Add a little spice, a feisty female protagonist and a dash of murder, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for one of award-winning local author Leslie Budewitz’s best-selling cozy mysteries.
Her latest novel, “Chai Another Day,” is fourth in her Spice Mystery series, which takes place in and around Seattle and particularly Pike Place Market.
A Billings native and graduate of Seattle University and Notre Dame Law School, Budewitz practiced civil litigation in Seattle for a number of years. As a writer she is able to work in social justice issues, and continues to explore all the Seattle neighborhoods and their nuances to do research for her books.
“When I say research, I really mean eat,” she joked during an interview with the Daily Inter Lake.
Budewitz fell in love with the market as a college freshman in ’77.
Just prior to that time a proposal to demolish the market, one of the oldest public markets in the country, founded in 1907, was successfully shot down with a voter initiative.
“It was the first place on the National Historic Register comprised of both commercial and residential space,” Budewitz said. “It’s retained its historic flavor even through the upgrades. It’s vibrant and always changing.”
About her Spice Mystery protagonist Pepper Reece, Budewitz said many readers assume she gets her name from her job as owner of the Spice Shop in Pike Place.
“Actually her grandfather gave her that name when she was 2 because she was so feisty.
“Pepper is the poster child for the cliche ‘Life begins at 40,’” she said. She’s always had a fierce drive for justice.”
Budewitz could also be that poster child, having started her successful writing career about that same age. She still practices law part-time from her home outside of Bigfork on the road to Swan Lake, but spends more time at her desk creating the quintessential “cozy” — a publishing industry term for novels similar to the Agatha Christi ilk, with no sex, no violence, and always, in Budewitz’s case, good food.
An absolute food lover, Budewitz writes novels that sizzle with a bevy of recipes, tested in her own kitchen and which she guarantees can be successfully made by anyone, with the one caveat that it may require a special trip to a spice specialty shop.
A two-time winner of the Agatha Award in both fiction and non-fiction, Budewitz tells writers aspiring to publish to focus first on their craft.
“Read, Write. Study. And when you think you’re ready, step back and revise again.
“Then prepare for the long haul,” she added. Even Budewitz has four completed novels stashed in boxes. Another word of advice she offers is to join a writers’ group to network and get critiques on your work. Locally, Budewitz recommends Authors of the Flathead, which meets weekly Thursdays at Flathead Valley Community College.
Entertainment Editor Carol Marino may be reached at 758-4440 or email@example.com.