We love bringing you info about great authors we’ve found, so here’s another Crime Writers Interview with Debra Goldstein!
First the formal bio:
Judge Debra H. Goldstein writes Kensington’s Sarah Blair mystery series. Her novels and short stories have been named Agatha, Anthony, Derringer, and Silver Falchion finalists and won IPPY, AWC, and BWR awards. Debra served on the national boards of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America and was president of the Guppy and SEMWA chapters.
Kass Lamb (on behalf of the whole misterio gang): We always like to begin with a “tell us about yourself” question. What two or three things do you feel people need to know in order to understand who you are?
Debra Goldstein: I always tell people that I am shy, but that if you put a microphone or a pen in my hand, my wicked dry sense of humor appears. Couple that quirk with an innate ability to delegate and you can understand how I’ve managed to avoid small talk at cocktail parties, conquer my desire to run out of a room instead of mingling, and become an officer, often including president, of various groups and organizations. At the same time, my serious side came into play as a litigator and then a judge.
The third, but probably the most important thing to know about me, is that family (whether biological or friends) comes first. This is often reflected in my writing.
Kass: Tell us more about your “day job” before you became a fiction writer? How has it influenced your writing?
Debra: I was a litigator and a judge for most of my professional life. In both of those capacities, my writing was stilted and boring (much like the beginning of this response). For many of the years I worked, unless I wrote a skit for a party or a group presentation, my creativity was stifled.
When I began my career as a writer of something other than briefs, decisions, legal articles, or chapters in textbooks, I had the freedom to escape the barriers in my writing associated with my “day job.”
Kass: Why crime fiction? What is the appeal of mysteries for you?
Debra: As far back as I can remember, the two types of books that I couldn’t get enough of were whodunits (Bobbsey Twins, Trixie Belden, Cherry Ames) and biographies (remember the great children’s series?). Today, crime fiction and biographies/memoirs are my favorite books to relax with. The characters intrigue me, the books tend to be easy reads, and the whodunits challenge me.
Because of my chosen career path, I dealt with serious situations and often found myself on planes. Crime fiction, especially cozy and traditional mysteries, let me escape the daily grind and read a couple of books as I was in flight. They appeal to my sense of figuring out a puzzle in a way that other genres don’t. (Note: I also read some literary fiction and a bit in most genres. But I always come back to crime fiction and biographies).
Kass: What type, i.e. subgenre, of mysteries do you write? Why does that subgenre appeal to you as a writer? Do you also prefer it as a reader?
Debra: My books tend to be classified as cozy or traditional whodunits. They appeal to me both as a reader and a writer because of the ease of escape they provide. In a gentle way, these subgenres tease my brain, but provide chuckles and characters that I can relate to. My short stories usually fit the traditional genre, but several tend to be darker in tone and characterization.
Kass: What’s the oddest and/or most difficult thing you ever had to research?
Debra: Cooking and recipes. When I began writing a culinary related series, I could easily tell you that two of my favorite books were Peg Bracken’s I Hate to Cook and The Appendix to the I Hate to Cook Book. So it seemed natural to make my protagonist, Sarah Blair, a woman who finds being in the kitchen more frightening than murder. Everyone thought that was a good premise.
It wasn’t until after the contract was signed that I was made aware of the fact that Kensington’s Sarah Blair series would need recipes. Not being a cook, I panicked. And then, just like the idea for the series hit me, I knew Sarah’s recipes needed to reflect her style of cooking – using pre-prepared ingredients. I scoured cookbooks and magazines until I found just the right blend of recipes.
One Taste Too Many includes “Jell-O in a Can” and “Spinach Pie made with Stouffers Spinach Souffle.” Two Bites Too Many has recipes for wine spritzers. Three Treats Too Many offers soups and vegan specialties. “Stained-Glass Jell-O” and other easy recipes are highlighted in Four Cuts Too Many. While Five Belles Too Many features “Wanda’s Baked Pears” and other simple treats.
Kass: In your latest story, what was your favorite (or hardest to write) scene?
Debra: In Five Belles Too Many, Sarah’s mother, Maybelle, is a finalist to win a perfect Southern Wedding in a TV reality show competition. Sarah is Maybelle’s chaperone. The hardest parts to write were the various contests within the show so that the reader would understand what goes on behind the scenes while a show is filmed versus what eventually shows up on their TV sets.
And there you have it folks ~ Our Crime Writers Interview with Debra Goldstein.
I have read all but the last of the Sarah Blair stories and enjoyed them very much. To see my review of Book 1, click HERE.
You can connect with Debra at her website, on Facebook, Instagram, Bookbub and Twitter (@DebraHGoldstein). And check out her latest book…
Five Belles Too Many, A Sarah Blair Mystery #5
When Sarah Blair’s mother participates in a reality show competition for brides in Wheaton, Alabama, things get a little too real as a murderer crashes the wedding party . . .
Sometimes Sarah’s mother, Maybelle, can be higher maintenance than Sarah’s Siamese cat RahRah. When Maybelle and her friend, Mr. George Rogers, are chosen to be one of five couples competing for a small-town “perfect” wedding and dream honeymoon on a Southern Belles reality TV show, Sarah ends up having to be Mother Maybelle’s chaperone. Even more vexing, the producers decide to put up the crew and participants at the restaurant/bed and breakfast owned by Sarah’s nemesis Jane Clark.
But when someone turns up dead with Jane kneeling by the body with blood on her hands, she goes from being Sarah’s chief rival to the police’s chief suspect. Neither Sarah nor her twin, Chef Emily Johnson, can stand Jane—still, they don’t think she’s a murderer. The producers vow the show must go on which means Sarah must find the true killer before her mother, or any other competitor, is permanently eliminated.
Includes quick and easy recipes!
Available on: AMAZON ~ BARNES & NOBLE
Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington psychological mysteries, set in her native Maryland, the Marcia Banks and Buddy cozy mysteries, set in Central Florida, and the C.o.P. on the Scene police procedurals, set in northern Florida. She also writes romantic suspense under the pen name of Jessica Dale.
Misterio press produces an array of quality crime fiction. We post here twice a month, usually on Tuesdays, to alert you to new releases, to entertain, and to inform.
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Debra H. GoldsteinFebruary 28, 2023 at 7:33 pm
Thanks for having me as a guest today. Appreciate the opportunity ….and the questions Kassandra posed to me.
Kassandra LambMarch 1, 2023 at 11:45 am
Thanks for joining us, Debra. Loved your answers.
Vinnie HansenFebruary 28, 2023 at 9:10 pm
Hey, Debra, thanks for being on our site. We had the same reading tastes as youngsters. I loved those biographies as much as mysteries.
Debra H.GoldsteinMarch 2, 2023 at 10:44 pm
They were fun because like a mystery, they unlocked the facts about someone’s life. I found that fascinating.
CandaceMarch 1, 2023 at 3:48 pm
Debra and Kass,
I had a chuckle about the recipes because I don’t cook either. Nor does my MC. Luckily, I don’t write cozies. Anyhow, good to meet you, Debra.
Kassandra LambMarch 1, 2023 at 5:27 pm
I chuckled over the Jello in a Can as well, Candace. That’s my kind of recipe, for sure.
Debra H. GoldsteinMarch 2, 2023 at 10:46 pm
Good to meet you, too, Candace. The fun part of these recipes is that they
all work. The Jell-O in a Can was in all the women’s magazines at one time.
Vera DayMarch 3, 2023 at 11:31 am
Wonderful interview. So funny about the non-cooker in a culinary series!
Kassandra LambMarch 6, 2023 at 1:27 pm
Glad you enjoyed it, Vera. Thanks for stopping by!