Julie’s the author of the White House Chef Mystery series. The first book in the series “State of the Onion” recently won the Anthony and Barry Awards for Best Paperback Novel of the Year! Julie will be stopping back by today to answer any questions you might have and to respond to comment. In addition, one lucky person commenting on her post between today and 8 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 8, will win a copy of her book. The lucky winner will have a choice of either “State of the Onion” or “Hail to the Chef.”
Julie could you tell us a little about your new book and your protagonist, Ollie Paras?
My latest book, Eggsecutive Orders, is also the third in my White House Chef Mystery series and I’m pretty darned excited about it. Lately, on blog posts and in interviews, I’ve been happy to chat a little bit about the Eggs storyline which is: Intrepid White House Chef Ollie Paras comes under investigation after a guest dies while dining with the president.
But there’s another, more personal reason why I’m particularly pleased with Ollie’s newest adventure.
For the first time since the series began, readers get to meet Ollie’s family. Eggsecutive Orders is set during the week leading up to the annual White House Easter Egg Roll and Ollie’s mother and grandmother have come to Washington, D.C. for an extended visit. Ollie planned to bring them to the White House and give them a real insider’s tour, but the unfortunate dead dinner guest—NSA head, Carl Minkus—puts Ollie’s plans on indefinite hold. Just as Ollie’s mother and grandmother touch down in D.C., the Secret Service banishes the entire kitchen staff from the White House until authorities can determine who killed Carl Minkus.
Ollie, as you probably can guess, is none too happy with this arrangement. She thrives working in the kitchen, and was looking forward to showing off a little and have her family understand the important role she plays. But now her hands are tied—in more ways than one. Her Secret Service boyfriend warns that interfering in the case could cost them both. But Ollie needs to prove her innocence, and this time she needs to do it with her family in tow. I have to admit, this is the part of the book I enjoyed writing most of all.
As the mother of three girls, I know the mom-daughter relationship pretty well. My girls are a lot younger than Ollie, so I drew on memories of life with my mom to help write some key scenes. Most of the interaction among the three women in the book is light-hearted, but because there are no real relationships without conflict, I decided to touch on a few issues of the heart too.
Ollie, her mother, and her grandmother share a loving, respectful bond. That’s not to say they don’t have their differences—they are all strong women, after all. I had the most wonderful time exploring the relationships that exist among these three.Eggsecutive Orders has its funny moments—the scenes with Secret Service Agents in bunny suits made me giggle even as I wrote them—but the real heart of the story is in Ollie’s interactions with her family.
I dedicated the book to my daughters and in memory of my mom because without their wonderful influences in my life I could not have realistically created the scenes I did. Women are complicated, smart, tough, and endlessly interesting. And that’s what makes them so much fun to write!
Julie, thank you so much for giving us some insight into Ollie and her family. We ladies do tend to be a little complicated at times.
For more background information on Julie, visit her Website Julie Hyzy and her Blog and she is also a contributing member of the Mystery Lover’s Kitchen.