He came back for Memorial Day and Father’s Day, and so on. Sometimes he’ll drop by for a visit, and we have to check the calendar to see what holiday it is.

2) I have an adorable cartoon Debbie Ridpath Ohi did of me with a cake (for “Murder Takes the Cake”) when her blog InkyGirl hosted me on my blog tour. The cartoon is framed and hanging above my desk. I figure I’ll never look that good in a picture again!

3) I once got to interview the famous criminalist Dr. Henry Lee via telephone for an article which appeared in Law and Order Magazine.

6. Favorite quote

“It’s not enough to stare up the steps. You must step up the stairs.” – Vance Havner

7. Do you have any funny writing stories to share?

I once tried to “write” using my laptop’s voice recognition feature while baking brownies and peeling potatoes. Great multi-tasking, right? BUT, there is a drawback to using voice technology gadgets when you have a Southern drawl. Although, the exercise helped me get unblocked and continue on through the chapter I was struggling with, the computer misunderstood most of what I said. AND, to add insult to injury, when I read back over what it said and laughed, the computer translated that as “a a a a a a a a.”

8. What exactly is a cozy mystery?

Cozy mysteries usually take place in a small community and involve a relatively small number of people. The reader knows that someone within the intimate group will turn out to be the killer. Think Desperate Housewives with one of the cast turning out to be the killer as opposed to Criminal Minds or CSI. Cozy mysteries also feature an amateur sleuth as opposed to a professional detective, and the heroine has an interesting profession or hobby.

9. Do you decorate cakes?

I do decorate cakes but I’m nowhere near Daphne’s level! My daughter and I took a Wilton cake decorating class a few years ago, and that’s how Daphne’s profession came about.

Purchasing Information: Books purchased from Bell Bridge Books will be personalized. They  are also available from Amazon.

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Published in: on April 18, 2010 at 11:17 pm  Comments (14)  
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14 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. It’s so interesting learning more about authors. Gayle I love your favorite quote by Vance Havner.

    Wonderful post, Heidi.

  2. I love Gayle’s books and I love cake! Great combination.

  3. Never mess with a cake decorator. That’s always been my philosophy. They look harmless, but if you cross them you may turn up as one of the ingredients in a large wedding cake. Just kidding. Its been a long weekend.

    Stephen Tremp

    • Have you seen the website CakeWrecks (it’s http://www.cakewrecks.com). It’s so funny how professional decorators can get their instructions messed up or just turn out some really weird creations! So, you’re right, Stephen, don’t mess with cake decorators. They can, at the very least, ruin your special day! LOL!

  4. “Cake decorator” is a fantastic idea of a main character’s career 🙂 Sounds like a great read! 🙂

  5. Great post! I enjoyed learning more about Gayle and her mystery series.

  6. I love your quote. “It’s not enough to stare up the steps. You must step up the stairs.” – Vance Havner

    Martha Swirzinski

  7. Thanks, everyone, for stopping by and offering your encouragement!

  8. What a clever idea for a mystery!

  9. (an aside — I LOVE Cakewrecks — when good cakes go wrong; it’s hilarious!) Great review! I love good cozy series (although that’s not what I write…) and will certainly be looking for this one now! It sounds like the books will both be great reads. Thank you Heidi for the introduction to, for me, a new writer; and thank you, Gayle, for doing the interview and leading me to your books!
    Lori Orser

  10. Great interesting article. It’s always nice to meet a new author (to me). Good luck with your career!

  11. What a wonderful interview! I love InkyGirl’s blog — loved the anecdote about the cartoon of yourself hanging above your writing desk!

    Keep up the great work!
    All best,
    Dallas

    http://dallaswoodburn.blogspot.com/

  12. This was a great interiew! Love your mysteries!

  13. Thanks to all of you who stopped by today and left a reply! I too love the idea of cake decorating mysteries! What fun! Thank you, Gayle, for sharing with us!


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