A fictionalized version of Long Island Wine Country provides the backdrop for “Dandelion Dead,” the fourth book in Greenport author Chrystle Fiedler’s “Natural Remedies” mystery series.
“I think it’s just incredible how our region has become so popular and so good at making wine,” Ms. Fiedler said. “I think it’s a very good product, so I thought it would be fun to make that an element in the book.”
Like the three novels that preceded it, “Dandelion Dead” chronicles the adventures of Willow McQuade, a holistic doctor, natural café owner and amateur detective. In the latest whodunit, a woman is poisoned during a party at an organic winery.
Despite being released just two weeks ago, the book has already “been received really well,” Ms. Fiedler said. “It’s very, very exciting.”
She’s a successful author now, but Ms. Fiedler has been honing her craft for decades. A freelance journalist since the 1980s, the North Fork native is a regular contributor to USA Today and has also written for publications such as Woman’s Day, Better Homes and Gardens and Prevention. A natural remedies specialist, her articles have addressed topics like natural cold and flu remedies, yoga, coping with stress and non-chemical ways to boost your energy.
“When I was growing up, my mother would always be taking homeopathic pills for a cold,” she said, explaining her interest in alternative medicine. “If I had a really bad sunburn, she would cook up Lipton tea bags and put them in a bath with a lot of ice.”
In addition to magazines, Ms. Fiedler has expanded on her passion for clean living by authoring or co-authoring seven nonfiction books, including the recently published “The Compassionate Chick’s Guide to DIY Beauty.” She has also partnered with medical professionals on books about holistic remedies and conquering sugar addiction.
“Everything I use on my body is organic and I eat very little meat,” she said, adding that Shelly Scoggin, owner of Greenport’s natural foods and grocery store The Market, is a longtime role model. “I just try to be conscious. Nobody does it perfectly, but I’m trying.”
Fittingly, alternative medicine is a prevailing theme in Ms. Fiedler’s “Natural Remedies” mystery series, which debuted in 2012. So is animal rescue: Willow McQuade, who solves crimes with her boyfriend, Jackson Spade, has several adopted pets.
In a case of art imitating life, Ms. Fiedler’s two dogs were adopted from All American Dachshund Rescue and her two cats were rescued from the Shelter Island Webster Foundation. All four — Wallander, Murdoch, Tinker and Tuppence — are named after amateur or professional sleuths.
“Basically, I can have Willow or Jackson say the things that I believe about how animals should be taken care of,” Ms. Fiedler explained. “There’s a pet overpopulation problem that’s so, so, so severe. I always stress: Please adopt; don’t buy your next pet.”
In many ways, she continued, Willow McQuade represents a younger version of herself.
“She can say the things I want to say and teach people through writing,” she said. “But I can also get her into all these crazy adventures where she’s discovering dead bodies.”
Considering that “Dandelion Dead” was just published, no one would fault Ms. Fiedler for taking a short break from writing. But that’s just not her style.
Later this month, she’ll travel to England to begin research on her next project: a historical novel about a botanist during World War II.
“Will Simon & Schuster give me an advance to write this book? Please God, I hope so,” she said. “But it will get published. I never give up.”
Meet the author Saturday, Oct. 15, from 2 to 4 p.m. at Burton’s Books in Greenport.
Photo: Author Chrystle Fiedler and her dachshund, Murdoch, in her Greenport home’s healing garden. (Credit: Babaraellen Koch)