by Julie, looking at water and feeling inspired
I am delighted to welcome Jennifer J. Chow back to the blog today! The first book in Jen’s Night Market Mysteries; Death By Bubble Tea was nominated for an Agatha and Lefty award this year, and has also been nominated for an Anthony award. I can’t wait to read the second book in the series, and am thrilled she stopped by to talk about it.
Six Degrees of Dad
By Jennifer J. Chow
My newest book, Hot Pot Murder, features a small group named AAROA (Asian American Restaurant Owners Association). They happily gather together for a hot pot dinner—only to have one of the diners die at the meal.
Growing up, we owned a family restaurant specializing in Chinese cuisine. We did not have any diners fall dead (thankfully) during our tenure. And although we didn’t have an AAROA, my dad was the Kevin Bacon of the community of Chinese restaurateurs. Six degrees of separation, for sure. Want evidence?
1. Previous restaurant owner
We actually bought our family restaurant from the previous owner, whom we called Uncle Joe (no actual relation). I even remember going to his house. There, I got to admire (and play!) a Chinese zither.
2. Local wait staff
My dad knew when establishments were looking for extra servers, and he helped people get positions. He’d also been the recipient of similar kindnesses when he was a waiter, learning about jobs from friends (or friends of friends). When younger, he worked at multiple restaurants—even commuting back and forth for three hours for one eatery.
3. Bean sprouts king
A family friend was the local purveyor of bean sprouts. Seriously, he was the Bean Sprouts King in the area. I remember helping sort through our restaurant’s invoices and wishing I had a company named after me. (Does being an author count?)
4. Grocery store proprietor
Sadly, Asian grocery stores were few and far between where I grew up. But we did have one shop close to our restaurant. Of course, my dad knew the owner. Bonus: I got to score a free coconut drink whenever I visited.
5. Other Chinese restaurateurs
Dad knew all the other restaurant owners in town. I remember going to one place with my buddy, thinking we’d found a new establishment. When I told my dad, I realized he knew the owner by full name—and proceeded to provide me with their entire backstory.
6. Extended relatives
When my mom’s relatives immigrated over, they also went into the food industry. (Unfortunately, there weren’t many other opportunities for them.) Eventually, they opened up their own restaurant. Now maybe they’ll become the new six-degrees-of-separation people.
I rest my case.
Do you know someone who’s the central hub of a group or community? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll randomly select a name for a giveaway.
Agatha, Anthony, and Lefty Award-nominated author Jennifer J. Chow writes the L.A. Night Market Mysteries; Death By Bubble Tea was in The New York Times Book Review and hit the SoCal Indie Bestseller List. She belongs to Crime Writers of Color and currently serves as President of Sisters in Crime.
Facebook and Instagram @jenjchow
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Trouble is brewing for cousins Yale and Celine Yee after a hot pot dinner gets overheated and ends in murder in this second novel of the L.A. Night Market series by Jennifer J. Chow.
Yale and Celine Yee’s food stall business is going so well that they’ve been invited to join an exclusive dinner with the local restaurant owners association. The members gather together for a relaxing hot pot feast…until Jeffery Vue, president of the group, receives a literal shock to his system and dies.
Everyone at the meal is a suspect, but the authorities are homing in on family friend Ai Ho, owner of the restaurant where Jeffery was killed—and Yale’s dad is a close second on their list. Yale and Celine step up to the plate and investigate the dinner attendees: the association’s ambitious VP, a familiar frenemy, a ramen king, a snacks shopkeeper, and a second-generation restaurateur. It’s up to the detecting duo to figure out what really happened before their friends and family have to close their businesses for good.