Devon Delaney is a self-proclaimed foodie. A wife, mother of three, and cooking contester she has been handsomely rewarded for her recipe innovation over the last twenty-plus years. She’s turned her talents to writing with the Cook-Off Mystery series. The latest in that series is Guilty as Charred.
Guilty as Charred and community gardens
Devon said Guilty As Charred is based around community gardens—who benefits and who is against the use of land for this purpose. “I volunteer at a community garden located in a nearby underserved and impoverished neighborhood,” Devon said. “I know how beneficial the garden is. A beneficial project, yes, but I can see how having one in the middle of a neighborhood could cause some tensions if not everyone is a supporter. I am a lifelong gardener and educator and the class tours we host through the garden are an amazing eye-opening experience for kids who have no idea where their food originates. The skills and lessons I’ve learned from gardening, including patience, perseverance, flexibility, humility cannot be taught early enough. Although opponents might see the project as an alternative and unnecessary method of teaching and building community mindedness, I hope through my inclusion of the issue in my book some will recognize it as a good idea. Despite any murder that may occur there!”
In the beginning there was a grilling contest
The initial idea for Guilty As Charred came to Devon after her experience at a grilling contest when she was a winner in the Live with Kelly and Ryan Grill-off. “I loved the idea of using a variety of the grilling contest as the backdrop of a mystery. To complicate matters in the plotline, I drew from the fact our neighborhood has been having an ongoing dispute involving two property owners. Witnessing first hand disputes can easily escalate, it motivated me to feature the issue in my storyline. Amazing how art imitates life. The best storylines are in your own backyard!”
To make sure she had the details right regarding the property dispute, Devon went to her Town Hall and spoke to the zoning department. She said, “I asked them various questions about disputes between neighbors, all the while hoping not raise any red flags because my next-door neighbors were embroiled in a contentious property dispute with their new neighbors. I live in a small town and I know both neighbors had called the authorities on each other many times. I didn’t want to become ensnared in their situation, I only wanted all the juicy details. What I found at Town Hall was a surprising eagerness to talk about these types of disputes, even though I confessed I was researching for a murder mystery!”
“I am forever interested in improving myself, in challenging myself, in seeking inspiration for the next chapter of my life. My favorite thing is observing the human condition. I am fascinated with what makes people tick. I may be on the quiet side, but don’t ever mistake quiet for disinterest. The things I’m good at I’ve made sure I’ve practiced hundreds, maybe thousands, of times. Tennis, recipe creation, cook-offs, needle-pointing and rug hooking are some of my hobbies.”
Devon agrees that no murder mystery author wants their computer Internet history seen by outside sources. She said, “We would all be under suspicion, or worse, for criminal behavior and mayhem. In the current book I’m writing, book 4 in my cooking competition series, I had to get a look at how a cat could be walked in a harness and on a leash for the very first time. My son had that contraption and he tried it on his new cat. The cat’s reaction to the humiliation of it all was priceless. I use the scenario in my book exactly as I saw it. So funny!”
Learn more about Devon Delaney at devonpdelaney.com.