Today Daryl Wood Gerber is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about A Sprinkling of Murder, her first novel in the Fairy Garden mystery series.
Welcome, Daryl. Let’s get started, shall we?
Tell us about your novel. Is it part of a series? If so, please tell us about the series too.
Thank you so much for having me on your blog. My new book is A SPRINKLING OF MURDER. It is the first in a series. Fairy garden store owner Courtney Kelly believes in inviting magic into one’s life. But when uninvited trouble enters her shop, she’ll need more than a sprinkling of her imagination to solve a murder.
What is a fairy garden? It’s sort of like doll-housing for your garden. A person makes miniature gardens using fairy figurines and features like fairy doors and houses.
The series is set in the charming town, Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, and features Courtney Kelly, a former landscaper, who realized she wasn’t happy and needed to spread her wings. With a small inheritance that she received from her nana, she started Open Your Imagination. Soon after, she met Fiona, who by all intents and purposes is a fairy-in-training. When you read the story, you’ll learn why.
Where did the idea for the mystery that is central to the story come from?
I was at a Renaissance Faire and I fell in love with the art of fairy gardens. A woman who was there glowed with a lovely energy. I wanted to connect with that same glow. I found a garden store not far from me that focused on fairy gardens. There aren’t a lot of them. For me, it was Kismet! I went to the store and fell in love with everything there. So, I decided to create a character who could live the life of a shop owner who brings joy to customers by helping them design fairy gardens. It’s well known that seeing a fairy will bring luck into one’s life.
Is there a theme or subject that underlies the story? If so, what prompted you to write about it?
There is a lot of animosity toward Courtney, the protagonist, and her whimsical shop. One shop owner believes it should be banned from town. Another thinks Courtney is trying to take over his lease. I wanted to show how bias and misconceptions could lead to a bad end. But by the end of the story, there is a positive outcome, and some who didn’t believe in fairies, will come to their senses.
How do you create your characters? Do you have favourite ones? If so, why are you partial to them?
First, I come up with a name, age, and description. Then I focus on the character’s dreams or goals. I fell in love with Courtney—a name I’ve loved all my life—the moment she came to me. She was fully formed. She’d lost her mother at the age of ten. She lost her ability to see fairies at that moment. She needed to turn her life around. She needed what I’d felt the moment I first visited a fairy garden store—hope. Whimsy. A career that would make her smile. I adore her pluck. I love her relationship with her father. And I absolutely love the relationship she forms with Fiona, a fairy-in-training, who can be an imp but who is also fiercely loyal to Courtney and desperately wants to find the truth.
How do you bring to life the place you are writing about?
I grew up in California and visited Carmel often. It is a place that I find calming and filled with spirituality. Though Carmel is already laid out as a town, I read up on its courtyards and shopping areas and decided to create a fictional courtyard for Courtney’s business. To anchor myself, I drew maps and more maps. Where the fictional shops are. What the interior décor looks like. What the shapes of the shops are. What’s across the street—another fictional courtyard. When I planned out the interior of Courtney’s shop, I paid attention to where she would sell specialty items like tea sets and wind chimes, and where her office was, and then I focused on the exterior patio, where she sells fairy figurines, gives classes, and has weekend teas. You should see the wall behind my computer—maps and layouts taped everywhere.
What research do you do to provide background information to help you write the novel?
I visited Carmel and took a ton of pictures, visited the library, went to the post office, studied the people. I had so much fun. When I returned home, I read lots of articles about Carmel. In addition, I’ve studied all sorts of fairy garden sites. I’ve made over thirty fairy gardens in my backyard (Check out the pictures on my website as well as on my Pinterest page and my other social media platforms). Right outside my office, there is a garden nook, and I created a fairy village there. Seeing my miniature creations brings me joy and inspiration.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about the book?
This is the first time I’ve written something magical. Notice that I use the word magical and not paranormal. It was quite a challenge once I gave into continuing with the idea. I’ve read many mysteries featuring witches and ghosts and even gargoyles, but to write this kind of mystery myself was daunting. Would it resonate? Would my foodie readers shy away from something so fanciful? Would I be able to find the “voice” that the story needed to keep the mystery the central theme, and the “world” a reality? I’m happy to say that reviews have been lovely and positive. And for my foodie readers . . . there are weekend teas at Open Your Imagination, so I do include recipes at the end of the books. Don’t miss the caramel blondies!
Thanks for answering my questions, Daryl, and good luck with A Sprinkling of Murder, the first book in the Fairy Garden Mystery series.
To enter the author’s Rafflecopter giveaway draw for 3 books, a tote bag, tea and more: Click here.
The novel is available at the following online retailers:
About Daryl Wood Gerber: Agatha Award-winning author Daryl Wood Gerber writes the nationally bestselling Cookbook Nook Mysteries as well as the French Bistro Mysteries. In June 2020, her new series, the Fairy Garden Mysteries debuts. As Avery Aames, she pens the popular Cheese Shop Mysteries. Daryl also writes the Aspen Adams novels of suspense as well as stand-alone suspense. Fun tidbit: as an actress, Daryl appeared in “Murder, She Wrote.” She loves to cook, garden, and read, and she has a frisky Goldendoodle named Sparky who keeps her in line!