TQ: Welcome to The Qwillery!
Bailey: Thanks for inviting me to visit!
TQ: Writing quirks! What are some of yours?
Bailey: Hrm. Well, there's the writing candle. At the beginning of a writing session I light a candle (or relight if the one from the day before didn't burn down). The candle sits at the southern corner of an arrangement of small objects representing air, fire, water and earth. Kind of a little writing altar on the edge of my desk, I guess.
Then there's the hour glass that I use to time writing sessions. My butt is glued to the chair as long as the sand (bright lime green!) is running. It's how I keep focused.
Unless I'm rewriting or figuring out plot or character points -- then I wander! All over the house, in the yard, muttering under my breath -- or at full volume without even realizing it. Something about moving around helps me solve problems. Hearing my own voice, too.
TQ: Who are some of your favorite writers?
Bailey: My reading tastes are all over the place, but in order to keep my answer somewhat focused I'll leave out the nonfiction and cookbooks (I LOVE reading cookbooks) and focus on mysteries. I love Kat Richardson's Greywalker series (usually considered fantasy, but I still think they're paranormal mysteries), Laurie R. King (Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes books), Craig Johnson (western mysteries), and of course, I love Charlaine Harris -- all of her series, not just the Sookie Stackhouse books.
TQ: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Bailey: Used to be totally pantser, but then I ended up doing a lot of rewriting as things changed and I had to go back and fix up the earlier bits so everything made sense and flowed well. A good thing to focus on in any book, but especially mysteries with clues and red herrings, etc. But now I write two series and am working on a standalone, so I don't have time to waste. Also, one of my editors likes a detailed synopsis of what I'm working on, so that's my compromise. It's not as detailed as an outline, but detailed enough that I know what happens next, who did what and how, how subplots weave into the main plot, etc.
TQ: What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?
Bailey: Juggling so many projects can be challenging, but not really in a bad way. For example, right now I'm working on revisions for my second Magical Bakery Mystery, reviewing page proofs for my sixth Home Crafting Mystery, drafting the third Magical Bakery Mystery (as yet untitled), and I have the first hundred pages of another project due to my editor in six weeks. But all of these tasks are different stages in the writing/publishing process and require different skills/parts of my brain -- as do blogging and promotional work, teaching classes, developing recipes, etc., so while I'm certainly busy it doesn't feel draining.
TQ: Brownies and Broomsticks is your first Magical Bakery Mystery. What inspired you to write mysteries with paranormal/supernatural elements?
Bailey: Fantasy/paranormal and mystery go so well together! Plus, once upon a time I took some classes in herbal medicine. Over time I learned that my instructor was also a druid priest. A real one. He really knew his stuff when it came to the science of herbal medicine, but he also used herbs as a major part of his Craft. I was fascinated! Add that I think anyone who cooks well is pulling off a bit of magic, and you get mysteries about a baker who uses herbal magic in her yummy recipes
TQ: Do you base your paranormal/supernatural elements on existing lore, make things up or both?
Bailey: Both. However, I avoid world building too much, meaning that I research real magical practices -- Wiccan, pagan, Celtic, gypsy, voodoo, druids, tarot, divination, spell work, moon magic, even feng shui. Since my protagonist, Katie Lightfoot, is a hedgewitch, I'm particularly interested in what real practitioners of herbal, kitchen and garden magic believe and do. However, I'm perfectly willing to make something up if it fits the story and weaves in with the other aspects of magic.
TQ: What sorts of research have you done for the Magical Bakery Mysteries? What is the oddest bit of information that you’ve come across in your research.
Bailey: I do a LOT of reading about magical practices, as well as researching online. The books are set in Savannah, Georgia, so I spent some time there to gather details and ideas, and met some wonderful people who continue to advise me when I have questions. I've talked to fire fighters (one of my characters is a fireman), reporters (ditto), and toured a local bakery to ask questions about realistic day to day work there. I visit plant nursery sites to find out what's in bloom, what plants are native, etc. I use Google Earth to virtually walk around places in Savannah where I've set a scene.
The oddest bit of information I've come across so far (and there are plenty of cool, odd things about Savannah, her history, and hauntings) was just last week while doing research for the third in the series. In 1958 a B-47 bomber collided with another plane and dropped an H-bomb into the swamp! Woops. Thing is, it's never been found! How crazy is that?
TQ: Tell us something about Brownies and Broomsticks that is not in the book description.
Bailey: The book description doesn't talk about the spell book club. It's a real book club, but all five (six, including Katie) members are witches and they focus on studying spell books. These ladies range from young to old, and have different magical specialties. So Katie has help from several different quarters when it comes to learning about her craft -- and solving mysteries.
TQ: In Brownies and Broomsticks who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?
Bailey: Katie Lightfoot is probably the easiest to write for the simple reason that the story is told from her point of view and I had to get to know her very well before even beginning the series. The hardest ... well, none felt particularly hard, but Cookie Rios, the youngest member of the spell book club, keeps fighting me. Mostly in minor ways, and it's clear she's a bit of a rule breaker. It looks like that's only going to get worse in future books.
TQ: Which character in Brownies and Broomsticks surprised you the most?
Probably Margie Coopersmith, but not because she does anything all that surprising -- she simply surprised me by jumping onto the page so effortlessly. I love her and Katie loves her, despite the fact that they don't have much of anything in common. When things are crazy and dangerous and magical, Margie grounds Katie with her normality.
TQ: What's next?
Bailey: Lots of upcoming releases! The sixth in the Home Crafting Mystery Series, Deadly Row to Hoe, which I write as Cricket McRae, will hit bookstores the first week in November, 2012. The second Magical Bakery Mystery, Bewitched, Bothered and Biscotti, releases January 1, 2013. The third one (untitled) will come out in the fall of 2013, and I'm working on a non-cozy, non-paranormal mystery set in Montana which is slated for the fall 2013 catalog as well.
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
Bailey: Thank you! What great interview questions -- so much fun to answer!
Magical Bakery Mysteries
Brownies and BroomsticksA Magical Bakery Mystery 1
Obsidian, May 1, 2012
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 336 pages
EASY BAKE COVEN
Katie Lightfoot’s tired of loafing around as the assistant manager of an Ohio bakery. So when her aunt Lucy and uncle Ben open a bakery in Savannah’s quaint downtown district and ask Katie to join them, she enthusiastically agrees.
While working at the Honeybee Bakery—named after Lucy’s cat—Katie notices that her aunt is adding mysterious herbs to her recipes. Turns out these herbal enhancements aren’t just tasty—Aunt Lucy is a witch and her recipes are actually spells!
When a curmudgeonly customer is murdered outside the Honeybee Bakery, Uncle Ben becomes the prime suspect. With the help of handsome journalist Steve Dawes, charming firefighter Declan McCarthy, and a few spells, Katie and Aunt Lucy stir up some toil and trouble to clear Ben’s name and find the real killer.
Bewitched Bothered and BiscottiA Magical Bakery Mystery 2
Obsidian, December 31, 2012
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 336 pages
No cover available yet.
A WITCH WITH A WHISK
As a new witch—not to mention owner of Savannah’s most enchanting bakery—Katie Lightfoot is still getting used to casting spells, brewing potions, and mastering her magical powers. But that doesn’t mean she can’t find time to enjoy a picnic with firefighter Declan McCarthy…until she stumbles upon a corpse.
The dead man’s tattoo reveals he was a member of a secret society—and it turns out he's missing an object that was very important to the group. When Katie learns the killer was after more than the man's life, she and her Aunt Lucy leave the baked goods on the rack to cool and set off in hot pursuit of a killer.
The Home Crafting Mysteries - Cricket McRae
website or check out her blog, The Lightfoot Chronicles. You can also find her on Twitter @writerbailey and on Facebook as Author Bailey Cates.
There is a giveaway of Brownies and Broomsticks (A Magical Bakery Mystery 1) with this interview. You can also enter to win the Grand Prize by using the Rafflecopter. The comment you leave to enter to win Brownies and Broomsticks may also be used to enter to win the Grand Prize. Both Giveaways are open internationally.
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