Today, we are excited to celebrate the release of Arsenic and Adobe– A Pleasant Mystery with Voices (featuring a charming dachshund dog named Longanisa) from lead author Mia P. Manansla!
And to open the celebration in style, we’m glad we interviewed Mia to talk about her book.
Chat with Mia P. From Nansala
Book smugglers: If you could host a dinner with characters from your book at Tita Rosie’s, and any other character from any other fictional world: who and why? And what would you serve?
My: Oh, great question! My guest list:
Odessa Dean from Olivia Blacke’s Killer content – She’s transplanted from a small town now living in New York and has been expanding her palate (and crime-solving skills) since she moved there. I’m sure Lila and her family will be happy to take her under their wing and introduce her to the world of Filipino food.
Lana Lee from Vivien Chien’s Noodle Shop Mystery series – Anyone who can appreciate a good bowl of noodles like ours is always welcome at Tita Rosie’s.
Charlotte Holmes from Sherry Thomas’ Lady Sherlock series – Charlotte is someone who appreciates food, especially sweets, and it would be funny if she turned her sharp insight into Aunts and Lola Flor.
Elizabeth Bennett of Jane Austen pride and Prejudice – I’m super basic and absolutely love Lizzie. I think it would be so much fun to host her for a tea party full of gossip and judgment. Plus, I think she will appreciate a noisy, ridiculous and loving family.
I would keep the dishes on the simple side as this will probably be the first time everyone tries Filipino food: pancit bihon, lumpiang shanghai, lumpiang togue, shrimp sinigang, adobe chicken, maybe a vegetable dish like pinacbet, and lots of different cooks. They can taste the wide variety of sweet rice cakes we have in the Philippines. A frozen aura-aura bowl would be the perfect finish.
Book Smugglers: Your author’s thoughtful remark reminds me that as a Filipino American, this book is shaped by your experience and worldview. How did you use parts of your background in Lila McFagall’s voice?
My: Unlike at night, I did not have a Filipino community when I was growing up. All I had was my family and the food we shared. I grew up in a multi-generational home with my grandparents on my mother, parents, younger brothers and cousins. I was the second oldest child in the home and the only child, so the deep sense of commitment and family responsibility is something we both share. We both grew up putting the family first, but even though I’m a little happy with the people, Laila is a little upset that she always has to put others first.
Book smugglers: Did you do any research (arsenic, etc.) or review recipes (adobe, etc.) to write Arsenic and Adobe?
My: Yes to both! I like to joke that I’m probably on the FBI’s watch list thanks to all the poison research I’ve done. I had to look at how quickly certain toxins affect, what the symptoms look like, how they can be easily found and so on. As for the recipes, I searched for several versions online (my dad was the cook in the family and unfortunately. Do not leave any of his recipes behind before he passed away) and put them together, tuned to my taste. This is probably my favorite part of writing this series, since every time I put off baking, I can say it’s research for my books!
Book smugglers: A major issue examined in your novel is the importance of family (even if there are some relatives who may be overbearing and judgmental). Please detail these contexts and what they mean to you in the context of your writing.
My: As I mentioned earlier, I was educated to think first of a family and I still truly and sincerely believe in it. But like night, it’s something I struggled with. As the oldest girl in an immigrant family, I had a lot of responsibility, especially for my little brothers who were much younger than me. I resented it as a child, but my siblings are still the most important people to me in the world. And like at night, with the judging aunts and grandmothers, my relationship with my grandparents was complex, because as a kid, how do you understand your family saying hurtful things because they love you? That the words “I love you” are not ones they can say, but there are so many ways they try to show it?
And as I got older, I began to realize that family does not just cover blood relations, and on the other hand, just because someone’s blood does not necessarily make it your family. For me, looking at all the ways these complicated emotions collide with each other, and how love and resentment or jealousy can sit so close to each other in a person’s heart … it’s fascinating. Family is such a central theme in my life, I can not imagine it would not be one in my writing.
Book smugglers: Arsenic and Adobe It is a delightful, delightful, food-focused mystery – what are your favorites in the genre and / or works that have influenced this book?
My: I love Vivien Chien’s Noodle Shop Mystery series, Ovidia Hugh’s Unty Lee Singaporean Mystery series and Gigi Pandian’s Accidental Alchemist series (not exactly culinary pleasant, but there are still fond descriptions of food and recipes).
Book smugglers: Finally, a question we ask all of our interviewees: We book smugglers have been condemned for the sheer amount of books we carry home on a daily basis. As such, we occasionally resorted to “smuggling books” home to escape judicial and scrutiny eyes. Have you ever had to smuggle books?
My: I was probably the only kid in my neighborhood who got into trouble because of “I read too much.” I would spend the little allowance I had on book orders and book fairs, and I would often want my mom or grandma to snatch my book because they did not like me reading while eating (or while I was supposed to do homework, or watch my siblings, or help with dinner Evening, or …) so often I had to sneak in with my reading material. My husband has come to terms with my addiction to books and knows not to comment on any new book I have brought home (even though I have haughty piles of unread books all over the house and library work …)
About the writer
Mia P. from Nansla He is the winner of the Hugh Holton Award 2018, the Eleanor Taylor Blend Crime Writers Award 2018, the William F. Deeck Award – Malice Domestic Grant Award 2017 for Unpublished Writers, and the Mystery Writers of America / Helen McCloy Scholarship Award for 2016. She is also a graduate At Pitch Wars in 2017 and a guide for 2018-2020. You can visit Mia online at miapmanansala.com.
Regarding the book
The first book in a new pleasant culinary series full of sharp humor and delightful dishes – one that may just be deadly …
When Lila McFagall returns home to recover from a terrible breakup, her life seems to follow all the tropics typical of rom-com. She is tasked with rescuing her Tita Rosie’s failed restaurant, and she has to deal with a group of matchmaking aunts who shower her with love and judgment. But when a notorious disgusting food critic (who happens to be her ex-boyfriend) falls dead moments after a confrontation with Laila, her life quickly moves from Nora Efron’s play to Agatha Christie’s case.
When the cops treat her as if she is the one and only suspect, and the dubious landlord is finally looking to flip the McFagall family out and resell the shop window, for the night there is no choice but to conduct her own investigation. Armed with a network of prying aunts, the best bud of her barista, and her trusted dachshund, Longganisa, Lila takes on this delicious and convoluted bag and soon finds her neck on the cutting block …
Adobe and Arsenic Available today, May 4, 2021.