A Conversation with Author Laura Childs

Which book are we talking about today?

I’m dying to tell you all about Twisted Tea Christmas, my brand new Christmas Mystery and the 23rd book in my Tea Shop Mystery series.

What inspired the idea for your book?

To be perfectly honest, it was my editor nagging me to finally (finally!) write a Christmas book. I’d resisted for a few years because I had titles and really neat ideas for so many other books (Lavender Blue Murder, Haunted Hibiscus, A Dark and Stormy Tea) but hadn’t worked out a good plot for a Christmas mystery. Then I started imagining a fancy Christmas party in one of Charleston’s Victorian mansions and wondered – what could go wrong? Turns out a lot of crazy things can happen – and did happen in Twisted Tea Christmas.  

What was the most surprising thing you learned in writing this book?

I kind of knew this already, but I realized that you can make a murder mystery out of pretty much anything – Christmas included. 

If you were friends with a character in this book, what kind of things would you do together?

My main protagonist, Theodosia Browning, the owner of the Indigo Tea Shop in Charleston, SC would make a great friend because we share a similar background – marketing – and like all the same things (isn’t that an amazing coincidence?) Theodosia and I are both crazed over tea, travel, horseback riding, spooky stories, solving mysteries, and exploring strange places.

What does it mean to you to be called an author?

Ah, it means I no longer have to get up at 6:45 in the morning and rush to work at my advertising agency. Now I’m able to sleep a little later, write what I want, and enjoy a slightly more civilized day. Of course, there’s a certain amount of prestige as well, but that’s easily outweighed by the fact that I’m only as good as my last book. The mystery genre is a crowded, competitive field so I need to think fast and stay on my toes.

How do you define success as an author?

Job one is to entertain my reader. If I don’t make my reader laugh, cry, bite their nails, or stay up late turning pages, then I’m not all that successful. A book, just like a movie, TV show, casino, shopping mall, or whatever, is all about the entertainment value. If I don’t hit the sweet spot on the entertain-o-meter, then I’m simply not doing my job.

Do you have any quirky writing rituals?

Okay, here’s the deep, dark secret about novel writing. There are no rituals other than parking your bod in front of your computer and typing away. You don’t need incense, feng shui, sage, prayer beads, or anything else to inspire you. Imagination – the absolute key to writing – comes from within. Your mind is an amazing muscle, you just have to stretch it and put it to work.

What comes first for you – the plot or the characters?

Since I write three different series (Tea Shop Mysteries, New Orleans Scrapbooking Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries) my characters are fairly well-defined by now. So I get to really play to my heart’s content when it comes to plot. And I mean the crazier the better. I’ve launched explosive first chapters with car crashes, bombs, art thefts, strangulations, hangings, jewelry thefts, poisonings, and lots more. Of course, then I need to keep the throttle on and deliver exciting plot points, turns, and twists. And if some of these elements come whizzing out of left field, so much the better!

What has been your favorite reader feedback?

There have been two instances that touched my heart deeply. One woman wrote to tell me that when her mom was dying from cancer, she read all the Tea Shop Mysteries out loud to her. She said the mysteries were soothing and fun for both of them. Another reader (a teacher) asked me for tea party suggestions for a bunch of special needs kids. I wrote back with ideas for fruit juice “tea,” peanut butter and jelly tea sandwiches, and scones. The teacher told me later that the kids had the best time ever and wanted to do it again!

What advice would you give to a writer working on their first book?

First of all, there’s a good chance you might not sell your first book. But please don’t despair because writing your first book is your internship, your chance to explore what it’s like to write long format fiction and make all sorts of first writer mistakes. Okay, now that the first one’s tucked securely out of the way, come up with a plot – and I mean a unique, never-been-done-before plot, not just an idea or jumping off point. Write a chapter or two to test out how it feels. If your story is hanging together and you’re still interested, go ahead and write an outline. See if you can take your outline to fifty or sixty pages. Still working for you? Now start writing for real because you’ve got this!

What was the defining moment that made you say, “Today I am going to write a book that I will publish.”?

Oh gosh, I wish it were that simple. Instead, I worked in advertising for twenty-plus years, heading up my own agency. In stolen moments (over the course of three years) I wrote two screenplays and two thrillers. I finally hit it big when my agent pitched my first Tea Shop Mystery, Death by Darjeeling, to my publisher and it was accepted as the first book in a series. Once I signed a three-book contract, I sold my ad agency in a heartbeat.  

One of the mainstays of the cozy genre is the ongoing series. While many a series may begin to get stale after only a few books, Laura Childs has proven her mettle as an author with her 23rd installment in the Tea Shop Mysteries, which is anything but. In this book, Theodosia and her staff are catering an upscale tea party when the hostess is found dead. The investigation that follows weaves a twisty trail through red herrings, multiple suspects, and subtle well-played clues that leave the reader on the edge waiting for the big dramatic reveal.

Like always, The city of Charleston is a major character in the story as the author transports the reader there. With this story the added delight of the holiday season makes one yearn for colder weather and carols on the radio. Theodosia and her crime-busting team are smooth and efficient by now, keeping the tea shop running smoothly while she investigates the murder. Liberally seasoned with great food, tea tips, and laugh-out-loud moments the book is the quintessential cozy mystery that strays into thriller territory.

The book reads well as a stand-alone but if this is your first visit to the Indigo Tea Shop, then take some time to read up on the series and enjoy the wonderful character growth over time. 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I received an advance review copy for free through Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, and I am leaving this review voluntarily

An attack on the host of a fancy tea party sends Theodosia Browning looking for answers in the latest entry in the New York Times bestselling series.

Tea maven Theodosia Browning and her tea sommelier, Drayton Conneley, are catering a Victorian Christmas party at a swanky mansion in downtown Charleston. Drucilla Heyward, the hostess, is one of the wealthiest women in town.

As the champagne flows and the tea steeps, Drucilla is so pleased with the reception by her partygoers that she reveals her secret plan to Theodosia. The Grande Dame has brought the cream of Charleston society together to reveal that she is planning to give her wealth away to various charitable organizations. However, before she can make the announcement, Theodosia finds her crumpled unconscious in the hallway. It looks like the excitement has gotten to the elderly woman–except that there is a syringe sticking out of her neck.

INCLUDES DELICIOUS RECIPES AND TEA TIME TIPS!

Purchase Links
Amazon – B&N – Kobo – IndieBound

Laura’s Links:   Website –  Facebook 

Laura Childs is the New York Times bestselling author of the Tea Shop MysteriesScrapbook Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. In her previous life she was CEO/Creative Director of her own marketing firm and authored several screenplays. She is married to a professor of Chinese art history, loves to travel, rides horses, enjoys fundraising for various non-profits, and has two Chinese Shar-Pei dogs.

Laura specializes in cozy mysteries that have the pace of a thriller (a thrillzy!) Her three series are:

The Tea Shop Mysteries – set in the historic district of Charleston and featuring Theodosia Browning, owner of the Indigo Tea Shop. Theodosia is a savvy entrepreneur, and pet mom to service dog Earl Grey. She’s also an intelligent, focused amateur sleuth who doesn’t rely on coincidences or inept police work to solve crimes. This charming series is highly atmospheric and rife with the history and mystery that is Charleston.

To learn about this series check out
Guest Post: 1-2-3-Creativity! by by Laura Childs

The Scrapbooking Mysteries – a slightly edgier series that take place in New Orleans. The main character, Carmela, owns Memory Mine scrapbooking shop in the French Quarter and is forever getting into trouble with her friend, Ava, who owns the Juju Voodoo shop. New Orleans’ spooky above-ground cemeteries, jazz clubs, bayous, and Mardi Gras madness make their presence known here!

The Cackleberry Club Mysteries – set in Kindred, a fictional town in the Midwest. In a rehabbed Spur station, Suzanne, Toni, and Petra, three semi-desperate, forty-plus women have launched the Cackleberry Club. Eggs are the morning specialty here and this cozy cafe even offers a book nook and yarn shop. Business is good but murder could lead to the cafe’s undoing! This series offers recipes, knitting, cake decorating, and a dash of spirituality.

For more about this series click into
Guest Post: From Advertising to Writing Books, Why The Process is Amazingly Similar by Laura Childs

TOUR PARTICIPANTS

October 5 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

October 5 – Brianne’s Book Reviews – REVIEW

October 6 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW

October 6 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

October 7 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

October 7 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

October 7 – Novels Alive – SPOTLIGHT

October 8 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

October 8 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW

October 8 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

October 9 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW, GUEST POST

October 9 – Author Elena Taylor’s Blog – SPOTLIGHT

October 10 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

October 11 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – REVIEW

October 11 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

October 12 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

October 12 – Baroness Book Trove – SPOTLIGHT

October 13 – Ascroft, eh? – GUEST POST

October 13 – Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic – SPOTLIGHT

October 14 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT

October 14 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT

October 15 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

October 16 – Moonlight Rendezvous – REVIEW  

October 16 – Dear Reader – REVIEW

October 17 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

October 17 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW

October 18 – Here’s How It Happened – SPOTLIGHT

October 18 – BookishKelly2020 – SPOTLIGHT  

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