Sunday, June 27, 2010

Our Characters Must Eat!

A very warm welcome to our guest today, Leann Sweeney. Leann writes the Cats in Trouble mysteries which have thrilled cat lovers everywhere. The Cat, The Quilt and The Corpse was the #1 bestseller on the Independent Mystery Bookseller's List when it debuted and made several top twenty lists for 2009 at bookstores across the country. Leann lives in Texas with husband Mike, her three cats, and Rosie--the smart, retrieving, golf-ball chasing, busy-busy-busy mini-labradoodle.

Our Characters Must Eat!

By Leann Sweeney

I recall listening to an editor speak at a conference more than a decade ago, well before I was published, and her saying, "Don't forget that your characters need to eat." Then, when I took a class with Elizabeth George a few years later, one of our exercises was to describe what was in the refrigerator of the character we were writing about. Yes, food is important in our books.In my first series, the Yellow Rose Mysteries, the heroine's sister is a health food devotee. And she's always trying to foist her preferences on Abby Rose. Abby prefers frozen pizza. But when I was invited to a book club meeting where the members were discussing the first Yellow Rose book, Pick Your Poison, I was confronted with just how important food was—even if it remains part of the setting. See, the book club members decided to make all the food that I'd mentioned in the book for our meeting.
I was stunned, first of all, by the amount of food. And also that I didn't remember writing about most of it. But those book lovers did. In that particular mystery, there is a funeral, and I'd forgotten how important funeral food is. Even though Abby Rose is on hiatus and I am currently writing the Cats in Trouble Series—where Jillian Hart drinks lots of sweet tea and coffee—I thought I'd share the recipe for the potato salad that appears in my first book. The book club ladies couldn't find a recipe for Dill and Sour Cream Potato Salad. One woman made one up and it wasn't half bad. But she should have called me. I know the real ingredients since I've been making this for years out of necessity. I'm allergic to eggs and there's no mayo in this one!

Dill and Sour Cream Potato Salad

4 c. diced cooked potatoes
1 c. sliced celery
3 green onions, thinly sliced
3 T. vinegar
3 T. Canola oil
¼ tsp. seasoned salt
¼ tsp. seasoned pepper
2 sprigs fresh dill, chopped, or ½ tsp dried dillweed
¾ c. sour cream—light is fine, not sure about fat-free
½ c. chopped green and red peppers
Additional sprigs of dill and tomato wedges for garnish

Combine potato, celery and green onion. Mix next 5 ingredients, pour over potatoes and toss very gently. Refrigerate several hours. Mix in sour cream and bell peppers. Garnish if desired.

This is a great summer recipe, one that can be made ahead of time and is super easy!

Have you entered the June contest at Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen?

Avery Aames is celebrating the upcoming release of The Long Quiche Goodbye.

Avery's "You Be The Sleuth" Contest!

Avery’s first book in A Cheese Shop Mystery series, The Long Quiche Goodbye, debuts July 6. To celebrate its release, Avery is running a contest from June 9 to July 6! You be the sleuth! Track down the recipe on Avery's website that includes eggs, Edam, and white pepper. Enter your answer by clicking on this link: CONTEST ENTRY FORM.

One of you will win a $25 gift certificate at your favorite bookstore. Two of you will win signed copies of The Long Quiche Goodbye. Three of you will win a Long Quiche Goodbye magnet. You can ask friends for help. Spread the word and share the fun. And while you're there, consider pre-ordering a book on Avery's booksellers page.

Here is the link to Avery’s website to help get you started.


  1. I love trying different recipes for potato salad. I will give this one a whirl.

  2. Great recipe for summertime picnics. I've past on making potato salad before because I didn't have mayo. Next time I'll know what to do. Love your books and hope you bring Abby Rose back soon.

    Thoughts in Progress

  3. Hey, Leann! So nice to have you here today! You're right about our characters having to eat. Sometimes those are my favorite parts of the book... some interesting conversations can come up between courses! Love the recipe for potato salad. Although I love my mayo, this one sounds fabulous! Thanks for being with us today.


  4. Thanks for having me. And I might have to make potato salad today. As Abby would say, "it's hot enough to melt hell's door handle." We need something cold like this!

  5. Thanks so much for joining us today, Leann. I love this mayo-free recipe. Sour cream is a nice change.

    ~ Krista

  6. Now I have to go to the market again. LOL. I love that they made all of the food from your book. What a unique idea!

  7. Thanks, Leann. Several people I love dearly can't eat eggs - this salad will make the next family gathering a happier place.

    What a combo - your terrific books and this recipe - all finding a place in my home!


    Charlotte Adams mysteries

  8. Leann-

    I LOVE potato salad and have never thought to
    use sour cream or dill. I love both and can't wait to try it! Love your books, too, btw! Both
    series are terrific!

  9. Thanks everyone. It's really a delicious salad. And yes, I was so surprised at all the food at that book club meeting. They went to so much trouble.

  10. What a wonderful story about how much readers lover your books -- every single part of them, even the food that your characters eat! This recipe is a real winner. What a wonderful way to "lighten up" a summer favorite. Going to tweet it right now!

    Finally, BIG congrats on the success of your CATS IN TROUBLE series!

    ~ Cleo

  11. I LOVE potato salad...but the commercial stuff disappoints me. This recipe sounds delish--thanks so much for sharing! I'm a fan of green onion. :)

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