I'm pleased to welcome Kari Lee Townsend to the blog today. Kari writes the Sunny Meadows Mystery series, also known as the Fortune Teller Mystery series. Perish in the Palm, the fourth book in the series, was released in July.
Kathy: Sunny Meadows is a clairvoyant who helps people, including the police, in Divinity, NY. Have you ever met anyone who was clairvoyant?
KLT: My first experience with a fortune teller was years ago before I got married. I went to a tea leaf reader, and it was uncanny how accurate her reading was. Then I went to a psychic fair and several workshops at conferences with my best friend/critique partner/fellow author Barbara Witek. It’s safe to say we’re hooked!
Kathy: There are many forms of divination including tarot cards, tea leaves, and crystal balls. Have you ever used any of these tools, or had them used to see into your future?
KLT: I had my tea leaves read as I mentioned above. As far as using the tools myself, I compiled my research and came up with the method my character would use. Then I demonstrated readings for tea leaves, crystal balls, and tarot cards on my CP Barbara Witek (poor woman has been through so much over the last 20 years being my friend, haha, yet she’s always game for anything). Next up palm reading ;)
Kathy: I can just picture Sunny's Victorian home in Divinity. Is it, as well as the town, based on real places, or are both purely fictional?
KLT: I live in central New York and grew up in upstate so I based the town on things I liked from a few different towns. As far as the décor of Sunny’s house as well as the local businesses, that was all research. I thought an old-fashioned town with different themes for the businesses would be unique and fun. Mostly I wanted Divinity to be memorable.
Kathy: I love Morty! Is he based on a real cat?
KLT: No. In fact I don’t have any pets, just 4 wild children J But I do love animals and thought if I did have a cat, he would be full of character. People always ask me what exactly is he, and the funny thing is, I don’t even know for sure. I am figuring him out as I go along and that’s half the fun.
Kathy: Perish in the Palm is the fourth book in the Sunny Meadows Mystery series, although the first three books in the series are referred to as the Fortune Telling Mystery series. Was the change in name due to the change in publisher?
KLT: Yes. Due to contract negotiations falling through, I decided parting ways with the original publisher was my only option. But I love the new packaging and the stories are still just as fun.
Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
KLT: I started out writing romance and had no idea what cozy mysteries were. When someone pointed out that cozy mysteries were set in a small town with fun characters and could have romance, I realized they were very much like my romantic comedies with a mystery thrown in. After I started reading them, I was hooked.
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
KLT: I write mysteries and teen superheroes under Kari Lee Townsend, and I write romance and women’s fiction under Kari Lee Harmon. But no matter what I write, you will always find fun characters and humor and usually something mysterious to figure out.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
KLT: It’s about a psychic fortune teller from the big city who starts over in a small town, befriends an immortal cat, and assists the local police department with their investigations as a consultant, much to the dismay of the cynical non-believing detective who later becomes her fiancé.
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
KLT: Granny Gert because she was created after my Grandmother Gertrude with her snow white hair, snappy brown eyes, and pumpkin cookie jar with the foil covered plate for a lid. I grew up eating the best cookies from that jar, and just like Granny Gert, my grandmother his money around the house and wore her apron and plastic rain cap everywhere. It took my real grandmother 5 tries to pass her road test as well. The only thing that’s more like my mother are the crazy fads Granny follows. Half the things that happened in the book my mother has tried ;)
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
KLT: When I first decided to do some research on what cozy mystery themes had been done, I didn’t find anything on fortune telling. I saw some with psychics in general but nothing like what I had in mind. And to make it even more unique, I decided to have each book revolve around a different fortune-telling tool to keep my readers interested and learn something new along the way.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
KLT: Becoming published has always been a dream of mine. It took 16 years (4 with my agent) until she landed me a 3-book deal off a partial and then 6 months later another 3-book deal off just a synopsis. I’ve seen my books in the bookstore, and now with the digital age booming and technology changing rapidly, I’ve seen my books as ebooks. I think it’s important to keep up with the times and be open to change and be willing to try new things. You never know what you might like or be good at unless you put yourself out there.
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
KLT: Nora Roberts and Janet Evanovich to ask them what their secret is. Stephen King because he’s just so fascinating. And Barbara Witek because we do everything together anyway and the party wouldn’t be half as fun without her.
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
KLT: Jo Jo Moyes One Plus One
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
KLT: Photography. You won’t see me at any conference or convention without my camera. Just ask my poor friends and fellow authors. It’s the same with family functions and my children’s sporting events. Life goes by so darn fast, I can’t help wanting to capture every moment. One day they will all thank me. In the meantime, watch out. You just might be on my version of candid camera.
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
KLT: Coffee, wine, Greek yogurt, Nutella
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
KLT: Next up for Sunny Meadows is Hazard in the Horoscope (book 5), Chaos and Cold Feet (novella 5a), Murder in the Meditations (book 6).
I possibly might write more of my Mind Reader Mystery series or another in the Sister Mary Sleuth series. There’s only 1 book in each of those now.
And I will definitely be writing more women’s fiction. I just finished a historical women’s fiction that my agent is currently shopping so cross your fingers.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
KLT: Finishing a book fills me with such excitement and pride. Getting to share that with other people feels amazing. And the satisfaction of getting paid to do something I love is priceless. Setting my own schedule and writing in my PJ’s doesn’t hurt either J
Kathy: Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions.
KLT: Thank you so much for having me. It’s been a blast. To find out more about me and all of my books check out my website at karileetownsend.com
Perish in the Palm by Kari Lee Townsend
The Fourth Sunny Meadows Mystery
Sunny Meadows is back! Sunny is a fortune teller in
Divinity, New York. She lives in an old Victorian with Morty (a more
than mysterious cat), her Grandma Gert, and now her boyfriend Mitch (who
still sometimes morphs into Detective Grumpy Pants). Sunny is pleased
to be maid of honor at her friend Jo's wedding, even though her mother
is horning in. When her mom takes one to many verbal jousts at the owner
of the reception site, Sunny steps in with some entertainment in order
to distract everyone. She reads Peirce's palm, but sees some
disconcerting images...and treasure. When a storm hits and the lights go
out, everyone is shocked-especially when Sunny's mom is found standing
over the dead body of Peirce, knife in hand. Was it Peirce's
financial activities that caused his death, or was someone just out to
ruin a wedding? Whatever the case, Sunny is determined to prove her
Sunny and her mother have a difficult relationship, neither truly understanding the other. We see that while her mom can relate to her friends, to Sunny's eyes even being more of a mom to them, their own relationship is fraught with tension. But your mom's your mom so when Vivian becomes prime suspect in a murder investigation, Sunny will do everything she can to prove her innocence, whether the assistance is wanted or not. In Perish in the Palm Kari Lee Townsend explores more of this mother/daughter relationship and we see the growth and bond of these two characters deepen.
I was happy to hear that Sunny was back in Divinity with a new mystery. Living in Western New York I can easily picture this Central New York town and feel quite at home, especially in Sunny's Victorian. I'm thrilled to read more about Morty and love getting his take on the situation and the clues he tried to provide Sunny. I appreciate how Kari Lee Townsend is exploring different forms of divination-palm reading in this book as well as how Mitch is coming to appreciate her paranormal abilities. While Sunny still shows her immaturity at times, both she and Mitch are growing as characters as well as growing as a couple. Perish in the Palm is also a good mystery with numerous plausible suspects as well as a secondary mystery-a hunt for treasure!
Recipes are included.