Today we introduce our readers to debut cozy mystery author Jodi Rath. Learn more about Jodi and her books at her website and blog.
When did you realize you wanted to write novels?
I realized I wanted to be a writer at age five. I used to play “magazine owner” and take my mom’s old magazines and cut them up to create my own unique versions. By seven or eight I signed up at a local fair to win a set of encyclopedia’s and I won! I used to randomly pick a letter and open the encyclopedia to any page, read an article, and write a summary like I was a writer. I’ve always loved reading as far back as I can remember and loved being read to as well. High school was the first time I ever thought about writing an entire novel.
How long did it take you to realize your dream of publication?
After nearly fifteen years as a teacher, I felt deflated and depressed. I began to write a mystery called Strange Blue. I could write twenty pages on everything that has happened since, but long story short, it has taken seven years to publish my first novel. Strange Blue should be available in late 2019.
Are you traditionally published, indie published, or a hybrid author?
Where do you write?
Mostly at home in my family room or on my screened in porch or when it’s cool enough out on my deck overlooking our woods. When I work in my family room, I have a staff of eight cats that tend to sleep a lot on the job!
Is silence golden, or do you need music to write by? What kind?
I generally have the TV on as background noise or listen to music. I listen to all kinds of music from 60’s to 80’s to metal to rock to indie to folk to jazz to classical. But I find that at certain parts of the writing process I need silence.
How much of your plots and characters are drawn from real life? From your life in particular?
My protagonist, Jolie Tucker, in the Cast Iron Skillet Mysteries is largely based on my quirks and my faults. Poor girl! Jolie’s best friend, Ava Martinez, is based on a combination of about four or five of my close friends.
Describe your process for naming your character?
I love to research. So I research name banks online and play around with them. Sometimes I sketch my characters out, and that helps me get a more rounded feeling of them, making it easier to pick a name.
Real settings or fictional towns?
Fictional villages based on a real village. The Cast Iron Mysteries Series is set in Leavensport, Ohio, a small wooded, farm village that is similar to my little village in Carroll, Ohio but with a lot of fictional places and details.
What’s the quirkiest quirk one of your characters has?
Jolie’s Aunt Fern looks a lot like the Hallmark lady with big round glasses, curly gray hair, always wearing house dresses, and has a lot of dogs. Her ringer on her cell phone is “Who let the dog’s out?” and she has a tendency to flirt with a lot of the widowed men in the village, while constantly embarrassing her niece.
What’s your quirkiest quirk?
I’m an eccentric chic. I’ve always been a weirdo, nerdish type. I mean, a five year old playing out a fantasy for a few years (did I mention it was years) of owning a magazine and using her stuffed animals and dolls as her staff…that child is destined to be a peculiar adult. When my mom took me to the zoo, I used to say I wanted to tame the big cats, and here I am today, writing with the big cats. Three of my boys weigh in at 18, 17, and 26 pounds respectively. Not to mention I’m a horrible singer and dancer, yet I sing and dance for my cats and my husband a lot…like an uncomfortable amount of bad singing and dancing. Quirky enough for you? I can go on!
If you could have written any book (one that someone else has already written,) which one would it be? Why?
Any Agatha Christie, Hunter S. Thompson, Sara Paretsky, or Ernest Hemingway book. I was a literature major in college and could make you a three-page list.
Everyone at some point wishes for a do-over. What’s yours?
I am thankful for all the good and bad things in my life. Each taught me something important about what to do and what not to do and helped me make decisions on paths in my life. I am extremely happy with where I am right now. I don’t think I’d be here unless every single thing happened as it did, so I wouldn’t do anything differently.
What’s your biggest pet peeve?
Lack of tolerance. I taught high school English and I always tried to incorporate into my lessons that it’s okay to agree to disagree and to be different. Tolerance is key to peace and communication.
You’re stranded on a deserted island. What are your three must-haves?
My laptop and a way to charge it (does that count as two?), my cats, my husband.
What was the worst job you’ve ever held?
Working in sales or in fast food. Everyone wants me to work with people and that stresses me out, but I’m told I work well with people! LOL...I know, how could I teach all those years?
What’s the best book you’ve ever read?
If I have to pick only one, J.D. Salinger’s Franny and Zooey.
Ocean or mountains?
City girl/guy or country girl/guy?
What’s on the horizon for you?
Just started my business in February of 2018, so I’ll continue to offer my online courses for teachers and educational writing. I have fourteen titles and sketches for the Cast Iron Mystery Series, so I’ll be working on those for years to come! Plus I have so many projects on the back burner. I get bored easily and switch from project to project.
Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and/or your books?
I see that you have a food editor, Cloris! Cloris may appreciate that the Cast Iron Skillet Mysteries will feature a “secret” recipe at the end of each book with a cast iron skillet tip as well. My grandma gave me the seventy-year-old cast iron skillet she received as a wedding gift. She has only ever made pineapple upside down cake in it because that was my grandpa’s favorite dessert. I now have a lot of cast iron skillets, and I can’t believe I ever cooked without them. I posted pix and the story about my grandma on social media and so many people shared recipes and comments and it was so amazing that they made me want to write this series.
Pineapple Upside Down Murder
A Cast Iron Skillet Mystery, Book 1
Introducing Jolie Tucker, an introverted yet passionate restaurant co-owner of Cast Iron Creations, who, at her best friend Ava’s request, steps out of her comfort zone, which leads her into the shade of a killer in the small, cozy village of Leavensport, Ohio. The victim is the village’s beloved Ellie Siler who runs the village sweet spot, Chocolate Capers. Jolie finds her grandma Opal is a prime suspect and goes on a search for answer only to find out that her family’s secret recipes may not belong to the Tucker family at all. Jolie’s job, family, and livelihood are all on the line. The answers are assuredly lethal.