Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Herbs and Homicide - An Interview, Review, and Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Astoria Wright to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Astoria pens the Faerie Apothecary Mystery series. HERBS AND HOMICIDE is the first book in the series.


Kathy: In HERBS AND HOMICIDE we enter the world of the fae and meet house elves, sprites, leprechauns, and other faeries. What sparked your interest in the fae and why did you decide to feature them in your series.

AW: I am a fan of the paranormal. I listen to the Paranormal Podcast, Mysterious Universe, the Scary Fairy Godmother and Fairy Folklore on Youtube, and even watched Ancient Aliens when it was on TV. This doesn’t mean I believe everything, but it’s fun to think about hidden worlds and this idea that there are, as Shakespeare said, “More things on Heaven and Earth than are dreamt of” in our philosophies.


Kathy: Carissa Shea runs the Seelie Tree Apothecary Shop. I've always been a proponent of the healing powers of herbs, even if not distributed by an elf, or half-elf. Do you use herbs yourself?

AW: Absolutely! My parents strongly believe that nutrition and natural remedies were the first step to good health. I kept that belief, so even today I cook with turmeric and other healthy spices, use a clove-based mouthwash, take ajowan caraway any time I get a stomach ache, and so on. That doesn’t mean I won’t take regular medicine if I need it, but if I can take a more natural route I’m likely to try that first. (Note: I’m not a doctor – please don’t take anything in the books as medical advice!)


Kathy: In writing the Faerie Apothecary Cozy Mystery series did you incorporate a lot of faerie lore, or did you rely more on your imagination? What is the best way to research faeries?

AW: I tried to incorporate as much lore and mythology as I possibly could. I knew some of it already and what I didn’t know I looked up in books and on the internet. The best sources so far have been Spirits, Fairies, Leprechauns, and Goblins: An Encyclopedia by Carol Rose and a book by Lady Gregory called ON GODS AND FIGHTING MEN about the Tuatha de Danann and their fights with the human Milesians who eventually won the land of Ireland from them (sorry for the historical spoiler – humans won). Lady Gregory’s book is in the public domain and is available free by Project Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/14465


Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

AW: I discovered the genre a couple years ago when life had gotten busy and stressful. I just needed some light reads to relax and I came across MURDER STRIKES A POSE by Tracy Weber. I liked it so much I bought her next one and a few other cozies. I had read some mysteries like Agatha Christie’s years ago, but I never realized there was a whole subgenre for mysteries that are cozy like hers. The stories were light reads that allowed for a breather from work stress so I was hooked.


Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

AW: Yes, I have a science fiction series I’m hoping to release sometime this year. I also want to write fantasy and children’s books. I consider all the work I write “imaginative fiction” meaning that I enjoy world building and creating places that are very different from the real world we all live in (most of the time).


Kathy: Tell us about your series.

AW: The Faerie Apothecary Mysteries explores an island of humans and faerie neighbors whose community is shaken up by a string of crimes. As a half-elf, apothecary shop owner Carissa Shae, has insight into the human and fae community members that proves helpful in calming the town and makes her the perfect sleuth to solve these crimes.


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

AW: In terms of main characters, it’s actually Chaos. I know Carissa is the main character, but the nature faerie, Chaos, has spunk and is more important than her size would make her seem.


Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?

AW: Well, I can tell you how the stories started: with a twig on the ground. Literally, in a parking lot after a rainstorm there was a branch that looked oddly person-shaped. I immediately thought: What if that wasn’t a branch at all, but a faerie? What if everyone passes it by because faeries blend in with the background? What if they weren’t in the background, but right in our own neighborhoods? That’s how my writer brain thinks – it starts with a what if and then ventures down tangents until a story forms…I was working on a science fiction story at the time, but my mind kept going back to the branch and saying there’s a story there so eventually I had to listen and write it down.


Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

AW: If I never published in my life, it would become one of those “what ifs” that would haunt me at the end. When I finally scrounged up the money and found time to make a go of writing, I took the opportunity. I’ve already had a few people who enjoyed my books so I feel like it was a good decision. I have a lot more stories so I want to keep putting them out into the world.


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

AW: It would be fun to have an epic paranormal mystery brainstorming session over dinner with Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, JRR Tolkein, and Joseph Campbell. It’s evenly split between two brilliant minds for mystery writing and two geniuses of world and character building. What story ideas we could think up! Well, they could probably come up with the ideas without my help. I could provide the dinner.


Kathy: What are you currently reading?

AW: I’m in the middle of NEVERWHERE by Neil Gaiman and enjoying it!


Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?

AW: Writing was my hobby for a long time, but now I am hoping to make that a career. I love reading (naturally!) and when I’m not writing or reading, I love listening to podcasts or watching YouTube videos on mysterious or interesting things. I’m also a huge fan of organizing and completely reorganized when I read Marie Kondo’s (KonMari) LIFE CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP. I also enjoy meditating and running or hiking. I’m not a fast runner and I don’t compete or anything but I find that when I am going for a run or hiking I can let my mind wander and creative ideas will come to me.


Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.

AW: Spices – a lot of them and a wide variety, Salad items (including the croutons!), fruit for smoothies or juices, and coffee. Actually, scratch the rest of the list. I try to keep the other items in stock at all times, but I never run out of coffee.


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

AW: I have planned 7 books for The Faerie Apothecary Mysteries and I’m currently on Book 4: CHARMS AND CHANGELINGS. I’m also hoping to release some science fiction this year.


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

AW: I love being a storyteller. Stories have occupied a spot in my mind since I was a child and until now have existed in the form of scribbled notes in notepads shoved into the back of my filing cabinet. My favorite thing is that I’m finally getting those stories out into the world and sharing them with other people.

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Review

HERBS AND HOMICIDE by Astoria Wright
The First Faerie Apothecary Cozy Mystery

No one is more stunned than Carissa Shae when curmudgeonly Miss Morgan drops dead in the Seelie Tree Apothecary Shop. There's more to her death than meets the eye and Cari soon finds herself in the middle of the investigation. With a surly Sidhe guard investigating the crime, and various folk acting oddly, fae and human alike, Cari sets out to not only prove her innocence, but find the true murderer, and protect Moss Hill.

The Faerie Apothecary mysteries brings humans and fae together in a lovely island community off the coast of the United Kingdom. Undertones of diversity and inclusion add relevance and a bit of gravity to an otherwise lighthearted mystery. I love how the author incorporates actual faerie lore and mythology into this cozy mystery. I find myself wanting to look for sprites in my garden come springtime and wishing I could visit Cari's shop.

Carissa Shae is an intriguing protagonist. Half human, half elf she bridges both worlds yet is unsure of her true abilities as she is called, not only to solve a murder, but protect Moss Hill. She's down to earth, resourceful, yet somewhat clueless when it comes to emotions and relationships...at least for herself. I find myself quite intrigued by Varick and like the addition of Alden to the cast of very unique characters. I am most fond of Chaos and her love of cherries and cherry flavored popsicles, as well as her chocolate cosmos plant (and yes, I intend to scour gardening catalogs to find one of my own..the plant, not the nature faerie).

HERBS AND HOMICIDE is a charming mystery filled with unique characters and faerie lore.

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Herbs and Homicide (The Faerie Apothecary Cozy Mystery) by Astoria Wright

About the Book


Cozy Mystery 1st in Series  
Novelwright Mysteries (September 27, 2018)  
Paperback: 217 pages 
Looking for a unique paranormal cozy mystery series that's lighthearted and fun?
Settle into the cozy countryside of Moss Hill, where house-elves rent rooms, sprites live in gardens, a leprechaun is the best tailor in town, and a half-elf/half human named Carissa Shea owns a pharmacy known as The Seelie Tree Apothecary shop. Life couldn't be more idyllic for Cari, but healing humans and fae folk proves challenging at times, especially when secrets unfold in The Faerie Apothecary Mysteries.
About Book 1: Herbs and Homicide In the small town of Moss Hill, customers of all kinds visit Carissa Shea's Seelie Tree Apothecary Shop. That includes tall and short, young and old, human and faerie. Being half-elf/half-human herself, Carissa personally knows and cares for them all. So, when a grumpy brownie, a type of house faerie, named Miss Morgan dies in her shop, Carissa is devastated. As she learns more about her customer's death, she realizes Miss Morgan might have been the only thing standing between the Seelie, faeries of light and goodness, and the Unseelie, faeries of darkness and evil. On top of it all, the Sidhe guard, protector of all fae residents, rule it a murder and name Carissa as a suspect! Now she must prove her innocence and find the real culprit before it's too late - not just for her but for all of Moss Hill.

About the Author


Astoria Wright is the author of The Faerie Apothecary Mysteries, including the bestselling prequel novella Chaos in the Countryside. Intrigued by myths and inspired by cozy mystery writers before her, Astoria tries to combine two worlds with human and faerie neighbors trying to solve puzzling crimes on the fictional island of Moss Hill. She’s also a poet, which shows in the Moss Hill poetry anthology “written” by the characters in the series. Her goal is to bring Moss Hill to life in her stories, because who doesn’t wish we lived in a town with magical faeries as neighbors?
  • Author Links
Website: www.astoriawright.com  
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Astoria-Wright-2119028461648435/  
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AstoriaWright  
GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18477858.Astoria_Wright

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