Author Guest Post
How I Write
When it comes to writing books, particularly mystery books, authors generally fall into two basic camps – those who plot their books and those who more or less fly by the seat of their pants. (Let’s call these folks pantsers).
I, my friends, am neither. I’m your basic fear-driven writer, terrified of missing a deadline, of not having a good idea, of experiencing a catastrophic brain freeze, and (most of all!) having every word I’ve written swallowed by an ailing, failing computer.
Okay. Yes. The computer thing can happen, but now I’ve employed a smart ‘n savvy Mac guy who saves my buns every time something goes seriously wrong – as it so often does. So, let’s check that off the list. As far as deadlines go, I now give myself lots and lots of time and work a good year and a half out. So that’s pretty much on track. As to the brain freeze – I actually haven’t had one yet, but that doesn’t mean I don’t burn sage and mumble a few prayers just in case.
So back to the actual writing. Am I a plotter or a pantser? The simple answer is, I’m a plotter and proud of it. In fact, I actually do a good deal of plotting. But before I start diagramming my book’s plot, I do something that’s even more critical – I explore my “What if?” premise. Let me explain. In the case of my new book A Dark and Stormy Tea, my “what if” premise is “What if Carmela, my main character and tea shop maven, is hurrying through a graveyard during a terrible storm and sees a murder being committed?”
I kick that idea around and decide it might work. After all, Charleston is known for its spooky back alleys and walkways. And if Carmela sees a struggle and hears horrific screams, she’d probably rush in to help, right?
Once I’ve figured out a scary way to kick off my book, I have to decide who my victim should be. It’s always best if the victim is somehow related to your main character – that way she’s got a stake in helping to resolve the murder. Then I create a list of unsavory suspects and figure out exactly how they might be connected to the victim. You know what I mean – wacky ex-boyfriends, unsavory employers, that kind of thing. When I have five or six solid suspects figured out, I sit down and write a rough draft of my first chapter. When the voice and tone start to feel like it’s hanging together, then I start my outline.
I usually use a large piece of paper and put the days of the week at the top. Then I start piecing together a loose story that contains two or three more huge events as well as a bunch of fun things that my protagonist is involved in. I add in the points where my suspects (who I color code) rub elbows with Theodosia, my main character. When my rough outline feels good, I transfer it to my computer and expand that outline to about sixty pages.
When those sixty pages start to make sense – and I know I’ve got an actual story going, not just a concept – I go back to the very beginning and write my book all the way through, from chapter one to the end.
Along the way I always hope (and pray!) for a few lightning strikes of inspiration so I can add additional scary scenes and ratchet up the suspense even more.
Thanks so much!
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!
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.
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