Author of the popular Flower Shop Mysteries, Kate draws upon her love of comedy, mystery, flowers, and the wackiest art imaginable as inspiration for her series, but states firmly that none of the zany characters populating fictional New Chapel are based on people she knows -- other than herself.
In her next, and eighth, book in the series, Shoots To Kill, readers may think they recognize one of the characters, and this time with good reason! The plot revolves around an identity theft of the worst kind. Fearless, feisty florist Abby Knight finds her life and love stolen right out from under her nose even while being pulled into a bizarre murder plot.
Sounds like an exciting book.
VERY! I can't wait for readers to get their hands on a copy of this book. Early reviews are terrific. I'm hoping readers will agree.
How do you base characters on yourself?
They're all facets of my personality, not that I have multiple personalities. But there's a little bit of me in Abby, her mom (not her art talent, thankfully) Grace, Lottie, and yes, even Jillian at times. Marco is a different story. No hunky, Italian-American male resides in my brain. Marco is a combination of the traits I think a man should have, kind of a modern day Mr. Darcy.
And the wacky art?
The ideas for Abby's mother's art comes partly from perusing the art shops and fairs in Key West and partly from my own imagination. However, Abby's mom's art, though zany, usually has a purpose, such as the infamous Dancing Naked Monkey table, or the Bass-in-Net baby bed. There's a new project in every book.
Why use a flower shop as a backdrop for mystery?
It does seem like an odd pairing, doesn't it? Murder and flowers? Yet I can't think of a black orchid without visualizing dark intrigue, or see a Venus fly trap without recalling the man-eating plant in the cult favorite, The Little Shop of Horrors. "The garden is a ground plot for the mind," Thomas Hill wrote. To me, what grows in the garden provides fertile soil for plots of mystery.
How did you come up with the character of Abby Knight?
My feisty little redhead, who loves to meddle and hates bullies and injustice, my female knight-in-shining armor (hence the last name Knight) who's ready to tackle the craftiest killer, came about because I needed a special sleuth to handle mystery plots with humorous undertones and a dash of romance. Abby was originally going to be a newly graduated lawyer, but that was too dull for my plucky heroine. So instead she became a law school flunk-out who scrapes up enough money for the down payment on a little flower shop named Bloomers, where she can interact with all sorts of people and help them solve those dilemmas everyone encounters now and then -- along with a few murders.
What makes Abby so real are her flaws and her handicaps. She's short and busty - two features she knows prevents men from taking her seriously, and she has freckles, which she believes are a curse. She also has to compete with her two successful brothers, both doctors and happily married to sophisticated, fashionable wives, whereas Abby squeaked through college, then flunked out of law school and was subsequently dumped by her uber-erudite fiancé. Abby has a habit of speaking her mind and very often puts her foot in her mouth. She loves to eat chocolate and she hates anyone who tries to push her around. She's totally human.
Tell us about Abby's love interest, the hunk-a-licious Marco Salvare.
Ah, yes. Marco. I needed a strong counterpoint for Abby, someone who could tolerate her nosiness, keep her reined in (as much as possible), and always be there as back-up, ready to protect and defend no matter what. Who better than a former Army Ranger/ex-cop who also happens to run the Down the Hatch Bar and Grill a few stores down from Bloomers. A guy who is all male, ruggedly good looking, and doesn't much care for rules (which is why he's an ex-cop). What a match. The name Salvare, by the way, means savior in Italian. Fitting, isn't it?
Something that really stands out in your books are the secondary characters. These are people we all know!
I wanted Abby surrounded with quirky, likeable, real people that readers not only laughed at, but rooted for, and wanted to visit again, like their favorite sitcom family. There's Abby's assistant Lottie Dombowski, a big, brassy, mother of quadruplet seventeen-year-old boys; her shop manager Grace Bingham, a retired legal secretary who hails from Great Britain, who has held jobs in horse-walking and tatoo artistry, among others, and always has a quote for any occasion; Maureen Knight, Abby's mother, who believes herself to be a talented sculptress and expects Abby to sell her horrid creations at the flower shop; cousin Jillian Knight, tactless and self-absorbed, and let's not forget the setting, which also becomes a character – Bloomers Flower Shop, on the town square in fictional, quaint, New Chapel, Indiana.
Do you have experience in the floral business?
Not per se, but I've always had gardens and I absolutely love flowers and flower arranging. That's the extent of my experience. Fortunately, local florists let me hang out with them, peering over their shoulders, pestering them with questions, taking copious notes, and watching them create. After spending time in that wonderfully tranquil, riotously colorful and delightfully fragrant environment, I decided if I didn't love writing so much I might consider becoming a florist. For now, however, I'll let Abby do the flower arranging, and I'll just content myself with writing about her exploits.
Books in Kate's Flower Shop Mystery series include: Mums The Word, Slay It With Flowers, Dearly Depotted, Snipped In The Bud, Acts Of Violets, A Rose From The Dead, and coming in August — Shoots To Kill.