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Theodosia Browning serves tea and solves crimes in Charleston, a city steeped in tradition and treachery in the latest Tea Shop Mystery from New York Times bestselling author Laura Childs.
It is Sunday afternoon, and Theodosia and Drayton are catering a formal tea at a hot-air balloon rally. The view aloft is not only stunning, they are also surrounded by a dozen other colorful hot-air balloons. But as the sky turns gray and the clouds start to boil up, a strange object zooms out of nowhere. It is a drone, and it appears to be buzzing around the balloons, checking them out.
As Theodosia and Drayton watch, the drone, hovering like some angry, mechanized insect, deliberately crashes into the balloon next to them. An enormous, fiery explosion erupts, and everyone watches in horror as the balloon plummets to the earth, killing all three of its passengers.
Sirens scream, first responders arrive, and Theodosia is interviewed by the police. During the interview she learns that one of the downed occupants was Don Kingsley, the CEO of a local software company, SyncSoft. Not only do the police suspect Kingsley as the primary target, they learn that he possessed a rare Revolutionary War Union Jack flag that several people were rabidly bidding on.
Intrigued, Theodosia begins her own investigation. Was it the CEO’s soon-to-be ex-wife, who is restoring an enormous mansion at no expense? The CEO’s personal assistant, who also functioned as curator of his prized collection of Americana? Two rival antiques’ dealers known for dirty dealing? Or was the killer the fiancée of one of Theodosia’s dear friends, who turns out to be an employee—and whistle-blower—at SyncSoft?
INCLUDES DELICIOUS RECIPES AND TEA TIME TIPS!
Questions I’d Love to be Asked
Guest Blog by Laura Childs, New York Times Bestselling Author of Broken Bone China
Okay, Laura Childs, how is it humanly possible that you’ve written 45 books in 18 years? What’s going on? Are you on crystal meth or just an overachiever?
I love to write and I’m a fast writer. I honed my skills as an advertising writer/producer, then started my own agency. I worked fast and fierce, writing lots of TV spots, 3 screenplays, and 2 reality shows. After turning out my first couple of Tea Shop Mysteries, I became frustrated with the down time, so I began writing the Scrapbooking Mystery series. Then, because the deadlines weren’t making me crazy enough, I tossed a third series, the Cackleberry Club Mysteries, into the mix.
How come your cozy mysteries are different from other cozy mysteries?
Thank you for noticing. The fact of the matter is, lots of cozies are fairly vanilla and tame. There are cats and coffee in the first 3 chapters, then finally a murder occurs offstage. I don’t like all that build-up and I don’t want to make my readers wait for something to happen, so I write my cozies in the thriller style. That means areally dynamic opening (a murder in chapter one!), an extremely fast pace, two or three more huge events (like fires, bombs, robberies, kidnappings, or even a second murder), and then a whopping big ending. I even coined the term “thrillzy” for my hybrid cozy-thriller.
As a former advertising agency owner, what tactics have you brought to your writing career?
Besides martini lunches, parties, and concert freebies? Ah, just kidding, those went out in the nineties. The real biggie is to MAKE YOUR WRITING INTERESTING. Just like the TV spots I wrote and produced, I knew my books had to be fun and enticing. I see book writing – publishing – as part of the entertainment industry. So when I write fiction I make sure to deliver a unique and exciting storyline, create characters that are as loveable, scary, and quirky as humanly possible, and always try to blow up the Kremlin. (Oops, I guess I can’t do that in a cozy. Okay, so I blow up a vehicle or two.)
Why do you include recipes in all your mysteries?
Recipes add authenticity as well as an added dimension. When you read about Cat Head Biscuits, or Chicken Jambalaya, or Lemon Gunpowder Tea, you’re just naturally curious and want to know more. Plus, readers tell me there’s something very satisfying about reading the story, then making the biscuits or scones. There’s a fun “interactivity” at work.
Do you have any “writing words of wisdom?”
My writing philosophy is exactly the same as the Nike slogan. Just do it.Sit down, sip a Diet Coke, and start developing your plot and story outline. Write it all out on a huge piece of paper and then, when you think you have something workable, transfer it to your computer, and start writing. And be aggressive – chip away at your short story or novel every day if you can. Believe me, you don’t need a personal assistant, mantra, burning sage, or anything tricky! If you log serious writing time, you’ll eventually turn out a passable short story, essay, or even a novel. And one more thing. The more you read the better your writing skills will become. Even as your eyes go bleary, you will come to understand a novel’s internal architecture and be able to recognize key scenes and turning points. These are things you need to know if you want to be a writer.
What’s your most recent novel?
Thank you for asking. It’s my new Tea Shop Mystery, Broken Bone China:
After catering a formal tea at a hot-air balloon rally, tea shop maven Theodosia and her tea sommelier Drayton bask in a hot air balloon ride. But as the skies darken, a rogue drone buzzes in and strikes a nearby balloon, causing an enormous, fiery explosion. People are dead and one of them is Don Kingsley, software bigwig and owner of a rare Revolutionary War Union Jack flag. As Kingsley’s widow presses Theodosia for help, suspects abound in the form of rival antiques dealers, museum representatives, and private collectors. Five million dollars is also missing from the software firm and the fiancé of Angie Congdon (Theodosia’s dear friend and B and B owner) also becomes a prime suspect. In the midst of all this drama, Theodosia still has to charm her tea shop guests, manage the photo shoot at Drayton’s historic home, and pull off a Beaux Arts Tea, her most elaborate tea party yet.
In the tradition of all my previous New York Times bestselling thriller-cozies (thrillzies!), Broken Bone China delivers a breakneck pace, heart-warming moments, and recipes that include Eggnog Scones, Strawberry Butter, Banana Pudding Pie, Parmesan Stuffed Mushrooms, and Sea Scallops with Brown Butter.
Thanks for doing this, Laura Childs!
Hey, thanks for asking!
About The Author
Laura Childs is the New York Times, USA Today, and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbooking Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. Recently, Book Riot named her mysteries to their list of “25 of the All-Time Best Cozy Mystery Series.” In her previous life Laura was CEO of her own marketing firm, authored several screenplays, and produced a reality TV show. She is married to Dr. Bob, a professor of Chinese art history, enjoys travel, and has two Chinese Shar-Pei dogs.
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