Give a warm Chicks welcome to Vivien Chien, author of the wonderful Noodle Shop Mystery series. It’s her first time guesting with us and we’re thrilled to have her!
One of the questions I get asked the most is: what’s my favorite part of writing? Hands down it’s the creation of character and their development. Since I began writing, my intentions were always to work with series characters that could be continuously developed and evolve with each story setting I put them in. While I do love me a great stand-alone, I’ve always found myself saying, “But what happens next?!”
Which brings me to the heroine of the Noodle Shop mysteries, Lana Lee. When the first book (Death by Dumpling) came out, many people thought I chose to make Lana a twenty-something to appeal to a younger crowd. Until I started reading reviews, I hadn’t even realized that a lot of readers felt there was a gap in this age bracket within the cozy mystery world.
But, the reason behind my choice was actually very different.
I think for most people, especially the current generation, your late 20s can be a very pivotal time in life. As society changes and options for different lifestyles broaden, people are waiting longer to have kids, focusing more on careers, or simply spending a significant time trying to figure out this wacky thing called life and what it all means. (I am no stranger to that conversation myself.)
Now in my late 30s, I look back at that time in my life and realize all the things I did not realize. What a journey of self-discovery we go on, and wow, look at all the things you think are going to happen but don’t or vice versa.
In several instances throughout the Noodle Shop series, Lana contemplates how she thought life was supposed to be and how it didn’t go the way she planned. How many of us have done the same? How many of us have said, “By the time I’m this age, I’ll be [insert life goal here].” And, how many of us thought we had it all figured out before we even truly got started?
My grandmother tried desperately to warn me about these pitfalls early on. She’d always tell me to go through life with no limitations or expectations on age. That I would never know what would happen when or if things would happen at all and to simply enjoy life as it comes. To be grateful for the journey and the opportunity to exist in a time when so many options are available.
So when I created Lana and cobbled her life together, I thought about what a perfect opportunity it would be to re-explore all of that through her and the different interactions that would take place with other characters in the series. I think we can relate to it at all stages of our lives, whether you’ve just gone through it, went through it many years ago or find yourself going through it now.
As the third book, Murder Lo Mein, prepares to release, I find myself reviewing the progress that Lana has made since her introduction. And I have to admit, it makes me smile to see the challenges and changes she’s conquered since her story began. As we all know, adversity and how you handle it, is what keeps things interesting. There is no shortage of that for Lana and friends! I hope that those of you who read it will enjoy her journey just as much as I have. There is something truly intriguing that happens during that part of your life and my main goal—for myself and for my reader—is that I capture it with clarity and sass.
Lana Lee’s stake in her family’s Chinese restaurant is higher than ever now that she’s been made manager. So when she enters Ho-Lee into Cleveland’s Best Noodle Contest, Lana makes it her business to win—at all costs. But when a local food critic receives a threatening note in a fortune cookie and is later found dead, face-down in a bowl of lo mein, all bets are off. . .
Now, along with her sweet-and-sour boyfriend Detective Adam Trudeau, Lana decides to take matters into her own hands and dig into the lives of everyone involved in the contest. But when she receives an ill-fated fortune, Lana realizes that in order to save the reputation of her restaurant, she needs to save herself first. . .
BIO: Vivien Chien was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio where she grew up in a mixed-race home, making for some very interesting cultural experiences. She found her love of books and the written word at an early age while writing short stories about her classmates in elementary school. Currently, she writes side-by-side with her toy fox terrier who refuses to sit anywhere else. When she’s not writing, Vivien enjoys frequenting local Asian restaurants, frolicking in the bookstore, and searching for her next doughnut. She is the author of the Noodle Shop Mystery series, including Death By Dumpling and Dim Sum of All Fears.