How Inspiration Found Me

I am delighted to welcome mystery writer Shawn Reilly Simmons back to the blog! Back in February she launched the first two novels in her Red Carpet Catering Mystery Series, and she stopped by to share a “bite” of them along with a really awesome salmon recipe. The third book in the series, MURDER ON A DESIGNER DIET is coming out next week, and today we learn what inspired the series!

How Inspiration Found Me

Shawn Reilly Simmons

Inspiration is the main ingredient for any artistic endeavor. Whether you’re painting, cooking, playing music or writing, you must have that spark of inspiration that brings your ideas to life in the art form you’ve chosen.

I’ve always loved mysteries, and was involved in the mystery writing world first as an editor for a small press, and then as a member of the Board of Malice Domestic. The idea of writing a mystery series always appealed to me, but I wasn’t sure what my setting would be or what my characters would be doing.

As luck would have it, while I was pondering the setting for my first book, I was offered a position on the catering crew for a movie filming in the Washington D.C. area. I happily accepted and for a few months lived in a hotel near Georgetown with close to three hundred cast and crew members who we were responsible for feeding at least twice a day. Our workdays typically started around four in the morning and would end after the sun went down. We worked a minimum of twelve hours in the kitchen tents and trucks, some days up to eighteen hours if filming ran behind schedule. It was winter and we were outside most of the time, following the production around to different locations in the city, serving up restaurant-quality food to cold and hungry cast and crew members.

I’ve had lots of experience working in restaurants and as a caterer, but working on a movie set is a very unique culinary experience. I gained a huge amount of skill and knowledge in those few months cooking alongside the other chefs, and we developed a special camaraderie. The work was hard and physically demanding, but I loved every minute of it. I watched the actors roll through scenes, got to chat with the director, writers and various crew members during meals, and most importantly, made people happy with my food. It was all very inspirational, and after filming wrapped and we all went our separate ways, I knew I had found the “home” for my series.

The Red Carpet Catering mysteries take place behind-the-scenes on movie sets, and are told from the point of view of Chef-Owner of Red Carpet Catering, Penelope Sutherland. Murder on a Silver Platter and Murder on the Half Shell are the first two, set in New Jersey and Florida respectively. The third, Murder on a Designer Diet, which takes place in New York City, releases on June 7th!

Lucky for me, my inspiration found me through my work. What inspires you and your writing?

author photoShawn Reilly Simmons is the author of The Red Carpet Catering Mysteries and of the short story “A Gathering of Great Detectives” appearing in the anthology Malice Domestic 11: Murder Most Conventional. Shawn has been on the Malice Board since 2003, and is an editor and co-publisher at Level Best Books, publishers of the Best New England Crime Stories.




by Shawn Reilly Simmons

“Movie lovers, this is your book! Engaging and high-spirited, Penelope Sutherland never expected that catering for the cast and crew of a top flight movie would lead to…murder. Great fun.” – Terrie Farley Moran, Agatha Award-Winning Author of Caught Read-Handed
You can visit Shawn Reilly Simmons on her website and all of her books are available on Amazon, or inquire at your local bookstore.








This entry was posted in Guest Post, Mystery Writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to How Inspiration Found Me

  1. Ellen Byron says:

    Great post, Shawn! Looking forward to reading the book.