Lucy Berberian has taken over her family’s Mediterranean restaurant on the Jersey Shore after an unsatisfying stint at a Philadelphia law firm. It’s great to be back in her old beach town, even if she’s turning into a seasoned sleuth.
Catering a high-society wedding should bring in some big income for Kebab Kitchen—and raise its profile too. But it’s not exactly good publicity when the best man winds up skewered like a shish kebab. Worse yet, Lucy’s ex, Azad—who’s the restaurant’s new head chef—is the prime suspect. But she doesn’t give a fig what the cops think. He may have killer looks, but he’s no murderer. She just needs to prove his innocence, before he has to go on the lamb . . .
Recipes included! “A delectable read.”
—Bestselling author Shelley Freydont
Q & A
Thank you for having me today! I’m Tina Kashian, the author of the Kebab Kitchen Mediterranean mystery series set at the Jersey shore. My newest release is Stabbed in the Baklava.
Q: The Kebab Kitchen mysteries (Hummus and Homicide and Stabbed in the Baklava are out now, and One Feta in the Grave is expected to release February 28, 2019) are set in Ocean Crest, a fictional small coastal town on the Jersey shore. How familiar were you with this setting before you began writing the series?
A: My Armenian parents owned a restaurant for thirty years in southern New Jersey. My mom was a talented Mediterranean cook and the grapevine in our backyard was more prized than any rosebush. It was a family business and I worked every job—from rolling silverware in napkins as a tween to hostessing and waitressing as a teenager. My tips paid for my prom gown. We also used to vacation every summer at the Jersey shore. I still take my own children to Jersey shore every summer.
Q: Like your protagonist, Lucy Berberian, your parents owned a restaurant and you spent many years working in it. Did your parents, like Lucy’s, want you to take over the family business someday?
A: I think my parents would have liked for this to happen, but I was just starting college when they sold the business and retired after thirty years. They were ready. I wasn’t. In hindsight, I wish it had happened a few years later and I could have had the chance to take over the family business.
Q: Did you do any research for the series? If yes, did you uncover any interesting facts you weren’t aware of before writing the novels?
A: I didn’t have to research the restaurant business. This I know well! But I did have to research poisons and how they could be used to kill a person for the first book. I came across quite a few interesting household items that could be used for this purpose.
Q: Did you do anything special to celebrate the release of Hummus and Homicide? Do you have any special plans for celebrating the release of Stabbed in the Baklava?
A: I had a Barnes and Noble book signing and invited all my family, friends, and readers. Then I had a huge party at my house. We rented a tent, and tables and chairs for everyone, and had plenty of food. It was a wonderful day.
Q: What were you most nervous about in the months leading up to the release of Hummus and Homicide?
A: What isn’t an author nervous about? Are presales strong? Would my promotional efforts be enough? Would bloggers and reviewers like the book? There worries can be endless.
Q: What were you most nervous about after it had been published?
A: Did my family and friends like the book? Most of all, I hope my readers found it an enjoyable read.
Q: What is the greatest hurdle you faced while writing Hummus and Homicide and Stabbed in the Baklava?
A: I have children so my biggest struggle was finding writing time. Mommy guilt is a problem no matter how old your kids are. I have learned to write before soccer games and swim meets and during piano lessons. I even use a pad of paper and a pen when I find myself without my laptop.
Q: On your website (www.tinakashian.com), you talked about attending your first Malice Domestic in 2017, before Hummus and Homicide was released. How different was it to return a year later as a published mystery writer?
A: It was wonderful both times. I found my tribe! If you love mysteries, Malice Doemstic is the place for you.
Q: Do you have any favorite memories from Malice Domestic, either as an attendee or an author?
A: I enjoyed being interviewed at the new author breakfast. It was nerve-wracking, but a wonderful experience to talk about my series to such an avid group of readers.
Q: What is the best writing advice you have received?
A: Never give up! Keep learning the craft of writing and keep writing. Attend conferences and network with other writers. Make friends and enjoy the journey.
Q: Which is more important, character or plot?
A: I think both are super important. You need to start with a great mystery plot, and then flesh out the characters.
Q: Do you have a special routine or schedule you keep when you are writing a novel?
A: I write when the kids are in school. I have also mastered the art of writing before soccer games and swim meets. I use the downtime.
Q: How do you plot your novels (pencil and paper, sticky notes, computer, old typewriter, etc.)?
A: I use both the computer and a pen and pencil. I’ve also draw a map of Ocean Crest to keep my characters and their businesses straight.
Q: Did you read mysteries as a kid? Which ones?
A: I grew up reading the Nancy Drew series.
Q: If you could live in Cabot Cove-even though there’s a 50-50 chance you would be the town’s next murder victim-would you, just so you could hang out with Jessica Fletcher (and maybe help her solve a mystery or two)?
A: I have many fond memories of watching Murder, She Wrote episodes with my mother. Yes, I would love to hang out in Cabot Cove. Hopefully, as a sleuth with Jessica, not a victim!
Q: What do you love most about your readers?
A: What is there not to love? I value my readers and I’m grateful. Without them, there would be no books!
A big thank you to Tina for taking the time to answer these questions! You can find out more about Stabbed in the Baklava at Amazon, Barnes and Nobel, iBooks, Google Books, and Kobo.
Tina Kashian is an attorney and a former mechanical engineer whose love of reading for pleasure helped her get through years of academia. She is the author of the Kebab Kitchen Mediterranean cozy mystery series. Tina spent her childhood summers at the Jersey shore building sandcastles, boogie boarding, and riding the boardwalk Ferris wheel. She also grew up in the restaurant business, as her Armenian parents owned a restaurant for thirty years. Tina still lives in New Jersey with her supportive husband and two young daughters. Please visit her website at www.tinakashian.com to join her newsletter, receive delicious recipes, enter contests, and more!
You can also connect with Tina at: