Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Interview with Bluette Matthey, author of Black Forest Reckoning

Black Forest Reckoning Book Banner

blackforesFrontB-3Title: Black Forest Reckoning
Author: Bluette Matthey
Publisher: Blue Shutter Publishing
Pages: 299
Genre: Travel Mystery

 Outfitter Hardy Durkin and company are visiting the Black Forest area of Germany, staying in the guest wing of a local castle, Schloss Haeflin. In the midst of hiking the Black Forest, enjoying all things Swabian, and spending a day in Baden-Baden, the hikers find themselves at ground zero for coeds disappearing from the nearby University of Freiburg and foul play is suspected. Unresolved personal issues of several members of the group threaten the tour’s cohesion, and Hardy discovers the Baron, who owns the schloss, has stolen someone’s identity as well as his fortune. Ever the sleuth, Hardy untangles the web of deceit, madness, and murder in ‘The Black Forest Reckoning’.  

What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life?

I’ve raised three fantastic kids to successful adulthood, and we are very much a part of each other’s lives.

How has your upbringing influenced your writing?

Traveling was always an important part of my growing up.  I remember when I was in second or third grade getting ready for a trip to Florida over Christmas.  My dad got us all up at 2 or 3 in the morning to set out … it was an adventure!  My parents took me to the World’s Fair in Montreal in 1967 when I was sixteen and let me explore the entire place and beyond on my own for a week.  I’d meet them at our rendezvous point in  the car park at day’s end, and I’d do it all over the next day.  Amazing!  Another trip explored the eastern Canadian provinces for four weeks of travel in a travel trailer, then eight weeks out West and the western Canadian provinces.  Glorious!!  I’d pick up pen pals as I went. And I’d be reading mysteries as we traveled.  No surprise, really, that I’d found my niche writing travel mysteries.

When and why did you begin writing?

I started writing short story westerns in the third grade that were take-offs on my TV heroes at the time and my third-grade teacher, Mrs. Steiner, had me read one to the class.  In retrospect, they were pretty awful.  I took creative writing classes and poetry courses as an undergraduate and wrote two children’s books and started several novels during the ensuing years.  Whenever I traveled I took notes of people, places, and details that could have value in a story somewhere down the line.  But it was when I was returning from a trip to London two years ago that I phoned my husband from the airport and told him I’d decided to write travel mysteries.  It seemed the natural thing to do, since I really enjoy traveling and love a good mystery.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I don’t remember why I started writing, but I’ve always done it.

When did you first know you could be a writer? 

I think I figured that out near the end of my first four years at university.  Life would steam-roller over me and I’d put it all on a shelf for a while, take it down, dust it off, get capsized by another wave.  This went on for years, until I realized being over-whelmed was all a part of the process.

What inspires you to write and why?

What I see in life inspires me:  places I’ve been, people I’ve met, experiences … I’ve had some hard knocks, but lots of mercy and I think I’ve embraced it all.  Injustice in its various forms also prods me to the pen.

What genre are you most comfortable writing?

I’ve written poetry, children’s books, novels, and travel mysteries, and hands down I love writing the latter.  I’ve been reading mysteries since fourth grade and traveling since that same age, so traveling mysteries are a good fit for me.

What inspired you to write your first book?

My first travel mystery is a result of a trip I took to London two years ago to visit my son.  I went on quite a few London Walks --- a great way to see off-the-beaten-path London --- and one of the walks found me standing in front of Whitehaven Mansions on Charterhouse Square, the London residence of Agatha Christie’s Belgian sleuth, Hercule Poirot.  I adore David Suchet’s portrayal of Poirot; it inspires me.  Anyway, I’m standing there thinking, ‘Travel mysteries … I can do that.”

Who or what influenced your writing once you began?

My travels and adventures are an enormous influence on what I write.  I’ve also been influenced by mystery writers like Rex Stout, Ngaio Marsh, James Lee Burke, and Dame Christie, as well as some of the really well done European Crimes Series we watch online.

What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general?

Getting the characters right.  Character development and balance are vital to a book’s success.

Did writing this book teach you anything and what was it?

I do a tremendous amount of research when I write, so I’m always learning and experiencing new things about the setting’s culture, history, and cuisine.  While doing on site research for Black Forest Reckoning I went to the old-world heath spa in Baden-Baden and did the full-package spa regimen.  The food in the Black Forest region is especially wonderful, particularly Swabian pork, a breed developed in the area and incredibly flavorful.  I also enjoyed spending time in the university town of Freiburg, where a good bit of Black Forest Reckoning takes place.

Do you intend to make writing a career?

It is more a life style.

Have you developed a specific writing style?

I’m sure I have.

What is your greatest strength as a writer? 

I work at capturing what makes a place breathe, what makes it special, and pass it along to my readers.

What is your favorite quality about yourself?

I love a good adventure and want to continue growing as a person.  Gotta keep it fresh!

What is your least favorite quality about yourself?

I have a quick, hot temper.

What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?

“The words you speak become the house you live in.”---Hafez  Another way of saying it might be: “You live at the level you speak.”  “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”(Proverbs 18:21)

Bluette Matthey Bluette Matthey is a third generation Swiss American and an avid lover of European cultures. She has decades of travel and writing experience. She is a keen reader of mysteries, especially those that immerse the reader in the history, inhabitants, culture, and cuisine of new places. Her passion for travel, except airports (where she keeps a mystery with her to pass the time), is shared by her husband, who owned a tour outfitter business in Europe. Bluette particularly loves to explore regions that are not on the “15 days in Europe” itineraries. She also enjoys little-known discoveries, such as the London Walks, in well-known areas. She firmly believes that walking and hiking bring her closer to the real life of any locale. Bluette maintains a list of hikes and pilgrimages throughout Europe for future exploration. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband, faithful dog, and band of loving cats.

You can visit Bluette’s website at www.bluettematthey.com

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