Tea with Shari Randall
Today I’m excited to be sitting down with Shari Randall, author of Curses, Boiled Again!: A Lobster Shack Mystery. It seems Shari and I have a lot in common, we both love a good cup of tea and watching Monk, and we both love to spend time writing in our dining rooms. Today she’s sharing her inspiration for her new series and how The Universe worked in a mysterious way to help her write it. Thanks for stopping by Shari!
When did you first discover your love of mystery?
In fourth grade. I still have a vivid memory of my school librarian, Mrs. Macri, pulling The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes from the shelf and handing it to me because I was too short to reach it. After that, it was all mysteries, all the time. I was so proud of my entire shelf of Nancy Drew books – the ones with the yellow covers. My aunts kept me well supplied with them.
When did you decide to write your first book and what made you go for it?
How I got my contract for my debut, Curses, Boiled Again! is one of those miraculous publishing stories.
My husband was offered his dream job and we had to move from our longtime home in Virginia to Connecticut in what seemed like an instant. We rented a wonderful old beach house while we looked for a permanent home. The house overlooked a little town called Noank, which has two of the best lobster shacks in America. When my agent called and asked if I’d be interested in writing a proposal for a new series set in a lobster shack, I was, literally, standing on my front porch looking out over the water at Noank. So I said, sure, I think I can do that. Sometimes the universe plunks you down right where you need to be.
Are there any special rituals you have or places you go that inspire your writing?
I love to write in my dining room, next to some big sunny windows. My husband jokes that I’m part cat – I move from sunny spot to sunny spot during the day. But I can see everything that happens in the neighborhood out those windows and that’s distracting, so I rely on my focus candle. A friend gave me this absolutely pure white candle and I light it and quiet myself before I write. But to be honest, sometimes I’m too distracted even for the focus candle. In that case, I go to the library and sit in the most boring study carrel I can find. I wrote half of Curses in the Groton Public Library.
Where do your plot ideas come from?
I wish I knew! I think they come from those little “aha!” moments, when I see something strange and it gets me thinking, what if? They always hit at the least convenient time, especially when I’m just about to fall asleep. But I’ve learned those are the best ideas and not to let them go. I keep a notepad by the bed, though I have a hard time reading the scrawls in the morning.
What are you reading now?
I adore mysteries, of course, but when I’m writing I have to read things that are totally different from what I write, so I turn to nonfiction and short stories. I usually have a few things going at one time. Right now I’m reading The Family Tree Cemetery Field Guide (research) and the galleys for a short story anthology I’m in called Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies. I experimented with a “noir” story – or as noir as I can get. I have to face the fact that I’m not the noir type.
What’s in your TBR pile?
It’s tottering! Let’s see: Grandma Gatewood’s Walk, about a woman who walked the entire Appalachian Trail – in tennis shoes! Carla Damron’s The Stone Necklace. Champagne For One by Rex Stout. (I love title!) And I want to reread A Is for Alibi.
Who is your favorite detective character (book, tv, or movie) and why?
How I loved Monk! I wish that series would be revived. It was funny but tragic at the same time, and I loved how his circle of friends was always there for him, no matter how infuriating he was.
Who is your favorite mystery author and why?
So many I like and admire, I think it depends on my mood or the day of the week. I think I’ll go with Kate Atkinson. I love her books so much that I refuse to read them unless I’m on vacation and can devote uninterrupted time to them. No, wait, Alan Bradley! No, Dame Agatha! No, Louise Penny! Sorry, picking a favorite is hopeless!
Any advice for aspiring writers?
Every aspiring mystery writer should join Sisters in Crime. I wouldn’t have my contract without the guidance and support I received with that group. And guys, Misters can join, also.
What would we find in your mug first thing in the morning? Tea? Coffee? Something else?
Tea, of course! I drink Twining’s white tea by the gallon. If I need a caffeine boost, I’ll go for Earl Grey or Darjeeling.
Where do you like to spend time with a good book?
Anywhere sunny and warm. Beaches are perfect!
If you were given an entirely free day, no responsibility or tasks, what would you spend the day doing?
If time travel or teleportation to Greece were impossible, I’d go walking up near Gillette’s Castle in Haddam, CT then go hang around Mystic, CT and spend time in my favorite bookshop, Bank Square Books. Then I’d watch old movies – I love musicals and Hollywood classics like The Thin Man.
Any guilty pleasures?
Was it Mae West who said there’s nothing to feel guilty about? Seriously, hot fudge sundaes and Utz rippled potato chips. I’m addicted.
Tell us about an item on your bucket list.
I’d love to see the Rose Bowl Parade!
SHARI RANDALL is a military wife and librarian who lives in a drafty house by the sea. She loves books, art, antiques, travel, stationery shops, tea time, and dancing.
Shari Randall Social Media:
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/sharirandallauthor
Blurbs for Curses, Boiled Again! First in the Lobster Shack Mystery Series
Delightful! A fun whodunit full of New England coastal charm and characters who feel like friends. Warm humor, a delectable plot, and clever sleuthing will keep you turning the pages. Krista Davis is the New York Times bestselling author of the Paws & Claws Mysteries as well as the Domestic Diva Mysteries
Not only is Curses, Boiled Again! a suspenseful and entertaining mystery, but Shari Randall left me longing to visit the Lazy Mermaid Lobster Shack–even though I’m allergic to crustaceans! Donna Andrews, Agatha award winning author of the Meg Lanslow series