Cleo Coyle, author of Holiday Grind (December 16-30)
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I just want to say how much I enjoy the coffeehouse mysteries. They're kind of cozies with a bit of edge!
Hi there. Cleo Coyle here. Thank you to adeptmagic for the comment above mine. What a lovely way to kick off these two weeks... :)
If you have read one or both of my mystery series, feel free to skip my intro (below) and post a comment or question. I'll be chatting through December 30. Happy Holidays!
For those of you who do not know me: I write two nationally best-selling mystery series in collaboration with my husband.
Series #1: The Coffeehouse Mysteries. These “culinary themed” amateur sleuth novels are set in a landmark coffeehouse in Greenwich Village. The books have hit multiple #1 positions on the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association paperback list and the debut hardcover last year, Espresso Shot, earned a starred review from Library Journal and became a national bestseller. The latest book in the series, Holiday Grind, hit two national lists in its first week of release.
Series #2: The Haunted Bookshop Mysteries. A young widow runs a Rhode Island bookstore haunted by a hardboiled PI who was gunned down in her shop sixty years before. Together they’ve solved a number of puzzling murders. “Philip Marlowe meets Miss Marple” is how one reviewer described this series, and I do consider both of those legendary detectives inspirations.
If you have not read my work, I would still enjoy hearing your thoughts on the following: The 18th century gastronome Brillat-Savarin said, “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.” This quote inspired the first chapter of my new mystery Holiday Grind.
So what are you eating this holiday season? Do any of those foods hold a special place in your memories? What are your favorite foods? When you think back on important times of your life, was food a part of it?
Food...oh, my, what a topic! I'll start with my favorite ingredient: garlic.
A couple of years ago, my gadget-oriented husband insisted we get an electric garlic roaster (like this one: http://www.amazon.com/Roasted-Garlic-Express-2d-White/dp/B000BRGN30). I thought "well, here's a fad that won't last." Surprisingly, it's still going strong and we use it at least once a week.
I love garlic. Roasted or sauteed, sliced, diced, pureed...you name it.
by Cleo Coyle
an old Vampire mythos
now freshly roasted
in the true Italian style
Just wanted to let you know that I booktalked Holiday Grind yesterday with a group of librarians at our holiday potluck. And, one of the other librarians there had read it, and raved about your recipes.
Cookies for Christmas - I loved my mother and grandmother's cutouts, with anise in them. I don't make them because my husband doesn't like anise. I make his family recipe, which is fine, because I don't eat them then. (grin) But, the cookie that smells like Christmas for me, bringing back those memories, is gumdrop bars. Mom and Grandma made them. I've made them once. They're a lot of work, so now I just wait until I get a box of them from my mother every year at Christmas. And, I open them up, stick my nose in the box, and it brings back Christmas.
Here's a memory for me. My husband, John, when we first got married, had a mild allergy to garlic. He would break out in a mild rash whenever he would eat even a little garlic. It didn't stop me from cooking with garlic, I figured it was a form of desensitization. Anyway, we were visiting my Mamaw (that's grandmother for you Yankees) who had just harvested some elephant garlic. Think garlic the size of a medium onion. She was peeling the cloves and the smell was heavenly, a very delicate garlic. John decided it smelled so delicious, he took an entire clove and ate it like an apple. Well. let's just say that if his allergy had been any more severe, I think he would have stopped breathing. His eyes bugged out and he must have coughed for 5 minutes (life-saving hint: if the person is coughing, he's still breathing, so he was okay..sort of) and yes, he broke out in a full body set of hives. The attack of hives faded after a couple of hours, but that ended the garlic taste test. Today, he can eat garlic with the best of use, but he still won't eat it raw!
Hi Cleo: I've read the first two books in the coffeeshop series but intend to skip ahead to read Holiday Grind very soon. I love holiday mysteries!!
I didn't realize that you have a second series. I'll have to look for those.
Reply to LesaHolstine -
Superior news on the booktalk potluck, which by now is pretty famous. I'm truly honored to have been a part of your discussion, especially because it included the discussion of (as well as the consuming of) food, lol!
Your anise comment made me smile because anise is indeed an acquired taste as well as a very common flavor note in Italian cuisine, especially cookies. My late (Italian born) Aunt Mary, whom I still love very much (because love does not stop after death), made anise pizzelle every Christmas. At one point, however, she began to realize that her American friends preferred a more familiar flavor so she began making vanilla pizzelle for them. I have an antique pizzelle iron (one that's not electric) and hope to make some the Old World way - and blog about it - next year. (Just ran out of time this year, lol!)
The gumdrop cookies sound intriguing! I hope you'll guest blog again at MLK and share that recipe. I really loved your post on the buckeye candy. I think you still hold the record for number of comments!
For anyone who wants Lesa's recipe for this decadent chocolate and peanut butter treat, click this link:
The link will take you to "MLK" aka Mystery Lovers Kitchen.com - http://www.MysteryLoversKitchen.com, a group blog where six mystery writers who usually cook up crime are also cooking up recipes.
Reply to aardvark2 -
Hey there - nice aardvark pic on your profile, lol!
My first job (at the age of 12) was serving coffee -- just like my amateur sleuth Clare Cosi. Also like her, I grew up in a blue collar neighborhood outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and worked food service jobs through my teen and college yeas. So when I write about serving customers at retail, it comes from personal experience.
When I came to NYC, just after graduating Carnegie Mellon U, I began my career as a working writer. I'd published articles all through college; won some nice awards for my poetry and essays; and completed a journalism program at American University in Washington, D.C., which included a working internship at The Federal Times. All of this contributed to my landing a cub reporter's spot at The New York Times. I worked 24/7 during those early years: days on the metro and national desks and nights writing articles or contributing to senior reporters' pieces. Then they switched me to a 4 to midnight shift and I knew what medical residents felt like!
During that period, I lived in a tiny apartment in Alphabet City. At the time, it was a low income neighborhood in the far eastern part of the East Village. FYI - The East Village is just a stone's throw from the legendary neighborhood of Greenwich Village, where my fictional sleuth Clare Cosi runs her landmark Village Blend coffeehouse. (Just like Clare, I could not -- and still cannot -- afford to live in the West Village, which has among the highest rents in NYC.)
Although my apartment was Lilliputian and sat across from a park that was (at the time) a haven for crack dealers, it also sat two floors above a small, no-frills bakery called Bread and Roses. The women who ran the bakery served coffee in the mornings, and I truly enjoyed the smells of the bakery and the friendliness of that little shop.
For years, I've haunted New York coffeehouses and learned from those working in them and running them. The now defunct Peacock Cafe was one of my favorites, and my husband and I had our very first date in a coffeehouse, too, at La Lanterna, in the West Village, which boasts two fireplaces, just like my fictional Village Blend. So I think you can see where my inspiration and affection comes from: New York coffeehouses are very close to my heart.
Still, the "coffee research" I do for my Coffeehouse Mysteries goes a lot farther than simply drawing from my own experience. As you can see in the acknowledgment pages of French Pressed, Espresso Shot, and Holiday Grind, I thank a number of professionals in the coffee trade for sharing their knowledge and experience with me.
Click the link below to read an example of a recent interview I did with Kevin Cuddeback, founder and CEO of New York's Gimme Coffee, which was named by Food and Wine magazine as one of the top coffee bars in the USA.
Well, I guess I've gassed on enough! Thanks sincerely for your question, aardvark2!
Reply to -
(aka the midnight punster)...
Love the garlic story. I am ROTFL. No kidding though -- I never knew there *was* such a thing as a garlic allergy. This is valuable foodie fiction information, thank you for sharing!
Reply to LindaPanzo -
Hi, Linda! Thank you for dropping by. I am so happy to hear that you are reading and enjoying my Coffeehouse Mysteries. I hope you like Holiday Grind, as well.
The "Ghost" mysteries, as I call them, are a blast to write. Devoted readers love them, but I have to warn you, they are an acquired taste for some.
Many of my Coffeehouse Mystery readers equally enjoy my Haunted Bookshop Mysteries (aka "ghost" mysteries), but some of them have said they just don't like reading about a ghost PI who steps right out of the pages of Chandler and Spillane. So if you don't like my ghost mysteries, don't sweat it. Every reader does not have to connect with every book. (IMO - The most important thing for the health and longevity of the book publishing industry is that readers be encouraged to find the authors and books that truly speak to them.)
BTW: After you read Holiday Grind, you might have fun taking a look at the Reading Guide for the book. The link to the get the free guide (in a PDF doc) is now posted in the upper right column of my Web site, here:
The Holiday Grind Reading Guide was created to help lead a group through a discussion of the book, but individual readers might find it interesting to consider, as well.
WARNING: My advice to you is to read the book itself before looking at the Guide. There are no *major* spoilers in the questions, but if you read them closely, some smaller surprises will be given away. So, again, read Holiday Grind first.
I also have Reading Guides posted for some of the earlier books in my series. Links to get these can be found in the upper right column of my site, as well:
MESSAGE BOARD: If you don't already know about this, feel free to stop by my official Message Board. I've had visitors from all over the USA, Canada, UK, Germany, and Japan. It's a fun place to hang out with a cuppa joe.
You can get to my message board by clicking on the little green chalk board in the right column of my site.
Cheers and thanks again for dropping by!
I just posted my recipe for Colonial Cranberries, based on an entry in John Adams' 18th century journal...
Nice update today...
Foodbuzz, an international online community of amateur and professional cooks, just selected my post (hot link below) as the #1 "Top 9" Pick of the day for Sunday, December 20, 2009. Eat with joy!
I started reading your coffeehouse series earlier this year and you were kind enough to send me a signed copy of Holiday Grind (which I am reading right now - I saved it for the season). My sister just loves coffee so I pointed her in your direction and now she reads your books too.
Please keep these books coming!
Thank you for your support! (Does that sound like a politician? Ugh, it does. Let me put it another way...) I TRULY appreciate your kind comment and thank you esp. for reading my books, which is (of course) the highest compliment you can pay any author.
BTW: I grinned at your profile photo! Your baby is adorable. Good thing you're reading Clare Cosi's adventures. Smart to brush up on sleuthing skills for those teen years.
Cheers and thanks again.
(If you keep reading them, I'll keep writing them...)
Thought you might enjoy knowing that I've just ordered my THIRD set of your haunted bookshop series. My friends keep walking off with them! I'm torn between wanting to hide this new set and wanting to share your great stories with others -- so it looks like a fourth set is in the future. You have a lot of fans in the Frederick, MD area.
A little bit of "fan-girl"ish gushing, but I did want to jump on this chance to thank you so much for your Coffeehouse Mysteries. I'm currently a barista, and one of my closest friends is an ex-barista. She and I love the series, and pass the books back and forth on an embarrassingly regular basis.
Clare Cosi is a great character, and your writing is amazing. I really enjoyed Holiday Grind. Where do you get the ideas on how to integrate murder and coffee? What ever you do, it works well. Please keep them coming!
I enjoyed your Coffeehouse Mysteries so much that I gave the books to my mother, and she is absolutely enthralled by them! She won't loan them to friends because she's afraid she won't get them back. She was born and raised in New York and enjoys the setting of the books. She loves Clare, Madame and Quinn and wants to give Matt a swift kick! (She's a feisty 82 year old!)
I just started the Haunted Bookshop series, I like them and I suppose I'll be passing them along to Mom, too. Since she's not mobile anymore and isn't internet savvy, I've become her book dealer.
Thanks for all the hours of enjoyment we have both found in your books.
I see this chat discusses your coffee house mysteries, but I was wondering if you would be willing to talk about your Haunted Bookshop Mysteries? I just finished The Ghost and Mrs. McClure, and posted a blog on my Carpebiblio Blog. I saw in an author bio on the web that you did ghost hunting while in Rhode Island, are you still doing these kind of things?
I have one of your coffee books but I love your haunted bookshop books. I have read all but the last and they are great. Also, I use bookmooch and your books go so fast. Thanks for them.
Reply to raxwulf -
I am grinning at your story of the books "walking off" and immediately flashed on this jaw-dropping animation from the New Zealand Book Council. (Just click the link below to see what I mean...)
Thank you sincerely for your very kind words about my Haunted Bookshop series. You are lucky to live in the great state of Maryland. I am thrilled to hear that some of its gracious residents are happy readers of my books, and might I suggest a LoJack for your next set of Alice Kimberly mysteries?
Happy New Year!
~ Cleo Colye (aka Alice Kimberly)
Reply to MissWoodhouse1816 -
First of all, barista props to you and your friend! I am always absolutely thrilled to hear that baristas are reading and enjoying my work. Thank you for letting me know.
Your query: How do I get the ideas for integrating murder and coffee? A great question...
I could go on and on, but I'll try to keep it brief. Here in New York City, coffee shops are constantly, brewing, pouring, and pulling for municipal workers, especially paramedics, firefighters, and (of course) cops. That fact alone has spurred my imagination for countless connections to tales linking coffee and crime.
After years living in the Big Apple -- and working as a journalist here -- true stories have also contributed to my idea vault: from a bomb going off at a Starbucks to two detectives coaxing a confession (over a cuppa coffee shop joe) out of a woman who murdered her employer.
It's no wonder I have more ideas than I can possibly write simply because (to paraphrase a famous 1948 film) there are millions of stories in my "Naked City," the ones I tell are only a few of them...
To enjoy a *virtual* flight over 1940's New York City, click this link to the opening of the 1948 noir film The Naked City
Happy New Year
and thank you again for reading my books!
Reply to ctpete -
Your note made my day.
I am tickled neon pink that you AND your 82 years young mom are enjoying my Coffeehouse books. As some reviewers have noted, New York City itself is practically a character in my books so it's a pleasure for me to hear that your mom, who was born and raised in the city, is finding enjoyment revisiting her town through the eyes of Clare, Madame, Quinn, and Matt. Swift kick noted for the latter, but I don't think even that would change his Tom-catting ways. LOL!
Also, so glad to hear that you're dealing in a legal substance.
Happy New Year and...
Read with joy!
Reply to BruceSmith -
Thank you for dropping by! I just left a comment on your blog review. Thank you for posting it -- and even including a hot link to this chat. So sweet and thoughtful of you. Much appreciated.
Smiling at your noticing my love of "ghost hunting" as I call it. No, I don't do the kind that you see on the SciFi channel with thermo-imaging devices. What I do enjoy is visiting locations rumoured to be haunted, and there are indeed plenty of inspiring ghost tales in Rhode Island, where my Haunted Bookshop series is set.
My kind of ghost hunting is a wonderful hobby. Many cities have ghost walking tours, and this is a unique way to learn about a new place. You inevitably hear a lot of fascinating history with the tour, many of the sites are historical landmarks, and (really) who doesn't love a good ghost story?
(FYI - The two links below are fun examples of "ghost hunting" in New York...)
Ghosts of NY Walking Tours site:
Thank you again, Bruce...
Happy New Year!
~ Cleo Coyle
(aka Alice Kimberly)
Reply to donna47 -
Thank you for the lovely note. I love my Haunted Bookhop characters. They are pure joy to write (if not "channel" - LOL!). So I'm especially happy to hear the receiving end is working out for you!
Happy New Year
& Happy Reading...
I haven't read all the Coffeehouse mysteries, YET, but was wondering if Madame gets more involved or if you've thought about getting her more involved?
Your quote should read, "tell me what coffee you drink and I will tell you what you are." I love Claire trying to find the best new blend for the holidays. I set myself down with a nice cup of Christmas Blend and got ready to read. Alas, they all came back from skiing and dinner was the next order of business.
I hope to start a mystery readers library with our office staff starting with the Coffee House Mysteries. Adult or student, I am sure they will love to get reading these mysteries. Takes on new meaning for a "coffee break."
Dear Ms Coyle,
Thanks so much for your "Coffeehouse" Mysteries - you've achieved a great blend of information, humour, plot and (most importantly) character, I loved Espresso Shot and am really looking forward to Holiday Grind!
No questions, except... HOW long will we have to wait before a TV network wises up and adapts them for the screen? :)
Happy Holidays, home girl!
It was great reading your posts here and learning more about you. (How cool you graduated from CMU and worked at the Times!).
I think a TV adaptation or movie series about the Coffeehouse mysteries would be grand. :o)
All the best and continued success!
Just wanted to add another thank you to the forum - I have several of the coffeehouse books and the first two haunted bookshop books and I love both series! I enjoy the coffee information, even though I don't drink it - I'm allergic to coffee, but I'm a serious tea freak. 'Tis very hard to get hold of your books in my part of the world, thank goodness for the internet. And your books get swapped around among my friends here quite a lot.
You made my list of favourite titles on my blog not long ago! http://eclecticitee.wordpress.com/2009/12/19/and-the-title-is/
(Re: your question about comfort food...my mom started a tradition with me that I've continued with my daughter - our own version of mac-n-cheese. Wide flat noodles cooked up and a bunch of cottage cheese dumped in and mixed in so it partially melts, add salt and for some reason it's the best comfort food around.)
Thanks again for the enjoyment and I'm looking forward to more adventures in both series!
I just wanted to say that I love the Coffee House Mysteries. I have read all of them. I have bought the first in the Haunted Bookshop series, but I haven't had a chance to read it yet.
Thank you for the links and the nice comment on my blog. I did the carriage ghost tour in Savannah, GA one year at Christmas time. I highly recommend it. The city was decorated in Holiday spirit and the tour provided an interesting history for the area. They have some neat irish pubs, and a great artsy coffee house/cafe affiliated with the Art School.
Have a Happy New Year,
Reply to cyderry -
Madame is one of my favorite characters. As you read more of the books in my Coffeehouse Mystery series, you will indeed see more of her! If you'd like to read Madame's character profile (and see the Avatar that I created for her), click the link below.
The link will take you to the Recipe page of my Web site. Scroll all the way down, past the recipes, and you will see my "Meet the Village Blend Staff" feature. I enjoy adding new characters from my Coffeehouse series when I have the time. (It's nice that you asked about Madame. She truly is a reader favorite.)
Reply to cats4Jane
Hi "Janeo" - Thank you for stopping by. Grinning at the all-too-familiar scenario, getting all cozy and settled in with your book and a warm beverage and then -- (damn) the doorbell, the phone, the return of the mob.
Reading really is a private oasis and I am honored that you've chosen to share your valuable coffee breaks with Clare, Madame, Matt, Mike and the rest of the Coffeehouse Mystery cast.
LOVE the idea of a mystery readers library in an office coffee break room. My books are indeed the kind you read for a break -- a nice, cup of escape with characters that (hopefully) become friends.
Thanks for posting. I hope you'll keep in touch via my site's message board to let me know if it works out!
Happy New Year and...
bibliotheque - LOL! Thank you and I guess we'll just have to wait and see. :)
JanetBoyer - Hey there, JB, thanks for dropping in! Happy New Year to you and your family!
@chana56 - Thank your for the nice mention on your blog. Much appreciated. And thank you especially for reading both of my series. The fact that you're a tea drinker made me smile. It's funny how many non-coffee drinkers still enjoy reading the Coffeehouse Mysteries. I also LOVE your mom's stick-to-your-ribs comfort food recipe. No kidding: Cottage cheese is something I really enjoy eating. Your quick-and-easy dish is a creative way to use it and is now on my must-try recipe list. (Hmmm...I'll bet ricotta and a little dried oregano would be an interesting variation...) Grazie!
vaspitfire - Hi Kim, I am delighted to hear that you've read and enjoyed my Coffeehouse Mysteries. Thank you. As I said above, not all of the CM readers enjoy the HB books, too, but many of them do. I hope you'll be among the latter. But no worries if you aren't, there are plenty more adventures coming featuring Clare, Madame, Matt, Mike and the rest of the Village Blend cast.
BruceSmith - The ghost tour of Savannah that you describe sounds magical. I just added it to my list of wanna-do ghost tours -- with an Irish coffee on the end of it, of course. Cheers!
Happy New Year, Everyone!
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