author Laura Childs here today to talk about her writing.
I recently reviewed Laura’s latest release, AGONY OF THE LEAVES, and enjoyed it. This is the 13th installment in her Tea Shop Mystery series and the intrigue just gets better and better.
Laura has graciously answered some questions for me about her writing and her 3 series - the Tea Shop Mysteries, the Scrapbooking Mysteries, and the Cackleberry Club Mysteries.
Mason - What drew you to make your protagonist Theodosia a tea shop owner?
LAURA - Developing the Tea Shop Mystery series was kind of a slam dunk. Tea was just beginning to be super popular, tea shops were popping up like errant mushrooms, and woman were pulling out their gloves and pill box hats and wearing them to tea parties. Plus, a tea shop owner protagonist seemed like a nice juxtaposition against a backdrop of murder and mayhem. I also set the series in Charleston because there’s an actual tea garden nearby.
Interestingly, when I began the series, I figured I could write about six or seven Tea Shop Mysteries and incorporate the names of different teas in the titles (DEATH BY DARJEELING, OOLONG DEAD, BLOOD ORANGE BREWING, etc.). But the mysteries took off from the get-go and now have a life of their own. I’m working on the 14th Tea Shop Mystery right now and there seems to be no end in sight!
Mason - Are all of the tea blends you include in your series available or do you create some of your own just for Theodosia’s use?
LAURA - Most of the teas I mention are all readily available, either at your local tea shop, Teavana, or the major online tea retailers. A few of the teas that Drayton, my bow tie-wearing, slightly snooty tea expert, creates are totally fictitious. These might include his Lamplighter Blend, Palmetto Blend, and his Holiday Blend (black tea with dried cranberry, oranges, and Indian spice).
Mason - Are your main characters based completely or in-part on real people and is the Indigo Tea Shop based on a real shop?
LAURA - My characters are all fictional. None of the people I know in real life are that clever, insidious, or devious. Probably a good thing. And there is no Indigo Tea Shop either. I’ve had many, many people ask for photos and detailed floor plans. Which I guess means I’ve succeeded in creating a real sense of place!
Mason - You have three ongoing bestselling series. Do you focus on one series at a time or work on all three at the same time?
LAURA - For the first seven or eight years, I wrote one book at a time and kind of rotated around the calendar. If it was Spring, I was writing a Tea Shop Mystery. Summer kicked off with a Scrapbooking Mystery. Fall I white-knuckled it and scrambled to write a Cackleberry Club Mystery. Now I work on two books at the same time. And, strangely enough, I get much more writing done that way. Yesterday, I wrote nine pages on SWEET TEA REVENGE, ran out of steam, so switched over to writing EGGS IN A CASKET and produced five more pages. Switching back and forth between books seems to give me an extra boost of energy.
Mason - What can fans expect from you next?
LAURA - Lots more books. Definitely the two books I just mentioned, plus I’m going to weave in another Scrapbooking Mystery this year – probably titled PARCGMENT & OLD LACE. And I’m working on a hard-edged thriller, too. I guess I just love to write!
Laura, thanks so much for guest blogging. As a huge fan of your Tea Shop Mysteries, I would say you definitely succeed in creating a real sense of place with the Indigo Tea Shop.
Now a bit of background on Laura. She is the New York Times bestselling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbook Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. In her previous life she was CEO/Creative Director of her own marketing firm and authored several screenplays. She is married to a professor of Chinese art history, loves to travel, rides horses, enjoys fund raising for various non-profits, and has two Chinese Shar-Pei dogs. For more on Laura, visit her website at www.laurachilds.com
Here’s a brief summary of AGONY OF THE LEAVES: In the latest novel from the New York Times bestselling author of SCONES AND BONES, Indigo Tea Shop owner Theodosia Browning finds herself in hot water when a body surfaces at the grand opening of Charleston's Neptune Aquarium.
The opening of the aquarium is a major Charleston event, and Theodosia has been hired to cater tea, scones, and sandwiches for the private party to honor dignitaries and big buck donors. Things are going swimmingly, until Theodosia escapes the party for a momentary rest, only to discover the body of a man entangled in a net, drowned in one of the aquarium's state-of-the-art tanks.
To make matters worse, the victim is Theodosia's former boyfriend Parker Scully. The EMTs on the scene think Parker's drowning was an accident, but when Theodosia notices what look like defense wounds on his hands, she realizes that someone wanted Parker dead. The local police aren't keen on hearing her theory-especially because of her ties to the victim-so Theodosia knows that if she wants Parker's killer brought to justice, she'll have to jump into the deep end and start her own investigation.
The book also includes delicious recipes and tea time tips.
Have you read any books in the Tea Shop Mystery series? If so, have you tried a new tea because of the series? Thanks so much for stopping by.