I’m delighted to be featuring American author Elizabeth Varadan today as she steps into my author spotlight. Thanks for joining me Elizabeth. First of all, would you tell my blog readers a little about yourself?
I was born in Reno, Nevada, but we moved a lot, mostly in California, so I consider myself a Californian. My husband and I live in Midtown, Sacramento, a quiet, tree-lined area that feels almost like a village plunked down in the city. We love the fact that we can walk to cafes, bookstores, art galleries, the cleaners, you name it.
I’m a former teacher and have always loved the written word. I’m an avid reader, can never leave a library or book store empty-handed, and I’ve been scribbling stories and poetry all my life. A few years ago, I retired to write full time–children’s fiction, poetry, adult stories and novels.
What inspired you to start writing?
I really was inspired at home. We were a reading family, and my mother loved to write. She was a single mom, though, raising two kids, so she couldn’t really devote herself to it. But I would see her typing into the night on a rented typewriter, and I got the writing bug, too. She would let me use the typewriter when she was doing other things, and then would praise my efforts.
Tell me about your journey to publication
As I mentioned, earlier, I’ve been scribbling stories and poetry all my life. But, watching my mother’s struggles, I knew I wanted a steady career doing something I loved equally. Teaching fit the bill. I was too busy as a teacher to do much writing, but I would squeeze some in during vacations. Then, when I thought of taking early retirement a few years ago to write full time, my husband was very supportive. I took a few workshops, classes, read lots of books on writing, joined writing groups, and started sending things out. A few stories got published. A couple of poems. I self-published an MG fantasy one year and it did well, but I decided I really wanted to go through publishers. Luckily, I found two publishers who liked my work, and have had four books published so far. It all happened slowly, but steadily. My husband and I have travelled to Braga, Portugal several times, and it seemed like a fun place to set a mystery, so that’s the setting for my latesst.
In a nutshell, what is your latest book about?
Deadly Vintage is a cozy mystery about wine fraud. Carla, an interior designer, is in Braga, Portugal, while her husband oversees a hotel-chain start up for his employer. She buys a bottle of Port, but at home discovers a very expensive bottle has been given to her by mistake. When she tries to return it, she finds the wine-seller dead behind the counter. She becomes a suspect in the eyes of the detective on the case, and a target of more than one person criminally involved in the case.
How did you come up with the title for your book?
Because it involves a very old, very expensive Port wine, I wanted “vintage” in the title. And, since it’s a cozy mystery involving the death of someone connected with the wine, Deadly Vintage just came to me.
How did you celebrate publication day?
Deadly Vintage was released the last day of November, and my husband bought flowers and a bottle of champagne to celebrate. Then we went out to dinner.
Do you have a work in progress just now?
Yes, I do. I’m working on Book Two in what I hope to be a trilogy. The grand opening for the remodelled hotel is in a few months, which leaves time for two more deaths after Deadly Vintage, lol.
What’s your favourite book you’ve read in the past few months? Or favourite three if you really can’t choose!
I do have two favourites in recent months. I just finished Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens. It’s an awesome literary mystery that unfolds so beautifully, with such artistry in the writing, I still can’t get over it. I will definitely read it more than once. A second book I enjoyed (and did read twice) is Geri Schear’s A Biased Judgement. I’m a Sherlock Holmes fan. I love any pastiche involving the Great Detective. This one is delightful, because we get to see Sherlock falling in love as only he could–completely in denial that it’s happening. The book is so well-written, and the characters so well-drawn, and the mystery is so well-crafted. I highly recommend it.
What are you reading just now?
I was able Friday evening (January 31st) to attend a program featuring Pam Houston and someone reading an excerpt from her latest book, which is non-fiction. The writing was terrific. But, despite her fame, I hadn’t read a single book by her, so I decided to start with the story collection that made her famous, and bought Cowboys Are My Weakness. I’ve been reading it off and on this weak-end and enjoying it very much.
If you were on Desert Island Discs, what one book would you take with you?
I would never be able to narrow it down to one book!
Is there a book you’d like to see made into a film? Who would be in your dream cast?
I would love to see Mrs. Hudson and the Malabar Rose made into a movie. It’s a very witty Sherlock Holmes mystery by Martin Davies, where Mrs. Hudson, the housekeeper, solves the mystery, while Sherlock Holmes thinks he’s solving it from all the clues she drops. I honestly can’t imagine who the cast would be, though.
How can people follow you or connect with you on social media?
I have two blogs: http://elizabethvaradansfourthwish.blogxpot.com
A third, through WordPress: https://elizabethvaradan.wordpress.com basically reposts some of my posts on my Fourth Wish blog, because I can connect with and follow different bloggers, and I wanted to experiment with the different format.
I’m also on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elizabethvaradan (my Timeline)
and I’m on Twitter: https://twitter.com/4thWishVaradan
And finally, if you could be a character in any book you have read, who would it be and why?
I don’t think I’d want to be any of the characters in the books I read. I read mysteries, but I wouldn’t want to discover a dead body. And I read books with serious themes and unhappy characters, so I wouldn’t want to be one of them, either, lol.
Deadly Vintage is available as an ebook and in paperback. You can order a copy online here: Deadly Vintage
From the back of the book
Carla Bass, an interior decorator and wannabe sleuth, moves to Braga, Portugal, for her husband’s career.
When a nervous wine seller accidentally slips a bottle of Port into Carla’s bag, she later attempts to return it to him – only to find his body slumped behind the counter. The last person to see him alive, she’s forced to remain in the country and decides to do a little investigating on her own.
Discovering that the bottle was a family heirloom stolen from a retired banker, she realises it may be the key that unlocks the case – and falls headfirst into a conspiracy. In way over her head and with her own life in peril, Carla refuses to give in before the mystery is solved.
Will she discover exactly how and why the wine seller died? And more importantly, will she escape with her life?