About Rebecca York

NY Times & USA Today best-seller, Rebecca York, is the author of over 150 books. She has written paranormal romantic thrillers for Berkley and romantic thrillers for Harlequin Intrigue. Her new romantic-suspense series, Decorah Security, is set at a detective agency where agents have paranormal powers or work paranormal cases. She also writes an Off-World series where each story is a science fiction romance taking place on a distant planet in the far future.  View website

New Recipe and New Book Cover

Like most of you, we’re still at home riding out the current virus situation. I’m doing most of the cooking, including testing some new recipes. Here’s one Norman and I both liked. When you can come up with a salad a guy will enjoy as a main dish, it’s always a good day.

PEPPERONI SALAD

2 to 3 main dish servings

In my search for something new, I started putting this salad together and was delighted with the results. It’s hearty enough for a main dish. If you are making the salad in winter, it’s best with halved cherry or grape tomatoes. For the pepperoni, I used a package of thin slices and cut them into strips.

3 tablespoons good quality olive oil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons sliced green onions or chives
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, optional
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup chopped fresh tomato (or halved cherry tomatoes)
3/4 cup shredded reduced-fat mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup chopped pepperoni
4 cups sliced romaine leaves​

In a salad bowl, stir together olive oil, vinegar, and spices until well combined. Add all remaining ingredients and toss to combine. Serve at once or chill, covered, in the refrigerator for several hours before serving.​

***************

I’ve recently changed some of my book covers. Here’s the new cover of On Edge, the prequel to my Decorah Security Series. When I first started writing the series, Frank Decorah, the head of the agency wasn’t the focus of the books. But after a few books had come out, readers asked me about his story. I told it in On Edge, which explains why he’s so interested in paranormal cases and why he often has almost uncanny insights. It all started when he was at the Naval Medical Center recovering from a serious injury–and gets drawn into the other-worldly experience that leads into the relationship most important in his life. I keep On Edge perma-free so readers can easily get into the story.

CHRISTMAS 1935

How did I come up with my story in the Dear Santa boxed set? To explain, I have to back up to Race for the Gold, a book that I published as part of the Golden Legacy series. It’s about an enchanted inheritance passed down through the generations. Because I wanted to write about a family that desperately needed financial rescue, I set it during the Great Depression of the 1930’s in the area where I live–Howard County, Maryland.

My hero is the owner of a horse farm that’s going under. The heroine receives an inheritance and uses the money to rescue his business.

Because I enjoyed my research into the local area and the time period, I decided to write about another local 1930’s family in trouble. They live right down the road from the horse farm, and all the previous characters play a part in the story. This time I imagined a good man who gets arrested for a series of burglaries he didn’t commit. Now he’s in jail, and his family is trying to scrape by without him, under the stigma of his incarceration. The story starts with a tearful letter to Santa from one of his young sons, saying he doesn’t want any presents this year. He only wants his father out of jail before Christmas. Sophie, his older sister, the heroine of the story, reads the letter and chokes back tears. Desperate to bring in some money for her family, she gets a job as a kitchen helper on the now-affluent horse farm–and that leads to the plot of my novella in the Dear Santa anthology. The young farm manager is wary of her because she will be working closely with his mother, the family cook, and he worries she could be a crook like her dad. But gradually he realizes that she’s a totally honest person. He’s falling for her when she asks him to help her prove her father is innocent. Although he’s still not sure about the father, he agrees to help her–to prove the truth, one way or the other. This decision sends the two of them of on a reckless adventure one winter night. Of course, as the title of the book, Christmas Miracle 1935, suggests, it’s probably going to come out okay. But there are some rocky episodes before we get to the HEA.

The Good Old Days

The good old days were just last year–when we still felt safe getting on a plane to fly basically anywhere we wanted. Our last big trip inside the U.S. was to Portland, Maine, where we spent most of a week exploring the city and the surrounding area. Am I going to set a book there? Probably not because my changed worldview has made me think about using locations closer to home.

But back in the good old days, I loved traveling to new locations and exploring them–considering whether they’d make a good setting for a book. Some places are used over and over by authors: San Francisco, Las Vegas, Washington DC, New York. Another favorite location is New Orleans which I first visited maybe 40 years ago. Our friends recommended a charming B&B at the edge of the French Quarter. I loved it so much that I set one of my heroes there in an early romantic suspense novel, In Search of the Dove. Everybody talked about how terribly hot and humid it was in New Orleans in the summer. That was true, but it wasn’t any worse than Washington, DC, in the summer–where I grew up in the era without air-conditioning.

 

I’ve returned to Louisiana a number of times since, both in person and in my memories, for books I was writing. From New Orleans, I branched out into the bayou country for another romantic suspense, Bayou Moon. I wish I’d given it another title because, of course, I now use “moon” in the titles of my werewolf books. Recently, I’ve explored the bayou again–in Cursed, one of my Decorah Security books.

The story combines lots of elements I love–spooky swampy locations with snakes and alligators, a brooding old mansion, and a voodoo curse. It’s also got a very eccentric hero who hires a Decorah Security agent to help him figure out who is murdering people near his plantation and making it look like the killings were done by the claws of a large cat. As you might suspect from the cover, the hero is a shifter. But not a wolf, and someone in town is trying to drive him away. That’s unfortunate because the curse chains him to the bayou. What’s the motivation for the killer’s campaign of deceit? Who’s responsible? And why does female Decorah agent, Morgan Kirkland, start having dreams of long-ago lovers who were cruelly separated by fate? There are a lot of puzzles in the mix, all spiced up with Louisiana gumbo.

Cooking in the Time of Pandemic

My sister and I were talking a few days ago. She said, “I’m tired of having to provide meals day in and day out.”

Yeah, me too. In normal times, we like going to restaurants. And, of course, we can still get carryout. But it’s not the same experience. I do feel guilty about not ordering from local eateries more often. But we had a couple of bad experiences with UberEats where they just decided to cancel our order and not deliver it. DoorDash has not failed us, but the problem with that delivery service is that it doesn’t use the full restaurant menu–leaving us with a much more limited selection.

Frustration with buying prepared food leaves me doing most of the cooking. My sister says she’s tired of making the same stuff over and over. I have that problem to a certain extent as well. But as a sometime cookbook author, I make an effort to be creative. Partly, that’s out of necessity because having to stock up on various ingredients leaves me with lots of “this and that” meals.

For example, we’re having an early dinner tonight because we have a Zoom meeting with a bunch of friends we haven’t seen in months. In order to be finished with the cooking chores early, I started dinner preparations in the morning using a wide variety of leftovers–beginning with a couple of hamburger patties I bought a few days ago. I decided to use them in spaghetti sauce. And because I had bought a jar of very hot chipotle peppers to use in a brown rice and black bean bake, I chopped up one of those and threw it in too. (Yes, they were much too hot to use the whole jar in one casserole.) Also on hand were two Italian sausage links I’d cooked the night before. They went into the pot, along with tomato sauce, chopped tomatoes, a leftover half onion, chopped garlic, chopped mushrooms, and a little shredded cabbage. Not my usual pasta sauce, but it worked.

But no matter the unconventionality of my cooking today, I’m continually struck by how much easier it is than in previous eras.

I’m finishing up a story for the Dear Santa boxed set, called Christmas Miracle 1935, My heroine lives on a farm with a stove that looks almost normal until you get to the part where you open a door under the burners and put in pieces of wood for the fuel. And yeah, I actually cooked on a stove like that at a cabin where my Girl Scout troop went camping. There’s no fridge in the farm kitchen, only an icebox–where a man has to deliver ice to keep the contents cold. And the sink is one of those old-fashioned drainboard models like the one my grandma had.

When I’m standing in the front of the pantry, thinking about what to fix, at least I can use cans or jars of tomatoes, beans, applesauce, and jelly I buy at the store. The people in my novella must can their own produce. And they’re not buying sausage links in nice neat packages. They are grinding and seasoning the sausages themselves. Writing the story makes me think about how much things have changed and why I shouldn’t complain about my kitchen duties now.

What cooking challenges are you facing these days, and how are you meeting them?