About the book:After the death of their mother, sisters Terry and Karen Sutter, turn their childhood home into a teahouse. It's a dream come true, but the dream begins to resemble a nightmare when teacups start crashing to the floor in the middle of the night. Could the teahouse be haunted? There's a list of possible ghostly candidates: the prior owner who is rumored to have left behind a buried treasure, two spinster neighbors who disappeared without a trace over forty years ago, or perhaps it's Terry and Karen's own mother trying to communicate with them. Karen, the older sister, thinks running a haunted teahouse might be fun, until the sisters come home one night to find the attic stairs covered in a trail of what appears to be blood. Is it a ghost or a warning? The teahouse's new mascot, a psychic macaw, may provide some unexpected clues, but the sisters will encounter many more surprises before they solve this mystery.
Interview with Leslie Matthews Stansfield:Leslie, how long have you been writing, and how did you start?
I have been writing for a number of years. I started by taking a few Writer’s Digest Classes. Eventually, I met Kathie Giorgio who runs Allwriters Workplace and Workshop. She became my writing instructor and mentor.
Mr. Tea and the Traveling Teacup is quite a title! How did you come up with it?
The original concept for the book was to include descriptions and pictures of teahouses all over New England. I even had a photographer lined up. The idea of a “traveling teacup” incorporated that. When Cozy Cat Press decided to publish the book, the name was changed to Mr. Tea and The Traveling Teacup. The name of Mr. Tea in the title will carry through this series.
Do you have another job outside of writing?
I have two. I am a math tutor for children in grades five and six and the Christian Education Director for my church.
Do you outline, write by the seat of your pants, or let your characters tell you what to write?
I do a little bit of all of that. I start out with an outline. I figure out the who and why, then I go from there. However, I can change the who and why in mid-stream.
Did you have any say in your cover art? What do you think of it?
I love my cover art. I was given a few choices to start with. I got opinions from friends and my students. It was a really tough choice. I liked parts of all of them. One thing that caught my attention immediately was the picture I use for Mr. Tea. The moment I looked at it, I thought, 'That’s him. That’s Mr. Tea!' I worked from there.
What do you do to market your book?
I take my book to craft fairs. I have friends that do beautiful crafts. I take their crafts and my book. It’s worked well for me. Also, I have done book signings in book stores and libraries.
When you start a new book, do you know what the entire cast will be?
Definitely not! I know most of the main characters, but I feel free to improvise.
I like writing characters who do and say things I never would, as well as characters who do and say things I wish I could. Do you have characters who fit into one of those categories? Who, and in what category do they fall?
Mr. Tea is my character that can say anything. I am enjoying allowing the senior citizens to come out of their shells and say a few surprising things. I have a few obnoxious characters in my second book who say things I would never say.
Which author would you most like to invite to dinner, and what would you fix him or her?
I write with a group of wonderful authors from Cozy Cat Press. I would love to have them all to a catered Italian dinner. I don’t want to cook, because I just want to be able to chat with them.
Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?
I have to fit my writing in whenever I can. I write at night, after school, on the weekends, and during school vacations.
Where’s home for you?
I grew up I Delmar, New York. A part of me will always consider that home. I currently live in Windsor Locks, Connecticut.
Tell us about where you live.
My first book was about the town I live in. It is called Windsor Locks, and talks about its history. I went to the senior center and found seniors who wanted to share their stories. Many families in the town today have ancestors that came off the boat at Ellis Island, got on a train and came here to find work.
Name one thing you couldn’t live without.
If you could only keep one book, what would it be?
Would you rather work in a library or a bookstore?
At the moment, it would be the library. The books are free!
You won the lottery. What’s the first thing you would buy?
A new car!
Where would your dream office be?
In the school where I work. I love being around children. I also have a number of friends in the school building. I would love to be a type of author in residence.
Is there anything in particular that you do to help the writing flow?
I love listening to piano music when I write. If I am stuck, I clean a room or walk the dog.
What three books have you read recently and would recommend?
Buried in a Bog, by Sheila Connolly
Assaulted Pretzel, by Laura Bradford
Bertie and the Seven Bodies, by Peter Lovesey
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Delmar, New York.
If you could take a trip anywhere in the world, where would you go? (Don’t worry about the money. A publisher is paying.)
If it had to be one place, I would love to go to England for at least six months and get to know the people.
I would also love to travel the United States in an RV and promote my books and do book signings.
What are you working on now?
I am in the editing and revising phase of my second book, Mr. Tea and the Bobbin’ Body.
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