Monday, July 09, 2012

ParaCozyMysMo - Sarah Zettel - Vampire Chef Mysteries

Due to technical difficulties I'm sharing with you an interview I did with Sarah Zettel in July 2011 when the first novel in the Vampire Chef Mystery series was released.

TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Sarah:  Wow. Writing's such a quirky occupation, it's hard to pick just one. I guess I'd have to say that I can't write in isolation. There's the popular image of the writer who really needs to get away to a cabin in the woods and lock the door and be completely alone to crank out their novel. I've tried something like that, and I get _nothing_ done. I need mental focus, but I also really people around to interact with to be really productive.

TQ:  Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?

Sarah:  Oh, that's a long list, and it's constantly changing. Ursula K. Le Guin, Ray Bradbury, Dorothy Sayers, Georgette Heyer, Poul Anderson, CL Moore, Agatha Christie, Richard Adams would be for starters. My writing is influenced one way and another by every book I read, because every book teaches me something about the craft, whether it's something to try to work toward, or something to avoid at all costs.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a panster?

Sarah:  I'm a panster with plotter pretensions. I start every book with an outline, but by page 100, things have inevitably changed so much, I throw the outline away and fly blind for the rest of it.

TQ:  What inspired you to write the Vampire Chef Mystery series?

Sarah:  A publisher phone call. Seriously. This is something that seriously almost never happens, but one day the editor and publisher Marty Greenberg, who sadly just passed away, walked into the office and said "Vampire Chef. Why has no one done this?" and the people around him all blinked and said, "Yeah, why hasn't anybody done that." They then started looking for an author who'd be interested in such a project. First they contacted Esther Friesner, who is an extremely funny writer, but she couldn't take on the extra project and gave them my name. I got the next call and when the words "Vampire Chef," came down the line. I said "I'm in." I did not care what came after that, I wanted to be part of this project.

TQ:  Why did you set the series in New York City?

Sarah:  It's one of the great food cities in the country, if not _the_ great food city in the country. Plus, it's a place I do truly love, so it was an easy choice.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in A Taste of the Nightlife?

Sarah:  I like the opening a great deal, particularly the end of the first chapter. I am also very fond of the, you should excuse the expression, stakeout scene with Anatole.

TQ:  In A Taste of the Nightlife, who was the most difficult character to write and why? The easiest and why?

Sarah:  Charlotte was definitely the easiest. I am very comfortable writing with strong, ambitious women with a bit of banter and snark. Can't think why that would be. VBG. Oddly, the toughest turned out to be Brendan, because I wanted Brendan to be a nice guy, but still a strong and interesting character. Broody and angsty is relatively easy. Making someone genuinely _nice_ and yet keeping them interesting and dynamic at the same time, is a more difficult trick than it appears at first glance.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do to create both Nightlife (the restaurant) and the world in A Taste of the Nightlife?

Sarah:  I got permission to observe Friday night dinner rush at Zingerman's Roadhouse in Ann Arbor. I met the chefs and cooks, talked to one of their farmers. I interviewed Vannessa Sly, who was a high end chef both in Chicago and Las Vegas I ate out a fair amount, both in my home town and in NYC. And, of course, I read everything I could get my hands on, starting with Anthony Bourdain's famous KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL, but working my way through books like WAITER RANT and SERVICE INCLUDED to get the front of the house perspective. I'm only sorry the new memoir BLOOD, BONES AND BUTTER, which is fabulous, wasn't out when I started writing the book.

TQ:  Do you have a favorite recipe from A Taste of the Nightlife?

Sarah:  I'm very partial to the asparagus dip Charlotte makes for her roommates. And, of course, the lasagna.

TQ:  Describe A Taste of Nightlife in 140 characters or less.

Sarah:  Welcome to Nightlife, home of haut noir cuisine in an NYC where vampires are out of the coffin, witches have bad attitudes, and Chef Charlotte Caine has a murder on her hands. (I think that does it).

TQ:  How many books are planned for the Vampire Chef Mystery series?

Sarah:  Well, I've just turned in Book #2, LET THEM EAT STAKE. After that, we will have to see. Personally, I hope there will be many more. I have lots of plans for Charlotte, Chet, Brendan and Anatole.

TQ:  What's next?

Sarah:  Well, first of all, I have to outline and set up the next Vampire Chef book(s). I also have a young adult series, the first book of which is coming out in the summer of 2012: THE DUST GIRL, and I'm very excited about that.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery

Sarah:  Delighted to be here.

Vampire Chef Mysteries

Let Them Eat Stake
A Vampire Chef Mystery 2
Signet, April 3, 2012
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 320 pages

It's a dream for a "Vampire Chef"-cater the high-profile wedding of a 200-year-old vampire and a wealthy witch. So why did celebrity chef Oscar Simmons walk away from this gig? Charlotte agrees to take his place, even though she knows this event, thrown by power-hungry vampires and witches, could make (or break) her career, her restaurant, and her life. But when Simmons turns up dead, the groom's family starts vanishing, and the police start asking pointed questions, Charlotte fears she may have picked the wrong wedding to stake her reputation on...

A Taste of the Nightlife
A Vampire Chef Mystery 1
Signet, July 5, 2011
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 320 pages

Charlotte Caine isn't called "the Vampire Chef" because she's a member of New York's undead community-she just cooks for them. Her restaurant, Nightlife, is poised to take the top slot in the world of "haute noir" cuisine.

But when a drunk customer causes a scene, a glowing review from the city's top food critic doesn't seem likely-especially when that customer winds up dead on Nightlife's doorstep. Now, with her brother under suspicion for the murder, Charlotte has to re-open her restaurant and clear her brother's name-before they both become dinner.

About Sarah
Sarah Zettel is an award-winning science fiction and fantasy author and one of the founding members of Book View Cafe. She has written fourteen novels and a roughly equal number of short stories over the past ten years in addition to practicing tai chi, learning to fiddle, marrying a rocket scientist and raising a rapidly growing son. She is very tired right now.

Website : Twitter : Facebook

The Giveaways

There is a giveaway of Let Them Eat Stake (A Vampire Chef Mystery 2) with this interview. You can also enter to win the Grand Prize by using the Rafflecopter. The comment you leave to enter to win Let Them Eat Stake may also be used to enter to win the Grand Prize. Both Giveaways are open internationally.

To Enter to Win a Copy of Let Them Eat Stake

What:  One commenter will win a copy of Let Them Eat Stake (A Vampire Chef Mystery 2) by Sarah Zettel. The novel is generously provided by Penguin.

How:  Leave a comment. Please remember - if you don't leave a comment your entry will not be counted.  You must also leave a way to contact you. Entries without contact information will not be counted.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Saturday, August 4, 2012. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*

To Enter to Win the Grand Prize

How:  Fill out the Rafflecopter

Terms and Conditions

1) There will be one winner of the Grand Prize.

2) The Grand Prize is separate from any giveaway associated with individual author visits during Paranormal Cozy Mystery Month.

3) You must leave a way to contact you with your comment. If you do not leave a way to contact you, your entry will not be counted.

4) The Grand Prize Giveaway is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address.

5) Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

6) Giveaway Terms and Condition are subject to change at any time.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I love the title of "Let Them Eat Stake" - the puns crack me up! I've never thought of a vampire chef before, so this sounds like a lot of fun. Thanks for the interview and giveaway!


  2. I have read all the Camelot books and really enjoyed them so I am interested to read her new series which is completely different.
    Thanks for the giveaway!

    katerahm at gmail dot com

  3. Commenting!!! Entering!!!


    Thanks for the opportunity!

  4. thanks for this great interview, it's always so nice to learn more about a series.


  5. I've heard of this series but for some reason haven't read them yet. I'll have to move them up the infinity list (which is what I call my to read list these days because it is never ending).

    Thanks for the opportunity!
    april dot vrugtman at gmail dot com

  6. These books sound so cute. Thank you.

    GFC Victoria Sloboda

  7. I read and enjoyed A Taste of the Nightlife so I'm looking forward to Let Them Eat Stake.

  8. Thanks for the giveaway! I like the premise.

  9. Thanks for the giveaway. I would love to read this book. It sounds very good.

  10. I love the title!! Very catchy. I'd love to be entered to win a copy of Let Them Eat Stake!!

    mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

  11. Ohh, sounds so interesting! Looking forward to let them eat stake

  12. Love this post, thanks for sharing :)

    filiafantasy at gmail dot com

  13. What an incredibly interesting way to begin a novel and awesome opportunity for you. I am so glad you ran with the project, as this series definitely looks like a hoot and I cannot wait to sink my teeth into the full meal. Thank you so much for taking the time and effort to share with us today :)

  14. This is the first time I see about this series and now will read it. I love the interview and thanks for the giveaway.

  15. This sounds like a good series. NY is a nice setting for a book.


  16. I like the cover! Some cartoonish cover look bad and make me not interested to read, but definitely looking forward to read this

    sawamura_foxman AT yahoo DOT com

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  18. Thanks for the review, sounds like my kind of books to read.
    To actually marry a rocket scientist is so cool.
    Would love to go back and eat in the amazing city NY.
    dayleb at telus dot net

  19. I think it's cool she went to resturant to talk to chef about what they do. Love it!!


  20. A chef for vampires---how cool!!

  21. I've read the Isvalta series & enjoyed it. These are obviously *completely* different, but I'm thinking I'll enjoy the heck out of them, too! :)

  22. I've had this series on my wishlist since last year.


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