Kathy: The Body in the Wardrobe is the 23rd book in the Faith Fairchild Mystery series. Is it different writing the series now compared to when you first started?
KHP: Very different. When I wrote The Body in the Belfry, I thought I was just writing one book. It was not until my editor asked my agent, “When can we expect the next in this series?” that I realized I’d continue on for a book or so more. (23! Who knew?)
I need, however, to continue to write each book as a stand alone (or one-off) and provide a bit of background on who Faith and her family are, but not so much that it is boring for those who have read the other books. It’s been a joy to write such a long series and have the chance to grow characters and try new things—prequels, various locations yet always with the core cast of characters, although others may come and go—some of them for good!
Kathy: In The Body in the Wardrobe you bring Sophie Maxwell back. How did you decide on a return visit instead of introducing a new character?
KHP: I enjoyed writing about Sophie and Faith so much; I wasn’t ready to let Sophie go. They are very similar, although Sophie is at a different stage of life and in this book is a newlywed in her late twenties, as was Faith in the first book, The Body in the Belfry. There are plenty of new characters as Sophie is now living in her husband’s hometown, Savannah and he seems to be related to half the state of Georgia. The Sophie/Faith connection is also a nod to the friendships we make as adults.
Kathy: Amy being bullied by mean girls. Have you had to deal with mean girls? Or mean women?
KHP: I’m afraid any woman alive has had to deal with mean girls and mean women at some point in life, hopefully for only a brief time. With the explosion of social media, bullying online has become too easy—and impersonal. Bullies post things they would never say to someone’s face. I wrote a YA, Club Meds, about a learning-disabled 9th grade boy who is victimized and forced to give his medication to the bully. The boy and his friends outwit the bully who gets his just deserts. I like the ending of this book as a testament to the way adolescents are resilient and help each other out, which is what happens with Amy Fairchild. Having taught high school for so many years, I definitely observed bullying first hand.
Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
KHP: When I had that gift of time—my husband took a sabbatical, my two-year-old was in morning daycare in the French city where we were living —to finally write the book in my head, I wanted to write the kind of mystery I liked to read. Traditional ones with a good puzzle, plenty of suspense, believable but complicated plot, well-drawn characters, a sense of place—and a sense of humor to relieve the tension every once in a while. In short, a Cozy!
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
KHP: In addition to Club Meds, I wrote a 4 book mystery series, Christie & Company for middle grade readers. I also had great fun writing a collection of short fiction, Small Plates, which came out 2 years ago. Finally, I did a series cookbook with original recipes and essays, Have Faith in Your Kitchen.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
KHP: Faith Sibley Fairchild is a native New Yorker, the daughter and granddaughter of clergy, who has sworn not to marry into that kind of fish bowl existence. She’s a caterer and meets future husband the Reverend Thomas Fairchild at a job—a wedding reception —unaware that he is in the city to perform the ceremony (he has changed garb). Book 1 finds her far away from the Big Apple, married with an infant living in a small town west of Boston. Things liven up when she comes across the still warm corpse of a parishioner in the town’s freestanding old belfry. And thus begins the saga of many, many more…
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
KHP: It has to be Faith Sibley Fairchild herself. We’ve been together for 23 books and years longer if you could her presence in my imagination. She is most definitely fiction and not the author herself, but we share the same values, sense of humor, and more.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
KHP: Agatha Christie was my greatest inspiration, but so were Mary Stewart, Dorothy Sayers, Charlotte MacLeod, Patricia Moyes, Robert Barnard, Jane Langton, Virginia Rich and many, many others. My older brother was a Conan Doyle fan and those were the first mysteries I ever read, so definitely would count Holmes and Watson as inspirations as well, although possibly not considered cozies as such. Christie most of all if I have to select only one.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
KHP: I saw a query in a professional journal from an agent looking for manuscripts when we returned from France and thought I should give it a try. I had just completed my doctorate and was paying off a student loan. My intent was to go back into the field of education, but the book sold immediately. I gave myself until my son was going into first grade to see if I could make a living, contribute to our income, and it has happily been my job every since. I feel extremely lucky to have had the 2 great careers.
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
KHP: Oh gosh, this is very hard. I’d have to give a banquet! I’d want it to be a fun party, so am ruling out some favorites like the Brontës. Okay: Nancy Mitford, Gregory Maguire, Sarah Caudwell, and Colin Dexter.
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
KHP: I just finished Harlan Coben’s new book, Fool Me Once. It was very different from his others, which I like, and own, but think this is his best so far. Like all of you, I have a stack of books next to the bed, also on my Kindle. I read several books at once. Right now it’s some Julie Smiths I missed in her wonderful New Orleans Skip Langdon series; a memoir: The Mad Boy, Lord Berners, My Grandmother and Me by Sofka Zinovieff, Leonardo Padura’s Havana Red-I’ve read the other 3 in his series, Havana Quartet; and A Map Of Betrayal by Ha Jin. Also a bunch of magazines—Real Simple, Cook’s Illustrated, the New Yorker, and more.
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
KHP: I don’t call reading a hobby, or even an interest, because it is more like breathing for me. I do love to cook and am a passionate traveler—far away places or just nearby ones here in New England I’ve overlooked. I am also very interested in art. My mother was a painter and early on we developed an appreciation of all kinds from cave paintings to what contemporary artists were doing, as well as everything—and from everywhere—in between.
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
KHP: A jar of herring, Kerry Gold Irish butter, stone ground grits, and eggs. So long as you have eggs, you can always concoct a good meal!
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
KHP: I am currently working on the 24th book in the series, The Body in the Casket. I’m at that lovely beginning stage where I write down thoughts, lists of characters aside from the ones that appear in all the books, timelines, and so forth. And I’m reveling in research! The plot concerns a Broadway musical and in particular the producer. I’m reading biographies, autobiographies, books on stagecraft—all of which will inform, but not necessarily appear in the book. Since I write a series, early on I alternated the books from Aleford, the small town west of Boston where Faith Fairchild lives to what I call the “someplace else books”. These have been set in France, Norway, the coast of Maine, Manhattan, Vermont, and the current one is in Savannah. The Body in the Casket is an Aleford book and a bit of a traditional country house murder mystery, complete with bad weather and the electricity going out! I’m having a great time with it.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
KHP: Readers. I don’t mean to be flippant, but the invisible connection between author and whoever is holding the book in hand turning the pages is an extraordinary one.
The Body in the Wardrobe
by Katherine Hall Page
on Tour April 26 - May 30, 2016
Attorney Sophie Maxwell has come to Savannah to be with her new husband, Will. But nothing throws cold water on a hot relationship faster than a dead body. Worse for Sophie, no one believes the body she knows she saw is real, Will is spending an awful lot of time in Atlanta on a case he claims is urgent, and she’s been tasked with house hunting for them with his former sweetheart, who Sophie can’t help but suspect wishes Sophie would return to her Yankee roots!
Fortunately, Sophie has a good friend in Faith Fairchild. With teenage Amy being bullied by mean girls and husband Tom contemplating a major life change that will affect all the Fairchilds, Faith is eager for distraction in the form of some sleuthing. In between discussions of newlywed agita, surprising Savannah customs and, of course, fabulous low country food, Faith and Sophie will pair up to unmask a killer!
Book Details:Genre: Cozy Mystery Published by: William Morrow Publication Date: April 26th 2016 Number of Pages: 256 ISBN: 0062439502 (ISBN13: 9780062439505) Series: Faith Fairchild Mystery Purchase Links: