ABOUT THE BOOKMandy Hemphill is living her dream, running the successful Rose Cottage Cafe in Orchardville, Texas, from the ground floor of a converted, old—and possibly haunted—downtown home. She even had plans to grow her business with a new outdoor patio . . . if only the mayor wouldn’t have turned her down.
So when the beloved mayor is found murdered, Mandy finds herself among the suspects. And now business at the cafe is dropping faster than a fallen soufflé. How can she prove her innocence and save the Rose Cottage Cafe?
Thankfully Ben, the new owner of The Orchardville Gazette, doesn’t believe she’s guilty. As the two of them set out to find the real killer, they uncover one small-town lie after the next. But the closer they get to learning the truth about who killed the mayor, the more in danger they find themselves.
ABOUT MANDY HEMPHILLIn her late twenties, Mandy Hemphill owns and operates the Rose Cottage Cafe, one of Orchardville, Texas’ most popular spots. She is a talented baker who loves making classic Southern desserts and treats, such as the cafe’s popular peach pecan muffins and buttermilk pie. She believes the way to a person’s heart is through their stomach, and that baking and cooking for others is an expression of love. She is currently single, sharing an apartment with her best friend, Kelly, although the hot new owner of the town’s local paper, who has just moved in upstairs from the cafe, has certainly piqued her interest.
INTERVIEW WITH MANDY HEMPHILL
Mandy, how did you first meet Lori?
A few years ago, Lori was, as she tends to do, fantasizing about what it would be like to run a bakery as she was baking up some delectable dessert for her three children. But she is writer at heart, which she tends to forget when she is baking and dreaming of being a baker, so instead of abandoning her true passion, she started thinking about me, and what would happen to me if suddenly I found myself embroiled in a murder mystery.
Want to dish about her?
I have to say that she talks a lot to her dog. I don’t have any pets (though I’d love to get a cat), but I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who talks to her dog so much.
Why do you think your life has ended up being in a book?
I think right now, thanks to cooking and baking shows, that people who bake and run restaurants are interesting to readers. The fact that I run a fairly successful cafe, and spend a good deal of time making delectable desserts, is one reason I found myself in the pages of a book; the other, of course, is that I found myself smack dab in the middle of a small-town murder mystery.
Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.
My favorite scene in the book is when Ben, the hot looking guy who runs the town newspaper—and happens to have an office above the cafe—and I decide we need to get our hands on the hairdresser’s appointment book and devise a way to do just that without arousing suspicion. Ben basically takes one for the team and comes out looking . . . well, let’s just say you’ll understand why the title of the book is Big Hair & Buttermilk Pie.
Did you have a hard time convincing Lori to write any particular scenes for you?
There’s one scene in which I am at my apartment by myself one morning, sipping my coffee of course, and I begin to lament on my shortcomings, like the fact that everything I own, down to my pajamas and even my coffee mug, is too cutesy. I know she’d like me to be strong and confident all the time, but sometimes a girl’s just gotta feel a wee bit sorry for herself.
What do you like to do when you are not being read about in a book?
I love to bake. As I say in the book, it’s my therapy. There’s nothing flour, butter and sugar can’t remedy!
I wholeheartedly concur. If you could rewrite anything in your book, what would it be?
I would write Ben’s girlfriend write out of the pages. Buh-bye, Hannah!
Tell the truth. What do you think of your fellow characters?
Well, as you might have guessed I have the slightest crush on Ben, but that girlfriend thing makes it difficult. I adore my assistant manager Zoe; she’s hard working and cool as a cucumber. My roommate Kelly is my best friend, and I wish I had half the amount of shoes she has.
Do have any secret aspirations that Lori doesn’t know about?
I dream big. Right now Lori is getting to know me and know all my quirks, dislikes, and likes. I am in my twenties, and I operate one successful cafe, but I secretly harbor dreams of turning my business into something big.
What would you do if you had a free day with no responsibilities?
Lake Orchardville is beautiful, and a day on the lake is something special. I would get up early and get a run in, then go home and pack a picnic of homemade chicken salad, a baguette, sweet tea and assorted homemade cookies. Then I would meet a friend at the Orchardville Marina, rent a boat and spend the day on the lake. In the evening, I’d go out for a nice dinner date (!!) and perhaps go see a movie.
What impression do you make on people when they first meet you? How about after they've known you for a while?
I think people think of me as capable and hard working when they first meet me, because chances are they will first meet me at the cafe. Then, after they get to know me they will realize their first impressions were spot on.
What's the worst thing that's happened in your life? What did you learn from it?
I became a suspect in the murder of our town’s mayor. The worst part was knowing that people in the community whom I really liked and respected started to have doubts about my character. But I learned to persevere and to never, ever give up.
Tell us about your best friend.
My best friend is my roommate Kelly. She is the assistant city manager of Orchardville and has to put up with angry citizens all day, bless her heart. She loves shopping, especially shoe shopping, and going out for Mexican food with me once a week. (Okay, she also loves a good margarita.)
What are you most afraid of?
I learned recently that I am most afraid of losing my business. I have worked hard to get the Rose Cottage Cafe to where it is today and I would never want to lose it, or to have to let any of my amazing employees go.
What’s the best trait Lori has given you? What’s the worst?
The best trait is my mind. It’s helped me to get where I am today and to get out of sticky situations. The worst? Well, I guess I am a bit of a workaholic. I mean, running a cafe takes a lot of hard work and a lot of long hours, so it’s sort of to be expected. But I might have a little better social life if I didn’t put in so many hours at the cafe.
What do you like best about Ben? Least?
I love that he has this devilish sense of humor and that nothing seems to ruffle his feathers. The least? Well, her name is Hannah and I think she needs to go.
What’s Lori’s worst habit?
She procrastinates! I should have been in print long ago . . .
How do you feel about your life right now? Is there anything you would like to change?
I love my life and my cafe. I guess if I had to change one thing it might be my wardrobe, silly as that sounds. I realized recently that my style is a little cutesy, and I thought it might be the right time in my life to be a little more sophisticated.
What aspect of Lori’s writing style do you like best?
I like when she gets conversational, when she lets the characters speak. We tend to tell our sides of the story very well.
If your story were a movie, who would play you?
Kristin Bell. She seems warm and down-to-earth, like me.
Describe your town Orchardville, Texas.
Orchardville is a small town in Texas with an old-fashioned Main Street that’s lined with stores and cafes. A lot of its appeal comes from the fact that it is set on a large lake. The people who live in Orchardville are real, small-town Texans, the kind of folks who would give a stranger in a grocery store a hug if they sensed she was having a bad day.
What would an average day in your life look like?
I get up early—that’s the nature of running a cafe that’s open for breakfast—and go to the cafe. We bake and prep in the morning, then handle customers for breakfast and lunch. Any downtime is spent doing paperwork in my small office there—you know, bills, payroll, marketing, setting up catering jobs . . . In the afternoon I love to get a run in at one of Orchardville’s parks. Then, in the evening I enjoy either hanging out with my roommate at home and watching reality TV and dining on leftovers from the cafe, or going out to dinner, preferably for Mexican food.
What makes you stand out from any other characters in your genre?
I would say the fact that I am not at all the classic “hard boiled” amateur detective. Even though I get involved solving mysteries, I am still just me—a little quirky, a little doubtful of myself at times and sometimes even a bit shy.
If you could be “adopted” by another writer, who would you choose?
Joanne Fluke. I mean, they made a TV movie about her character Hannah Swensen. How cool would that be?!
Very cool. Will you encourage Lori to write a sequel?
Oh, yes. We had another shall-we-say “incident” at the cafe which she is writing about now. (Note to author: stop procrastinating and get back to work!)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lori has authored a number of fiction and nonfiction books for young adults, has written articles for both print and online publications, and has written about hotels for one of the world's leading search engines.
She lives in Texas with her husband and three children. When she is not writing, you can usually find her in the kitchen baking treats (which she says are for her children) or trying to train their hundred-pound golden retriever, an obedience school dropout.
Connect with Lori:
Website | Amazon
Buy the book: