Daryl Wood Gerber is the Agatha Award-winning, nationally bestselling author of The French Bistro Mysteries, featuring a former chef who is now an up-and-coming bistro owner in Napa Valley, and The Cookbook Nook Mysteries, featuring an admitted foodie and owner of a cookbook store in picturesque coastal California. Under the pen name Avery Aames, Daryl writes the Agatha Award winning, nationally bestselling The Cheese Shop Mysteries set in fictional Providence, Ohio. Daryl also writes suspense novels, including the Aspen Adams books and stand-alones, which have garnered terrific reviews.
Prior to her career as a novelist, Daryl wrote screenplays and created the format for the popular TV sitcom Out of this World. A fun tidbit for mystery buffs, Daryl was also an actress and co-starred on Murder, She Wrote, as well as other TV shows. Daryl is originally from the Bay Area and graduated from Stanford University. She loves to cook, read, golf, swim, and garden. She also likes adventure and has been known to jump out of a perfectly good airplane.
When I was a girl, I loved to dress up and perform. Halloween couldn't come around fast enough. I created a song at the age of three. Of course, I don't remember the words to it, but my parents told me it was fabulous! [Don't you love doting parents?]
I also loved dancing in the rain at Lake Tahoe. I think that might be where all my great ideas come from...Lake Tahoe. Being there fills me with eons of inspiration! At the age of seven, I wrote a short story about a giraffe. My mother said it was the best thing she ever read. I believed her.
At the age of nine, I became a reader. I got the measles, was stuck in bed for a week, and read the entire Nancy Drew series. Soon after, I wrote my first Nancy Drew mystery. It was three chapters about a lamp in the attic. I'm sure I borrowed the idea. It wasn't unique. My mother swears she put the story into my "baby" book, but it's not there. Honestly, I don't know if it was good or not. I remember devoting hours to writing it and loving every moment of the process.
At the age of eleven, I wrote a play based on "Twas the Night Before Christmas." I cast all of my friends in the play. We did little vignettes starting with the mice stirring a pot of soup. At that moment, I imagined myself as a playwright. But then an English teacher in eighth grade chastised me for even considering becoming a writer. I should never entertain the idea, he told me. Needless to say, I was impressionable and took his horrible words to heart. I thought I stunk as a writer and I never tried again.
Until college. I attended Stanford. I wasn't dumb. Around junior year, I considered writing, but I ran into another teacher who told me that one of my attempts was terrible, and I should consider other outlets. I gave up. I put all ideas of being a writer on the shelf. I would become a mother and teacher and that was that.
And then a door opened...or perhaps a window? I was given the opportunity to follow another path, one that seemed to be the answer to how I was as a girl. I moved to Los Angeles to become a singer, dancer, and actress. Quickly I started working as a commercial actress. I did commercials for Milky Way, Diet Pepsi, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Wonder Bread. I even sang in a Wonder Bread commercial. [That rendition is on my voiceover tape.]
I was then lucky enough to score a few jobs on some TV shows including Murder, She Wrote, Hart to Hart, and Matlock. I wanted more, so I started writing TV pilots and screenplays, hoping that I might carve a path for myself as an actress. I planned to write the "next best movie" and convince the powers that be that I should star in that vehicle. Yeah...well... that didn't happen. I won a few awards, and I was lucky enough to sell a TV show for which I created the "format", [Out of this World], but the doors wouldn't open for me as a writer or actress via writing.
Along the way, my husband asked if I minded moving across country for his career. We have a fabulous, loving relationship, and we had a young son. I was not about to give up any of that life. We moved. I participated in local theater (which was fabulous!!) and I focused on writing the great American mystery or thriller. I always loved these kinds of stories. I took classes, I joined Sisters in Crime, I studied, studied, studied. I read everything I could in my genre and outside my genre. [I'm a slow reader, so I didn't read an entire library.] And I submitted manuscript after manuscript to agents. I won the respect of many of those agents, but none of the books that I wrote inspired them to take up the banner on my behalf.
Side note: A year before my family and I moved across country, my stepson, who is a screenwriter, was writing a screenplay and, for his research, he needed to craft astrological charts. He did mine and, to my dismay, asked for a sit-down with me to discuss his findings. He was distraught. He said, according to my chart, that no one would ever really "help" me in my career. [I had already learned this sad lesson as an actress.] He said I would have to be in charge of all sales. In so many respects, he was right. I never felt that I had the full support of anyone in the business other than my family...until I met an agent who finally stuck her neck out for me and introduced me to a publisher. That publisher gave me a chance with The Cheese Shop Mysteries, written under the pen name Avery Aames.
That sweet agent has left the business, but I owe her a huge debt of gratitude. Here are a few of my lifelong mottos: Perseverance will out. Believe you can. Never give up. I hope they will become yours, as well. (Can you tell I've always been a cheerleader?)
By the way, my singing, dancing, acting...transferred to my son. This is 'us' when he was six. I know, I know. It's my fault. But he loves performing. He has since graduated law school. I think he got the love of proving a point from his father. LOL