In Laura Childs’s New York Times bestselling mystery series, Suzanne, Petra, and Toni—co-owners of the Cackleberry Club café—are back to track down another bad egg…
When Suzanne Dietz, proprietor of the Cackleberry Club Café, stops by Mike Mullen’s dairy farm to pick up wheels of cheese, she’s greeted by the urgent, upturned faces of cows that haven’t been milked – as well as Mike’s mangled body! Stunned by her grisly discovery, Suzanne vows to find out who killed this mild-mannered farmer. Was it the shunned neighbor boy, a strange man transporting horses to Canada, or Mike’s unhappy wife? Juggling multiple suspects, a busy restaurant, tea parties, and a raucous Halloween celebration, Suzanne maintains her good humor and keeps her romance with the town doctor sizzling. In the tradition of all her previous New York Times bestselling cozies, Laura Childs doesn’t let her readers down when it comes to heart-warming humor, a breathless pace, and homespun recipes!
Q: Laura, thanks for stopping by Island Confidential. Can you tell us a little bit about your protagonist, Suzanne?
A: Suzanne Dietz, is the owner of the Cackleberry Club Café along with her partners Toni and Petra. Suzanne is sweet, tough, and imbued with a can-do spirit. She also has a great sense of justice. When some poor character gets murdered, she’s almost driven to bring the killer to justice. Of course, that puts Suzanne in a lot of hot water and can make her quite unpopular with local law enforcement. Suzanne is also a dog lover, horse owner, and excellent cook who tries to source all her fresh ingredients locally. (She also shares her recipes with readers!)
Q: How much of you is in the Suzanne? What do you think would happen if you met her in real life?
A: Suzanne is curious, unafraid to push the envelope, and very much an entrepreneur, so I’d say there’s some of me in her. I started an ad agency (against the advice of a bunch of seasoned ad guys) at the age of thirty and ran it successfully for twenty years. If I met Suzanne in real life, I’d probably buy her a drink and talk about what the next chapter of our lives holds.
Q: Do your characters change and evolve throughout consecutive books in the series?
A: They change and evolve somewhat, but their basic personalities always shine through. Suzanne’s two partners, Toni and Petra, are probably a little more outrageous now than when I started. Toni is the resident hottie-pattotie with skin-tight cowboy shirts, hot pink extensions, and a bawdy sense of humor. Petra is probably a little less religious now that when we started out. I guess I’m a bad influence on them.
Q: Have you ever thought of killing someone that you know in real life – only on the pages of a murder mystery?
When I owned my marketing firm, there were always certain clients who were cranky and demanding or tried to cheat us. Now I take my petty revenge on them by putting them in my mysteries (Cackleberry Club, Tea Shop, and Scrapbook Mysteries). I either kill them off in a gruesome manner or name a slimy character after them. It’s great fun!
Q: How realistic is your setting? Do you take liberties, or are you true to life?
A: I grew up in a small, Midwestern town, so I think my setting for the Cackleberry Club Mysteries is spot on. The mysteries take place in the fictional town of Kindred, which is rural, charming, and filled with quirky characters who have surprisingly dark secrets. Really, just like the place I grew up!
Q: What’s the worst and best advice you’ve heard or received as an author?
A: No advice, but a very telling story: Once when I was at the Mystery Writers of American symposium in New York, I was talking with Mary Higgins Clark. She had helped me get started and had set me up with her agent. It was almost noon and I wanted to take her to lunch. But when I brought it up, she got this funny, almost frightened look on her face and said, “Oh, I wish. But I have to go home and write. My publisher wants another 50,000 words in six weeks.” That’s when I knew this whole writing thing was deadly serious – that panels and symposiums and signings are all grand, but until you park yourself in that chair and start cranking out words, you’re not really a professional author at all.
About the Author
Laura Childs is the New York Times bestselling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbook 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 fund raising 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.
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.
Visit Laura’s webpage or find her on Facebook.