TL: I am a huge coffee addict, and love coffee of all kinds. Generally I like black espresso, no cream, no sugar — or a new drink at my local café. It’s called maple bourbon latte. It has no alcohol and is incredibly delicious!
Kathy: Lana Lewis has a hippie dad and a Shih Tzu named Stanley. Of the two, who makes Lana's life more challenging?
TL: Oh, definitely her father! Lana wanted to return home to Devil’s Beach after her layoff in Miami in part to keep an eye on her father.
Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
TL: I love the puzzle of plotting the mystery — it’s like the biggest brain teaser ever! Part of the fun is figuring out the murder, the suspects, the killer — and the alibis! I also adore the happy ever after of cozy mysteries, much like in romance.
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
TL: I do write romance under my real name! Those are way spicier than my cozies, though!
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
TL: The Coffee Lover’s Mystery series is about Lana Lewis, a laid off journalist who returns to her island hometown in Florida to take over the family’s coffee shop. She’s trying to figure out what’s next in life when she keeps encountering murders.
The Coffee Lover’s series is my first!
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
TL: My favorite character is Peter Lewis, Lana’s dad — because he’s loosely inspired by my own father.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
TL: I knew I wanted something set in Florida, in a quirky beach community. I live in Florida near the Gulf and know that people in those places are a bit eccentric. I wanted to capture that Weird Florida vibe.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
TL: I’m a journalist in my day job so I’m used to putting my work out there. But fiction is different and a bit scarier! Ultimately I figured that if I was writing, I might as well put it out into the world for others to read.
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
TL: Ooh! Probably Agatha Christie, Nora Roberts, Sylvia Plath and Camille Paglia
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
TL: A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Mayhem by Manda Collins
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
TL: I love doing yoga! That’s probably my main interest outside of writing. That and cooking — I love cooking involved dinners.
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
TL: Kombucha, nutritional yeast, Himalayan sea salt and avocadoes
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
TL: I recently finished the second in the Coffee Lover’s series and will begin work on a third in January 2021. I’m hopeful this will be a long running series.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
TL: I love hearing from readers and getting feedback about my book — good or bad. I love reader interaction in general.
Grounds for Murder (A Coffee Lover's Mystery) by Tara Lush
About Grounds for Murder
Cozy Mystery 1st in Series
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books (December 8, 2020)
Hardcover: 320 pages
When Lana Lewis' best -- and most difficult -- employee abruptly quits and goes to work for the competition just days before the Sunshine State Barista Championship, her café's chances of winning the contest are creamed. In front of a gossipy crowd in the small Florida town of Devil's Beach, Lana's normally calm demeanor heats to a boil when she runs into the arrogant java slinger. Of course, Fabrizio "Fab" Bellucci has a slick explanation for jumping ship. But when he's found dead the next morning under a palm tree in the alley behind Lana's café, she becomes the prime suspect.
Even the island's handsome police chief isn't quite certain of her innocence. But Lana isn't the only one in town who was angry with Fabrizio. Jilted lovers, a shrimp boat captain, and a surfer with ties to the mob are all suspects as trouble brews on the beach
With her stoned, hippie dad, a Shih Tzu named Stanley, and a new, curious barista sporting a punk rock aesthetic at her side, Lana's prepared to turn up the heat to catch the real killer.
After all, she is a former award-winning reporter. As scandal hangs over her beachside café, can Lana clear her name and win the championship -- or will she come to a bitter end?
About Tara Lush
Tara Lush is a Rita Award finalist, an Amtrak writing fellow, and a George C. Polk Award-winning journalist. For the past decade, she's been a reporter with the Associated Press, covering crime, alligators, natural disasters, and politics. She also writes contemporary romance set in tropical locations. A fan of vintage pulp-fiction book covers, Sinatra-era jazz, and 1980s fashion, she lives with her husband and two dogs on the Gulf coast.