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Winter is a time of blustery winds, warm blankets, and book friends to fill your heart.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Cozy Conversations

Welcome back to the Spellroom, my friends. We have a visitor that will entice you with her cozy way around a mystery. So sit back with a nice cup of tea, or coffee if you prefer, and allow me to introduce you to J. M. Griffin. She also brought along her favorite Empanada Dough Recipe to share. So we are in for some yummy treats.

Thank you for being here today, JM.

JM: Thank you for inviting me into the Spellroom, Liberty.

Liberty: When did you start writing?

JM: I began writing about 10 years ago. I wrote romantic suspense but was rotten where the romance thing came in. I then started writing cozy mysteries and realized that’s where I belonged. It’s been onward and upward ever since. I adore cozy mystery novels (and most mysteries in general except the gory ones). Agatha Christie is a fave of mine and as a kid, I read every Nancy Drew mystery I could get my hands on.

Liberty: Great choices. I love Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden. You are very prolific. How long does it take you to write a book?

JM: How long does it take ME to write a book? Well, that depends, really. If I stay at it, I can knock out a story in about two months, if I pay attention, that is. If I get sidetracked (which usually happens), then it can be anywhere from 6 months to a year. Life often gets in the way of creativity, and that’s all there is to it. 

Liberty:  Who are some of your favorite authors to read, and why?

JM:  Favorite authors? Let’s see, I enjoy Karen Marie Moning, Karen Frisch, Maeve Christopher, Liberty Blake (oh, that would be you, huh?), and Janet Evanovich. When I want a belly laugh, I read Janet E., Karen Marie Moning has a great set of Mackayla Lane novels that I’ve read about 3 times (and find I’ve missed something each time);Karen Frisch has the most interesting way of presenting life in early Boston and historic England, that I find she’s a pleasure to read. Liberty…well, when I want hot, I go directly there and then to Maeve. Maeve’s family saga is a tremendous set of stories that are tough, warm, funny, and dangerous.

Liberty: Wow! I am honored to be included in that list. Thank you.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?

JM: When I’m not writing, I try to get some gardening done. The flower beds are frightful at the moment. Then there’s my art studio which is in need of a visit, too. Painting and illustrating are two of my favorites, so it’s safe to say I’m creatively insane.

Liberty: I've seen some of your art work. You have a wonderful sense of whimsy. You are enormously talented.

JM: Thank you.

Liberty: Who is your favorite athlete, and why?

JM: I don’t have a favorite athlete in the game sense of the word, such as football, hockey or such. I do have a favorite race car driver, though. As an avid Nascar fan, driver Tony Stewart tops my list followed by Denny Hamlin. Why? You ask? Because I love fast cars and daring drivers. Nascar has both of those.

Liberty: Tell us a little bit about your main characters and what makes them so special?

JM: My main character in the newest novel of the Sarah McDougall series, is Sarah. She’s an illustrator with unwanted psychic ability and a new found ability that she calls ghost-walking. She realizes she’s not just visualizing what happens, but is there as a vision. She has inherited ghost-walking from her Scottish grandmother, which comes as a total surprise. What makes Sarah so special is her ability to read a situation, makes sense of it before others do and take from it what she must in order to solve the mystery. 

Raven DeVille, her handsome swashbuckling look-like a pirate neighbor, is an insurance fraud detective. He’s a no-nonsense kind of guy who is mystified by Sarah and in love with her at the same time. When his aunt goes missing, he is at his wits end and requests Sarah’s help to find her. They get up to no good, discover who is a real pirate and who the kidnappers are. The Cadence Caper is an easy, fun read that takes place in Sarasota, on Florida’s west coast.

Liberty: If you could cast the movie of your book, who would you want to play the hero and heroine?

JM: Casting the book for a movie is every author’s dream. Raven would be played by Clive Owen or Jon Hamm (from Mad Men). Sandra Bullock would be my choice for the actress who’d play Sarah’s character. Sandra can pull off the most hilarious scenes and make them look easy.

Liberty: I hope you have a blurb for us from your latest release.

JM: Yes, I did. This is for The Cadence Caper.

Life had been quiet for Sarah McDougall. That is, until she envisions an elderly woman’s abduction. Confused over the unwelcome and distressing images of a woman she’s never met, Sarah soon gets a plea for help from her friend and lover, Raven DeVille. His aunt has been kidnapped by treasure hunters. When there’s no ransom demand for the return of Raven’s aunt, Sarah experiences more psychic episodes where she sees and is seen while she ghost-walks into danger. Things take a sudden and unexpected turn for the worse as Sarah struggles to get the hang of ghost-walking and all it entails. She could end up trapped by her own abilities if she’s not careful, and Raven can’t help her should that happen. In her own way and with her strength of character and will, Sarah takes on the deadliest group she’s yet to meet while trying desperately to save Raven’s aunt.

JM's website:

Liberty: The Cadence Caper sounds wonderful. I can't wait to read it. I adored Sarah McDougall in Murder on Spyglass Lane.  Now for the recipe . . .

Empanada Dough Recipe
Prep Time: 15 minutes        Cook Time: 1 hour    Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
·         3 cups flour (plus a little more for kneading)
·         1 teaspoon salt
·         1/2 cup cold water
·         1 egg
·         1 egg white
·         1 teaspoon vinegar
·         3 tablespoons shortening
1. In a bowl, beat the water, egg, egg white and vinegar together. Set aside.
2. In a separate bowl, mix together the 3 cups of flour and salt.
3. Cut the shortening into the flour mix with a pastry blender or two butter knives. Make a well in the center of the flour mix and pour the liquid ingredients from the first bowl into the center.
4. Mix the wet and dry ingredients with a fork until it becomes stiff.
5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead it just until all the flour is incorporated and the dough is smooth.
6. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to rest.
7. Roll dough flat and cut pie shaped circles. Fill ½ of circle with cooked meats or cold cuts, fold empty half over filling, pinch edges together and bake.
Large Pies:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray baking sheet with cooking spray. Also spray each pie. Bake for about 25 minutes, until center is hot. Pies will turn a light golden brown.
Mini Pies:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare and bake as above, for 20-25 minutes.
Tip: If you want to keep the dough longer than 24 hours, you can freeze it.
Servings: Makes approximately 10 six-inch empanadas.
MMM, Yummy!

Liberty: Thank you for visiting with us, JM. I hope you will come back again soon.