Please join me in welcoming Laura Childs to the blog today to chat about her new book Mumbo Gumbo Murder, written with Terrie Farley Moran.
MUMBO JUMBO MURDER
SERIES: A Scrapbooking Mystery #16
GENRE: Cozy Mystery
RELEASE DATE: October 1, 2019
A shocking murder strikes a sour note during Jazz Fest in the latest New Orleans Scrapbooking Mystery from New York Times bestselling author Laura Childs.
It’s Jazz Fest in New Orleans, and the giant puppets from the Beastmaster Puppet Theatre are parading through the French Quarter. Some are very spooky and veiled, others are tall and gangly, like strange aliens.
As the parade proceeds, Carmela Bertrand and her best friend, Ava, follow behind, down Royal Street and past the food booths. Suddenly, they hear a terrible crash from Devon Dowling’s antiques shop. They rush inside to find Devon collapsed with blood streaming down the side of his face. Has he been shot? Stabbed? 911 is hastily called, and the police and EMTs show up. After the police examine Devon’s body, they tell Carmela and Ava that their friend was murdered with an icepick. They’re shocked beyond belief–and now Mimi, Devon’s little pug, is left homeless.
Carmela and Ava are determined to catch the murderer, but the list of suspects is long. How long do they have before they find themselves on the killer’s list?
Questions I’ve Always Wanted to Ask Myself!
Questions from Laura Childs to Laura Childs,
the New York Times bestselling author of Mumbo Gumbo Murder
Okay, Laura, now that you’re in the line of fire, kindly tell us how you really got started.
When I was running my marketing firm, I was heavily involved in TV, radio, and a couple of reality shows. That got me thinking – why not write a couple of screenplays on the side? So I wrote some crazy, high concept scripts like Beverly Hills Trashman and The Cheddar Cat. But for some reason, Hollywood never came knocking on my door. Then I had what I call my Oprah “Ah hah” moment. I realized that only a hundred or so feature films are made per year, but thousands of novels are released. Suffice it so say I suddenly switched gears.
After I’d written two full length novels, a good friend put me in touch with mystery great Mary Higgins Clark. Mary advised me to attend the upcoming MWA symposium (which I did) and introduced me to a whole gaggle of publishers, agents, and editors. I connected with a terrific agent and, suddenly, the slot machine went bing-bong and cherries popped up. I got a three-book deal, then kept getting consecutive three-book deals. Eventually, I ended up writing my three current mystery series – the Teashop Mysteries, Scrapbook Mysteries, and the Cackleberry Club Mysteries.
That kind of luck doesn’t happen to everybody.
No, I was extremely lucky. I was already a professional writer so I’d mastered that skill. And my marketing know-how was critical in getting my books noticed by booksellers, reviewers, bloggers, the media, and (of course!) by readers.
How did you plan out Mumbo Gumbo Murder, you newest Scrapbook Mystery?
First I did a combination outline/timeline on a huge sheet of paper. I sketched in my opening scene, closing scene, and a few twists and turns that occur in the middle of the book. Of course I’m adding my main characters, killer, suspects, etc. as I work through this. I have to make sure that Carmela, my main character, rubs shoulders with all these people as the book zips along. When that initial outline feels pretty good, I transfer it to my computer and flesh it out to about an 80 page outline. Then I go back to chapter one and write the book straight through.
Tell us about Mumbo Gumbo Murder. What’s the basic plot?
It’s Jazz Fest in New Orleans and the giant puppets from the Beastmaster Theater are parading through the French Quarter. But as Carmela Bertrand and her best friend, Ava, enjoy the parade, a terrible crash echoes from Devon Dowling’s antique shop. Rushing inside they find Devon collapsed with the only witness his small dog Mimi. Has he been shot? Stabbed? When the police arrive they realize he was stabbed with an ice pick. Running her own shadow investigation, Carmela works behind the scenes to catch Devon’s killer.
It sounds like you really enjoyed writing this.
Oh yeah, this is what I call a thrillzy – it’s a hybrid of a cozy mystery and a thriller. So it’s fast-paced, highly drama, with bits of humor, and lots of twists and turns. Because New Orleans is a top go-to spot, I think you’ll also enjoy the food and landmarks mentioned in Mumbo Gumbo Murder.
So you included recipes?
Believe it. Caramel Bread Pudding, Pecan Jazz Tarts, Buttermilk Jumbles, and lots more.
Thank you so much, Laura.
You’re welcome, Laura!
(And thank you for reading this!)
haha! Easiest interview I’ve ever done! 😉
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.
Recipient of both the Agatha and the Derringer awards, Terrie Farley Moran is the author of the beachside Read ‘Em and Eat cozy mystery series; co-author of Laura Childs’ New Orleans scrapbooking mystery series; and has published numerous short stories in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Mystery Weekly Magazine and numerous anthologies.
The only thing Terrie enjoys more than wrangling mystery plots into submission is hanging out with any or all of her seven grandchildren who reside in New York and Florida.
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What about you? What interests you most about Laura Childs’s post and/or Mumbo Gumbo Murder?