It’s a pleasure to have Laura Childs, New York Times Bestselling Author of A Dark and Stormy Tea, here on Ruff Drafts,
Welcome, Laura. How long have you been published? What titles and/or series have you published and with which publisher?
For the last 21 years I’ve been writing 4 different series that are all published by Berkley Prime Crime, a division of Penguin Random House. These include the Tea Shop Mysteries, New Orleans Scrapbooking Mysteries, Cackleberry Club Mysteries, and the Afton Tangler Thriller series. All together it comes to a total of 52 books with 3 more written and waiting to be published.
That’s amazing. Congratulations on such a prolific career.
Tell us a little about your four different series.
My most popular series is the Tea Shop Mysteries. These books all feature tea maven Theodosia Browning who runs the Indigo Tea Shop in Charleston, SC and has a tea shop dog named Earl Grey. My Scrapbook Mysteries are a little edgier because they’re set in New Orleans. They feature Carmela Bertrand, an artsy scrapbook shop owner, along with her voodoo shop-owning BFA Ava. The Cackleberry Club Mysteries are set in a cute little Midwestern café and feature three women who’ve all lost their husbands – one through death, one through Alzheimer’s, and one whose husband ran off with the floozy waitress at the VFW with the hot pink extensions in her hair. My fourth series is the Afton Tangler Thrillers. Afton is a crime victim’s advocate who’s also a detective wanna-be and manages to insert herself in high profile cases.
They all sound wonderful. I’m sorry to admit that the only book I’ve read of yours so far is your latest Tea Shop mystery, A Dark and Stormy Tea, that I’ve reviewed below. I absolutely loved it.
What’s the date of your upcoming release and what’s your current work-in-progress?
My new release is A DARK AND STORMY TEA that was released on August 9th. I also have LEMON CURD KILLER and HONEY DROP DEAD coming out next year. Works in progress include MURDER IN THE TEA LEAVES and CADMIUM RED DEAD.
After reading A Dark and Stormy Tea, I hope to read another in that series and also try out your other series.
Describe your goals as a writer.
My goal is to always (always!) entertain my readers. That’s why I jumpstart every book – boom! – with a huge murder right there in the first chapter. Then I drop my main character smack dab in the middle of the chaos and give them a life and death reason to get involved and help track down the killer.
Sounds like a great way to get readers hooked.
What type of readers do you attract? Who’s most interested in reading your books?
My three cozy series certainly appeal to a cozy reader, but I’ve had readers who claimed to be strict thriller fans or true crime fans, comment that they actually enjoyed my books. You see? I pulled them over from the dark side!
Lol. After reading your latest book, I can see why.
What advice would you give other authors or those still trying to get published?
Three things. Read as much as you can in your genre because you’ll start to pick up all sorts of little tricks and tactics from other authors. Second, be sure you know the difference between a story idea and an actual plot (outlining will help you figure this out). And, finally, please don’t start your book with all sorts of back story. Drop your reader right into the action, then fill in the facts and figures later.
What particular challenges and struggles did you face before first becoming published?
Actually, I was very lucky. Early on, a friend introduced me to the great Mary Higgins Clark and she (God bless her) helped me get started. She even gave me her agent!
Wow! I wish I could get that lucky – lol. But although that was a lucky way to get started, I’m sure your talent took it from there.
What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?
I serve on the boards of a couple of non-profit organizations and enjoy travel, art, and investing.
What do you like most – and least – about being an author?
My favorite thing is getting out and meeting my readers. A few weeks ago I did a talk for a book club of 300 – what fun! My least favorite thing is working alone – when I was CEO of my marketing firm I loved the collaborative creative process. So I really do miss that aspect.
I think most writers enjoy interacting with readers and also don’t always enjoy the solitary aspect of writing.
What do you like about writing cozy mysteries?
The best thing is – there are no rules! Sure, cozies are supposed to be a kinder, gentler type of mystery, but that doesn’t mean you can’t push the envelope and make your mystery as exciting as possible. I’ve kicked off my books with kidnappings, exploding floats, hangings, art thefts, yacht races, jewelry heists, poisonings, and a strangling in a creepy cemetery – and ended them with killer drones, food truck chases, alligators, hidden tunnels, ghosts and lots more. You just need to flip the script a bit.
I agree that writing cozies can be fun if you make it that way. Finishing the second book of my new Buttercup Bend series, I included a seventies costume dance party, a club of parrot lovers, and mysterious notes containing Shakespeare quotes.
Can you share a short synopsis of your new release, A DARK AND STORMY TEA?
Love to. Here it is:
Tea shop entrepreneur Theodosia Browning dashes down Charleston’s famed Gateway Walk as she attempts to outrun an oncoming storm. But lighting, thunder, and pelting rain soon overtake her, and the normally picturesque ramble of hedges, statuary, and flowers becomes a twisted labyrinth of fog and driving rain. As Theodosia approaches St. Philips Cemetery, she sees two figures locked in a strange embrace. Wiping rain from her eyes, Theodosia realizes she’s just witnessed a brutal murder and sees a dark hooded figure slip away into the fog.
In the throes of alerting police, Theodosia recognizes the victim – it’s the daughter of her friend, Lois, who owns the Antiquarian Bookshop next door to her own Indigo Tea Shop. Even though this appears to be the work of a serial killer that’s been stalking the back alleys of Charleston, Lois begs Theodosia for help. Against the advice of her boyfriend, Detective Pete Riley, and the sage words of Drayton, her tea sommelier, amateur sleuth Theodosia launches her own shadow investigation. And quickly discovers that suspects abound with the dead girl’s boyfriend, nefarious real estate developer, private security man, bumbling reporter, and her own neighbor who’s writing a true crime book and searching for a big ending. Between a raging storm, real-life murder investigation, and staging her Murder Mystery Tea at Chillingham Manor, Theodosia suddenly worries that she might be the next victim!
Wonderful! I truly enjoyed reading it.
Is there anything you’d like our readers to know about you or your books?
Yup. These aren’t your typical cozies. In fact, I coined the term thrillzies to describe them – because they’re a hybrid cozy that moves at the pace of a thriller. Oh, and when I mention a wonderful scone or tea sandwich in my books, I always include the recipe.
Interesting, and your recipes certainly sound delicious.
Thank you so much for the interview, Laura. I’ve included your bio below along with your blog tour and my 5-star review of your book.
Laura Childs Bio:
Laura Childs is the author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbook Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. All have been on the New York Times, USA Today, and Publisher’s Weekly bestseller lists. 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, and has a Chinese Shar-Pei named Lotus.
Find out more at laurachilds.com or become a Friend on Facebook at Laura Childs Author
A Dark and Stormy Tea (A Tea Shop Mystery)
by Laura Childs
About A Dark and Stormy Tea
A Dark and Stormy Tea (A Tea Shop Mystery)
24th in Series
Berkley (August 9, 2022)
Hardcover : 320 pages
ISBN-10 : 0593200896
ISBN-13 : 978-0593200896
Digital ASIN : B09LH6VG4P
A possible serial killer on the loose sends tea maven Theodosia Browning into a whirlwind of investigation in this latest installment of the New York Times bestselling series.
It was a dark and stormy night, but that was the least of Theodosia Browning’s troubles. As she approaches St. Philips Graveyard, Theodosia sees two figures locked in a strange embrace. Wiping rain from her eyes, Theodosia realizes she has just witnessed a brutal murder and sees a dark-hooded figure slip away into the fog.
In the throes of alerting police, Theodosia recognizes the victim—it is the daughter of her friend, Lois, who owns the Antiquarian Bookshop next door to her own Indigo Tea Shop.
Even though this appears to be the work of a serial killer who is stalking the back alleys of Charleston, Lois begs Theodosia for help. Against the advice of her boyfriend, Detective Pete Riley, and the sage words of Drayton, her tea sommelier, amateur-sleuth Theodosia launches her own shadow investigation. And quickly discovers that suspects abound with the dead girl’s boyfriend, nefarious real estate developer, private-security man, bumbling reporter, and her own neighbor who is writing a true-crime book and searching for a big ending.
INCLUDES DELICIOUS RECIPES AND TEA TIME TIPS!
My Review of A Dark and Stormy Tea
This is the first mystery I’ve read by Laura Childs, and I can’t believe what I’ve missed. She has several series. This one, the Tea Shop Mysteries, takes place in Charleston, South Carolina and features Theodosia Browning who owns the Indigo Tea Shop and has a knack for solving crimes as well as brewing tea.
In A Dark and Stormy Tea, the 24th Tea Shop Mystery, Theodosia witnesses the murder of a bookstore owner’s daughter in a cemetery but, because of the rain, she was unable to see the face of the killer. Could he be Fogheel Jack, the name given to a murderer who has strangled women in the past in foggy weather?
The victim’s mother, a friend of Theodosia, asks for her help catching the killer. Against her Detective boyfriend’s wishes and despite her tea sommelier, Drayton’s discouragement, Theo pursues her own investigation and is nearly killed after a successful mystery tea at her shop.
I found this a charming cozy. The characters and atmosphere were great, and there was an interesting twist. A big plus are the recipes at the end of the book for tea and other yummy goodies. You will devour this story. Highly recommended.
About Laura Childs
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 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.
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.
August 8 – Angel’s Guilty Pleasures – SPOTLIGHT
August 8 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT
August 9 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW
August 9 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – REVIEW
August 9 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT
August 10 – The Book Diva’s Reads – SPOTLIGHT
August 10 – Lady Hawkeye – SPOTLIGHT
August 11 – Valerie’s Musings – REVIEW
August 11 – The Book’s the Thing – SPOTLIGHT
August 12 – eBook Addicts – SPOTLIGHT
August 12 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW
August 13 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog – SPOTLIGHT
August 13 – Baroness Book Trove – REVIEW
August 14 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT
August 14 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
August 15 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT
August 15 – Diane Reviews Books – GUEST POST
August 16 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
August 16 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW
August 17 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
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August 18 – Reading Is My SuperPower – GUEST POST
August 18 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT
August 19 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
August 20 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
August 20 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW
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August 21 – Girl with Pen – SPOTLIGHT
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