Chocoholic Mysteries by JoAnna Carl

JoAnna Carl and Eve K. Sandstrom both write mystery novels which rely on regional settings for atmosphere, background and clues.

JoAnna writes about the shores of Lake Michigan and has been reviewed in Michigan newspapers as a “regional writer.”

Eve writes about Southwest Oklahoma and once won an award for the best book of the year with an Oklahoma setting.

JoAnna It’s no particular secret that Eve and JoAnna occupy the same body.

Talk about your split personalities!

But how did this happen?

Eve K. Sandstrom is an Oklahoman to the teeth: she was born there, as were five previous generations of her mother’s family. Both her grandfathers and her father were in the oil business, once the backbone of Oklahoma’s economy. One grandmother was born in the Choctaw Nation, and Eve is a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. Eve and seven other members of her immediate family are graduates of the University of Oklahoma. Eve even knows the second verse of “Boomer Sooner.”

Eve Eve wrote two mystery series: the “Down Home” books, set on a ranch in Southwest Oklahoma, and the Nell Matthews mysteries, semi-hard-boiled books laid in a mid-size city on the Southern Plains.

But Eve married a great guy whose family owned a cottage on the east coast of Lake Michigan, not far from the Michigan towns of Fennville, Saugatuck, and Douglas. Every summer for more than forty years she, her husband and various combinations of children and grandchildren have trekked to the community of Pier Cove for vacations that lasted from two weeks to three months.

The area features gorgeous beaches, lush orchards, thick woods, and beautiful Victorian houses. Eve grew to love it. So when her editor asked her to come up with a new mystery series, Eve set it in a West Michigan resort town, scrambling up Saugatuck, Douglas, South Haven, Holland, Manistee, Ludington and Muskegon with her own ideas of what a resort ought to be to create Warner Pier.

As further background, she plunked her heroine into a business which produces and sells luscious, luxurious, European-style bonbons, truffles and molded chocolates. Most small towns couldn’t support a business like this, but the resorts of West Michigan – with their wealthy “summer people” and tourists – can. The “Chocoholic Mysteries” were on their way.

Eve’s editor requested that she use a pen name for the new series, and Eve picked the middle names of her three children, Betsy Jo, Ruth Anna, and John Carl. “JoAnna Carl” was born.

So that’s how JoAnna/Eve became a regional author in two widely separated regions.

JoAnna/Eve earned a degree in journalism at the University of Oklahoma and also studied with Carolyn G. Hart and Jack Bickham in the OU Creative Writing Program. She spent more than twenty-five years in the newspaper business, working as a reporter, editor, and columnist at The Lawton Constitution in Lawton, Oklahoma. She took an early retirement to write fiction full-time.

She and her husband, David F. Sandstrom, have three grandchildren, whom they love introducing to the lore of their two homes – Oklahoma and Michigan.