What is the title of your newest book? How many books have you published?
Stabbed in the Baklava released in September 2018. It’s the second book in my Kebab Kitchen
How did you develop your character and choose your location?
My Kebab Kitchen Mystery series takes place at a Mediterranean restaurant at the Jersey shore. I grew up in the restaurant business where my Armenian-American parents owned a restaurant for thirty years in a small South Jersey town. I worked almost every job—rolling silverware and wiping down tables as a tween, to hosting and waitressing as a teenager. My mother was a talented cook and the grapevine in our backyard was more valued that any rosebush. I’d often come home from school to the delicious aromas of simmering grape leaves, stuffed peppers and tomatoes, and shish kebab.
What is a day in the life of an author like? Do you write a certain number of words, do you write in the morning or evening?
I have two girls, and I find writing when they are in school the best time for me. But I have also learned to carry around a pen and pad of paper in my purse. I’ve written fun scenes during swim meets, before soccer games, and even during piano lessons. If I’m under deadline, I work late at night. I don’t have a set word count and have learned to go with the flow. Every book has its challenges.
Do you belong to a writers group or are you in touch with other writers? How does that help your writing?
Yes! I’m a firm believer in writers’ groups. I belong to Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime national and my local Central Jersey Chapter, Romance Writers of America, and NJ Romance Writers. I attend conferences when I’m able and love to reconnect with my author friends and meet readers. Writing is a solitary profession and we tend to be introverts, but these organizations have monthly meetings and yearly conferences that teach craft, the publishing business, and are a great way to socialize. I also run a monthly writer’s critique group at my local library and have met long-time friends.
Do you model your character after yourself or any one you know?
They say write what you know. I don’t model my characters after real life people, but there is a bit of me in my sleuth, Lucy Berberian. We are both from ethnic families and the restaurant business.
That being said, I do use my experience growing up in the restaurant business. Some of my favorite scenes are straight from my memories—temperamental chefs, busy busboys, and gossipy waitstaff can be quite entertaining. The aspects of the murder, on the other hand, I did have to research. Thankfully, I have no experience poisoning or stabbing a person.
If your books were made into a movie, who would you want to play the lead character?
Hmm. This is a tough one. It would have to be someone ethnic, Armenian, Lebanese, or Greek, to fit my sleuth Lucy Berberian. I’d ask Angela Sarafyan.
Who is your favorite author?
For mysteries, it must be Agatha Christie. I grew fascinated with her books when I read And Then There Were None back in high school. For romance, it’s Jane Austen. I love Pride and Prejudice and have reread it many times.
How do you keep track of character details from book to book so they are consistent?
This is tricky. I write short character descriptions and constantly update everything in a Word document. But many of the characters seem real to me and I remember like long-time family members.
If you could not be an author, what would like to do as a career?
I’m a lawyer and a former mechanical engineer. I think my work experiences enhance my writing. But my true love is being an author.
Thank you for having me!