Jen: Today we welcome Janel Gradowski to Romancing the Book. Janel, will you share a short bio with us?
Janel: Janel Gradowski lives in a land that looks like a cold weather fashion accessory, the mitten-shaped state of Michigan. She is a wife and mom to two kids and one Golden Retriever. Her journey to becoming an author is littered with odd jobs like renting apartments to college students and programming commercials for an AM radio station. Somewhere along the way she also became a beadwork designer and teacher. She enjoys cooking recipes found in her formidable cookbook and culinary fiction collection. Searching for unique treasures at art fairs, flea markets and thrift stores is also a favorite pastime. Coffee is an essential part of her life. She writes the Culinary Competition Mystery Series, along with The Bartonville Series (women’s fiction) and the 6:1 Series (flash fiction). She has also had many short stories published in both online and print publications.
Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
Janel: Banana Muffins & Mayhem is my new release. The inspiration for the basis of the story came from a few things. My daughter and I love watching home improvement shows, so that is what inspired the murder victim’s background. Another thing that I love to do is peruse Amazon’s lists of bestselling cookbooks. I noticed quite a few focused on making everything from main dishes to fancy desserts in muffin tins. That was the inspiration for the culinary competition that Amy competes in.
Jen: At what age did you discover writing? Tell us your call story.
Janel: I have been a voracious reader for as long as I can remember. I even used index cards to make my own version of library cards for the books that I owned when I was a child. When I was in the fifth grade I was given the assignment to write about an inanimate object come to life. My classmates enjoyed my story about a talking car so much they asked for it to be read again. That’s when I became hooked on writing because I realized that I could learn to write stories that others found entertaining and that maybe someday I could add my own book to my shelves.
Jen: Describe your writing in 3 words.
Janel: Funny. Emotional. Thoughtful.
Jen: Do you have a writing routine?
Janel: I do, but it changes often! Usually I end up going with the flow. Sometimes I write first thing in the morning. At other times, like when I’m getting ready for a new book release, I take care of promotional or “office” work in the mornings. My latest routine is writing at the library three or four evenings per week. This new routine was brought about by my son joining a swim team and a need to find something to do while he practices. I got lucky that the library is only a few blocks away from the pool. Normally I don’t write much after dinner, but I’ve begun to do so at the quiet library.
Jen: How do you remember ideas that come to you at odd times?
Janel: I’m a big fan of notebooks and index cards. I always have a notepad in my purse and additionally in my vehicle. I actually plot out scenes for my books on index cards, so I keep those handy too. If I end up somewhere without a pen and paper, I use phone or Kindle apps to make notes.
Jen: Who are some of your favorite authors? What are you reading now?
Janel: Diane Mott Davidson is one of my all-time favorite authors. Her books introduced me to culinary cozies, so she is a literary hero to me. Outside of the mystery genre I adore Barbara O’Neal, especially her women’s fiction books. Her style is so lush and descriptive.
I am currently reading a non-fiction book, The Tapping Solution by Nick Ortner. I’m fascinated with the concept of tapping your fingers on energy meridians in your body to help with everything from overcoming fears to relieving stress and losing weight.
Jen: What’s been the highlight of your career to this point?
Janel: The first book in my Culinary Competition series, “Pies & Peril”, was the #1 Culinary Cozy Mystery on Amazon for almost a month after it was released. I wasn’t sure what to expect since it was the first release in a new series with a new publisher. It still gives me goosebumps to remember getting up so many mornings in a row and seeing the book sitting at the top of the list. It was definitely a dream come true!
Jen: What’s next for you?
Janel: I am currently editing a cozy mystery for a new series, which should be released later this year. Then I’ll be working on the sixth book in my Culinary Competition series. So more adventures are on the way for Amy, Carla, and the Kellerton, MI crew.
The Treasure Hunt clue for Romancing the Book is: A
Collect all of the letters to spell out the Treasure Hunt word then use it to gain extra entries in the Grand Prize giveaway. You can find all of the blog tour stops and enter the giveaway at http://www.janelgradowski.com/2016/06/14/banana-muffins-mayhem-treasure-hunt-blog-tour/.