Judge Debra H. Goldstein is the author of One Taste Too Many, the first of Kensington’s new Sarah Blair cozy mystery series. She also wrote Should Have Played Poker and 2012 IPPY Award winning Maze in Blue. Her short stories, including Anthony and Agatha nominated “The Night They Burned Ms. Dixie’s Place,” have appeared in numerous periodicals and anthologies including Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Black Cat Mystery Magazine, and Mystery Weekly. Debra is president of Sisters in Crime’s Guppy Chapter, serves on SinC’s national board, and is president of the Southeast Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. Find out more about Debra at www.DebraHGoldstein.com. 

About the book:

For culinary challenged Sarah Blair, there’s only one thing scarier than cooking from scratch—murder!

Married at eighteen, divorced at twenty‑eight, Sarah Blair reluctantly swaps her luxury lifestyle for a cramped studio apartment and a law firm receptionist job in the tired town she never left. With nothing much to show for the last decade but her feisty Siamese cat, RahRah, and some clumsy domestic skills, she’s the polar opposite of her bubbly twin, Emily—an ambitious chef determined to take her culinary ambitions to the top at a local gourmet restaurant.

Sarah knew starting over would be messy. But things fall apart completely when her ex drops dead, seemingly poisoned by Emily’s award-winning rhubarb crisp. Now, with RahRah wanted by the woman who broke up her marriage and Emily wanted by the police for murder, Sarah needs to figure out the right recipe to crack the case before time runs out. Unfortunately, for a gal whose idea of good china is floral paper plates, catching the real killer and living to tell about it could mean facing a fate worse than death—being in the kitchen!

INTERVIEW:

Why don’t you begin by telling us a little about your writing background?

When I was a child, I was the neighborhood kid who made up the skits and wrote the creative pieces for group presentations in school. I dreamed of becoming a writer, but I lacked confidence in my writing abilities. After graduating college, I gave myself eight months to achieve two goals: finding a job in publishing and becoming a Jeopardy contestant. In case things didn’t work out, while I was job hunting during the day, I typed law school applications at night. Eight months later, my two goals accomplished, I decided to go to law school. I became a litigator and a judge who talked about writing fiction, but whose output was dry legal articles, briefs and decisions.

A friend offered me the use of her beach condo for a weekend with the caveat that I use it for a writing weekend or stop talking about wanting to write. During that weekend, I produced eighty-five handwritten pages. From that experience, I realized I had the beginning, middle and end necessary to write the book. After several starts and stops, and only five pages of the original eight-five making it into the book, 2012 IPPY Award winning Maze in Blue was published.

Unfortunately, Maze in Blue was orphaned when the publisher ceased operations. Everyone told me to “write something new.” Should Have Played Poker: a Carrie Martin and the Mah Jongg Mystery and several short stories were the next things I successfully wrote, but I realized I had to make a choice between my lifetime judicial appointment and my passion for writing. I chose passion and haven’t looked back since.

Tell us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write it.

One Taste Too Many is the story of a divorced woman, Sarah Blair, who finds starting over more difficult than she anticipates, but discovers her resiliency and loyalty to family and herself. It is meant to be a fun cozy read with recipes of convenience. I was inspired to write it after my first two books were orphaned. I love cozy mysteries and knew that was what I wanted to write, but my skills for the world of cozies in terms of crafts or cooking were limited. The idea for the Sarah Blair cozy series came to me after my family, including our twins, had an excellent dinner at my sister’s house. I went home realizing how much fun it would be combining what I knew from raising twins with the skills of my sister, who shadowed my mother and became a good cook, versus a character who has a fear of the kitchen like the one I developed while lying on the couch watching Perry Mason.

How would you describe your creative process while writing this book? Was it stream-of-consciousness writing, or did you first write an outline?

I am a pantser. Although I had a general idea of the book’s plot, I relied on listening to the voices of my characters. During the first draft, I tried to consciously push the book in a certain direction, but the result was stilted. I ended up throwing out half of the book and rewriting it as my characters wanted – with a different murderer. When I did that, One Taste Too Many engaged me and apparently did the same for my now agent and Kensington, because they offered me a three-book deal.

What was your goal when writing this book?

My goal when I was writing One Taste Too Many was to write a book that engaged me and that readers would find enjoyable. Reading lets people escape from their everyday world, so my intent is to always make their experience with my writing, even the darker pieces, fun. I’m appreciative of my readers and I hope they find the hours they spend with One Taste Too Many a pleasant distraction.

Describe your working environment.

Like my characters, my working environment for writing has evolved. When I was writing my first book, while still on the bench, I would go upstairs to my personal office between midnight and four a.m. or on weekends to write on a stand-alone computer that sat on the credenza behind my desk. With books lining two sides of the room and show music playing, I wrote. For my second book, I changed the shows I listened to and moved to a comfortable chair in my living room. The contrast between the room’s soft blues and vibrant orange and gold upholstery and rug and its eighty-year old mahogany furniture energized and calmed me while I worked. My last surviving parent, my mother, died while I was writing One Taste Too Many. I moved the only possession I wanted – an oversized chair and ottoman mother had designed for my father’s long legs from California to my bedroom in Alabama. I kept show music in the background, but I wrote One Taste Too Many in that chair. Consequently, the best description for my working environment is that I’m a nomad who writes wherever depending upon my mood.

Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?

My personal blog, It’s Not Always a Mystery, is published every other Monday. I write one post a month for it and introduce my subscribers to guest bloggers who range from unknown newbies to New York Times bestsellers. I also blog for The Stiletto Gang on the second Friday of every month and Writers Who Kill on the third Monday of the month.

Readers can learn more about my writings and me on my website or by contacting me at DHG@DebraHGoldstein.com .

Website: https://debrahgoldstein.com

Blog: https://debrahgoldstein.com/blog

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DebraHGoldsteinAuthor

Twitter: @DebraHGoldstein

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39663950-one-taste-too-many

Do you have another book on the works? Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects?

One Taste Too Many is the first book in the Sarah Blair cozy mystery series. The next book, Two Bites Too Many will be released in October 2019. I also write short stories. This year, I was honored and thrilled to have “The Night They Burned Ms. Dixie’s Place,” Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine (May/June 2017) named as a finalist for both the Agatha and the Anthony 2018 Short Story awards. In 2019, several short stories are scheduled for publication in periodicals and anthologies. Watch my website, www.DebraHGoldstein.com for where the stories can be found.

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