You might remember my interview with the amazing Tansy Rayner Roberts way back when. I'm pleased to announce that Tansy's new book, A TRIFLE DEAD, is coming out this Thursday, March 28th (under the pen name Livia Day)! Here's a little bit about the book:
Tabitha Darling has always had a dab hand for pastry and a knack for getting into trouble. Which was fine when she was a tearaway teen, but not so useful now she’s trying to run a hipster urban cafe, invent the perfect trendy dessert, and stop feeding the many (oh so unfashionable) policemen in her life.
When a dead muso is found in the flat upstairs, Tabitha does her best (honestly) not to interfere with the investigation, despite the cute Scottish blogger who keeps angling for her help. Her superpower is gossip, not solving murder mysteries, and those are totally not the same thing, right?
But as that strange death turns into a string of random crimes across the city of Hobart, Tabitha can’t shake the unsettling feeling that maybe, for once, it really is ALL ABOUT HER.
And maybe she’s figured out the deadly truth a trifle late…
Sounds awesome and delicious, right? Tansy was nice enough to answer some questions for me about A TRIFLE DEAD.
Why did culinary crime seem like the right genre for you after writing fantasy?
It's not really a question of after - the Cafe La Femme books have been in my head a long time, alongside the fantasy writing. Crime is my other literary love, and I've always wanted to do both. But as for the culinary side - that was kind of an accident I fell into, because my protagonist Tabitha cares so much about food (much as Velody from the Creature Court books cares about dressmaking) that the culinary side of the stories started to take over.
She likes food way more than murders, which is understandable, really. Food is far more delicious.
Which do you prefer writing: a light-hearted pace, such as in A TRIFLE DEAD, or the intricate worlds of your previous fantasy novels?
Again, it's not a choice. I find light-hearted first person stuff does write up a lot faster than the more serious, epic stuff - but in the case of A Trifle Dead that comes with a mystery plot and even (especially) a fun, light-hearted murder mystery needs a lot of hard work under the bonnet to make it look so effortless.
Fantasy plotting is WAY easier than crime, the longer the books the better, because you have a lot more choices in directions and misdirections to try. With a crime novel, especially a fairly short one, there's no stray castle to hide in for a chapter or two, no complicated political flashbacks, and so on.
Mostly I want to write what I'm most in the mood for reading, and I have been going through a bit of a crime spree in my reading material in recent years, but I haven't given up epic fantasy even a little bit.
Why did you decide on a Tasmanian setting?
The books grew out of the setting. I've lived in Hobart most of my life, so it's the best possible place I could set a contemporary murder mystery series. Crime tends to have a close relationship with its setting, and all my favourite detectives over the years are deeply embedded in their home town or city, whether that's Spenser's Boston, Falco's Ancient Rome, or Stephanie Plum's Trenton.
Cafe La Femme grew out of a real building in town that I've felt an attachment to since I was a kid, and while my much younger writer self was very self-conscious about writing stories set in the place where I live, it's something I really enjoy now, throwing in layers of history and in-jokes, but also trying to create a believable and compelling setting to people who have never been here before - which is harder than you might think!
I’ve got to ask it. Where did you get the name Xanthippe?
Xanthippe was the wife of Socrates! She is always portrayed as a bag, nagging scold of a wife which makes me think that she's had a bad rap over the years - my ears always prick up when I read about 'bad' women in the ancient sources. I do like to throw in favourite names from time to time and this one weirdly seemed to fit Zee.
I also wanted something that was Greek and started with an X or a Z, which doesn't leave you a LOT of choices really...
Is there anything else you’d like to promote? (Ahem, SPLASHDANCE SILVER.)
Why thank you for the offer! Fablecroft Publishing have started putting out new, revised e-editions of my very first fantasy novels, the Mocklore Chronicles. Splashdance Silver is up now, and will shortly be followed by Liquid Gold and then the previously-unpublished Ink Black Magic to finish up the trilogy.
These books are magical adventures with a similar light, comedic touch as A Trifle Dead, and it's very exciting to have them available again to readers.
Back to A TRIFLE DEAD - I'm hosting the Perth book launch, so if you live in Western Australia and want to meet the publisher, taste the best trifles/macaroons/other desserts, and pick up a copy of the book, come visit us on Thursday! Information can be found here.
And, if you live in Australia, you can enter the Goodreads giveaway to win one of three copies. Good luck!