This week’s interview is with Olivia Blacke, a fellow Berkley author of Deb Lyn Liao Butler. We are so excited to have Olivia here, as she’s one of the first millennial cozy mystery writers! Her debut, KILLER CONTENT, is so much fun, and set in Brooklyn, NY. Olivia is also a great person and supporter of other authors, and her humor and grace is such a welcome breath of fresh air during these times. So without further ado, here is Olivia!
This just in: Cozy mystery author finally puts her degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice to good use!
Brooklyn Murder Mysteries author Olivia Blacke writes quirky, unconventional, character-driven cozy mysteries. After shuffling around the U.S.A. from Hawaii to Maine, she currently resides with her husband and their roly-poly rescue puggle, but is forever homesick for NYC. In addition to writing, disappearing into a good book, and spending way too much time on social media, she enjoys SCUBA diving, crocheting, collecting tattoos, and baking dog cookies.
She loves listening to music while she writes (usually P!nk or NIN), is obsessed with Groot, and her favorite season is Hockey (Let’s Go Caps!).
What’s the strangest job you’ve ever had?
I have had a long string of jobs that mostly entailed answering the phone and talking to customers. Depending on the day, I might have been helping people fix their computer problems or trying to sell them life insurance. But my strangest job would have to be working for a shady character who ran a pre-paid credit card deal, a psychic hotline, and a telephone dating service. To clarify it was a legit connecting singles to other singles dating service, not a “dating service.” (The psychic hotline wasn’t in the least bit legit) I worked the late shift, and trust me when I say that the kinds of people that call dating services in the middle of the night aren’t looking for a relationship. They were, to say the least, the rudest customers I’ve ever dealt with – and I used to work at a literal zoo where my “coworkers” liked to fling, um, stuff at me. When I say that humans are less mannered than a grumpy 400-pound silverback gorilla, I’m saying this from first-hand experience.
The Brooklyn Murder Mysteries (KILLER CONTENT and NO MEMES OF ESCAPE) are centered around Untapped Books & Café, a fictional bookstore-slash-café in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The bookstore carries a variety of books from the latest bestseller to obscure indies, and the café features a rotating menu of delicious, creative dishes and craft beers with names like Pour Williamsburg Pale Ale and Orange is the New Beer. It’s the perfect place to browse for a new book, and then lose yourself in its pages while sitting in the eclectic café nibbling on Chef Parker’s creations and sipping a cold beer. If Untapped actually existed, I would never leave!
Tell us what you’re looking forward to reading.
The 2021-2022 book lineup is mind-blowing. There are so many fantastic books coming out right now that I can’t pick one single book. India Holton’s THE WISTERIA SOCIETY OF LADY SCOUNDRELS (June 2021) is one of the most original concepts I’ve ever read, with lady pirates, flying houses, and a strict code of unethical behavior. Ali Hazelwood’s THE LOVE HYPOTHESIS (Sept 2021) is a sexy, smart woman in STEM. Lyn Liao Butler’s THE TIGER MOM’S TALE (July 2021) is full of heart and self-discovery. Abby L. Vandiver’s MIDNIGHT HOUR (Nov 2021) is an anthology of crime fiction short stories all from authors of color. And of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my own NO MEMES OF ESCAPE (Oct 2021) is an urban cozy mystery set in an escape room.
I debuted during a global pandemic, when bookstores and libraries were closed and shipping was problematic. My book was three months old when I was able to safely enter a Barnes & Noble and see KILLER CONTENT on the shelf. It was like the accumulation of a lifetime of hopes and dreams manifested itself in that single moment. Without a doubt, signing copies of my book in a bookstore – much less a Barnes & Noble – has been hands down the proudest moment in my journey so far.
Of course not! That would be a direct contradiction to the “any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental” disclaimer. However, I will admit that I inject a little bit of myself into every character that I write – even the antagonists. In KILLER CONTENT, I have a lot in common with Odessa Dean as we both moved from the South the New York City in our early 20s and had to figure out how to survive in the big city. Like Izzy Wilson, I’ve bounced around a gazillion different addresses, often with my belongings in trash bags. Even Todd Morris, the Gen X manager of Untapped Books & Café that everyone loves to hate, shares my taste in music, even if it’s considered “oldies” now.
ABOUT THE BOOKS
Bayou transplant Odessa Dean has a lot to learn about life in Brooklyn. So far she’s scored a rent-free apartment in one of the nicest neighborhoods around by cat-sitting, and has a new job working at Untapped Books & Café. Hand-selling books and craft beers is easy for Odessa, but making new friends and learning how to ride the subway? Well, that might take her a little extra time.
But things turn more sour than an IPA when the death of a fellow waitress goes viral, caught on camera in the background of a couple’s flash-mob proposal video. Nothing about Bethany’s death feels right to Odessa–neither her sudden departure mid-shift nor the clues that only Odessa seems to catch. As an up-and-coming YouTube star, Bethany had more than one viewer waiting for her to fall from grace.
Determined to prove there’s a killer on the loose, Odessa takes matters into her own hands. But can she pin down Bethany’s killer before they take Odessa offline for good?
NO MEMES OF ESCAPE
Odessa Dean has made a home of Brooklyn. She has a job she loves at Untapped Books & Café and a new group of friends to explore the city with. When she’s invited on a girls’ day out escape room adventure, she jumps at the chance. It’s all fun and games until the lights turn on and they discover one of the girls bludgeoned to death…
The only possible murder suspects are the five players that were locked in the escape room with the victim, including Odessa. She refuses to believe that one of them is responsible for murdering their friend, despite what the clues indicate. In between shifts at the café, Odessa splits her time interviewing the murder suspects, updating the bookstore’s social media accounts, and looking for the impossible–an affordable apartment in Williamsburg.
But crime–and criminally high rent–waits for no woman. Can Odessa clear her and her friends’ names before the police decide they’re guilty?