Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Tea & Wine - An Interview with Laura Childs

I'd like to welcome Laura Childs to the blog today. Steeped in Evil, the 15th book in her Tea Shop Mystery series was just released last week.

Kathy: Setting plays such an important role in a mystery.  How did you choose Charleston, SC as the setting for the Tea Shop Mystery series?

LC: First off, there’s a tea plantation nearby, which is really quite cool.  It dates back to before the Revolutionary War.  And Charleston is an old city, with lots of history, mystery, flamboyant characters, and skeletons in the closet, so there’s a lot to work with.  I should also mention that Charleston is haunted.  Nothing better than a city filled with glowing orbs, ancient cemeteries, and clanking ghosts.

Kathy: Theodosia is a tea drinker, but in Steeped in Evil she enters the world of wine.  I love both tea and wine, but enjoy wine more.  Although I love all types of wine, Gewertztraminer is my favorite.  Are you a wine lover?  Do you have a favorite wine?

LC: Oh yes, I adore wine.  I have an ’82 Chateau Lafite Rothschild that I’ve been hoarding for years, as well as a few bottles of Chateau Margaux on my shelves.  As you can probably tell, I’m a red wine drinker.  Though I do love a good bottle of Veuve Clicquot.

Kathy: I’m lucky in that I live in the midst of New York wine country.  I often go on wine tours and have explored wineries in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Texas, as well as NY.  Have you toured a winery?  Was it similar to Theo’s experience (sans dead body, of course . . . I hope). 

LC: I’ve visited a few vineyards in France and have been to Napa and Sonoma at least a dozen times.  I love to go just before the crush when the vines are fairly bursting with grapes and that wonderful peppery smell permeates the air.

Kathy: Some of my favorite characters are Earl Grey, Boo, Poobah, and Mocha.  Do you think animals play an important role in a mystery, even if they aren’t main characters?  Are they based on any real life animals?

LC: I think having an animal lends depth to a character.  Plus, when your character is alone, an animal makes for a caring listener – Theodosia definitely bounces a few ideas off Earl Grey, who is based loosely on my mother’s dog Elmo.  Boo and Poobah are based on my two Shar-Pei dogs, Moosha and Asia.  And Mocha is definitely based on the real-life Mocha Gent, a Quarter Horse I owned when I was younger.

Kathy: You write the Scrapbooking Mystery series and the Cackleberry Club Mystery series as well as the Tea Shop Mystery series.  How do you juggle all 3 series at the same time?

LC: I do juggle them, just not at the same time.  I’m usually writing a Tea Shop Mystery in Spring, a Scrapbook Mystery in early Fall, and a Cackleberry Club Mystery in Winter.  But writing 3 books isn’t any different than my former life as CEO of a marketing firm.  In that business I often juggled 20 different clients and their separate and distinct campaigns for TV, radio, and print advertising.

Kathy: The Cackleberry Club Mysteries have a somewhat different vibe from your other two series.  Was this intentional?

LC: Absolutely.  Different locale, different characters, different stakes - so the series needed its own clear and distinct voice.  I purposely set the Cackleberry Club Mysteries in the Midwest and gave it a down-home, slightly folksy feel with lots of female-friendly humor.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

LC: I love the idea that they’re a kinder, gentler type of mystery.  And the bad guy (or girl) is always brought to justice in the end.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

LC: I’m currently working on a hard-edged thriller set in the Twin Cities.

Kathy: Tell us about your series. 
LC: Tea Shop Mysteries – Theodosia Browning, proprietor of the Indigo Tea Shop in Charleston, SC, is a clever businesswoman and savvy amateur sleuth who seems to get roped into investigating local crimes.

Scrapbook Mysteries – Scrapbook maven Carmela Bertrand and her BFF Ava are crazy, kooky ladies who live in New Orleans’s French Quarter.  If mysteries aren’t enough, how about cemetery crawls, voodoo shops, and haunted houses!

Cackleberry Club Mysteries – Suzanne, Toni, and Petra, the ladies who run the Cackleberry Club, serve up eggs for breakfast and murder on the side, while Sheriff Doogie tries to keep these clever gals out of the crime-fighting business.

Kathy: Do you have a favorite character?  If so, who and why?

LC: Seriously?  I love them all!

Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?

LC: John Sandford, Lee Childs, James A. Michener, and Edgar Allan Poe (he can bring the wine!)

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

LC: I’m reading Wil S. Hylton’s Vanished: The Sixty Year Search for the Missing Men of World War II.  I’m a real World War II buff.

Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?

LC: There are lots more books coming.  I have three 3-book contracts for each of my current series (so that’s 9 books) and a 2-book contract for my thriller series (so that’s 2 more books).  I’m going to be verrrry busy.

Kathy: What’s your favorite thing about being an author?

LC: Being verrrry busy.  And drinking tea all day.

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