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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Author Interview & Contest with Sarah Zettel

My author guest this week is Sarah Zettel!

Her cozy vampire mystery series debut, A Taste of the Nightlife, made a great first impression on me and I am eager to read book two, Let Them Eat Stake.

I asked Sarah on to the blog and she was kind enough to answer my questions. The result is this interview, which I hope you will all enjoy! I also hope it will perk your interest in this lovely paranormal cozy mystery series and have you picking up a copy of the books sometime soon.

Oh and there is a copy of Let Them Eat Stake up for grabs! So make sure you enter the contest!


Amber - Welcome to Amberkatze's Book Blog! It is great to have you here as a guest! Could you start things off by telling us a little about your new book, Let Them Eat Stake?

Thanks so much for inviting me. Let Them Eat Stake is the second book in my "Vampire Chef" mystery series. Charlotte Caine is an executive chef in an alternate Manhattan where vampires are out of the coffin, and in need of a place where they and their human friends can sit down and have a meal without anybody getting hurt. Charlotte's not herself a vampire, she just cooks for them. In this book, she's hired to cater a wedding between a gold-digging vampire and a member of the powerful Maddox witch clan. This, as you might imagine, causes a few problems.

Amber - I really liked the debut in the Vampire Chef Series, A Taste of the Nightlife. It is a great paranormal cozy mystery. How did you come up with the idea?

Sarah - This came about via a twist that almost never happens. The publisher actually came up with the idea. I didn't hear about it until I got a call from my friend, the writer and humorist Esther Friesner. She told me she'd been approached about a project she didn't have the time to take on, and would I be interested? Of course, I asked what it was. She said, "Vampire Chef," and I said "I'm in." I didn't know what it was, or where it was going, just those two words, and I was hooked.

Amber - Why the paranormal? and why a cozy mystery? Are they genres you like yourself or just ones you wanted to try?

Sarah - Well, being handed those two words, I of course had to go paranormal to get the vampires in. And when you're talking chefs, New York immediately comes to mind. I do love mysteries. I grew up reading Agatha Christie, and Sherlock Holmes, and graduated to Dorothy Sayers and other classics as I went along. So, here we had a great setting, a high-stress profession, intricate and interesting profession, and, well, blood. Mystery seemed a perfect fit for all those elements.

Amber - I noticed you have actually written quite a lot of books and the Vampire Chef Series isn't your first work. Can you tell us about some of the other books have you written?

Sarah - I came up through fantasy and science fiction. Before vampire chef, that's almost exclusively what I wrote. The science fiction is what gets called "space opera," lots of drama involving aliens and alien worlds. For fantasy, I wrote the epic Isavalta series, and a romanitc Arthurian series called "Paths to Camelot" which follows the adventures of four brothers who are also knights of the Round Table; Gawain, Geraint, Gareth and Agravain. Writing as C.L. Anderson, I also wrote the space adventure Bitter Angels, which won the Philip K. Dick award in 2010.

Amber - How long on average does it take you to write a book? Do you have a process you follow? or do you just start at page one and see what happens?

Sarah - How long it takes really depends on the book, and the deadline. I've written books in six months, and I've taken a full year. I always have an outline to start with (usually because the publisher asks to see one), but usually around page 100, the story has changed so much that I've thrown it out and am flying by the seat of my pants.

Amber - Will there be more books in the series? Will there be more Vampire Chef mysteries?

Sarah - I sure hope so. I've had a fabulous time writing them, and Charlotte and her peeps have a lot of stories yet to tell me. Talks are happening right now, so I should have news on that front soon.

Amber - Are you working on any other projects you would like to tell us about?

Sarah - I've got a new young adult book coming out in June; Dust Girl. This is also a paranormal (fairies this time), but set in Dust Bowl era Kansas. I got to play on my love of Woody Guthrie ballads, old jazz and classic Hollywood and had a fantastic time.

Amber - If the series was going to be made into a TV series or Film, who would you like to see playing the main characters?

Sarah - Wow. You know, I've never been good at this game. Let's see. For Charlotte, I think Megan Hilty, who's playing Ivy on "Smash" would be a good fit. If we darkened his hair a bit, Nathan Fillon would be great for Brendan Maddox. For Anatole? Hmmm...oh, I know. Again, a little hair coloring, but Dan Stevens, who's playing Matthew Crowley on Downton Abbey. Okay, now you all know what I spend my time watching.

Amber - How do you pick the names for your characters? Do they have any special meanings?

Sarah - Mostly I pull them out of the air. Name characters is one of the things that's hardest for me, right after picking titles. They seldom come easily.

Amber - And how about the titles for your books? Do you always go with the first title or is it hard to come up with the right one?

Sarah - See above. Let Them Eat Stake was incredibly difficult. I went through long, long lists of possibilities with my editor. I was asking just about everybody I knew for suggestions. I think it took us about a month to finally come up with something.

Amber - What kind of research have you done for your books? Anything interesting or is the research boring?

Sarah - Research is one of the best parts about being a writer. I mean, come on! I was writing about a Manhattan restaurant! Research meant going to the city to eat. I also read a lot of chef bios and restaurant histories, and of course, there's hours spent slaving over the TV watching Food Network (VBG). I also have to give a big thank you to Chef Alex Young and the folks at Zingerman's Roadhouse, who very kindly let me come into the kitchen and observe a Friday Night dinner rush.

Amber - Who has been your biggest inspiration in life?

Sarah - Again, wow. That's a tough one. At the risk of sounding all high-falootin', I see life itself as inspiration. Anytime you find something beautifully done, no matter how small, or someone giving their work their all, no matter what that work is, that's inspiring. Any time you come across genuine bravery or charity. There's always something new to inspire and you never know where the next one will come from.

Amber - What are you listening and watching lately? Is there any music or other media that influences your writing?

Sarah - I listen to music constantly as I write. A lot of folk, old and new, old jazz and blues, some country, some classic and 80s rock, because that's what I came up on, and some relatively new (love Adele). I am a huge, huge, huge fan of theater and movies, and it shows, especially in my YA, which has a lot of music and classic Hollywood in it. I don't watch a whole lot of TV, simply because I don't have the time.

Amber - Read anything good lately? What authors/series are your favourites?

Sarah - Let's check the shelf. Lots of history, mostly for research. Joanna Bourne is somebody I really love for historical romances. Julie James for contemporary romantic comedy. Not cozy, but I recently picked up Tanya French's The LIkeness, and that was very good.

Amber - Would you ever be able to write a book together with another author? If yes, which author would you like to work with and why?

Sarah - I have never been able to make a collaboration work. I'm too much of a control freak and my ideas careen around too wildly.

Amber - What's your favorite paranormal movie of all time?

Sarah - Paranormal movie? Wow. Hmmm....does the musical Scrooge with Albert Finney count? It's got ghosts. I admit, I've got a huge soft spot for the Bela Lagosi Dracula. It's that classic Hollywood thing. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, movie and TV series, also excellent. The Haunting of Hill House, brilliant and scary. You know, it doesn't quite fit the definition of paranormal but almost. The very best movie, both for mystery and magic, IMHO, is The Prestige, with Hugh Jackman. It may be the most perfect mystery film ever, because it does in fact show you how the trick is done, you just can't see it.

Amber - If you could be any famous person, alive or dead, who would you be? and why?

Sarah - And there's one I've never been asked. Maybe Lauren Bacall or Mae West, brilliant, talented, tough women both of them, who lived their lives on their own terms.

Amber - Thank you for visiting Amberkatze's! I hope you will come by again sometime!

Sarah - It's been fun, and anytime!

Vampire Chef Mysteries

#1 - A Taste of the Nightlife
#2 - Let Them Eat Stake


Contest Time

Sarah's publishers, Penguin, are giving away a copy of Let Them Eat Stake

How To Enter

Tell us about your Favourite Food? or what you like to cook! Feel free to share some recipes ;)

No Answer = No Entry

'Please enter me' posts will NOT be counted as an entry

Earn more entries for each link you place about this contest on the net. You can post on Facebook, Twitter & MySpace but make sure you add links here for me to confirm your entries! However please do not make individual postings for each entry. Please post all your entries in one post.

Advertise Amberkatze's Book Blog on your site and get an extra entry for this and every other contest!

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You can also earn extra entries by emailing your friends about the contest. Just make sure you send a copy of your email or receipt to me at Amberkatzes_book_blog at gmx dot net.

Make sure you post your links here so I can confirm your entries.

Keep the contests going by using the Bookdepository.com and Amazon.com links/Banners below and around the site.

10% Discount / APMA12 Coupon Code / Book Depository

The contest will stay open until 4pm on Sunday 29th April (Central European Time) and the winner will be picked by a randomizer. Entrants should check back to see if they have won. I do not hunt down winners and will pick new winners for any prizes not claimed within 7 days.


Birgit said...

I just got back home from my fav Asian restaurant here in town ... so my favorite food is veggie curry (there are so many varieties, I can't narrow it down to a particular one).

FB share: http://www.facebook.com/birgit.horvath.muck/posts/353314708063956

Shared your blog on my blog, but I think you know that already ;-)

cyn209 said...

one look at me & you can see that i have MANY favorite foods, but my all-time favorite has to be PIZZA!!! omGOSH!! i would kill a child for their slice of pizza, if i'm hungry enough!! lol!!!

thank you for this giveaway!!!
shared on Facebook: www.facebook.com/cyn20o

cyn209 at juno dot com

molly.frenzel said...

One single favorite food? Chocolate...anything with chocolate.

Tweet: https://twitter.com/#!/dg_molly/status/194093804016513024

Barbara E. said...

My favorite food is anything with cheese as the main ingredient, including pizza. For dessert my favorite is pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and anything pumpkin flavored. I have pumpkin pie every year for my birthday instead of cake. :D

Diane said...

T-bone steak is my favorite meal; I love eating it with fried mushrooms and a nice garden salad.

dsadler53 at yahoo dot ca

Dovile said...

My favorite food is anything with mean in it, especially with turkey meat. I'm a real carnivore:) I could never be a vegetarian.

clynsg said...

I believe that chocolate should be a food group all by itself. But to broaden the group, since unfortunately one cannot live by chocolate alone, my favorite food is prime rib.

cgclynsg0 @ gmail dot com

debbie said...

I think my favorite food is my homemade mint mocha hazelnut brownies with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

NoraA said...

I like ALL kinds of foods. I specialize in Middle Eastern and Asian as a private party chef. My Southern Belle daughter in law has been known to raid my fridge for food when she's too lazy to prepare food for my son and granddaughter. LOL

I own a copy of the first book and enjoyed it immensely. I'd love to win a copy of Let Them Eat Stake



SandyG265 said...

I like to cook chicken because it's so versatile.

Sgiden @ Verizon.net

Gale Nelson said...

My favorite food is shrimp scampi! I absolutely love it. Gale Nelsonn pgan427@yahoo.com

Aurian said...

Thanks for the great interview ladies, I enjoyed reading it. And I actually do have the Isavalta series in Dutch, so I am looking forward to reading this new series.
My favourite food: chocolate mousse. Nothing better to improve my mood.

I am a follower, and advertise your blog on my own :)

auriansbooks at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

I love grilled chicken. Thanks for the giveaway. Please enter me. I love reading about vampires. Tore923@aol.com

katiz7 said...

I enjoy baking as well as cooking. My children and I had a conversation about what they like best when I cook. Pasta and scrambled eggs were at the top because I always make them taste good. lol. However, I love cooking flank-steak.

Lisa Richards/alterlisa said...

Anything with cheese qualifies as a favorite.
We grill a lot so steak ans chicken are up there too!
Liked' Amberkatze's Book Blog on Facebook-Lisa Ann Richards




Advertised Amberkatze's Book Blog on my site-right hand side of

alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com

Sarah Zettel said...

Hey all! Sarah Z. here. And wow, I think it's a good thing I checked in after lunch (which was (get this), onion confit wood-fired-oven pizza with dried cherries from a local food cart. So good!). My favorite food rotates, but currently it might be the apple-cherry slaw from the BBQ joint that just opened in our town. Nutsy, nutsy good.

Stephanie said...

I love making spaghetti carbonara.


Victoria said...

I have way too many favorite foods :), so I picked a family favorite - my lasagna. I got the recipe from a little old Italian woman over 30 years ago. It takes two days to make because the "gravy" has to season.
Thank you for the giveaway.


koddabear said...

I love food, but if I could have only one dish I think I would choose a German dish my mom use make. It's Cherry dumplings. You boil the dumpling with cherry's and sugar inside then you pour warm cream and butter over them. (just a few thousand calories I'm sure) But oh they were good.

Cheryl said...

One of my favorite foods at the moment is a vegan braised seitan Banh Mi from a store near my workplace.

I looove baking and get a lot of my recipes from Vegan Cookies Take Over the World. I haven't had one bad recipe from it yet.

I don't want to post a whole recipe, but I was looking for a vegan brownie frosting recipe, ended up not having all the ingredients for the brownie recipe I had and had to use the one with the frosting recipe. Before you omnivores roll your eyes and gag, they're great; I was making them almost every weekend because coworkers and my sister kept bugging me for them. Here's the link (I also threw in walnuts and vegan chocolate chips): http://voices.yahoo.com/vegan-brownies-vegan-chocolate-frosting-recipe-4088411.html

Unknown said...

I loove good food :-D My favourites are desserts: creme burlée, crepes, chocolate mousse, brownie, etc. I also love the Thai coconut pancake, so yummy :-D

Thank you for the great giveaway!

stella.exlibris (at) gmail (dot) com

Ren said...

My favorite food are so many. Mostly are noodles and its variety :)

Thanks for the giveaway!

sawamura_foxma AT yahoo DOT com

Anonymous said...

Favorite food: Maine Lobster especially boiled and dipped in butter. Just can't beat the great taste.

I have posted the giveaway on Facebook:

Laura said...

My all-time favourite food has got to be Mac & Cheese!


trichie said...

love pizza

Martha Lawson said...

My all time favorite food is chicken and dumplings! Favorite desserts are: key lime pie and pecan pie.

mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

Cheryl said...

I don't really have a favorite food, but I love sandwiches.

S'Nice has amazing vegan cheesesteaks and Reubens and Candle Cafe has a Tuscan seitan parmesan sandwich and BBQ tempeh and sweet potato sandwich to die for (both are in New York City)!

And for dessert, German chocolate cake from Vegan Treats (located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania)!

Heather said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Heather said...

I like food and I would have to say my favorite is spaghetti. bluepooh1@hotmail.com