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Cajun Kiss of Death: A Cajun Country Mystery!

Cajun Kiss of DeathCajun Kiss of Death —Ellen Byron returns with her latest Cajun Country Mystery

Author Interview + Author & Book Info + Author Pet Corner!

Cajun Kiss of Death

Cajun Kiss of DeathThe next shot from Cupid’s bow may be fatal in USA Today bestselling, Agatha Award-winning author Ellen Byron’s hearty and delightful seventh Cajun Country mystery.

In Pelican, Louisiana, Valentine’s Day has a way of warming the heart, despite the February chill. But the air at Crozat Plantation B&B turns decidedly frigid when celebrity chef Phillippe Chanson checks in. And when the arrogant Phillippe–in town to open his newest Cajun-themed restaurant–perishes in a fiery boat crash, Maggie Crozat’s dear friend JJ lands in very cold water.

Did JJ, proprietor of Junie’s Oyster Bar and Dance Hall, murder Phillippe because he feared the competition? Might Maggie’s mother, Ninette, have bumped off the chef for stealing one of her cherished recipes? Or was the culprit a local seafood vendor, miffed because Phillippe was somehow able to sell oysters for a remarkably reasonable price, despite an oyster shortage?

Maggie had planned to devote her February to art lessons in New Orleans, a present from her sweetheart, Bo. But now she has to focus on helping her friend and her mother cross a murder charge off the menu. Meanwhile, Maggie receives a series of anonymous gifts that begin as charming but grow increasingly disturbing. Does Maggie have an admirer–or a stalker? And are these mysterious gifts somehow related to Phillippe’s murder?

Blood may be thicker than water, but this case is thicker than gumbo. And solving it will determine whether Maggie gets hearts and roses–or hearse and lilies–this Valentine’s Day.

To purchase Cajun Kiss of Death, click on any of the following links: PenguinRandomHouse – Amazon – B&N – Kobo – IndieBound

Cajun Kiss of Death: A Cajun Country Mystery
Cozy Mystery
7th in Series
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Crooked Lane Books (August 10, 2021)
Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 320 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 164385738X
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1643857381
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B08N6SMX1J


Cajun Kiss of Death — The Interview with Ellen Byron


Cajun Kiss of Death is the seventh in your delightful series. What should readers know about Maggie Crozat and the previous novels?

First of all, thank you! (You’re welcome!)

I think readers should know that throughout the series, Maggie comes to realize she really isn’t the outsider she felt she was growing up in her small town of Pelican, Louisiana. True, she was known as “that artsy fartsy girl,” but it was with respect and affection, not judgment, like she assumed.

Coming to terms with this enables Maggie to commit wholeheartedly to a life in Pelican, even if it means adjusting some of her dreams – or so she thinks. Dreams often have a way of coming true, despite our expectations to the contrary.

Food plays an important role in your books, and Cajun Kiss of Death is no exception. What do you love most about Cajun cuisine?

What’s not to love about Cajun cooking?

What don’t I love, lol? Aside from the fact it’s incredibly delicious, I think what I love most is how it’s such a distinctive regional cuisine, with many recipes handed down through the generations of a family.

I also love that men are often proud Cajun cooks. I write to this in my 4th Cajun Country Mystery, Mardi Gras Murder, where Maggie’s father Tug basically considers himself the gumbo king of the world. He keeps his family recipe in a safe, along with his cast iron “black pot,” which like the recipe, has been in the Crozat family for decades. When an accident renders the pot useless, Tug is so distraught he holds a funeral for the pot, burying it under a tree on the Crozat property.

Honestly, from what I read, his reaction isn’t that extreme!

Tell us about Pelican, Louisiana:

I describe Pelican – town motto, “Yes, We Peli-Can!” – as a Cajun Brigadoon because in my mind, it’s that magical, on the edge of a bucolic bayou with an historic district of centuries-old buildings sporting stunning wrought iron galleries.

From Christmas to Mardi Gras to Valentine’s Day, Pelican never met a holiday it didn’t love and celebrate to the nth degree. The locals are quirky and charming, the food delicious. (See above answer!)

I wish Pelican was a real place. But it was inspired by real places in Cajun Country, like the charming towns of St. Martinville and Breaux Bridge.

You have also had a career writing for television. How does the process differ between writing for TV and writing a novel?

As a playwright, I was much more of a pantser. But when you write for TV, there are contractual steps you must adhere to. One of them is a story outline.

You can’t move on to a script until the outline is approved on multiple levels: show runner, studio, network, although with streamers, the studio and network are often the same.

While my Kensington publisher (for my Catering Hall Mysteries, which I write as Maria DiRico) requests some kind of outline before you can move on to draft — there are no parameters regarding the length of the outline; they leave that up to the writer — Crooked Lane doesn’t. They’re fine with a story synopsis. I think some publishers may not even ask for that. Still, because of my years in television, I’m an outliner. I usually generate what I describe as a 30 to 40 page “fluid outline.” I call it fluid because when I go to draft, I often discover new beats, even new characters sometimes. I’ve come to consider my outline my first draft.

I like to say that like a pantser, I write organically – just at a different point in the process.

Maria DiRico is a pen name you use for another series, tell us about her and that series. Is Maria’s “voice” different than Ellen Byron’s?

It is, actually. My very first theatre agent said I have two voices: theatre and television. I think my Cajun Country series is my theatre voice. It’s very descriptive and atmospheric. “Maria’s” Catering Hall Mysteries are more of my TV voices. Very snappy dialogue, very brisk pace. That’s inherent to my writing.

Wow – I just had a revelation!

When I write a Cajun Country mystery, I see a movie in my head. When I write a Catering Hall mystery, I see a TV episode. But both offer lots of humor. That’s something I strive for in almost everything I write.

Oh, and the Catering Hall Mysteries are very much inspired by my own life. I’m half-Italian and my relatives lived in the neighborhood where I set the series, Astoria, Queens. Cousins ran two catering halls in Astoria, one of which is the place of business that Mia, my protagonist, now runs. And she literally lives in the two-family house where my late nonna lived. Writing the series brings back a lot of memories.

What are you working on now?

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Murder, my third Catering Hall Mystery, launches 10/26. Then in June comes the launch of Bayou Book Thief, the first book in the new Vintage Cookbook Mystery series I’m writing for Berkley Prime Crime.

I’m excited because I collect vintage cookbooks and the series will include a few recipes inspired by the books. And I just found out The Artists of Chartres Street, the first short story I’ve written since college, will be published in Suspense magazine. Plus, my first stand-alone is going out on submission. Say a prayer!

Words of Wisdom for Aspiring Writers:

How about a word of wisdom? Write.

Okay, I’ll give you a little more, lol. Trust your instincts and learn to discern what’s valuable feedback and what isn’t.

Keep learning and growing. And work through the discouraging moments. I’ve been earning my living as a writer since I was in my twenties. I’ve had representation my entire career. Still, it still took and a nine-month search filled with heartache to find an agent. But I did, and he’s great for me.

To paraphrase, there were many disappointments along the way to being published but nevertheless, I persisted.

Wonderful advice! And congratulations on all your writing success. I look forward to having you back for future projects.

Author Pet Corner!


This is Pogo. He’s going to be fifteen in August.

I know that because he’s a rescue and members of his “first family” – as they lovingly called themselves – found me on Facebook, and we’ve stayed in touch.

He’s the best dog in the world. I always say, I love him like I birthed him myself.


So cute, I had to use all three pics!

Ellen Byron Author of Cajun Kiss of Death

Cajun Kiss of DeathEllen’s Cajun Country Mysteries have won the Agatha award for Best Contemporary Novel and multiple Lefty awards for Best Humorous Mystery.

She writes the Catering Hall Mystery series, which are inspired by her real-life, under the name Maria DiRico.

Ellen is an award-winning playwright, and non-award-winning TV writer of comedies like WINGS, JUST SHOOT ME, and FAIRLY ODD PARENTS.

She has written over two hundred articles for national magazines but considers her most impressive credit working as a cater-waiter for Martha Stewart.

To learn more about Ellen, click on her name, photo or any of the following links: Newsletter, Facebook, Facebook/Catering Hall Mysteries, InstagramBookbub/Ellen Byron, Bookbub/Maria DiRicoGoodreads/Ellen Byron & Goodreads Maria DiRico

Visit all the stops on Cajun Kiss of Death’s Great Escapes Book Tour!

Cajun Kiss of Death

August 16 – Novels Alive – GUEST POST

August 16 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW

August 16 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

August 17 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT

August 17 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

August 18 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – REVIEW

August 18 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

August 19 – Mysteries with Character – REVIEW

August 19 – Literary Gold – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

August 20 – The Book Diva’s Reads – SPOTLIGHT

August 20 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

August 21 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT


August 22 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

August 22 – Author Elena Taylor’s Blog – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

August 23 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

August 23 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT

August 24 – Ascroft, eh? – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

August 24 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW

August 25 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

August 25 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW

August 26 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

August 26 – Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic – CHARACTER GUEST POST

August 27 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

August 27 – Reading Is My SuperPower – RECIPE

August 28 – ThisIsMyTruthNow – REVIEW

August 28 – I Read What You Write – SPOTLIGHT

August 29 – BookishKelly2020 – SPOTLIGHT  

August 29 – Dear Reader – REVIEW

Elena Taylor is the author of All We Buried, available now in print, e-book, and audio book format at all your favorite bookstores and on-line retailers.

For more information on All We Buriedclick on the link here to visit the home page.

Silver Falchion Award Finalist, Best Investigator 2020

Foreword INDIE Award Finalist, Best Mystery 2020


Cajun food photo by Laineypics on Pixabay.

Elena Hartwell

Author and developmental editor.

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  1. Ellen Byron

    Thanks so much for a wonderful interview!! xoxo

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