Today Charlotte Reed from Booked for Death is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about the latest novel in the Book Lover’s B&B mystery series by Victoria Gilbert.
Welcome, Charlotte. Let’s get started, shall we?
Tell us about the novel that you live inside. Is it part of a series? If so, please tell us about the series too.
Hello, I’m Charlotte Reed, and my story starts in book one of the Booklover’s B&B series, BOOKED FOR DEATH. It’s a cozy mystery series set in Beaufort, North Carolina. Fortunately for anyone who loves the setting, Beaufort is a real place that you can visit! It’s a coastal town located only a few miles (across the Bogue Sound) from the sandy beaches of Atlantic Beach and the rest of the “Crystal Coast” of North Carolina. Although Beaufort isn’t located directly on the Atlantic Ocean, it does have a natural harbor that draws boaters of all kinds. It’s also a very historic area, with homes and other buildings dating back to the early eighteenth-century.
I manage Chapters, the bed-and-breakfast bequeathed to me by my late great-aunt, Isabella Harrington. Isabella collected books and created a wonderful private library long before she turned her home into Chapters. When she turned her 18th century home into a bed-and-breakfast, she decided to focus on literary events, which is a practice I now continue. Although Chapters sometimes functions as a regular B&B, most of the time we offer special vacation packages that celebrate authors, genres, or even specific books. As well as exploring Beaufort and the surrounding areas, lodgers at Chapters can enjoy book discussions, costume parties, special dinners, and other activities designed to match the theme of their vacation week.
Does the writer control what happens in the story or do you get a say too?
The author likes to think she’s totally in control, but I and the other characters often steer her in a different direction. We believe this improves the story, and so far, the author hasn’t disagreed with this assessment.
How did you evolve as the main character?
Well, I’m the owner and manager of Chapters now, so I suppose it was a natural choice. But I must confess that I’m still learning how to run the inn, as I’ve only been doing so for a little over a year. I was a high school English teacher for many years before I inherited the B&B and never thought I’d change careers. In fact, I probably would’ve sold Chapters except for the fact that my beloved husband passed away in a tragic accident about three years ago. When I learned I’d inherited the B&B, I was still grieving and saw running the B&B as an opportunity to make a major change in my life.
Do you have any other characters you like sharing the story with? If so, why are you partial to them?
I definitely enjoy sharing my story with others, including my good friend, independent bookstore owner, Julie Rivera. Even though Julie is somewhat younger than me – she’s 35 to my 42 – we’ve bonded over our mutual love of books and reading. I’ve also gotten to know my rather flamboyant neighbor, Ellen Montgomery, who’s a very active seventy-something retired film location scout. Or so she says. I think there may be some mystery in her background that she hasn’t revealed to me yet.
I also enjoy hosting book club events with some local residents of Beaufort, including the quirky Sandburg sisters, Bernadette and Ophelia, and café owners Pete and Sandy Nelson. I don’t even mind sharing the spotlight with Chapter’s longtime housekeeper and cook, Alicia Simpson, who also worked for more great-aunt Isabella. I’m not sure that Alicia entirely approves of me, but she is devoted to making Chapters a premiere B&B, and that’s really all that matters.
A few others who have big parts to play in the story are Damian Carr, the temperamental but brilliant freelance chef I bring in for special events, and a frequent guest, author Scott Kepler. Scott, who’s writing a nonfiction account of Beaufort’s connection to pirate history, stays at Chapters when he’s doing research in the area.
What’s the place like where you find yourself in this story?
Chapters B&B is a large, wooden-framed home that was originally built in the early 18th century and then added to and renovated over the years. However, it still retains its colonial charm, including an enclosed back garden laid out in an English style. The rooms and suites are named and decorated to highlight specific genres or types of books, like the Mystery suite, or the Children’s Room. Each room includes shelves filled with books that match the room’s theme. In addition, Chapters offers an extensive library of books of all genres and from all time periods, including some rare editions. Guests are allowed to use the library, although I do ask that they request permission to handle the more fragile volumes.
Located on one of Beaufort’s beautiful tree-lined streets, Chapters is only a few blocks from the harbor, where boats of all sizes and descriptions are docked. I love walking the boardwalk adjacent to the water to survey the stunning sailboats and yachts that often dock there.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about you and the book?
I would simply like to invite them to visit Chapters and Beaufort by picking up a copy of BOOKED FOR DEATH and diving into its pages. There’s a murder to solve, of course, but also a few other mysteries – including a revelation from the past that took me completely by surprise.
Also, BOOKED FOR DEATH will have a sequel, RESERVED FOR MURDER, which is scheduled for publication in May of 2021. So, my story continues! (But I promise, there are NO cliffhangers in any of my author’s books. Even though reading the series in order will provide better overall plot development and character growth, all the books can still be read individually).
Thanks for answering my questions, Charlotte, and good luck to you and your author, Victoria Gilbert with Booked for Death, the latest book in the Book Lover’s B&B Mystery series.
The novel is available at the following online retailers:
About Victoria Gilbert: She raised in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains, turned her early obsession with reading into a dual career as an author and librarian. Victoria has worked as a reference librarian, research librarian, and library director. When not writing or reading, she likes to spend her time watching films, gardening, or traveling. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and International Thriller Writers and lives in North Carolina.