Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Strange is the new normal by Cathy Ace


This is a tough one to answer because “strange” is such a subjective concept. I’ll be honest and admit many things I think of as being perfectly normal might be construed as “strange” by others. 

Take some of the research I've undertaken for my Cait Morgan Mysteries, for example: I thought nothing of engaging a lovely lady by the name of Patti for an hour or so on the lounge deck of a cruise ship so she could explain the details of exactly how her chum had been hypnotized to stop smoking…just so I could take my initial thought of “what a great way to kill someone” and contemplate the logistics of how that might work. (I used the idea in THE CORPSE WITH THE GOLDEN NOSE, but you’ll have to read the book to see just how it played out…no spoilers here!) Indeed, I’ve had so many lengthy conversations with people about matters which, in my mind, lend themselves to murder that I don’t even blush anymore when I explain why I’m quizzing them. See? “Strange” is highly subjective.

The better part of a day I spent tasting tequila (for THE CORPSE WITH THE EMERALD THUMB, set on a tequila-producing hacienda near Puerto Vallarta) went well…up to a point. I don’t think anyone here needs to know exactly how it went off the rails. Quite an experience – but not “strange” given the amount I’d consumed! And who knew there was so much to learn about the supply chain for, and correct storage of, caviar and the challenges of running a restaurant that can only be reached by elevator? Thanks to Lyle at the Eiffel Tower Restaurant at Paris, Las Vegas for spending all that time with me in person and online – it was essential research for THE CORPSE WITH THE PLATINUM HAIR (even drinking all that champagne was critical!).   

I find the emails that pass between me and my ever-so-helpful-and-friendly local coroner to be perfectly normal, and my husband no longer thinks it’s odd that I sometimes eat food I don’t really fancy, but which I think Cait Morgan would try…just to find out what it smells and tastes like, and how it feels in my mouth. Trust me when I tell you snail caviar doesn’t have the flavor or texture of fish caviar and, apparently, there is a limit to how much white chocolate bread pudding a person can eat! (THE CORPSE WITH THE GOLDEN NOSE and THE CORPSE WITH THE PLATINUM HAIR, respectively.)

For my WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries I capitalized upon my love of unusual museums and ended up finding out more about antique dentures than I had previously imagined anyone would ever care to know (see how that worked out in THE CASE OF THE DOTTY DOWAGER). That said, learning about Winston Churchill’s false teeth didn’t strike me as “strange”, but fascinating. 

Maybe that’s how it is for a person who writes mysteries – my “normal” might be “strange” to others – but I have no real way of knowing. Which is probably for the best. 
Cathy Ace writes the WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries (book #2 THE CASE OF THE MISSING MORRIS DANCER was published in hardback in February, and book #1 THE CASE OF THE DOTTY DOWAGER was published in trade paperback on March 1st) and the Cait Morgan Mysteries (book #7 THE CORPSE WITH THE GARNET FACE was published in paperback in April). Find out more about Cathy and her work, and sign up for her newsletter at 


Allan J. Emerson said...

Your research sounds like fun, Cathy. I loved the stuff about the antique teeth in The Case of the Dotty Dowager.

Cathy Ace said...

Thanks, Allan - odontological antiquities might not be something I could ever answer questions on Mastermind about (a wonderful UK quiz TV programme for those with a SERIOUS depth of understanding of a topic)but it is something that interests me. :-)

Susan C Shea said...

I love the cover and the title of The Corpse with the Golden Nose. Really, what could be more intriguing!

Cathy Ace said...

Thanks, Susan - it's a view of Lake Okanagan in country and a delight for all the senses! The Titular corpse is an award-winning vintner, hence the "golden nose"! ;-) The wine tasting research for this book was...ummm...necessary...and absolutely enjoyable.