Kathy: Letitia Tarragon is a literary caterer, creating food with a fictional bent. Do you like to cook. Do you ever create themed dishes?
APM: I love to cook! Aside from writing (and my husband of course!), it’s my greatest passion. I have a massive collection of recipes and I’ve been known to read cookbooks as other people read novels. The only themed dishes I’ve ever created in my own kitchen are the ones mentioned in my Tish Tarragon mysteries, because I felt that to write about them I should know how to prepare them. Every now and then I’ll share a recipe for one of them on social media. The third Tish Tarragon mystery, which I’m currently writing, will include a couple of recipes.
Kathy: In The Garden Club Murder Tish gets involved with a garden club. When I lived in Texas I was part of an Herbal Gardening Club. Have you ever been part of a garden club?
APM: No, I’ve never been a member of a garden club, however when my husband and I lived in Williamsburg, Virginia, garden clubs abounded. It was what inspired the setting of The Garden Club Murder.
Kathy: I love all sorts of gardens, but do truly love the "English garden". What is your favorite type of garden?
APM: As I currently live in England, I would have to agree with you. Agatha Christie’s Greenway— her holiday home in south Devon— has one of the most stunning camellia gardens I’ve ever seen and it’s at its peak in February. As a cook, I also love a well-tended vegetable garden. The town I live in has a huge allotment garden, where apartment dwellers and people with limited yard space lease a plot of land for gardening. It may sound strange but I enjoy wandering through and watching the progress of their runner beans and cabbages.
Kathy: Do you enjoy gardening, or just enjoying the efforts of other people's gardens?
APM: I do enjoy gardening, but I don’t have a chance to do much of it these days. My husband is a musician and summertime is festival time, so I typically travel with him for the months of June and July. My “garden” this year consists of some very happy ivy geranium plants by my front door and a couple rows of dahlias in the backyard.
Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
APM: I’m not sure there’s any single thing that attracts me to them. I just know that they’ve been my preferred genre since childhood. I started out with Encyclopedia Brown and Nancy Drew and then moved on to Agatha Christie as an adolescent. Like any other cozy lover, I enjoy the puzzle-solving element of the mystery but I think there’s also a sense of comfort that one gains while reading them. The characters in a cozy often recur through the series, making them feel like friends and family. There’s also the fact that cozies — unlike the real world— lack any graphic violence. One can be horrified that a murder victim is shot or poisoned or stabbed, but you’re not inundated with detail and, again, unlike the real world, you also can be quite certain that by the end of the book the killer will be brought to justice and order restored.
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
APM: No, all my books have been mysteries.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
APM: My current series, the Tish Tarragon mysteries, follow the exploits of a literary caterer who has recently moved to the small town of Hobson Glen, Virginia to open a cafe, Cookin’ the Books, that serves book-themed dishes. While building her business, Tish also discovers that she has a nose for solving crimes, so she joins forces with the local sheriff.
The very first series I ever wrote was the Marjorie McClelland mystery series. Marjorie McClelland is a mystery writer who lives in a small town in 1935 Connecticut. When British millionaire, Creighton Ashcroft purchases an estate on the outskirts of town, he becomes smitten with Marjorie, and in order to win her heart begins accompanying her on her sleuthing adventures. It’s very ’Nick and Nora Charles!'
The Vermont series sees Stella and Nick Buckley move from their home in New York City to an old farmhouse in rural Vermont only to discover the body of a local contractor in their well, which starts their amateur sleuthing career.
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
APM: It has to be the character of Julian Jefferson Davis from my Tish Tarragon mysteries. Julian is a local weatherman whose claim to fame is having been swept up by a snowplow on live television. He’s so much fun to write because, with a back story like is, absolutely nothing is off limits for him, but he’s also an incredibly loyal friend to Tish, so he’s also full of heart.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
APM: Tish Tarragon actually started as answer to a call from my agent. A publisher was looking for a cozy veterinary mystery, so I accepted the challenged and submitted a synopsis and first fifty pages. The publisher rejected my pages, but my agent and I loved the characters so much, that I reworked them to reflect my own passion for cooking.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
APM: I’m not sure it was so much a decision as a dream. I wrote my first manuscript as many writers do, and shopped it to agents, and then my agent, in turn, shopped it to publishers. I’ve been quite fortunate to have found a home for all my work. My agent, Jessica Faust at BookEnds, is the best cheerleader and agent a writer can have. And Severn House Books, my most recent publisher, has been a complete dream to work with.
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
APM: Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Stephen King, F Scott Fitzgerald
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
APM: Nothing at the moment. I’m on deadline for October 15th and too busy writing!
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
APM: Cooking, as stated above, classic films, caring for my two 15 year old cats who have traveled everywhere with me, and exploring our new home.
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
APM: Eggs— I’ll eat them any way you fix them!— dried beans, tinned tomatoes, and cheese (multiple varieties)
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
APM: The October 15th deadline, above, is for Tish Tarragon Book three which is set at Christmas
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
APM: Plotting a new book and hearing from readers who love my stories.
The Garden Club Murder (A Tish Tarragon Mystery) by Amy Patricia Meade
About The Garden Club Murder
Cozy Mystery 2nd in Series
Severn House Publishers (September 1, 2019)
Hardcover: 208 pages
Literary caterer Letitia ‘Tish’ Tarragon is preparing her English Secret Garden-themed luncheon for Coleton Creek’s annual garden club awards, but when she is taken on a tour of some of the top contenders with the garden club’s president, Jim Ainsley, Tish is surprised at how seriously the residents take the awards – and how desperate they are to win.
Wealthy, retired businessman Sloane Shackleford has won the coveted best garden category five years in a row, but he and his Bichon Frise, Biscuit, are universally despised. When Sloane’s bludgeoned body is discovered in his pristine garden, Tish soon learns that he was disliked for reasons that go beyond his green fingers. Have the hotly contested awards brought out a competitive and murderous streak in one of the residents?
About Amy Patricia Meade
Author of the critically acclaimed Marjorie McClelland Mysteries, Amy Patricia Meade is a native of Long Island, NY where she cut her teeth on classic films and books featuring Nancy Drew and Encyclopedia Brown.
After stints as an Operations Manager for a document imaging company and a freelance technical writer, Amy left the bright lights of New York City and headed north to pursue her creative writing career amidst the idyllic beauty of Vermont’s Green Mountains.
Now residing in Bristol, England, Amy spends her time writing mysteries with a humorous or historical bent. When not writing, Amy enjoys traveling, testing out new recipes, classic films, and exploring her new home.
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