BT: I do watch a lot of HGTV and I love getting design ideas on Pinterest. My mother wasn’t a professional decorator, but she could’ve been. She had great taste. And several years ago, I wrote a monthly column for Birmingham Magazine about some of the most beautiful homes in town. I got to interview a lot of interior designers, including one who did Christmas decorating like the kind Chloe and Amanda do in my first book, Murder On the First Day of Christmas. Since this is going to be an on-going series, being decorators will get my main characters into a lot of houses, where they can find lots of skeletons in the closets.
Kathy: The Chloe Carstairs Mystery series features a mother-daughter relationship. Is this relationship similar to that of you and your mother?
BT: It’s exactly like the relationship I had with my mom. In fact we collaborated on the first book in the series together. We had something of a rollercoaster relationship when I was a teenager but became much closer in later years. The dynamic between Chloe and Amanda is so similar to our own. Chloe, for instance, is self-deprecating and a little ditzy. Amanda is more sophisticated and has a dryer sense of humor. Their differences make their banter funny, but their affection for each other keeps it light.
Kathy: In Murder in a Two-Seater we find a cheating wife in a classic car. Are you a classic car fan? If so, what would be your favorite classic car?
BT: I do love classic cars, but my dad is the real fan. He’s had a 1956 Austin Healey like the one Chloe drives since before I was born. That’s how you know this is a work of fiction – he’d never let me drive it! He does, however, advise me on all the wonderful cars in Murder in a Two-Seater.
Kathy: I'd love to live in a creepy old castle, with all the modern conveniences, of course. Would you prefer an updated classic, or a sleekly modern new construction for yourself?
BT: I live in a 1920’s craftsman-style bungalow so I definitely prefer an updated classic. But then I see all the closet space in a newly constructed house and I’m so jealous.
Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
BT: My mom and I always traded mysteries back and forth when I was a kid. She got me hooked on Agatha Christies when I was nine! I love the interpersonal relationships in cozies, as well as the mysteries. They’re the perfect books to curl up with and lose yourself in for a few hours. I mean, cozy – the name says it all.
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
BT: I do write some literary fiction and I have a mentoring blog for young women ages 15-25 called AuntieVenom.com, where I write about career development, finances, health, relationships and self-discovery.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
BT: The Chloe Carstairs Mysteries feature a mother-daughter team of interior decorators who get embroiled in investigations in the houses they decorate. The books are filled with humor, memorable characters and baffling mysteries.
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
BT: I’d say Amanda, because she reminds me of my mom. The mother-daughter relationship in the book is like a greatest-hits version of the one we had. Working on this series makes me feel close to her.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
BT: Several parts of the book have real-life inspirations. The setting, for instance. I love Birmingham and want everyone to know what a great city it is. It’s a character itself – often underestimated, full of surprises. Another Birmingham author, the late Anne George, was a master at using Birmingham as a backdrop for her stories. She was a definite inspiration. Also the relationship between Chloe and Amanda, as I’ve mentioned is very much like the one I had with my mother. Even better though, the relationship between Chloe’s parents is similar to the one my parents had. A true love story, full of humor and affection. Definitely something to aspire to!
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
BT: As I mentioned my mom and I worked on the first book in the series together. As I wrote each chapter, she gave me feedback. When she died unexpectedly of an aneurysm at the end of 2011, I became more determined than ever to see it published.
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
BT: Agatha Christie for her ability to craft baffling mysteries, Judy Blume for having such an influence on my childhood, Anne George for her hilarious depictions of Birmingham and Tina Fey for her humor.
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
BT: Furiously Happy by The Bloggess, Jenny Larson. I recently met her at the Rocket City Lit Fest and she’s as sweet and hilarious in person as she is on the page.
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
BT: I love cooking, hiking with my Rhodesian Ridgback, Kamali, and traveling. Every chance I get, I take off for somewhere exotic: Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Peru and Costa Rico just to name a few.
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
BT: Pomegranate juice, for pomegranate martinis, fresh spinach for green smoothies, film because my boyfriend likes to keep his unexposed film cold and cheese because I can’t live without it.
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
BT: Absolutely! I’m hard at work on the third book in the series. The end of Murder in a Two-Seater sets up the mystery in Book Three – the search for one of the recurring character’s missing sister. Chloe and Amanda will have to team up with Amanda’s nemesis to crack this case, which won’t be easy for anyone but hilarious to watch unfold.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
BT: Connecting with other writers. I’ve met some of the best, most creative and generous people through writing.
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