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Sharon’s Cozy Corner | Interview with Laura Childs

November 16, 2009

HUNTING GROUNDDo you remember who wrote the first “cozy mystery” you ever read? I do – it was by the late, great southern author Anne George, who wrote the sassy Southern Sisters Mystery series. It was after enjoying her delightful writing style that I began to seek out more books in this genre.

I was thrilled to discover there were “cozies” written using all types of settings – catering businesses, bakeries, flower shops – and then, be still my heart – I found a series set in one of my all-time favorite towns, Charleston, South Carolina, and in one of my favorite types of places – a tea shop!

And so I was introduced to the wonderful mystery world of author Laura Childs – it was love at first read!

Gerry Schmitt, who writes as Laura Childs, is the author of the Tea Shop Mystery series which features Theodosia Browning, the owner of the Indigo Tea Shop in Charleston. She also writes the Scrapbooking Mystery series, in which Carmela Betrand is the owner of the Memory Mine scrapbook shop in New Orleans, Louisiana.

And if those series weren’t enough to keep her busy, Childs’ has recently introduced a new series, the Cackleberry Club Mysteries, which features not one, but three lovely ladies, Suzanne, Toni and Petra, who manage to solve a crime or two while running a delightful café/book shop/knitting shop.

Needless to say, Gerry/Laura Childs is one busy lady. So I was honored when she accepted my request to be my very first author interview here at the Cozy Corner.

Sharon: At what age did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Laura: I wrote a short story, George, the Ghost, at age 7. I’ve been writing (advertising, screenplays, novels) ever since!

Sharon: How did you get interested in writing “cozy” mysteries?

Laura: My first thriller received a fairly lukewarm reception, but when I submitted a cozy, things took off like a rocket. I guess I just found my calling.

Sharon: What inspired the themes of your series? The Tea Shop Mysteries, the Scrapbooking Mysteries, and your new series, the Cackleberry Club Mysteries?

Laura: All are part of the “Mystery and . . .” genre, which is so popular right now and is exactly what publishers drool over. Also, my characters and story ideas just seemed to drive these concepts.

Sharon: What appealed to you about the genre of cozy mysteries as opposed to hardcore mysteries or suspense stories?

Laura: Oh, I like all kind of mysteries. And my deep, dark little secret is that I really don’t write classic cozies. I write a hybrid cozy- thriller that I call a “thrillzy.”

Sharon: You write three separate series – is it hard to keep all your characters in their places?

Laura: No problem there. When I was CEO of my marketing firm, I had 20 to 30 clients at any given time, so I was used to juggling different concepts and broadcast campaigns.

Sharon: Have you ever thought of combining characters from say, the Tea Shop Mysteries and the Scrapbook Mysteries into one story.

Laura: I’ve already touched on that. Theodosia, from the Tea Shop Mysteries, has ordered bags and stickers from Carmela in the Scrapbook Mysteries. And, of course, Carmela ordered tea from Theo. All very simpatico.

Sharon: What do you do to keep your readers coming back for more?

Laura: Try to combine well-written prose with a carefully thought out plot and then sprinkle in lots of twists and tension. Also, I try to make my books extremely character-driven. I want readers to think of my characters as dear friends they want to stay in touch with.

Sharon: Who are some of your favorite authors? Who inspires you?

Laura: R.D. Zimmerman and Mary Higgins Clark helped me get started. Stephen King for sure sets the bar for plot twists. John Sandford just tells a whopping good story.

Sharon: What do you have coming up in the future?

Laura: My 11th Tea Shop Mystery, THE TEABERRY STRANGLER, will be out in March 2010, and (Scrapbooking Mystery) FIBER & BRIMSTONE and (Cackleberry Club) BEDEVILED EGGS will follow. Plus 9 more mysteries are in the works, so I guess I’ll be staying busy!

Many thanks to Laura for taking time out of her busy schedule to allow us to get to know her a little better.

Next up for the Cozy Corner – December releases (Dec.1st) and an interview with Joanne Fluke, author of the Hannah Swenson Mystery series. Until then, cozy reading ya’ll!

Sharon Galligar Chance

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