Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Interview with Bluette Matthey

My guest today is Bluette Matthey, author of Hardy Durkin Travel Mysteries series

Bluette Matthey is a 3rd generation Swiss American and an avid lover of European cultures. She has decades of travel and writing experience. She is a keen reader of mysteries, especially those that immerse the reader in the history, inhabitants, culture, and cuisine of new places. Her passion for travel, except airports (where she keeps a mystery to pass the time), is shared by her husband, who owned a tour outfitter business in Europe. Bluette particularly loves to explore regions that are not on the "15 days in Europe" itineraries. She also enjoys little-known discoveries, such as the London Walks, in well-known areas. She firmly believes that walking and hiking bring her closer to the real life of any locale. Bluette maintains a list of hikes and pilgrimages throughout Europe for future exploration. She lives in Le Locle, Switzerland, with her husband and band of loving cats.

Hi Bluette, welcome to Just Books.
Would you like to kick off by telling us how your journey as a writer began?
I started writing really awful westerns in third grade and my teacher, Mrs. Schmidt, would have me read them to my classmates.

What motivates you to write...?
An interesting place I’m exploring, something I read might catch my imagination, new experiences …

... and what do you enjoy most about writing?
I’ve always loved creating, but couldn’t draw, paint, or write music. Writing allows me to express myself, stretch my mind, force myself to be precise.

Tell us about your writing routine; what’s a typical writing day for you?
My days vary. Some days I spend completely absorbed, working at my desktop. Others, I may take a hike and mentally write as I walk. I spend boots-on-the-ground time in the
European locales where my mysteries take place, and do a lot of research to make sure what I’m portraying is accurate.

How did you come up with the title for Engadine Aerie?
Engadine Aerie takes place in St. Moritz, Switzerland, the area known as the Engadine Valley where the Alps are six thousand feet, plus. Many of the houses and lodges are perched in the mountains like nests, or aeries.

Do you develop characters from your personal experiences or draw from that of others?
My characters usually have a core of reality in people I’ve known, and I build from that. Some are completely made up.

Who is your intended audience?
I write for an audience who likes mysteries, travel, and experiencing new places, and for people who’d like to travel but are unable to do so. Travel with a bit of a kick.

What is your favourite scene that you’ve written? Would you give us a peek, please?

From Engadine Aerie:

They had been skiing about fifteen minutes; the ski lift for downhill had just come into view. Suddenly, Maryam veered off the trail slightly, into the snow. She lost her balance, as though she’d hit something and, try as she might to keep upright, her outstretched arms pin-wheeling for equilibrium, she lost the battle and fell on her derrière.

Hardy skied to where she had landed, a look of puckish humor on his handsome face. His gold aviator sunglasses hid his eyes, which were also smiling. “You OK? Need some help?” he asked.

Maryam was embarrassed. She never fell. “Of course I’m OK!” she snapped. “I ran over something.”

“A rock?” Hardy queried.

She glanced up to see if he was making a fool of her. “No, “she said thoughtfully. “It was something softer.” She began brushing away the snow at the spot where she’d run aground. Something vivid blue appeared. She brushed more, and an arm appeared.

“Hold on, Maryam,” Hardy said, releasing his boots from his skis. He stepped around where she knelt and brushed the snow off a man’s face, the snow stained a rusty pink near his head. His sightless eyes were a very dark brown, as were his hair and eyebrows. The once youthful face was ageless in death, and pale.

When Maryam caught sight of the face she let out a scream. Then another. “Najib! Najib!” she shrieked, and broke down into sobs.

Hardy bundled Maryam up in his arms and moved her away from the body. He suspected they were, logistically, in the middle of a crime scene and didn’t want to disturb it any more than they already had. Phil Hostelbrink had skied back to where they were after hearing Maryam’s shrieks. His steely, blue-gray eyes and lawyer’s mind assessed the situation in an instant.

“That’s a hell of a discovery, Mr. Durkin,” he began.

“Please, call me Hardy,” Hardy replied.

“Hardy,” he said, extending a gloved hand. “Phil Hostelbrink. New York. I’m an attorney, and for what it’s worth, I suspect you’ve just skied into one hell of a mess.”

Hardy grimaced, and hoped to hell Phil Hostelbrink wasn’t also a prophet.

Thank you, Bluette, that's got me interested.
Let's leave the books behind for a while and discover a bit about you.

What advice would you give to your younger self?
Travel, travel, travel!

Do you remember the first book you read?
I remember discovering all the Walter Farley black stallion books when I was in third grade, followed by the Ellery Queen, Jr. series. I was hooked!

What would you want written on your headstone?
‘She Ran The Good Race’

What are your favourite hobbies and pastimes?
I love to hike and snow shoe in the Swiss mountains. Road trips. Eating good local foods.

What do you consider the most important event of your life so far?
I have lots, but probably re-meeting my husband after a 35-year hiatus of when we first met in Portugal.

What three words best describe your personality?
Adventurous, health-conscious, animal-lover.

When and where was the last time you walked for more than an hour?
Last weekend I was in Lyon, France walking around the Old Town, exploring its traboules. The traboules, secret, hidden passages and courtyards dating back to the 4th century, criss-cross the old town. It is possible to pass through that part of Lyon without ever using the streets. The Knights Templar made use of them to escape the French king, Philip the Fair, when he moved to rid France of the Templars.

What did you do this summer?
We did a lot of travelling and ate some great meals. My kids visited from NY and China, and we did the chateaus in Loire Valley, took a hot air balloon ride above same, spent five days in Paris, went to the Black Forest in Germany and spent half a day in the spa in Baden-Baden, drove most of Switzerland, and ate a fabulous family-style meal in Italy.

If you had to move from Switzerland where would you go, and what would you miss the most about Switzerland?
I don’t think I’d ever want to leave Switzerland, but the South of France would probably be my second choice.

Who is your favourite female actor?
I have several: Sophia Loren, Maggie Smith, Christine Baranski, Audrey Hepburn …

What is your favourite holiday?
I really enjoy Christmas. My kids try to make it to wherever we are, and we just enjoy family.

Are you an early riser or a night owl?
Both; depends on my sleep patterns.

What foreign country would you most like to visit?
I’m open for almost anything, but my current two targets are Morocco and China. Love the food in both places, and the history of both countries is fascinating.

Were you ever in a school play? What was your role?
I was in a small play for my French class and played the rose: La Reine des Fleurs (Queen of Flowers)

What would constitute a "perfect" day for you?
Taking a relaxed road trip somewhere, having a good local meal, enjoying the locale.

When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
Just last week. When I sing to myself my husband usually hears it, too.

If you could wake up tomorrow having gained one quality or ability, what would it be?
The ability to heal the sick.

Thank you for taking time out from your schedule for the interview, Bluette.

Bluette Matthey's latest book, Engadine Aerie is due to be published next week (April 26) and is available for pre-order on Amazon, Kobo and B&N. It will also be available on Smashwords.

Bluette will be joining us again, on April 26th, to talk about her Life as an Author and The Engadine Skimarathon, the setting for Engadine Aerie.

You can find Bluette at her Website, and on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and Google+.

Meanwhile, why not catch up with the previous books in the series:

Corsican Justice

Abruzzo Intrigue

Black Forest Reckoning

Dalmatian Traffick

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