Hi Laura! Thank you for being here with us today!
For our readers new to you, how long have you been writing?
Oh my gosh, I wrote George the Ghost when I was seven years old and haven’t stopped since. I spent 25 years in advertising, first as a writer/producer then as CEO/Creative Director of my own marketing firm. Then 11 years ago, I sold my company and began writing mystery novels.
What inspired you to pick up the pen (or sit down at the computer) one day and create characters that capture our imagination?
Those characters had always been buzzing around in my head. They’re like people in a crowded elevator, mumbling and trying to elbow their way out. I just pry open the door, toss them into a fanciful story, and hope for the best!
Most people envision an author’s life as being really glamorous. What’s your take on this?
My life is fairly solitary. Five days a week, I spend most of my time alone, working out plots and twists and doing the actual writing. On Saturday I answer the 400 emails that have piled up and work on my marketing. It only gets really fun when I appear at a book fair, library, or do a TV appearance.
What’s the most glamorous thing you’ve done as an author?
Fly first class, travel in limos, wear Chanel suits to appearances, and get invited to fun things (fashion shows, charity events, etc.).
What’s the most unglamorous thing you’ve done as an author?
Meet the FedEx man at my front door wearing pajamas, $1.99 flip flops, and no makeup. It’s embarrassing. I want to beg him to come back in two hours – the time it takes me to get all glammed up.
With three different mystery series on your plate, are you a plotter or pantzer?
I’m a huge believer in plotting, although I always try to keep my ideas fluid. I begin with a basic outline scrawled on a huge sheet of paper that spells out timelines, key events, characters, and turning points. Then I color-code my various suspects. When all that feels fairly solid, I transfer it to my computer and rough out my outline until it’s about 80 pages. Then I go back to chapter one and write straight through to the end.
If you could be a character in any one of your books, who would it be and why?
I’d definitely enjoy being Theodosia from the Tea Shop Mystery series. She’s smart, savvy, and has a great dog named Earl Grey. Plus she owns a tea shop, gets to live in a funky Charleston cottage, and runs around solving spooky murder mysteries!
Looking over the past year, what has been the best moment?
I had a great year – three different books all made it onto The New York Times Bestseller List. For an author it doesn’t get much better than that!
What do you enjoy doing with your spare time, your non-writing time?
Reading mysteries and thrillers, traveling with my husband, walking in my woods with my two Shar-Pei dogs, and watching junk TV (Real Housewives, Rachel Zoe, etc.).
What prompted you to write a series of Tea Shop Mysteries?
I was looking for a fun cozy theme and tea was starting to take off like a bottle rocket. Applying my marketing skills, I determined tea was a fertile niche that had never been written about before - and I’m all about that!
If you could invite any famous person, dead or alive, for tea, who would it be and what would you eat and which blend of tea would you drink?
I’d love to have tea with Thomas Harris, the author of Silence of the Lambs. I’d serve a nice strong Keemun tea so he’d stay super alert while I asked him tons of questions. As far as food to accompany our tea repast? Definitely something vegetarian!
There are hundreds of types of teas. Which is your favorite?
I’m a huge fan of Japanese green teas – especially Genmaicha and Bancha. But when I want to go a little crazy, I select a tea with a kick – something with citrus, lemongrass, or cinnamon blended in.
One of the most memorable days I shared with my parents was having a holiday high tea at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. The Garden Court, where they hold it, is so elegant – very turn of the 19th century in style and form. What is the most memorable tea event you have ever attended?
Yes, the Garden Court at the Palace Hotel – I’ve had tea there and also stayed at the hotel. But one of my most memorable tea experiences was in Kyoto, Japan. After visiting Kiyomizu Temple - built in the 1600’s upon a lovely mountain – my husband and I wandered down a narrow, winding street filled with tea shops. Here we sipped hot green tea and ate wafer-thin cookies and slices of baked yam. Fantastic!
You’ve gotten the call, a Hollywood producer is going to bring Agony of the Leaves to the big screen. Who do you cast in the major roles?
Actually, I’ve received that call. Alison Sweeney (host of the Biggest Loser, Days of Our Lives) has an option on the Tea Shop Mysteries and is interested in playing the part of Theodosia. Will it happen? We’ll have to wait and see!
What are you working on now? Can you tell us a little about it?
Right now I’m working on two books. Stake & Eggs for the Cackleberry Club Mystery series and Sweet Tea Revenge for the Tea Shop Mystery series. If I write 6 or 7 pages and start to run out of steam on one book, I switch to the other book and catch a second wind. It’s lots of fun that way and helps me keep to a fast-paced schedule!
Laura Childs is the author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbook Mysteries, and Cackleberry Mysteries. In her past life, she was CEO of Mission Critical Marketing and handled marketing and advertising campaigns for multi-national medical, technology, and financial clients. She is married to a professor of Chinese and Japanese Art History, live on two acres of woods, and has two Chinese Shar-Pei dogs, Asia and Moosha. She enjoys traveling to Asia, collecting art, and serving on the boards of non-profit organizations.
Click here for AGONY OF THE LEAVES book trailer