Jodi Rath has worked in education for nearly two decades, but she also has a passion for mysteries. Monkey Bread Business is her sixth Cast Iron Skillet Mystery. Jodi also loves to create art based on the topics she writes about.
Grandma’s cast iron skillet
The series title, The Cast Iron Skillet Mysteries, is derived from the gift of a 70-year-old cast iron skillet that Jodi received from her 90-year old grandmother. Jodi describes Monkey Bread Business, as a climactic book in the series. Jodi said, “There has been tension building between the villagers of Leavensport and the urbanites of Tri-City for years—this is the book where things will start getting awful for the protagonists Jolie and Ava.
“The idea came from how polarizing our society has been for several years. There is always discord in every society over time, but these last few years have created more tension than normal. Families are arguing over politics and beliefs, communities are being torn apart by politics and divisions of race and religion have created a lot of pain for many.
“The ultimate theme in this series is for dysfunctional families and communities to learn how to communicate and solve problems by uniting, not dividing. This book will definitely show the divisions but the remainder of the series will be about finding ways to work through things as new information comes to light in time.”
Lasting relationships from teaching
“I taught high school English for twenty-three years. Many of my students faced urban sprawl when I taught in a small rural community. On the opposite end, the second place I taught in that time, many students dealt with gentrification and homelessness and being transient students. Many of my students were gay or bi-sexual and some were kicked out of their homes for being true to themselves.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to build close relationships with the majority of my students’ over the years and many of us follow each other on social media. A lot of my previous students, now friends, read my books as adults. It’s important to me to include diversity and real issues as themes through my series so that my students can relate to the story and my hope is that transcends for other readers as well.
“One of my friends has MS and one thing I’m fortunate to be able to do is to donate a percentage of my profits with this series to the MS Society and to Cyndi Lauper’s TrueColors United program that helps LGBTQ+ teens without a home.”
In addition to those donations, Jodi has done numerous giveaways for readers and her social media followers since early 2020.
Jodi could easily be described as a survivor. From the trauma she suffered as a child, which occurred again in her late teens and throughout her twenties to her bout with Covid-19 in early 2020, she’s not only persevered, but also found ways to give back to others.
Not all of those obstacles have been bad, however. On February 1, 2021, she signed a contract to write script for a psychological thriller based partially on true events that made national news when she was in her twenties. “While writing this book,” Jodi said, “I’ve had to add juggling seven online courses I teach, writing the book, while writing an essay for a feminist magazine, and learning film industry terms, scriptwriting software, and how to write a script. I’ve lost a lot of sleep since February.”
Hooked on research
“I’m very much of an Emily Dickinson sort. I don’t have an issue leaving home, but I rarely do it. I was an only child growing up, and when I went to the workforce I only went to work and home. Now that I own a business and work from home—I find that my work is also my play. I am in love with every part of my business.”
Jodi said that the most enjoyable part of doing research is purchasing books. “I write mysteries, thrillers, educational articles, YA, kid’s stories, essays on spirituality, culture, and religion. So my books for research range from poisons to mafia to Hi-Lo books to Asperger’s to gentrification to books on how to sketch the human body to engaging the brain. I’m fascinated with all topics and love to read and research anything!”
Learn more about Jodi Rath and Monkey Bread Business at JodiRath.com. Did you like this interview? If so, click here to read more Behind the Story interviews from your favorite authors.a Rafflecopter giveaway