Interview with Caroline Fardig, author of Death Before Decaf
18 Nov 2015
DEATH BEFORE DECAF is a funny cozy mystery that takes place in one of my favorite places, the trendy area between Vanderbilt and Belmont University campuses just south of downtown Nashville. My heroine, Juliet, is a real firecracker, and her temper often gets her into quite a bit of trouble. Here’s the “official” description:
After her music career crashes and burns spectacularly, Juliet Langley is forced to turn to the only other business she knows: food service. Unfortunately, bad luck strikes yet again when her two-timing fiancé robs her blind and runs off with her best waitress. Flushing what’s left of her beloved café down the toilet with her failed engagement, Juliet packs up and moves back to her college stomping grounds in Nashville to manage an old friend’s coffeehouse. At first glance, it seems as though nothing’s changed at Java Jive. What could possibly go wrong? Only that the place is hemorrhaging money, the staff is in open revolt, and Juliet finds one unlucky employee dead in the dumpster out back before her first day is even over.
The corpse just so happens to belong to the cook who’d locked horns with Juliet over the finer points of the health code. Unimpressed with her management style, the other disgruntled employees are only too eager to spill the beans about her fiery temper to the detective on the case. Add to the mix a hunky stranger who’s asking way too many questions, and suddenly Juliet finds herself in some very hot water. If she can’t simmer down and sleuth her way to the real killer, she’s going to get burned.
BAM. You’re a superhero. What’s your superpower?
There are so many to choose from! Do I get to look like Black Widow? If so, then I’d like my superpower to be that I never need sleep. I would get so much done. If I can’t look like Black Widow AND have a superpower, then I think I want my superpower to be that I look like Black Widow.
How has having an eclectic career inspired the stories you write?
I’ve had so many awesome life experiences working in different professions, but every job I’ve had boils down to one thing—dealing with people. When I was a teacher, I had to find a way to reach high school kids who were all half-asleep at 8 AM and inspire them to sing. When I was doing customer service as an insurance agent, I often had to deal with angry people or under-handed people who were trying to commit insurance fraud. In the funeral business, I helped people who were coping with the loss of a loved one. Each type of job required a different approach in dealing with people, and I learned a lot about what makes people tick and why humans do the things we do. I think that my knowledge and experience inspires many of the traits and motives I give my characters as well as the reasoning behind them.
Say you’re the host of a talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask?
I’d love to have a rock band that had been together forever—maybe Aerosmith—and simply sit and talk with them about music. Old rockers are fantastic musicians, and have probably had every possible thing go wrong on stage (including forgetting the lyrics to their songs, like my character Juliet). It would be fun to hear their stories about their crazy experiences.
When you were a teenager, what career did you see yourself pursuing?
I was going to be a band director. I was really sure about it until I saw how much fun the vocal majors were having in college, so I switched my major after my freshman year and decided to study to be a choir director. I was really sure about that until I taught music for a couple of years and realized I didn’t like other people’s kids that much.
What’s your favorite question to ask authors?
Every author has a favorite character they’ve created. Sometimes it’s the hero, and sometimes it’s the villain. I like to ask authors, “Who is your favorite character in your own writing and why?” I always get very interesting answers to this question.
What’s your favorite quote or scene from Death Before Decaf?
I love Dave’s funeral scene. It cracks me up every time I read through it. Trust me, it’s not based on anything I’ve experienced working in the funeral business, but I have been witness to some pretty awkward situations between funeral-goers.
Do you have a motto, quote or philosophy you live by?
Yes! I have two favorites, actually. One is stamped on a silver heart necklace I wear everyday: “Do what you love; love what you do.” I got the necklace at my favorite store in Nashville, which is located in the same area where DEATH BEFORE DECAF takes place. My other favorite is: “It’ll cost you nothing to dream and everything not to.” This quote is on a huge Rodney White painting right in front of my desk. I definitely live by both of those ideas.
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