I want you to read everything that follows with a mental martini in hand, your most fabulous frock or dinner jacket, and some Dean Martin playing in the background. This post is to introduce you to Barbara Jean Coast, author of the Poppy Cove Mysteries, rather, to introduce you to Andrea Taylor & Heather Shkuratoff, the best-friends-since-childhood writing team behind Barbara Jean Coast and Poppy Cove’s silky style.
I was hoping to have STRANGLED BY SILK finished in time to add a review to this post, but (as usual) I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, so pleasure reading is taking a backseat to freelance writing work. What I can tell you is that from the start of STRANGLED, I was smiling over the style. I am really looking forward to being able to sit down and sink into the atmosphere. Until then, I am enjoying Barbara Jean’s Facebook page, where she posts witticisms and wisdom daily. Things like, “I was tickled when he told me I was the apple of his eye until I saw how many trees he was harvesting!” and “If ‘happy’ only lasts one hour, you’re going about it all wrong” and “Fancy soaps and clean towels make guests feel welcome. Now you know what to do when you want them to leave!”
You get the idea. The Poppy Cove stories are set in the fictional town of Santa Lucia, loosely based on Santa Barbara in the late 50′s, early 60′s and revolve around the glamorous comings and goings of the social set of the town, with a little murder and mayhem thrown in for good measure.
Definitely check out Barbara Jean Coast and Poppy Cove! They are my fellow Cozy Cat friends, and have already shot up to the most recommended for Kindle in the cozy mystery ranks.
The Outside Lane: How did you get started writing?
Andrea Taylor: Since childhood, my imagination was working overtime. As soon as I could hold a pencil, I was putting my ideas on paper. There was a great joy in making up stories, games and play-acting.
Heather Shkuratoff: I have always been an avid reader of every genre, but I’m especially fond of cozies. I like the way they create worlds and characters in a bucolic fashion that make a person want to know the people and visit the places. The idea for the Poppy Cove Mystery Series felt like that kind of story of place and time that wanted to be told.
TOL: Where do your ideas come from?(Or, more specifically, where did your series’ main character come from?)
HS: I have a background as professional dressmaker and seamstress, even ran my own shop years ago. Shortly after I decided to close up shop, I approached Andrea about the idea of a cozy mystery based on a design atelier and the people who frequented it. She liked it and within a few hours we were brainstorming. She really caught on to the basic concept and had some great descriptions of the main characters and plot lines, while I focused more on clothing details and place descriptions. The more we talked, the more we felt we were on to something.
AT: My ideas about our main characters for STRANGLED BY SILK (the first in our series) came from what I imagined two, young independent women of that time period to ideally be. I also knew that the characters needed to be distinctive from one another. Margot’s the cool, calm and creative intellectual. Daphne’s the sporty, fun-loving quick thinker. As the series goes on, we’ll all learn more about what makes these two girls tick and click.
TOL: What’s been the biggest learning experience of your first release?
AT: For me, the biggest learning experience I have had with the release of our first book is juggling and balancing between writing, promoting and living.
HS: I agree. Before when we were just writing the first book, that’s all we were doing in the course of the series. Now, we’re working on the second, keeping track of notes for series consistency, marketing and promoting the first book and still looking (and occasionally finding!) time to have a life. All in all, we’re pretty lucky and happy. There are certainly worse problems to have!
TOL: What are your plans for your next novel?
AT: For our next book in the Poppy Cove Mystery Series we are bumping off a beauty queen! Also, we’re introducing some new characters to the Santa Lucia canvas as well as bringing back the cast from STRANGLED BY SILK who are still alive to add in all the delightful background story lines and details.
HS: It starts a few weeks after the first novel with the fall fashion show at the Santa Lucia Charity Ball, held at the Yacht Club where Nora Burbank, Miss Santa Lucia, is the darling of the show. Things go terribly, terribly wrong for her shortly after that.
TOL: Any advice for writers?
AT: My advice for writers is to love the story your are telling, be patient, have perseverance and just keep writing.
HS: Yes, keep writing! Do your research and craft your words. Above all, enjoy the process and get lost in your own world.
AT: We found Cozy Cat Press online, read an interview with Patricia Rockwell and were comfortable with the idea of this being the right home for our series. We sent off a query and manuscript as we were doing with various presses, and when an invitation for a contract arrived, not only was it exciting, it felt like it was the right fit.
HS: We were very grateful for the opportunity and really glad that we signed on. There was a quiet knowing under the excitement, that sense of something that’s meant to be. We’ve had great support and met such talented, interestingly diverse fellow authors that have been very helpful and nice people to boot!
Facebook: “Friend” Barbara Jean Coast & “Like” Poppy Cove Mysteries
Andrea and Heather, thank you so much for being with us on The Outside Lane!