Showing posts with label Driven to Ink. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Driven to Ink. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Welcome Karen E Olson!

When I sent out an invite to join
us in the Kitchen, I was lucky enough
to get a couple of takers, so this week
is a twofer for me! First, we had
Gayle Trent on Sunday and today, I'd
like to give a warm Mystery Lover's
Kitchen welcome to Karen E Olson!

Welcome, Karen!

-What inspired you to become a mystery author?

I started reading mysteries only about 20 years ago. A friend gave me a couple of books to take on vacation with me: Sara Paretsky and Marcia Muller. I had no idea that mysteries could be so good, with such strong women protagonists. I began to read as many mysteries written by women as I could, and since I'd always wanted to try my hand at writing a novel, decided that this was the kind of book I wanted to write with a protagonist who could match the others I was reading.

-You have two series that you're writing - one is the Anne Seymour Series about a reporter (which is a former profession of yours) and the other is the Tattoo Shop Mysteries (a profession you have not worked in, right?). What are the differences in the series? The similarities? Do you find one easier to write than the other?

I'm no longer writing the Annie Seymour series, but I constantly get emails from readers asking me to! There are big differences between that series and the tattoo shop mysteries, in that the Annie books are a lot more gritty, more hard boiled. I call them journalism procedurals. Since I spent more than 20 years in newsrooms, I wanted to write about a reporter accurately. Annie is also very tough, although she has a vulnerable side. She's in a dying business, and she knows it.
When I started writing the tattoo shop series, my publisher indicated that they wanted something a little more cozy, although tattoos in Las Vegas did mean that there would be an edge to it, regardless. Brett Kavanaugh is younger than Annie, she owns her own business that's successful, she's much more comfortable in her own skin. And unlike Annie, she does not cuss. She's got good friendships, whereas Annie is more of a loner.
Both protagonists are strong women, and they are both curious. Annie, however, has to be curious for her job; Brett is what her brother Tim calls "nosy." While Annie is a compilation of people I've known throughout my career, I suppose you could say she was a little easier to write, although the more I've gotten to know Brett, I like her and am more and more comfortable writing about her. Also, the Annie books are set in my hometown of New Haven, and Brett is in Las Vegas, a city I've visited only three times but is easy to capture on the page because it's so crazy and quirky.

- Do you have any advice for writers looking to be published?
Stick with it. Perseverance can definitely lead to publication.

- What would your protagonists consider the perfect meal?
Neither of my characters cooks, but they do love food. Annie loves Wooster Street pizza in New Haven, particularly at Sally's Apizza. White clam pie. It's fantastic. Brett likes a good burger, mostly a Double Double at In-N-Out Burger, a fast food chain that sadly we do not have here on the East Coast.

- Do you have a recipe you want to share with our readers?
I don't cook. My husband does. But I do make a mean meatloaf,
the only thing my husband can't make!
2 pounds of freshly ground beef
a couple of slices of stale bread
1 egg
a dash of ketchup
1 package onion soup mix
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Crumble up stale bread into a bowl and add a
dash of water to make it moist. Add the egg, ketchup
and onion soup mix, then mix in the ground beef. Use
your hands, it mixes better that way. Form it into a
loaf and put it into a loaf pan. Bake for an hour.
It's easy and very tasty.
Thanks so much for having me here!!

Thanks for joining us today, Karen!
I used to live in New Haven, and I am a huge fan of Wooster Street
pizza -- Sally's and Pepe's. Since I live so far away now, I have enjoyed
visiting with Annie, who brings it all back.

For more information on Karen's soon to be released
Driven To Ink (Sept 7th), check out her website:

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Welcome Guest Blogger - Karen E. Olson

Please join me in welcoming Karen E. Olson to Mystery Lovers' Kitchen today. I loved getting to know Karen when she, Hank Phillippi Ryan and I were invited by the incomparable Molly Weston to visit North Carolina. Molly set up a book tour extraordinaire! We visited stores, libraries, classrooms, and we even had time to stop for some authentic barbecue! But the best part of the trip was getting to know Karen, Molly, and Hank. These are some fabulous women!

You've all met Hank here on the blog and I'm sure you've picked up some of her books. Now, I hope you check out Karen's tattoo shop mysteries. Does Karen have a tattoo? Nope. And I confess that as a tat-less person myself, I didn't know if I could get into the stories. Don't let that stop you. Her protagonist Brett Kavanaugh is a strong, fearless, and creative woman with a complicated life. You will love meeting her. I recently finished PRETTY IN INK - tattoos and drag queens. Can it be any more fun? And loved every roller coaster moment.

Okay, enough of me talking. Here's Karen:

When Julie asked me to guest blog, I had a little bit of a panic. You see, I don’t cook anymore. I haven’t cooked in years. Because my husband does. Every night.

He’s a great cook. He whips up chicken marsala, steak and broccoli stir fry, Arctic char with a maple syrup and soy sauce glaze, all after his usual nine hour work day. He likes it.

I’m not going to take that away from him.

Because he’s in the kitchen so much, he’s become a lot more aware of what we’re eating, and because of some health issues, about six months ago he decided that he’s going to try to get us off processed food as much as possible.

He’s making me spice muffins with raisins and sunflower seeds for breakfast, so I don’t have to stop for a bagel in the morning. He even started making his own bagels, trying recipe after recipe until he found one that got it right. He makes all our bread, and the one week we had to buy a loaf because he didn’t have time, well, let’s just say we don’t want that happening again. He’s tending a garden this summer, with lettuce, carrots, arugula, tomatoes, basil, green beans, and zucchini. He shops at the farmer’s market for what we call happy eggs from happy chickens, he buys fresh fish at a local store, and he gets all our beef and chicken from a local butcher.

Let’s say we’re eating pretty well and it’s incredibly healthful.

We took it one step further last weekend.

We made our own mayonnaise.

I’d had a boyfriend years ago whose mother used to make her own mayonnaise. By hand. It took what seemed to be hours. Making mayonnaise seemed very intimidating.

But we pulled out our trusty cookbook by our favorite New York Times columnist Mark Bittman. We had all the ingredients. We had a food processor. And he said he would only take 10 minutes to make.

He was right.

It was the most amazing mayonnaise ever.

Mark Bittman’s mayonnaise recipe:

1 egg

1 tsp dry mustard

2 tbl fresh lemon juice

1 c canola oil (it says you can use olive oil, but we tried that first and the flavor was too strong. Canola was much better, much more neutral)

salt and pepper to taste

Put egg, dry mustard, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and 1/4 c of the oil in a food processor. As you mix, pour the rest of the oil in very very, very slowly. It should start to get thick when you’ve poured about half of it in. If you want it thicker, you can add up to a 1/4 c more oil, but we found the consistency perfect for the potato salad we made with it.

Karen E. Olson is the author of the tattoo shop mystery series, including THE MISSING INK, and PRETTY IN INK.

DRIVEN TO INK, the third in the series, will be out Sept. 7.

Check out her books at www. or her blog at