Theodosia Browning investigates a Charleston steeped in tradition and treachery in the latest Tea Shop Mystery from New York Times bestselling author Laura Childs.
While viewing the harbor’s Gaslights and Galleons Parade from the widow’s walk of Timothy Neville’s Charleston mansion, local banker Carson Lanier seemingly tumbles over a narrow railing, then plunges three stories to his death. But a tragic accident becomes something much more sinister when it’s discovered that the victim was first shot with a bolt from a crossbow.
At the request of the mansion owner, Theodosia investigates the tragedy and is soon neck deep in suspects. An almost ex-wife, a coworker, a real estate partner–all had motives for killing the luckless banker, but one resorted to murder to settle accounts.
INCLUDES DELICIOUS RECIPES AND TEA TIME TIPS!
Interview with Laura Childs, New York Times bestselling author of Plum Tea Crazy.
Laura, thanks for stopping by Island Confidential. Can you tell us a little bit about your protagonist?
Theodosia Browning is the sassy, outgoing proprietor of the Indigo Tea Shop. Formerly a marketing exec, Theodosia is quick-witted and droll, and has a knack for getting embroiled in police investigations.
How alike are you and Theodosia?
I’m a former marketing exec myself, but I’ve never gotten involved in a criminal investigation. However, if I met Theodosia in real life I’d probably be analyzing clues right alongside her and trying to figure out a list of suspects.
Do your characters change and evolve throughout consecutive books in the series?
They’re the same characters personality-wise. However, they have grown and evolved a bit over the course of nineteen books. For example, Theodosia and her dog Earl Grey used to live in the apartment above the Indigo Tea Shop. Now they reside in a cute little Hansel and Gretel cottage in Charleston’s historic district.
Have you ever thought of killing someone that you know in real life – on the pages of a murder mystery, I mean?
I haven’t killed anyone from my past in any of my books, but I do get my petty revenge from time to time. I assign their names to killers or characters that I particularly detest!
How realistic is your setting? Do you take liberties or are you true to life?
My Charleston, SC setting is faithful right down to the antique cobblestones. The places I write about – Church Street, Gateway Walk, Duelers Alley, White Point Gardens – are all real places. My job as an author is to capture their charm and allure with words. I want you to picture the Spanish moss swaying in the trees, smell the salty Atlantic air rushing in, and have the feeling of being followed down a narrow, walled-in lane.
When the movie or TV series is made, who plays the major roles?
I think Debra Messing would make a terrific Theodosia
and Michael Caine would be a delightful Drayton.
What’s the worst and best advice you’ve ever heard or received as an author?
Worst advice – English teachers (pretty much all of them) who tried to hammer in that old maxim of “writing what you know about.” If authors did that we’d never have fantastic novels about outer space, time travel, and dinosaurs. Writing is all about creating imagery – a direct product of stretching your imagination!
Best advice – This was an object lesson of sorts. Mystery great Mary Higgins Clark took me under her wing at a Mystery Writers of America symposium and graciously introduced me to several editors and agents. When it came time for lunch – when Mary had a plethora of invitations – she whispered to me that she had to go home and write, that she had a tricky deadline. That’s when I realized that producing pages and meeting deadlines took precedence over panel discussions, lunch, and everything else. I realized that writing was serious business.
BONUS: Stay tuned for a character interview with Theodosia Browning herself!
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.