March 7, 2014

Laura Childs - Author Interview and Book Spotlight

Please welcome Laura Childs to my blog. She is one of my favorite cozy mystery authors and the one who got me into reading cozies. 

What made you decide to write cozy mysteries?
I actually backed into writing cozies. My agent had initially presented a hard-edged thriller to Penguin. They passed on it but asked my agent if she had an author who knew anything about tea. My ears perked up at that and I quickly scribbled out three chapters and a ten-page outline for Death by Darjeeling, my very first Tea Shop Mystery. Now I'm hard at work on number sixteen!

How do you come up with the names of the characters for your books?
I keep a little notebook of interesting names. When I hear one - or see one in an obituary column - I note it for future use. 

Who designs your covers? Do you get any influence on them?
Penguin always holds a cover conference. I usually submit five or six ideas, then their wonderful designers go to work. Once I see the initial layout, I sometimes tweak it. But I think all my book covers are just gorgeous. Having spend twenty-five plus years in marketing I know the value of outstanding package goods design!

I know this question is asked a lot but where do you get your ideas for your books and how long does it take you to do your research?
My ideas basically come from my imagination - although sometimes they are ripped from the headlines events and plot twists. As far as research goes, I do it as I'm writing. If one of my characters attends an opera, I wait until I get to that particular scene, and then do my research. Unlike other authors, I probably spend hours versus weeks. But I don't want facts to overshadow character and a fast-paced plot. 

What keeps you focused when you are writing?
Fear. Fear of deadlines. Fear of coming up with yet another plot twist. Fear of not getting my books into readers' hands. 

Who is your favorite character and why? How about your least favorite character and why?
I really do love all of my characters. If I don't like one, it's not because they're nasty or difficult to write, it's because they're not contributing to the overall advancement of the story. So then they get dropped or killed off. 

What can we expect from you in the future?
Oh, lots more books! I just finished writing GOSSAMER GHOST (Scrapbook Mystery), SCORCHED EGGS (Cackleberry Club Mystery), and am starting on MING TEA MURDER (Tea Shop Mystery). I am also working on my new Hummingbird Inn Mystery series set in Carmel, CA, and am writing a hard-edged thriller series that was recently picked up. 

What is a favorite book or author you like to read or would like to recommend to your readers?
For pure reading pleasure, I think John Sandford is a terrific thriller writer. In his Prey series, the characters are nuanced and his plots are breathtaking. 

Who or what influenced your love of books?
My parents bought me books at an early age and my mom taught me how to read when I was three. When I finally got to first grade, I read my "reader" cover to cover on the very first day. Needless to say, I was not a hit with my teacher and thus learned to fake it in class - a skill that I still employ to this day!

Is there someone who encourages you most in your writing? Who is it and how do they influence you?
Not exactly. You see, I'm a slightly different breed of writer. I was a professional writer/producer for two decades, and then CEO of my own marketing firm. So I have always viewed writing and creativity-on-demand as a business. Yes, being an author is rewarding and exciting, but you can never lose sight of the fact that publishers give you a contract so they can make money. 

When you are not writing what do you like to do?
I generally work six days a week, so on the day I'm not writing I love to relax and read a book. But not mine!

List five random things about yourself.
I don't eat carbs. I'm a Chanel freak (which is why I don't eat carbs). I love to lay on a sunny beach and read. I enjoy mentoring young writers. I've written and produced a reality show.
Tea Shop Mystery Series

Scrapbooking Mystery Series

Cackleberry Club Mystery

To check out all of the books in Laura's series stop by her website (click here). All of the above books are now available for purchase at your local bookstore. Laura also has and anthology of the first three tea shop mysteries out so you can read the first three books combined in one book. 

Laura Childs is the New York Times bestselling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbook Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. She is married to Dr. Bob, a professor of Chinese and Japanese art history, has two Shar-Pei dogs, and enjoys traveling to Asia.