By Hook or by Crook | September 1, 2013

Laughter drifted out the front door of mystery maven Janet Rudolph’s ( Berkeley home late one June evening as three California mystery authors—Kate Carlisle, Juliet Blackwell, and Daryl Wood Gerber—regaled 18 guests at Rudolph’s monthly “salon” with their publishing adventures. All three were on the cusp of new releases: Carlisle of A Cookbook Conspiracy, the seventh in the “Brooklyn Wainwright Bibliophile Mystery” series and her first in hardcover; Blackwell of Tarnished and Torn, number five in her “Witchcraft Mystery” series (she also writes the “Haunted Home Renovation” series); and Gerber—who also writes as Avery Aames, and won an Agatha for best first novel (The Long Quiche Goodbye)—debuting a new culinary series with Final Sentence.

The self-effacing Carlisle, a New York Times best-selling author, offered up that it took a good 20 years to attain that success. When she finally incorporated a lifelong love of bookmaking into her plot, she was able to launch a successful series. Happily working in two genres—she also writes popular romances for Harlequin—Carlisle makes it all look so easy. Blackwell put her educational background in anthropology to work in her Witchcraft series; her love of research shone through as she described some of the witch cultures from around the globe. Regarding her “Haunted Home Renovation” series, Blackwell admitted that a diverse work history, including time as a construction finisher, gave her real insights into the industry. Contrary to conventional wisdom (that only women read cozies), she noted that “the guys” enjoy her construction series. The research process helps her transition from one series to the next.

Gerber, by contrast, literally maps out her separate worlds for the two series she now has running. Noting the attention readers pay to tiny details in fictional worlds, Gerber had us laughing with tales of how well-intentioned loved ones want to correct her on her town’s layout. All three authors agreed that they love to read series and enjoy making theirs come alive for readers. Blackwell compares it to a “miniseries” on television in which one identifies with the characters and desperately needs to know what’s next. Just a click away: all three have social media outlets and blogs. Try the Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen ( for a sampling.



  1. I’m jealous that you were at Janet Rudolph’s to hear three authors that I’ve enjoyed hosting. Someday, I’d like to make it to one of Janet’s salons. I’m sure she’s a wonderful host. And, I know it was an evening of laughter with those four women present.