Welcome to August! This month I’m featuring Paige Shelton and her brand new book, IF CATFISH HAD NINE LIVES. It’s the fourth book in the Country Cooking Mystery series and does not disappoint! Paige sat down with me to do a little Q&A.
1. Do you believe in ghosts like Betts does?
Not in the full-bodied form. I’ve had plenty of somewhat unexplainable moments where I heard something strange or saw something at the corner of my vision that made me wonder. I’ve sensed “presences” in the room, but I haven’t been able to pinpoint them except to think that they’re my intuition trying to tell me something. I try to listen.
2. What is one of Betts’ favorite recipes? Can you share it here?
This is the fried chicken recipe from the first book of the series, IF FRIED CHICKEN COULD FLY. It’s not a quick process, but I love the end product. It seems my readers do, too. I get lots of positive emails about it.
Chicken pieces, skin left on
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
Cast iron skillet
Rinse the chicken pieces and pat dry with a paper towel. Dip the chicken pieces in milk and then dredge through your flour/salt/pepper/paprika mixture. Let the chicken stand for 20 minutes and then dredge again.
Fill your skillet with about 1/2 inch vegetable oil and heat it on medium-high to 375 degrees. You’ll need to watch the temperature throughout the whole frying process. Dip your chicken pieces, one or two pieces at a time into the oil. Brown both sides. Remove to a platter and until you have browned all the pieces.
Return all pieces of chicken to the skillet. Reduce heat to low or medium-low and cover. Cook slowly and gently for about 20 minutes or until the chicken is done all the way through and is fork tender. Remove the cover. Turn up the heat to medium-high and re-crisp the chicken, about 5 minutes after the skillet is hot again.
3. When you start a new book, what’s your process? Major plotting? Do the characters lead you?
I start with a spark, a small idea and see where it takes me. For the cooking school books, I’m not even sure who the ghost will be before I sit down to write the story. I’ve decided that my first draft must be more an outline (though usually a 65,000 or so word outline) than a draft. The editing that follows is strenuous and slow, but I’m just not capable of doing it any other way.
4. You have a niche with food-themed books. Are you a cook in real life and is that what inspires you in your series?
I enjoy cooking. Sometimes. It goes in spurts, I guess. I’m not an instinctual cook, so I have to try a bunch of different recipes before I come up with one that I can call my own. But when I finally put something together I really own it, and prepare it a bunch of times before my family tells me that it’s time to move on to a new recipe.
5. What quality to you most love about Betts?
She’s trying hard to not be afraid of her ability to see and talk to ghosts. She wants to “do right” by them but she isn’t sure what that means. She forces herself to be brave, to push away her fear.