Today Daryl Wood Gerber is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about, A Glimmer of a Clue, her latest 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.
A GLIMMER OF A CLUE is the 2nd in the Fairy Garden Mysteries. The first, A SPRINKLING OF MURDER, came out last July. The series is set in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California and features a fairy garden shop owner named Courtney Kelly. Courtney has a shop full of delights, a cat named Pixie, a green thumb—and a magical touch when it comes to garden design. For a bit of whimsical magic, the series also features a sleuth fairy named Fiona. Courtney gave up her landscaping career to open the shop. When she dared to spread her wings, Fiona revealed herself to her. Fiona has been booted out of the fairy kingdom and needs to earn her adult wings in order to return. To do that, she must help humans solve problems. What is a fairy garden? Think of it as doll-housing for your garden, with fairy figurines and plants and environmental pieces like houses and slides and fairy doors. Each garden should tell a story. In A GLIMMER OF A CLUE, things aren’t all sweetness and fairy lights . . . when Courtney finds the local pickleball champ dead at an event and Courtney’s best friend’s mother looks guilty.
Where did the idea for the mystery that is central to the story come from?
There is a woman I used to know who simply irked the heck out of people because she was so full of herself. She made everyone around her feel small. Isn’t that exactly the kind of person who, if we’re honest, should find a bad end in a mystery? As for pickleball, friends of mine play it, and the idea of the game makes me smile. One friend says it sounds like ping-pong on steroids. The thwap-thwap sound the whiffle-style ball makes is incredible. The over-the-top aspect of the game belonged in this book.
Is there a theme or subject that underlies the story? If so, what prompted you to write about it?
Yes. I don’t believe in bullying. It’s wrong on so many levels. I thought someone who acted like a bully to everyone deserved her comeuppance. What is particularly great about having this kind of victim is that everyone becomes a suspect. She wasn’t liked by anyone. Sure, a few will protest and claim they loved her, but they didn’t. Not really. Way back when, someone I’m very close to was bullied, and it changed his life dramatically. In my writing, I hope to give power to the offended.
How do you create your characters? Do you have favourite ones? If so, why are you partial to them?
I often start with what they look like and decide what their core essence is (good, bad, mealy-mouthed, bull-headed) and then give them a name, a profession or style of life, and let them come to life as I create. I make notes as I write them so I can remember all aspects of them. In this series, I love Courtney. She has such passion for her work, for her friends. She is loyal to a fault. [This happens to be a theme throughout my other work, too.] And she adores her cat Pixie and her fairy pal Fiona. She has a complex relationship with her father, but it is getting better over the course of the series. I also love Meaghan Brownie, Courtney’s best friend. Though spiritually grounded and a gifted artist and musician, she can be flighty, flirty, and fun. If only she wasn’t in love with the wrong guy, but as an author, I can fix that in a future book. I love Courtney’s assistant Joss Timberlake, too. She took form from the moment she appeared on the page. She’s feisty, knowledgeable, and a bit of an imp. She is a stalwart supporter of Courtney and, though not Courtney’s mother, she can be fiercely protective of Courtney. And then there’s Brady Cash . . .
How do you bring to life the place you are writing about?
I imagine what it should look like in my mind’s eye, and then I do a deep dive on Pinterest and other Internet sites to get mental images. To create Open Your Imagination, Courtney’s shop, I sketched (I’m NOT an artist) the basics, including the main showroom and the patio. I had to rework it until I knew exactly where everything was, as if designing my own shop. I studied maps in Carmel [ a real place] to make sure I’d oriented the shop and movements on the streets appropriately, too. I used to go to Carmel as a girl, to enjoy the galleries and the beach, but I’ve done a lot more research since then. It’s graced with lovely hidden courtyards and such fabulous history. The history always colors my view of a town. When designing Courtney’s cottage and its front and rear yards, I studied the plants that would grow naturally in Carmel-by-the-Sea and had a blast mentally planting them.
What research do you do to provide background information to help you write the novel?
As I mentioned above, I do a deep dive with visual images. I’ve also done a lot of reading about Carmel and the establishment of the town. It blossomed after the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco when authors and artists migrated south to find an area that welcomed like-minded people. A year before the first book was due, I visited Carmel to take updated pictures of the courtyards and streets and to orient myself. I visited the library and post office and a few of the galleries. I chatted up the ladies in the visitors’ center, too. That was a fun trip! Plus I’ve visited a couple of fairy garden shops. One, in Orange, California (an hour and a half from where I live) inspired me to start making my own fairy gardens and gave me ideas about what I needed to include at the shop for customers eager to make fairy gardens. At Open Your Imagination, Courtney offers workshops and private lessons.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about the book?
Some people want to know if this is a paranormal mystery. The word “paranormal” can be off-putting for a reader who doesn’t want to read about ghosts and such. So simply remember that this is a cozy mystery that features a fairy. No witches. No goblins. Fiona is about two to three inches tall. She has blue hair—it’s actually gossamer and catches the light, much like a prism or the lens of a camera—she wears a silver dress and has sparkly silver shoes. Her wings are small because they are junior wings. She’s sassy but knows she must become more sober in order to earn her adult wings. Earnest might be the best way to describe her. She adores Courtney and Courtney adores her.
I hope you’ll all take the chance to get to know her and those she loves. Thank you for the lovely questions!
Thank you for answering my questions, Daryl, and good luck with A Glimmer of a Clue, the latest book in the Fairy Garden mystery series.
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, the Fairy Garden Mysteries, and the French Bistro Mysteries. As Avery Aames, she pens the popular Cheese Shop Mysteries. In addition, Daryl writes the Aspen Adams novels of suspense as well as stand-alone suspense. Daryl loves to cook, fairy garden, and read, and she has a frisky Goldendoodle who keeps her in line!