When I’m strolling Riverwalk in New Orleans, with thick fog rolling in and the
mournful toot of a tugboat off in the distance, I have every confidence that I
can convincingly capture this ethereal moody image on paper – even though I
don’t actually live there.
I’m one of those authors who buzz in and out of cities to snatch a quick whiff
of atmosphere and head-spinning locale. And I really love it that way. Because
when I visit New Orleans, I’m dashing around that grand old city at breakneck
speed, tasting oysters, downing an Ibita Beer while listening to zydeco music,
sneaking into above-ground cemeteries, and buying potions and spells at French
Quarter voodoo shops. These are all fabulous elements that come together and
form a kind of author’s gumbo that I can sprinkle like zesty herbs throughout my
The same goes for Charleston, South Carolina, the setting for my Tea Shop Mysteries.
Charleston is another old-world city that’s filled with history and mystery.
They’ve got narrow alleys where duels were fought, Revolutionary War-era
graveyards, spooky old plantations, the pounding surf of the Atlantic, and
historic grande dame homes along with old Huguenot families with plenty
of skeletons in the attic.
As much as I’d love to live in Charleston – though I can’t afford the home
prices – I think I enjoy visiting just as much. Because with each and every
visit I’m able to breathe in a huge amount of atmosphere that adds to the rich
settings in my books.
Settings, as you probably know, are one of the elements that add texture and
character to a book. Settings also tell you a lot about a character without
having to go into a long description of that character. A character’s mood,
outlook, and actions are just naturally flavored by the setting in which they live.
Settings can also serve as a kind of character. In my Scrapbook Mysteries, New
Orleans is often portrayed as a dark, brooding place where merriment can break
out at any moment. This is a city where Mardi Gras is practically a religion and
your family pedigree is scrutinized as if you were competing at Westminster.
In my Tea Shop Mysteries,
Charleston is often portrayed as genteel, old world, and upper crust. And I
particularly enjoy creating a sense of place. I try to let my readers smell the
crepe myrtle, feel the industrial strength humidity, taste the French cooking,
and experience the resonance of Charleston’s history.
So, no, I don’t live in Charleston or New Orleans or any of the places I
describe in my novels. But all my characters have settled in quite nicely, thank
you. Which means my characters, settings, and stories will hopefully reside in
reader’s hearts as well.
All my very best,
Halfway between a cozy
and a thriller – a thrillzy!
Laura Childs is the New York Times and USA Today
bestselling author of the Tea
Shop Mysteries, Scrapbook
Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries.
PEKOE MOST POISONis her
just-released Tea Shop Mystery. In Laura’s previous life she 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.
In the latest Tea Shop Mystery from New York Times bestselling
author Laura Childs, Theodosia Browning attends a “Rat Tea,” where the mice will
When Indigo Tea Shop owner Theodosia Browning is invited by Doreen Briggs,
one of Charleston’s most prominent hostesses, to a “Rat Tea,” she is
understandably intrigued. As servers dressed in rodent costumes and wearing
white gloves offer elegant finger sandwiches and fine teas, Theo learns these
parties date back to early twentieth-century Charleston, where the cream of
society would sponsor so-called rat teas to promote city rodent control and
better public health.
But this party goes from odd to chaotic when a fire starts at one of the
tables and Doreen’s entrepreneur husband suddenly goes into convulsions and
drops dead. Has his favorite orange pekoe tea been poisoned? Theo smells a rat.
The distraught Doreen soon engages Theo to pursue a discreet inquiry into who
might have murdered her husband. As Theo and her tea sommelier review the guest
list for suspects, they soon find themselves drawn into a dangerous game of cat
INCLUDES RECIPES AND TEA TIME TIPS
Mystery Cozy [Berkley Prime Crime, On Sale: March 7, 2017, Hardcover /
e-Book, ISBN: 9780425281680 / eISBN: 9780698197398]
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