CHARACTER INTERVIEW WITH JENNY KALES' CALLIOPE COSTAS
ABOUT THE BOOK
When Callie is asked to deliver cast party treats for a Murder Mystery Night at the historic Harris House, it seems like a welcome break from her hot stove. That is, until she finds herself an unwilling player in yet another suspicious death. Worse yet, the victim is a family friend and graduate student working on a project involving Crystal Bay’s colorful past.
Before long, a motley crew of suspects makes things as juicy as the succulent berries strewn around Callie’s Kitchen. And that’s not all Callie’s got on her plate. Add family obligations, a deepening romance with a local detective and unexpected personnel problems to the mix. One thing’s for sure: Callie’s got the recipe for a long, hot summer!
ABOUT CALLIOPE COSTAS
Calliope Costas, known as “Callie” to her friends, is a 36-year-old Greek-American single mom and owner of “Callie’s Kitchen,” a Greek-meets-Midwestern eatery known for its homemade meals and delicious baked goods. She lives in Crystal Bay, Wisconsin, a picturesque waterfront community and deals with not only running her own business, but also juggling multiple family issues that stem from her ex-husband, Hugh, his new wife, Raine and her daughter, 10-year-old Olivia. Lately, she’s also dealing with the fact that someone close to her has been murdered – again! Her father, George, is warm, loving – and meddlesome. Her grandmother, Viv, is always on her side. Callie is always ready to give her friends a kind word and a comforting meal and she’s just as likely to risk her own safety to track down a killer.
INTERVIEW WITH CALLIOPE COSTAS
Callie, how did you first meet Jenny?
We met in 2013, while she was taking a trip to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. She had loved reading cozy mysteries for many years and realized that a small, waterfront town in Wisconsin would be the perfect setting for a cozy mystery series. That’s how “Crystal Bay” was born. She loves food and married a Greek guy, so that’s how I came to be.
Want to dish about her?
She has quite the imagination and sometimes I wind up in tight spots that are difficult to get myself out of. Less excitement in my life would be welcome at times!
Why do you think that you ended up being in a book?
I think people can relate to me. I have real problems and real flaws. I juggle work, family, love and life, just like most of us. Lately, I’ve been finding myself in some extraordinary circumstances, and people can put themselves in my shoes and wonder what they would do in the same situations. Also, let’s face it: I have some exciting scenes when I finally confront the killers!
Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.
Personally, I love any scene that takes place in the elegant but slightly spooky Harris House. I also love the Greek Fest scene. Lots going on there, both in the mystery and in my personal life.
Tell the truth. What do you think of your fellow characters?
My family and friends: charming, if frustrating at times. I wish sometimes that they weren’t so concerned about me and that they let me live my life. Sands, my boyfriend, is a workaholic but so much fun and dreamy to look at. The others, including the many suspects? Just when I think I have them figured out, they do something that surprises me.
Do have any secret aspirations that Jenny doesn’t know about?
I want to travel. I have a couple of ideas but let’s see if she figures them out.
What impression do you make on people when they first meet you?
I think people find me friendly and cheerful when they first meet me. I’m always cooking so I’ll probably offer you some food! Later, they see that I’m a bit overextended and sometimes too nice and accommodating for my own good. I also have a feisty side. Don’t tangle with my family or friends!
What's the worst thing that's happened in your life? What did you learn from it?
The worst thing that happened in my life was when my mother died when I was young. I learned that life is to be embraced and to appreciate my family and friends, even when life is throwing me challenges – especially then
What are you most afraid of?
What’s the best trait Jenny has given you?
The best traits that she’s given me is that I’m a good mom, a hard worker and a loyal friend.
What’s the worst?
My worst trait is that I often let my emotions get the better of me and have tunnel vision when I’m trying to work out a problem.
If your story were a movie, who would play you?
I think of myself as a cross between Jenni Poulous on Flipping Out and Pam from The Office.
Describe the town where you live.
Crystal Bay, Wisconsin is in the southeast part of the state. It’s a waterfront town and popular tourist destination for people from Wisconsin and Illinois. Crystal Bay is filled with natural beauty and lots of local history. It’s a blend of the elegant and the rustic, with large, historic homes that dot the shoreline. The town is bustling with shops and restaurants, but with a population of about 6,000, it has a small town feeling.
What makes you stand out from any other characters in your genre?
Unlike many cozy mystery characters, I’m a Greek-American, so you will find that cultural details and “flavor” not found in other characters of my genre.
Will you encourage Jenny to write a sequel?
Oh, yes! I have many adventures ahead of me.
ABOUT THE AUTHORJenny Kales is the author of The Callie’s Kitchen Mystery Series, featuring Greek-American Calliope Costas, feisty food business owner and amateur sleuth. The setting of the story, “Crystal Bay,” is inspired by a favorite family vacation spot – Wisconsin’s beautiful Geneva Lakes. On The Chopping Block is the debut book in the series, followed by Spiced and Iced. Secrets and Pies was released on October 19.
Jenny is an avid reader, cook and baker and she’s addicted to mystery TV, especially anything on Masterpiece Mystery or BBC America. A member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, she lives just outside of Chicago with her husband, two daughters and one cute but demanding Yorkshire terrier.
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