Interview with Erin Hayden-Baldauf, Author of Murder Uncorked (A Vista del Vino Mystery)

10 Jul 2024

What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write Murder Uncorked (A Vista del Vino Mystery)?

My love for cozy mysteries started when I was just a kid, curled up on the couch with my parents every weekend watching ‘Murder She Wrote.’ It was our little ritual. This passion didn’t just stick; it grew. I carried it with me through college and started collecting every ‘Murder She Wrote’ book I could find. Eventually, I branched out to other series, but the charm of those cozy settings and clever plots always stayed with me. When I began writing ‘Murder Uncorked,’ the first book in the Vista del Vino series, I knew I wanted to blend this love of mystery with something very personal—my experience raising a son with Type 1 Diabetes and celiac disease. There’s a real need for more stories with characters who navigate life’s extra challenges, and I felt that this was something I could authentically write about. I hope to give readers a character they can relate to, and maybe bring a bit more understanding and empathy to the table, too. It’s about creating a community in the pages of my books where everyone finds a bit of home—or at least a good mystery to unwind with.

If you had to pick theme songs for the main characters of Murder Uncorked (A Vista del Vino Mystery), what would they be?

If I had to choose a theme song for amateur sleuth Casey Nolan, the heart of ‘Murder Uncorked,’ I’d pick Van Morrison’s ‘Into the Mystic.’ It’s a song that’s very close to my heart—I used to dance to it with my oldest child when she was just a baby. Every time it plays, I stop everything just to soak in its rhythm and lyrics. For Casey, this song reflects her journey into the unknown as she untangles the mysteries that wind through her hometown of Vista del Vino. Like the song, her path is about venturing into the uncharted, guided by intuition and a deep-seated desire to uncover the truth, no matter where it leads. It’s a song of discovery and facing the future with a sense of wonder, which is very much Casey’s approach to life and mystery.

What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?

As a PhD and academic, I’ve always leaned towards nonfiction readings and writing projects that incorporate a creative twist. The moment I discovered ‘creative nonfiction’ and immersive journalism, I was hooked—this genre really resonated with my desire to be both entertained and educated by facts. Over the years, I’ve realized that what I truly enjoy both as a reader and writer is blending the lines between creative nonfiction and realistic fiction. It’s about finding that sweet spot where I can educate and entertain, all while keeping things engaging and real.

What books are on your TBR pile right now?

My TBR list is fairly eclectic, featuring a mix of cozy mysteries along with nonfiction works on writing, history, pedagogy and politics. I especially enjoy the work of Mia Manansala and Ellie Brannigan, who are masters at crafting engaging, suspenseful stories that transport me to places and cultures that I might not otherwise get to experience in real life. In addition to these mysteries, I also dedicate a good amount of time to educating myself on indie publishing and marketing, so books and blogs related to these topics are always on my TBR.

What scene in your book was your favorite to write?

One of my favorite scenes to write in ‘Murder Uncorked’ was a particularly intense and personal moment between Casey and her son Liam. The scene unfolds after Casey accidentally walks in on an older man injecting himself with insulin. Casey, always the sleuth, interpreted his discomfort as suspicious. Later, when recounting the story to Liam—including her attempt to reassure the man by mentioning she was the mother of a diabetic—Liam challenges her, pointing out that understanding diabetes as a caregiver doesn’t equate to experiencing it firsthand. He explains how different it feels to inject insulin in public on his own terms compared to being caught off-guard. This scene was a favorite of mine because it captures Liam’s feisty teenage spirit and the essence of their mother-son relationship, while highlighting a crucial distinction between understanding and experiencing a condition. It was both challenging and rewarding to write, tapping into the core themes of empathy and understanding that I strive to weave through my narratives.

Do you have any quirky writing habits? (lucky mugs, cats on laps, etc.)

I wouldn’t say my writing habits are quirky, but they’re definitely about survival! During the early days of COVID-19, I finished my PhD dissertation on a laptop that was quite literally held together with duct tape, all while being tethered to an ethernet cable because the Wi-Fi feature was broken. Imagine this scene in a bustling household with my husband, our four kids, and a dog—all of us cooped up nearly 24/7. It was chaos! These days, I have a new computer and our household rhythm is more ‘normal,’ but I still often find myself writing amidst a whirlwind of activity. I’ve gotten pretty good at tuning out the world to capture those moments of creativity, no matter how noisy or chaotic the background might be.

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

I don’t have a specific quote or motto that I live by, but my guiding principle is pretty straightforward: I strive to do right by others, contribute positively wherever I go, and leave things better than I found them. Whether it’s a room, a challenging situation, or the world at large, my aim is to make a positive impact and improve things, even if just a little. It’s about making a difference in the everyday, simple acts of kindness and responsibility.

If you could choose one thing for readers to remember after reading your book, what would it be?

After reading ‘Murder Uncorked,’ I hope readers remember the importance of empathy and understanding—especially how these qualities impact our interactions with others who might be facing challenges we can’t fully understand just by looking from the outside. Through Casey’s journey and her interactions, particularly with her son and the other characters grappling with their own issues, I want to highlight the crucial difference between knowing about someone’s struggles and truly understanding what it’s like to live them. It’s a reminder to approach every situation with kindness and an open mind, aiming to support and uplift rather than judge.


Erin Hayden-Baldauf is the author of the new book Murder Uncorked (A Vista del Vino Mystery)

Connect with Erin Hayden-Baldauf

Author Site


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