Interview with Cozy Author, Gillian Larkin

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For the last day of the A to Z Challenge, I am speaking with CoZy mystery author, Gillian Larkin, all the way from England!

Gillian is the author of the Storage Ghost Mystery series, Second Hand Ghosts, and Julia Blake Cozy Mystery series.

 

My first question for you is:

Have any other authors influenced your writing besides Agatha Christie?

I love Terry Pratchett books [he wrote fantasy novels] and the worlds that he has created.  I also like Stephen King, but I have to limit myself as his writing is so vivid that his books often give me nightmares!

I thoroughly enjoyed The Hunger Games, but my favorite book of all time so far has to be The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak.  [it takes place in Nazi Germany 1939; about a young girl who steals books]  It’s such an amazing read!

Since your books all have ghost characters in them, have you had any ghostly experiences yourself?

I sometimes spot things moving out of the corner of my eye, but when I look there’s nothing there.

I once went to a museum in Leeds [England] which used to be an asylum and a workhouse.  It is reported to be haunted, but I didn’t know that at the time.  As soon as I walked in I felt uneasy.  I felt my back going cold as if someone was watching me.  I have never been back to that museum!

Do you have a favorite ghostly character in a novel, Gillian?

My favorite ghost story is A Christmas Carol—the ghost of Christmas Present is the most fun!

I do like supernatural TV shows like the Ghost Whisperer and Medium.  I think you can see their influence in my writing.  I’m interested in things that can’t be easily explained.

In the Julia Blake cozies, why is your 4th book written in the third person rather than the first person like the first 3?

I chose to write in the third person after reading a lot of books in the cozy genre.  It seems to be how the majority of writers work.  But I still like to write from the main character’s point of view, only so that the reader gets the same information that the sleuth does.

What was the impetus behind your career as an author, and what else do you enjoy doing?

I have always loved writing and I started writing children’s books about twenty years ago.  I was ready Agatha Christie at a young age and became fascinated with the clues and red herrings that she’s put in.

I never thought I’d be capable of writing a murder mystery myself.  Then, one day, I decided to give it a go!   I had such fun working out how to hide the murderer!

When I’m not writing my mysteries, I’ll be reading mysteries from other authors, or watching the wonderful Murder She Wrote (again)!!

Thank you so much for visiting with me “across the pond” Gillian!  Best of luck in the future!

As promised, here is the exclusive preview of the cover to Gillian’s newest Julia Blake Cozy Mystery:  Death Takes a Trip.

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It should be available very soon!  Click here to sign up for Gillian’s newsletter.

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A to Z Challenge – Y Day

 

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Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous require yachts.

I used to enjoy watching that TV show in the mid-80’s with Robin Leach and his lilting British accent.  (This new genre of reality living show would become very popular in the coming years.)  Mr. Leach’s accent always intrigued me, but also enjoyed seeing how the superrich lived.

So sit back….grab a martini………….and enjoy the (virtual) ride on this yacht!!!

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This yacht isn’t your typical sleek, white recreational vehicle that is 154 feet in length, or 50 meters.

For a little background:  it was built by the Burger Boat Company (which was founded in 1863) in 2008 and has a great reputation for custom-built yachts.  It’s located in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.

What I love about the interior of the Sycara is ALL of the wood used.  First, take a peek at the saloon which is located on the main deck.  It is the area where you might take a drink or two, relax, and talk.

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The dining room and galley (kitchen) are also on this level, along with the owner’s suite, which is usually referred to as their salon.

The beautiful dining table with wood-edged chairs.  Note the gorgeous wainscoting.

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Next is the salon, or owner’s suite.  It typically has a state-of-the-art entertainment system, bathroom with massage shower, separate soaking tub, and views of the sea!

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A yacht such as the Sycara (154 ft) is the smallest of the super-yachts.  Oh, to just have one SMALL yacht!!  Ha ha.  It would consist of three decks with cabins for 10-12 guests and for a crew of a similar size.  The Sycara has room for 8 guests and a crew of 6.

Now you’ve had a taste of the “good life” on a yacht.  Enjoy the water whether you have a boat or not.

imageStay tuned tomorrow for the last of my A to Z challenge posts of Z as in COZY, where I interview GILLIAN LARKIN, author of the Storage Ghost Murders Series, Second Hand Ghosts, and Julia Blake Cozy Mystery Series.  You will be among the first to see the cover of her latest Julia Blake Cozy Mystery: Death Takes a Trip!

See you there!

 

 

A to Z Challenge – X Day

 

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X Day….well, that is a difficult letter.  My pick for today is Xanadu.

Xanadu can refer to many things.  The one I’m referring to is the reference in Samuel Coleridge’s poem “Kubla Khan; or, A Vision in a Dream.”  He wrote this poem after a drug-influenced dream about the summer palace of (the Mongol ruler and Emperor of China) Kubla Khan.  This land of Xanadu was a land of his fantasy that was similar to Eden.  The Coleridge poem is considered one of the most famous examples of English poetry representing Romanticism.

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The above photo is courtesy of Clive Nichols Photography.

I’m a romanticist at heart.  I believe we all romanticize our homes when we decorate.   We let our feelings rule our head as we select fabric and furniture.  Our choices are those things that speak to our hearts.

My version of Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights consists of having a heavenly garden to enjoy nature at it’s best!

The photo below is courtesy of Planter’s Garden.com.

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Thanks for letting me share a few heavenly gardens!

They decorate the eXterior of our homes.

 

 

 

 

 

A to Z Challenge – W Day

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W is for wainscoting.

This term refers to a type of panelling put on your walls.  Back in the 16th century, wainscoting was made from oak because it was lightweight yet very stable and easy to use.  (Wainscot was a board of oak; wainscoting was the panelling made from it.)  In England it was used as a buffer to counteract the cold and dampness from stone walls.  They installed it from floor to ceiling.  Modern day wainscoting refers to the panelling below a chair rail.

Below is a room from South Wraxhall Manor, Wiltshire, England.  It’s owned by Juicy Couture co-founder Gela Nash-Taylor and John Taylor of Duran Duran.

Wraxhall dates back to the 15th century and is believed to have been where the owner, Sir Walter Long, smoked the first tobacco with his friend, Sir Walter Raleigh.  (photo courtesy of Pinterest via Zimbio)

I really love learning about historic homes.

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Below is the Burrage Manor Home in Boston, built in 1899 for a copper baron.  It has incredibly intricate high ceilings, beautiful wood floors, and gorgeous wood-panelled walls.  It’s been painstakingly restored with modern conveniences.

It was on the market a few years ago for $4.5 million.

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Here is another beautiful library space with an arched ceiling and deep, rich wood on the floor and walls.

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I want to show you some floor-to-ceiling wainscoting in a modern home.

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Below is a modern home that was built to resemble a British estate mansion.  This den of today may have been referred to as a library in the past.  It has all the charm of an historic home.

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I just have to show you what this house looks like from the outside.  It’s located in Chadd’s Ford, PA which is 25 miles west of Philadelphia.  This would be on my “dream house” list!

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If you ever have the chance to go to this area in PA, you should.  It’s so rich in history with Valley Forge close by.   Philadelphia and Wilmington, Delaware are all within 20 minutes of each other.  There are many great B&B’s also.  A great place to visit is Winterthur, DE, where Winterthur Museum (formerly the house of Henry du Pont) is located and Longwood Gardens in nearby PA.

We’re on the last 3 A to Z days!!!

 

A to Z Challenge Awards


Thank you so much to Emilia and her blog Bookbug2012 blog for nominating me for the following awards!  That was a big surprise!

The Versatile Blogger Award

My nominees for Versatile Blogger and Real Neat Blog Award are:

1.  Book Babble

2.  The Palmetto Queen

3.  A Daft Scots Lass

4.  Sweet Tea Reads

5.  Elen Grey

I’ve only nominated five, because I still have to write on my A to Z challenge blog!!!

Answers to Emilia’s questions:

What is the first thing you’ve ever written that you, or a family member, have remembered?

I remember writing my parents a letter when I was 3,000 miles away in college.  I thanked them for being such good parents and always being supportive.

Describe your dream vacation–

I would love to be able to travel to Europe and soak up the culture while seeing historic sites.

Why do you blog?

I began writing to keep my interior design skills up-to-date and now find myself researching subjects and things of interest.  It has given me a new goal and I’ve “met” so many nice people.  I have been learning a lot.  Writing has become a very important part of my life.

What’s your favorite way of capturing a special moment?

Of course I try to take a picture during special family events, but really special moments are etched in my mind.

If you could lock away your most precious memory in a time capsule, what would it be?

I think they involve life and death.  The birth of my children and the passing of my parents and my sister.

My worst nightmare is….

Something I’ve experienced which was being in a terrible earthquake.

What does friendship mean to you?

It means being supportive and being available.  Just checking in on someone whether it be by phone call or meeting up with them.

My questions for the nominees:

What’s your favorite book you have read recently?

What book or books were your favorite as a child?

What is one life lesson you have learned?

What made you decide to start a blog?

Name one of your favorite movies.

If you could go back in time and give yourself some advice, what would it be?

Do you have any friend or friends that you have known for many years and still keep in contact?

A to Z Challenge – V Day

When I think of a veranda, a wide-open porch with a railing comes to mind.  It would be a lovely sitting area with fans above providing a gentle, cooling breeze while I drink my sangria (or mint julep or iced coffee).   But since I’m not a mint julep fan, it would be one of the other two!  This is the kind of place I dream of…where I’d be sitting every morning reading my cozy mysteries.

The first veranda photo IS the one of my dreams because it is screened in.  I could enjoy the outdoors even in the summer when bugs can be bothersome.

Below is another typical southern veranda with gas lamps, high ceiling, and tall shuttered windows.  The lamp base is made from oyster shells.  Wicker furniture adds to the down-home feel.

Below is a pretty little veranda with all-weather wicker chairs set in a circle which is conducive to great conversations.  The outdoor area rug is easy on the bare feet.

I’m using a liberal definition of veranda for the next few photos.  Wikipedia does include “porch” in the definition.

Now for a beautiful patio/porch at the beach.  I love this Hampstead sectional outdoor set from Pottery Barn made from solid mahogany.  It does look great in white, but I’d be practical and have the cushions done in navy.

I don’t know who said it, but I do believe….

Life is better

on the Porch!

A to Z Challenge – U Day

Even if I had an unlimited amount of money to buy a castle-like mansion and redecorate the whole thing, I would choose understated elegance.  It’s that intangible concept that Grace Kelly (had) and her daughter Caroline has….and others like Audrey Hepburn and Jackie Kennedy.

In our day-to-day lives most of us live on a budget.  We can’t completely refurnish our rooms every 5 or 10 years.  We can, however, peek into beautiful magazines every month to get ideas for our dream boards.

Here are some rooms that I think embody understated elegance.

A simple, but beautiful, staircase upon entering a home:

I don’t usually like stiff, formal furniture.  This french empire-style sofa and room all works for me because it’s fabrics are a calming beige, not regal reds or gaudy golds.  There is a touch of gold and a crystal chandelier which lend the room a more elegant feel without being over-the-top.

The room below is done in classic blue and white.  The architecture is luxurious with deeply-carved molding and tray ceiling.  Simple white curtains adorn the ceiling-to-floor windows.  I love the understated elegance of this small room with the tufted sofa and slipper-style bergere chairs done in toile.  The room has just a touch of gold.

The next bedroom is in a totally dreamy chateau.  The rustic look of the high, open-beams contrasts with the crystal chandelier.  Again, the neutral beiges on the walls, furniture, and bed linens balance out the formality of the chandelier and dark gold rococo headboard.

Speaking of chateaus… have you seen this 18th century French chateau that was purchased by an Australian family?  They saw pictures of it on the internet and negotiated for years before the sale was agreed upon, having only seen the front of it and not the inside.  I find that a bit bizarre, but if you have the money to buy an old chateau, why not???  Chateau de Gudanes

You can follow their progress on facebook, their website, or instagram @chateaugudanes

Here’s a small excerpt from the website regarding renovation of the chateau:

I’m anxious to see the result!  What about you??  Will it be resplendent in understated elegance?

A to Z Challenge – T Day

When looking to change your interior home decor, you may decide to change the color scheme or change patterns in a room.  Don’t overlook the textures in your room.  Textures create the mood and impact of room design.

It could be a major change such as the walls in a bathroom, or small changes such as adding pillows or a rug.  Below is a stone wall in the bathroom of a gorgeous stone farmhouse in Pennsylvania on 640 acres.  That’s a maximum of textures going on.

Here’s an example of what you can do in a normal bathroom to add texture.  A small rug gives added warmth; a basket with towels and a candle, plus some dried hydrangeas all add to the overall texture of the room.

In the living room, below, textures are added with the throws, the extra pillows, the accessories on the coffee table, and the pendant light.  Even though the color scheme is light in color with the beige, white, and light gray/blue, the added textures bring warmth and an easy comfort to the living area.

A pretty jute, chenille herringbone area rug like this one, below, is from Wayfair.  It’s affordable and is a simple way of adding texture.

Fabric itself adds texture to a room.  A smooth velvet chair and tufted sofa look so comfortable even before you sit down.

Ah!

There is nothing

like staying at home

for real comfort.

JANE AUSTEN  1815

Texture in your home

A to Z Challenge – S Day

If you’re living in an apartment or a house you see stairs every day and probably take them for granted.

The first stairs were most likely made from wood or stone, placed in order to reach a higher level of ground, or cross a stream.  There is no definite time (that we know of) in the history of man where stairs originated, but it is believed they existed thousands of years before the birth of Jesus.

I visited the Mexican ruins of Chichen Itza last year and witnessed the austere stairs that led to the temple at the top.  The pyramids made of stone existed from about 600 AD.  It was an incredible site that anyone who has the chance to go to Cancun, should make a trip to see them and learn about the ancient Maya culture.

Stairs can be ordinary or very extraordinary.  I will show you a few that I think are great architectural features.

The stairs below were made by the Mountain Construction Company of North Carolina.  They appear to be crafted from whole wooden logs and branches.  It’s very organic and rustic.

This art nouveau staircase is in Paris (late 1800’s to the early 1900’s).  Artists of this period used forms of the Rococo period (such as the shell) but in a more stylized form.  Everything is very curvilinear and organic.

One of my favorite architects of this period is Antoni Gaudi from Spain.  His work is some of the wildest and curviest I’ve ever seen photos of.  I’d love to experience these in person.   I just had to include a picture.  This is Casa Batllo, a house built for an aristocrat. (http://blogs.bluekea.com/victorjv/files/2013/01/casa-batllo-3.jpg)

The art deco staircase, below, is also an artwork itself.  I could see Hercule Poirot coming down both of these stairs.

Back to reality!  Stairs that would be so cool to have, below, are functional in two ways.  They reach between the two floors and also store your books so it functions as a bookcase as well.

We’ve seen how far the staircase has come in it’s development.  I, for one, am very happy with that!

A to Z Challenge – R Day

Rustic farmhouse style decor is very popular right now.

We used to just call it “country.”  In the ’80s blue and pink were the most popular colors, ruffles and lace, with lots of chair rails and oak furniture.  That described my first house we had in California to a T.  Oh, and the cabbage rose wallpaper below the chair rail.

In my way of thinking, there are different degrees of rustic—from simple farmhouse to cottage and beach chic.

Simple farmhouse uses lots of reclaimed wood, salvaged sinks, corrugated aluminum.  It’s almost like you can step backwards in time, but the wood and other pieces are used in a totally new or modern way, like the bathroom below.

Old barns are taken apart and the distressed wood is used in new homes for living/dining flooring.  It’s a great way to recycle and get that antique look.

Barn doors are used inside homes to give it the farmhouse look.  They’re on a sliding rail.

Cottage/Beach Chic decor uses lots of white and aqua, white sofa and chair covers, deep farmhouse sinks, open hutches.

I love bead board, as shown below on the wall.  It’s a light and airy room, yet practical, because you can easily put the slipcover in the wash.  A secret (I learned in my short-lived career at Arhaus) is that after washing your slipcover and partially drying it, put it on the sofa while a bit damp to forego wrinkles.

The cottage/beach kitchen below sports a knotty pine floor, white farmhouse sink, open shelving, marble countertop, aqua dishes, and aqua island.

My parting thoughts on a cozy, rustic farmhouse home…