Thursday, March 10, 2011

Interview -- Julie Hyzy

Anthony and Barry Award winning author Julie Hyzy writes two mystery series: the White House Chef Mysteries (fourth in the series, Buffalo West Wing, came out in January), and the Manor House Mysteries beginning with Grace Under Pressure. The second book in that series, Grace Interrupted, will be out in June. Julie lives in the Chicago area with her husband, three daughters, and two cats. Learn more about her at

Tell us about your latest novel:

My most recent novel - the one that just came out - is Buffalo West Wing, fourth in the White House Chef Mystery series.

How is this novel different than your previous novels?

Even though it still features Olivia (Ollie) Paras as executive chef at the White House, who feeds the First Family and saves the world in her spare time, it is a little different. There's a new administration, a new First Family, and Ollie not only has to fight to save the First Kids' lives but also to hold onto her job. I think this installment is a bit more tense than the prior ones have been. And the climactic scene(s) are a bit more involved. Readers have been telling me this is their favorite book yet. Love that!

I do have another series going, the second book of which - Grace Interrupted - is coming out in June. The Manor House series features Grace Wheaton, curator of palatial Marshfield Manor. That one is quite a bit different from my White House novels. Sure, there's a mansion, and lots of staff members, but Grace isn't quite as confident as Ollie is, yet. She's had a rougher go of it so far, and she's still finding her legs. Fortunately for her, Marshfield is beginning to feel like home.

Do you feel like you ever have to defend yourself for writing genre fiction?

I used to feel that way, but not any longer. I realized that those who dismiss genre fiction either haven't really read much of it, or they're envious of genre fiction's broad appeal. It's nice to see my mmpbs in bookstores everywhere. It's even more wonderful to hear from readers who tell me my stories helped them escape for a while. Or helped them through a bad time. That's really the ultimate reward.

Why do you write mysteries?

Nancy Drew did this to me. I *loved* reading her adventures and was convinced, for some time, that I was a real-life Nancy Drew just waiting for a mystery to fall into my lap. I love the way mysteries touch every facet of good fiction. There's emotion, character development, setting, learning, and at the end (usually, at least) the bad guys get caught. Being able to write stories like these makes me one very lucky person.

When did you know you were a writer?

Remember I mentioned Nancy Drew? Well, at about age 10 or 11, I decided to write Mary King Mysteries. I reasoned that as long as my protagonist had the same syllables as good old Nance, I was all set. I planned to be published by the time I was 12. But even before then, I was writing short stories, recaps of TV shows, and a neighborhood newspaper that I printed out by hand and asked my dad to copy at work. Sold them for five cents each. Every week. I wanted to write since I was old enough to hold a pencil... er... crayon.

What’s a work day like for you?

I'm trying to get myself disciplined again. Just after the first of the year is always hard because I have September 1st and December 1st deadlines and I'm usually revising up to the last minute. Come January, I like to chill a bit. This year I decided to put some of my stuff up on Kindle, Nook, etc. and that's taken bunches of time. I used to write a minimum of 2 pages a day. More, if possible. I did that for five years straight, always first thing in the morning. I need to get back to that pronto. Right now I check email, read the paper, work a bit on plotting, work a *lot* on promotion, and then work on my ebooks. I need to get back to writing first ... I'll start tomorrow. LOL.

What’s a day off like for you?

Day off? What's that?

Seriously, I heard a great quote although I can't remember who said it. Writers never take vacations. They're either writing or thinking about writing. That is absolutely true.

That said, I do try to keep writing/promotion/tweaking/business emails to a minimum on weekends. My husband and I go walking in the mornings when we can, and then run errands. And go out to eat. My very favorite thing.

If you could be anything other than writer, what would it be?

There's nothing I'd want to be. Honestly.

How do you define success?

At one point, I thought that the day I could hire someone to come clean my house for me I'd have achieved success. So far I still wouldn't be able to feed, house, and clothe myself, but I'm lucky to have a supportive husband who can. I hope to get there someday... with or without the cleaning person. LOL.

I suppose the fact that I'm doing what I love and making a name for myself in this business is a measure of success. Receiving those emails from readers - as I mentioned before - makes it all worthwhile. I feel successful. That's all that matters, right?

(Take that, dustbunnies!)

What’s next for you?

I plan to get more of my stuff up as ebooks. I'm in the process of establishing a couple of pseudonyms - N.C. Hyzy (for my "Not Cozy" mysteries) and S.F. Hyzy (for my science fiction). Real imaginative, huh? The last name, Hyzy, is nice because it's simple and there aren't a lot of us out there. I can be found online pretty easily. Plus I have a little bit of name recognition now because of the White House Chef books. I'm hoping that readers who like other genres -- darker and more hardboiled stories -- will be willing to give me a chance. Fingers crossed!

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