Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Lucy Burdette Gets Lost in a Story

Lucy Burdette (AKA Roberta Isleib) is a clinical psychologist and the author of ten mysteries. Her books and stories have been short-listed for Agatha, Anthony and Macavity awards. She is a past-president of Sisters in Crime.

The book...
Death in Four Courses -- The annual Key West Loves Literature seminar is drawing the biggest names in food writing from all over the country, and Haley Snow is here to catch a few fresh morsels of insider gossip. Superstar restaurant critic Jonah Barrows has already ruffled a few foodie feathers with his recent tell-all memoir, and as keynote speaker, he promises more of the same jaw-dropping honesty.

But when Hayley discovers Jonah’s body in a nearby dipping pool, the cocktail hour buzz takes a sour turn, and Hayley finds herself at the center of attention—especially with the police. Now it’s up to her to catch the killer before she comes to her own bitter finish.

What they're saying...

“All the elements of a winning recipe: Key West, food and fun! The not-so-secret ingredients? Lucy Burdette’s exquisite plotting and sly prose set her apart. Death in Four Courses is a full course feast!”
~~Julia Spencer-Fleming, NYTBS author of ONE WAS A SOLDIER 

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY: "Near the start of Burdette's yummy sequel to An Appetite for Murder, Key West food critic Hayley Snow brings her mother down from New Jersey for a visit... Outspoken Mom provides tart commentary as Hayley once again turns sleuth. Anyone who's ever overpaid for a pretentious restaurant meal will relish this witty cozy."

 "What fun! ....Key West and food -- a winning combination. I can't wait for the next entry in this charming series."
~~ New York Times bestselling author Diane Mott Davidson 

"An excellent sense of place and the occasional humorous outburst aren't the only things An Appetite for Murder has going for it, though: There is a solid mystery within its pages....Not only does Burdette capture the physical and pastoral essence of Key West, she celebrates the food."
~~Ed Irvin, The Florida Book Review

Get Your Copy...

Amazon           Barnes and Noble       Indiebound

             Kindle               Books a Million 


Let's chat with Lucy...

Susan: So, Lucy you write about a food critic in Key West. Being that character in that setting sounds like my favorite daydream. What inspired the Key West Food Critic Mysteries?
Lucy: My publisher was looking for a cozy mystery proposal with a food critic as the protagonist. And I was looking for something new to write! And at the time, my husband and I were lucky enough to be spending the winter in Key West, which is a foodie paradise and chock full of interesting characters. And thus the series was born! I love food, so it’s been a huge amount of fun to write these books—and a great excuse for “research.”

Susan: How much is Haley Snow like you?
Lucy: She’s young—I can’t even bear to tell you how much younger than I—so she’s insecure and anxious about finding herself and succeeding, as I was in my 20’s. However, she’s much braver than I am—more foolhardy too. It’s a little odd to be writing about an amateur sleuth, as I certainly would never try to solve a mystery myself! Dial 911—and run as far from the body as possible—that would be how I would handle a murder… 
We are alike in a few ways—she’s devoted to her family and friends and loves a good mealJ. My husband feels that he’s been eating better than ever since I started to write about a food critic. He’s a little disappointed now if I don’t take a picture of his dinner before he tackles it… 

Susan: So, your alter-ego—that’s different from an imaginary friend, right?—is a clinical psychologist. Wow, what a fodder feast! I mean, of course, your imaginary friend—err—whatever—can’t use actual people in her books. But surely situations have sparked your imagination over the years. How much are y’all inspired by actual cases?
Lucy: Yes, Roberta Isleib, the other me, is a real clinical psychologist. And that background helps me puzzle out motivations—both for my protagonist and for the bad guys. I had a psychotherapy practice for about 15 years and I loved the process of helping people understand themselves so they could make positive changes in their relationships and their lives. I closed my practice some years ago when the writing career took off, so I don’t have a conflict with wishing I could put real people in the books.

And when you think about it, doing psychotherapy is quite like the work of a detective—starting with presenting problems (in mysteries, generally a murder), and then following clues to find the answer. And finally, all my books have psychologists in them because I love to showcase my profession and help people realize we’re not all crazy or sleeping with our patients, as the shrinks in the movies might have you believe! 
In fact, Hayley’s good friend who is a clinical psychologist takes a central role in DEATH IN FOUR COURSES. 

Susan: And your alter-ego, Roberta Isleib, she writes two whole other series, right?
Lucy: Luckily for our collective sanity, the series have been sequential. I started out writing five books about a neurotic golf professional, Cassie Burdette, then moved on to psychologist Rebecca Butterman with the advice column mysteries. (You can read more about those at www.robertaisleib.com.) And then the first food critic mystery, AN APPETITE FOR MURDER, was published this past January.

Susan: You run with a pretty racy crowd—what are y’all called?
Jungle Reds? Looks like a fun group to me. How did y’all connect and decide to start a blog?
Lucy: Oh the Jungle Red Writers—they are the best friends a writer could want! Eight of us who write crime fiction among other things blog daily about writing, life, food…you name it, we chat about it. The blog began with a core of four New England writers. Over the past couple of years, we’ve expanded which makes the work load more manageable and increases the fun!

Susan: Was it this gang that started the SeaScape Writers Retreat, or is that something you and Roberta put together?
Lucy: Hallie Ephron and I started Seascape, Escape to Write retreat with another mystery writer, SW Hubbard. Once a year we spend a weekend in Connecticut with up to 18 aspiring writers who want their works in progress intensively critiqued. We work in small groups and I think most of the students leave having found new directions for their books as well as new friends. Enrollment is closed this year, but we always welcome queries. www.robertaisleib.com/seascape.html

Susan: What are the next five books on your ‘to be read’ pile?
Lucy: THE OTHER WOMAN, Hank Phillippi Ryan (she’s my blog mate on Jungle Red Writers—can’t wait to read her new thriller!)

ALLERGIC TO DEATH, Peg Cochran (Peg is a blog mate on Mystery Lovers Kitchen and this is her debut cozy—yay Peg!)

KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL, Anthony Bourdain (I get all kinds of plot and character details from books by food people)

STARTING FROM SCRATCH, Susan Gilbert-Collins (I’m hooked on all kinds of fiction involving cooking and food)

DEARIE: THE REMARKABLE LIFE OF JULIA CHILD by Bob Spitz (can’t wait to get my hands on this one!)

Susan: What was the first story you remember writing?
Lucy: (Groans) I can’t find a copy of this, which is probably a blessing…it was a short story about a girl who’d been dumped by her first love. She’s naturally devastated and reacts by running to the top of the Cape Hatteras lighthouse. She’s pounding up the 268 steps so doesn’t hear the boy chasing after her—a nice boy who really likes her. I’m pretty sure he was named Micky, after Micky Dolenz of the Monkees…I was probably in seventh grade and thus embarrassing teenage yearning and angst was the one and only focus! 

Susan: What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?
Lucy: The funny thing is I never dreamed of becoming an author. I wrote a lot in the process of getting a PH.D—and had several professors mention that I was a good writer. But writing fiction was something else entirely—I call it my mid-life crisis. And I’ve had more fun than I could have imagined—meeting other writers and readers and see my books in bookstores and playing with professional golfers (research!). I feel utterly fortunate!

Susan: What is something that not a lot of people know about you but you WISH more people COULD know?
Lucy: This is not really about me, but it’s about you, the readers—what I wish you knew about how much power you have to ensure you keep getting the books you love from the authors you enjoy. Here are a few suggestions about how to make a difference: 

--Click the "like" button generously, on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Facebook, you name it. Believe it or not, publishers look at these numbers!

--Share your opinions about the good books you read--on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, Twitter, Shelfari, Facebook--this can make a big difference when folks are looking for something to read

--Buy books! This may sound obvious, but it isn't. Sales mean that writers can continue to keep writing. Low sales mean contracts aren't renewed. Of course I don't buy every book I read--some are from the library or borrowed from a friend, but I buy a lot of them. And when I'm thinking about gifts, I think books!

Susan: What will always make you smile, even on a bad day?
Lucy: My animals, Yoda the cat and Tonka the Australian shepherd—both are endlessly entertaining! And good food—that always cheers me up no matter the circumstances. And my husband, who is very funny and supportive. And my writer buddies. You see, with all that in my life, it’s really hard to have a bad day! 

Susan’s GOTTA ASK: What is your favorite scene in Death in Four Courses?
Lucy’s GOTTA ANSWER: wow, that’s a tough one. I should by rights say it’s the opening scene, because why else would I open with it? Right? But there are quite a few that I really, really like…for instance, there’s a culinary poet whose focus is doggerel about protein. (I cracked myself up writing those sectionsJ.) But I really love a scene that takes place at a restaurant called La Creperie. Hayley Snow has taken two important food writers out to lunch, both to grill them about the dead man and to make a connection for the article she’ll be writing. Unfortunately, the two women are at each other’s throats…and Hayley’s mom is there too, full of advice…and meanwhile they are eating this incredible French food: so much fun to write! 

Catch up with Lucy online...

Twitter            Facebook             Jungle Red Writers            Follow Me on Pinterest               Website  

Goodreads   Mystery Lovers Kitchen

What's up next for Lucy?

Look for TOPPED CHEF, May 2013

Lucy is giving away a copy of DEATH IN FOUR COURSES to one person who leaves a comment today—please be sure to leave your email address in the body of the comment to enter the drawing.

Note: Offer void where prohibited. Prizes will be mailed to North America addresses only unless specifically mentioned in the post. Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants. Winners of drawings are responsible for checking this site in a timely manner. If prizes are not claimed in a timely manner, the author may not have a prize available. Get Lost In A Story cannot be responsible for an author's failure to mail the listed prize. GLIAS does not automatically pass email addresses to guest authors unless the commenter publicly posts their email address.


  1. Great post!! Don't add me to the drawing cuz I pre-ordered mine and have it in my hot little hands.

  2. I'm with you on the animals and food! Also when a scene goes particularly well, it really brightens the moment, don't you think? Looking forward to reading this soon!

  3. GREAT post, thank you! :) I love author interviews. It always makes me feel like the author is someone I personally know lol :)

    I cannot stress enough how much I tell people that PR for your favorite authors and publishers is SO IMPORTANT! We are blessed with so much technology and so many vessels of opportunity to share with millions of people our thoughts on a particular book or author. I use every opportunity I can to promote the books I've invited into my home. If they can provide me with joy, the least I can do is return the favor :)

    Thank you for the giveaway! :)

    songbird1613 at yahoo dot com

  4. Lucy, welcome to Get Lost in a Story. Susan, you are the hostest with the mostest and outdid yourself. As someone who vacationed in Key West last year, I'm soooo jealous you spent an entire winter there. Your background is perfect for writing this series and you're in such stellar company with Jungle Red! Thanks for joining us today and sharin!

  5. She is the hostess with the mostest, isn't she Donnell? I have to admit I am very, very lucky!

    Marie, thanks so much for the comments about promotion. It's so true and we are so grateful when our readers spread the word!

    thanks Deb and Meg--for stopping over. Meg London has a new book out today too: MURDER UNMENTIONABLE!

    1. Donnell and Lucy, y'all made me blush. :) This was such a fun interview!!

  6. I so enjoyed the interview. Thanks for sharing and congrats on the new book. Will be watching and waiting for the next one.
    Thanks for the contest!
    grandmabkr at yahoo dot come

  7. Congrats on the new book. Were you all inspired by "The Women" for the Jungle Red group name?
    Thanks for the giveaway.
    winnie968 at yahoo dot com

  8. Thanks Brenda--hope you enjoy!

    Winnie, yes! The name comes from "The Women"--I was not one of the founders of JRW but I love the name--and the women:).

  9. Great post, Lucy! Thanks for sharing and happy release day!

  10. Great post! I too already have this terrific book, so no need to add me to the drawing.

  11. Great post. I envy your spending the winter in Key West. I used to winter in Key Largo. Great food in both places. Your book sounds hilarious. I'd love to win a copy.

  12. Wonderful interview, Susan & Lucy!
    Lucy, your Key West Food Critic Mystery series sounds like a must for my TBR list. Congratulations on the new release! :)

  13. Thanks for the great author interview! I love an author with a great sense of humor :) Thanks for hosting a giveaway!

  14. Thanks so much to every one of you for stopping by--Ellery, Denise, Leslie, Wendy, Lindy! I know I'm lucky to know Key West so well, and I'm lucky to be doing something I love and to have made so many great friends!

    Thanks Susan, for hosting me on your lovely blog.

    Love to all from Lucy!

    1. Lucy, thank you so much for visiting with us yesterday! It was so much fun having you on Get Lost in a Story!

  15. Very nice interview. Cute dog.


  16. Thanks for the heads up on the giveaway! Hope I win on this site at least! :o). Brat81978@aim.com
    Laurie Franco (goodreads)

  17. The winner of the drawing is Laurie Franco! Laurie, I will give your contact information to Lucy. Congratulations!