Thanks so much to Kristi Belcamino for tagging me in The Next Big Thing Blog Hop! Honestly, I was going to have a food post between my agent post and my next writing post, but things have been a little nuts! That said, I promise a recipe soon for those of you who are here to fill your bellies (If you’re hungry, check out my latest post on Lawrence.com). Until then, I’m going to answer a few writerly questions.
What is the working title of your book?
DEAD MEAT (Check out the awesome necklace above from my friend Joy!)
Where did the idea come from for the book?
I’ve been a newspaper food writer since the dawn of 2008, and have spent a ton of time in professional kitchens. I’d written two mystery novels that had reporters as the main characters (don’t ask about them, they’re safe in a drawer where they can’t hurt anybody) but I’d never had those characters do anything with food at all. In fact, most of the time they weren’t eating because they were too involved in the case to actually mind their hunger pangs. Which is very much at odds with my professional life. A publishing industry friend of mine pointed that out over Twitter and suggested the idea of a “foodie thriller.” We discussed how that’s not really a thing, like say a foodie mystery (DEATH BY CHOCOLATE, etc.). So, I set out to write one.
What genre does your book fall under?
DEAD MEAT turned out to have thriller elements but is probably best described as “foodie crime procedural.” Basically, it’s designed make you equally hungry and sick to your tummy while catching a killer.
What’s your book about?
Here’s my little book jacket summation:
The South Florida culinary scene is about as cutthroat as they come. There, restaurants thrive as easily as they die under the harsh scruntiny of billionaire backers, fickle foodie scenesters and a market as saturated as Mario Batali’s arteries. And though Dective Ellis Cash lives off greaseball takeout and vending machine gourmet, even she has seen enough reality TV to know that chefs have more than just improperly cooked shark fin to keep them awake at night.
Still, it’s a shock when a notable chef’s throat is actually slashed and his body mutilated with his own tools in his own high-end West Palm restaurant. A day later, another rising culinary star is found asphyxiated and oven-charred in his poshly appointed Michelin-rated establishment on Palm Beach’s moneyed Worth Avenue.
When Detective Cash is tapped to head up the homicide task force investigating the murders, she’s also charged with drafting ex-cop-turned-culinary-school-professor Chase Bowman onto her team. The temporary partners hit the ground running, trying to outsmart a killer who seems to not only know his way around the very deadliest in kitchen gadgetry, but also appears to be striking daily and at random.
Navigating a veritable stew of knife-wielding chefs, vindictive food editors, ice cold investors and murder scenes grisly enough to make them never want to eat again, Cash and Bowman race to find the killer before he incinerates the Palm Beach restaurant world from the inside out.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Fun question! I have had several beta readers and critique partners ask me who I’d pick, and they all had really good ideas themselves. I had at least two suggest Jennifer Lawrence to play Cash. Though she’s much too young, her spirit and looks are absolutely perfect.
As for Bowman, I have him in my brain as a mashup of Tom Hardy, George Clooney and Clive Owen. But if I truly had to go with one of those three, I’d probably pick Tom Hardy because even though he doesn’t really look like Bowman, he just blows me away. (On a side note: Go see WARRIOR
right now!!! His performance just breaks my heart.)
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the book?
This is a trick question for me because I revise a ton as I go. If I hadn’t taken off about four months off for running and job things, DEAD MEAT would’ve been agent-ready in six months.
What else about your book might pique readers’ interests?
If you love TOP CHEF and CHOPPED like I do, you’ll enjoy a glimpse into the culinary world of South Florida. At the same time, I hope it will also appeal to those who love the whacky/bloody antics of South Florida crime series like the DEXTER books and TV show, Tim Dorsey’s books and the catalog of Carl Hiaasen.
Side note: Having lived in Palm Beach County for nearly four years, I can attest that it is no surprise that Florida can inspire some crazypants writing sprinkled heavily w
ith grains of truth.