Monday, August 29, 2011

Interview With Kari Lee Townsend

Curling Up By The Fire is pleased to welcome Kari Lee Townsend, author of Tempest in the Tea Leaves, who is here to discuss her new series as well as give readers a little insight into her life and into her reading and writing habits.  I had the pleasure of reading Tempest in the Tea Leaves, and look forward to immersing myself in future adventures featuring Sunny Meadows, and a host of new characters living in Divinity, New York.   For those of who who love cozy mysteries, here's a little synopsis of the book:

In the fortune telling business there are a lot of pretenders, but Sunshine Meadows is the real deal—and her predictions can be lethally accurate…

Sunny is a big city psychic who moves to the quaint town of Divinity, NY to open her fortune-telling business in an ancient Victorian house, inheriting the strange cat residing within. Sunny gives her first reading to the frazzled librarian and discovers the woman is going to die. When the woman flees in terror, Sunny calls the police, only she’s too late. The ruggedly handsome, hard-nosed detective is a ”non-believer.” He finds the librarian dead, and Sunny becomes his number one suspect, forcing her to prove her innocence before the real killer can put an end to the psychic’s future.

1) To start off, can you tell me a little bit about yourself? How did you become interested in writing fiction novels?

I have always loved to read and write, that’s why I got my degree in English education. I wrote short stories and poetry when I was younger, but it wasn’t until I was married and home with my first child that I tried my hand at a writing an actual novel and realized I loved it. It took me forever to sell, but I’ve never regretted it and never looked back. I’ve learned so much along the way and it’s made me a better writer because of it.

2) Can you tell us a little about your novel, Tempest in the Tea Leaves?
Tempest is about a big city psychic named Sunshine Meadows who moves upstate to the quaint town of Divinity, NY. She opens her own fortune-telling business and her first reading for a frazzled librarian turns deadly. She predicts the woman will die, and when the woman does, hard-nosed cynical Detective Mitch Stone names Sunny as his number one suspect. Now she must prove her innocence before the real killer can put an end to her future for good.

3) What inspired you to write Tempest in the Tea Leaves? How much research was involved in the writing? Haunted houses are something I absolutely adore; did you base any of your writing on personal experiences?
I knew I wanted to write a cozy mystery for Berkley Prime Crime, so I researched their site to see what themes they already had. When I saw a lot of light fun paranormal, I knew I wanted to write one of those. So I thought about what I was interested in and what I wanted to learn more about. That’s when I thought of fortune telling. I’ve had my tea leaves read, my tarot cards read, my palm read, and even a past life reading which was so cool. I can’t wait to write more books since each one will focus on a different fortune-telling tool. As far as haunted houses, I love the stories I’ve heard about them, but I’ve never actually experienced any “haunting” first hand .

4) What was your greatest challenge while writing this novel?
Making sure the fortune telling comes off as authentic. I did a lot of research online and tried to combine several techniques. Also, making sure the mystery plot was sound and that I had enough red herrings to throw the reader off. I really wanted the killer to be a surprise. Not an easy task to do since die hard mystery readers are very smart!

5) In this novel, we are introduced to some very interesting and intriguing characters. Who was the most fun to write about? Which character presented the biggest challenge?
No characters were really a challenge for me. I love characterization. Coming up with fun, quirky characters who are unique and interesting yet seem real is a blast for me. It’s hard to pick a favorite. Sunny doesn’t look like me, but she acts a lot like me. And Mitch is just so hot. I love dark, brooding, wounded alpha males. And I have to say I adore Morty the cat. I can’t wait to delve even deeper into his backstory and really figure out who he is and where he came from.

6) What are 3 things that are 'must haves' when you write? Do you have any writing rituals?
I have four children (3 boys and 1 diva) so when I first started writing, I wrote during naptime. Even though they are all in school now, I am still most productive in the afternoon. I tend to do more promotion and social networking and emails in the morning with my coffee. Then take a break, exercise, do errands, etc. When I return to work after lunch, I sit down with a diet Pepsi or diet Coke(I switch between the two so I don’t get bored) at my desk in my bright, sunny formal living room (that no one uses and I claimed as mine!) I have to have complete silence to create something new. I can edit and do everything else to noise, but I need the silence to create…that’s why summer is killing me! Thank goodness school starts soon.

7) Can you share with us any projects that you are currently working on or plans for the future? What can fans expect next from you? Hopefully more novels in this series?
I just finished book two, CORPSE IN THE CRYSTAL BALL, which will come out in June 2012. So now it’s time to start on book three, TROUBLE IN THE TAROT, which will come out in March 2013. I am having so much fun with this series, so hopefully the rest of the books will do as well as TEMPEST IN THE TEA LEAVES and the series will continue for a long time to come.

8) Favorite authors?
I love anything funny, and especially humorous cozy mysteries. Janet Evanovich first got me hooked, and now I love Donna Andrews, Tamar Myers, Peggy Webb, Annette Blair, and so many more. There really are a lot of talented cozy authors out there. A couple of brand new authors to watch for are Liz Lipperman and her Clueless Cook Mysteries which will come out in October, as well as Rochelle Staab’s Mind for Murder Mysteries in November!

9) What do you like to do when you are not writing? What is your ultimate luxury?
Reading simply for pleasure in a hot bubble bath! I also love to travel, take pictures, go on wine tours, and basically do anything adventurous. I am the dare devil in my family.

10) Is there anything else you would like to share with your readers?
Basically to never give up. It took me 14 years to sell. It will happen, you just have to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. Pay attention to the market. You never know what you might be good at or love unless you give it a try. When I started writing smart is when I finally sold. Good luck and I hope to see you on the shelves someday.

To find out more about me and all my books go to and my group mystery blog at
Follow me on Twitter at
Like my Facebook Author Page at

Author Biography
Kari Lee Townsend lives in Central New York with her very understanding husband, her three busy boys, and her oh-so-dramatic daughter, who keep her grounded and make everything she does worthwhile…not to mention provide her with loads of material for her books. Kari is a longtime lover of reading and writing, with a masters in English education, who spends her days trying to figure out whodunit. Funny how no one at home will confess any more than the characters in her mysteries!

Kari writes fun and exciting stories for any age, set in small towns, with mystical elements and quirky characters. You can find out more about her on her website and also on the group mystery blog she cohosts, called Mysteries and Margaritas, at