Wednesday, June 8, 2016

An Interview with Julie Hyzy

By Pamela James

MM: Julie, tell us about your books and series?
I write the Manor House mystery series featuring Grace Wheaton as curator/manager of Marshfield Manor, a palatial museum/mansion/tourist attraction located in North Carolina. (Fictional neighbor to the magnificent Biltmore Estate ). The seventh installment in that series, Grace Sees Red, comes out in June.
I also wrote nine books in the White House Chef Mystery series – the most recent title, Foreign Eclairs, came out in January. That book is also the last in the series that I’ll write. For an explanation why the series is ending, please visit my blog post here: Julie Hyzy’s Blog

MM: Where is your favorite place to write?
Although I like to plan and plot with pen and paper, I tend to do all my writing on my desktop computer (iMac) in my cave (study/bedroom just off the family room in our house).

MM: Tell us the best and the worst part of writing a series?
The best part is coming back to visit friends with each new book. I learn a little bit more about each of my characters in each installment and that makes returning to hang out with them a true joy.
The worst part is coming up with new and unusual ways to kill people that still make sense. I mean, sure, I could kill a character by pushing him off a mountaintop, but getting the characters to the top of the mountain believably is tough. Same with obscure poisons and antique weaponry. Creative killing is fun. Ensuring it makes sense is the tough part.

MM: They say it takes a village to publish books. Who is in your village?
My family, for sure. Always in my corner, they are unbelievably patient and supportive. They’re the best cheerleaders and the most sympathetic listeners. My editor at Berkley is amazing. As is her staff.

MM: What would your characters tell us about you as their creator?
I think they’d say that I’ve given them a decent start in life, but allowed them their independence. 

MM: Do you like to reread books, do you like to binge watch movies and other shows? If so what are some of your favorites ones to read and watch?
I’ve read A Little Princess more than a dozen times (though the most recent reread was probably back when I was a pre-teen). I’ve also reread many Ray Bradbury short stories, as well as Fahrenheit 451. I’m currently rereading the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. Mostly, however, I prefer to pick up something new.
My husband and I have binge-watched (in some cases, binge re-watched) The West Wing; Battlestar Galactica; The Dick Van Dyke Show; and most of the Star Treks: TNG, DS9, VOY. There are a few others we started but then lost interest.

MM: What do you like to do on your down time?
I like to eat, mostly. Not kidding. Food is a real motivator for me. Lately, we’ve been cooking at home more and eating out less. Of course I love to read and now that I’m not writing the WHChef series, I have a bit more time for that!
Oh, and I just started tap dance lessons. 

MM: Dead or alive what five author would you like to share a meal with and what would you serve them? Who are the authors? What would you ask them?
If I were entertaining five authors I admired, I wouldn’t cook. I’d order in whatever they wanted, or I’d take them out because I would want to spend my time listening to them, not worried about whether dinner was about to burn.
That said, here are the authors I’d most like to share a meal with:
1) Ray Bradbury
2) Sue Grafton
3) Diana Gabaldon
4) JK Rowling
5) My youngest daughter, Biz (an aspiring author). This would make an amazing memory the two of us could share for years.

MM: Tell us about where live and why you love living there?
I was born and raised in Chicago (Southside) and still live in this beautiful city’s suburbs. Yes, we have a lot of crime and yes, our state is corrupt. But this is home and I love the history, the architecture, the excitement, and – of course – our gorgeous sparkling lake. 

MM: Do you have a favorite place to vacation?
So far, we’ve enjoyed all the places we’ve visited. Every destination has its own unique charm.

MM: What is your favorite day of the week?
Mondays are great. They represent the beginning of a wide open week and a chance to get lots of writing done. Not kidding.

MM: When are you most productive?
Thursdays. No idea why.

MM: Let's talk about your titles and your book covers?
That’s pretty open-ended…What do you want to talk about?

MM: Do you believe in writer's block?
No. If I’m having a hard time moving forward on a project, it’s one of two things: I’ve taken a wrong turn in the manuscript and my brain won’t allow me to continue until I fix it; or, procrastination is rearing its ugly head  

MM: What would you like to say to your readers?
Thank you. Without you, my characters would never have enjoyed the wonderful lives they’ve had so far.

MM: 2016 tell us what comes next for you this year? I mean both personally and professionally as a reader of two of your series I am interested in what comes next for you?
I’m not entirely sure. And that’s exciting for me. I know that I have one more book to write in my Grace (Manor House) mystery series before I find out whether Berkley plans to offer another contract. But with only one book ahead of me – rather than the two books per year that I’m used to producing – I have extra time. I’m hoping to add to my Riley Drake (Chicago Private Eye) series. She’s a fun character to write. Tough and bold. So far, she only has one book, Playing With Matches, out as an e-book. I’d like to explore more of her adventures.

I’d also like to attempt a brand-new standalone suspense/thriller. But that’s on the back burner for now. I’m not opposed to starting a new series, either, but I’d like to write a few short stories first. I miss writing short stories. They’re fun.

MM: Leave us with some words of wisdom by one of your characters?
Ollie (from Foreign Eclairs):

“…failing is part of life. And failing, for all the bad rap it gets, is a good thing. It’s where we do our best learning…. Those who aren’t afraid to fail are the ones who change the world because they’re the ones who create.”


  1. I love this insight: "Creative killing is fun. Ensuring it makes sense is the tough part."

  2. Julie,
    Your books are so much fun to read. Thank you for the interview.

  3. Congratulations on your new PI novel, Julie. I'm a big fan of Chicago, except for the winters.

    1. I am in Total agreement with you about Chicago Elaine!


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