Here at Storyteller, we are working on the most delightful murder mystery.
Wait, do those words go together…. ‘delightful’ & ‘murder’?
HOT CHOCOLATE by Dawn Greenfield Ireland is a laugh riot with a southern drawl. The billionaire mavens of the Alcott chocolate empire wade knee-deep in mystery as the 63 character clan struggles with ‘misfortune by gizmo’, ‘ritual by chicken’, and who gets a plus for interior design. The twisting plot is laced with trips to mouth-watering restaurants of Houston and blow-by-blow descriptions of dishes that sound to die for. The 3 sisters, Madge, Lila Mae and baby sister, Dorothea, wade through astrological input and interference while they search for a killer. The characters are brash and fun, the story zigs and zags. And at the end of it all, lie all the sumptuous recipes you’ve read about during the story. The entire novel floats on the strange and musical humor of the South. I find Dawn Greenfield Ireland the Agatha Christie of Texas!
Because this novel plays with themes we don’t always get to visit, I invited the author Dawn Greenfield Ireland to tell us a little bit about the astrological aspect and how it came to play a part in HOT CHOCOLATE.
DGI: Last year I went to a writer’s conference and met several literary agents and one book acquisitions person from a small publishing company. I was a mess – I can’t pitch to save my life. My words stumbled all over the place when it was time for my one-on-one appointments with this motley crew.
One agent took pity on me and walked me through what the story was about, then explained what I had: something very unique which could be a hot item due to the astrology theme. After dragging the plot out of my addled brain she told me I had a “cozy” mystery.
Seeing the confusion on my face, she went on to explain exactly what that was: no explicit sex, no bad language… kind of like a Miss Marple mystery, the body after the fact, no Nightmare on Elm Street hacking, ravaging rampaging killing. I could live with that.
I explained that I did have cuss words in the novel. She told me, “not anymore. You’re going to go home and change them so you fit neatly in this category.” So that’s what I did. I replaced the traditional four-letter cuss words with acceptable wording. It’s nice to read something that doesn’t have “fuck” in every paragraph, don’t you think? Get to the story without the potty mouthed words.
So far, everyone seems to love the story. They get a kick out of the fact that Lila Mae has an astrologer and her sisters abhor anything related to the stars (unless it is a Hollywood star). It’s one of those things that can grate on a person’s nerves – sort of like a classical music parent having to tolerate his child’s love for Hip Hop. You just have to find a way to get along without shutting down the relationship.
I read several I horoscopes on the Internet each month, and then there’s the fortune cookie at lunch or dinner from the Chinese restaurant. I’ve been meditating since the early ‘80s and have several astrologers I talk with on a steady basis. I thought it would be great fun to have Lila Mae’s horoscope done so I turned to one of my pals, Robert Brown, the astrologer in the novel, and we had such a fun time determining Lila Mae’s sign (Capricorn – wow! I’m a Cappy also, imagine that!).
Then I thought it would be even greater fun to have supportive factions in the family and extended family along with those who poo-poo’d the whole astrology/feng shui/psychic beliefs so there would always be snide remarks going back and forth.
It grates on Dorothea and Madge’s nerves when Lila Mae tries to warn them about something and they won’t listen. Like when Dorothea arrives home and finds the Webster elevator truck in the driveway. She has to grin and bear it and sometimes caves in and admits that there must be some correlation between what Lila Mae says and what’s happening. It’s hard to argue when you’re staring at the results.
Lila Mae is fun all by herself with her astrological quirks and fancies, but when you add Joseph and Uncle Tito to the picture you can’t help but laugh out loud at times. I love these guys. They are such solid characters in their beliefs and convictions.
Joseph will go to any length to protect the household and make sure all is balanced in nature. Uncle Tito, on the other hand, has a direct-connect to the other side and pulls more than a few rabbits out of hats. He surprised Chance Walker, a detective for the Houston Police Department, when he found Chance’s stolen car. Let’s face it, Chance isn’t totally on board with astrology, but he has to accept the fact that an old man with a deck of cards found his car while in a meditative state.
I sure hope everyone gives the astrology in the book a chance. It’s fun. Sit back and enjoy the story… you might learn something.
For our part here at STORYTELLER, I am a firm believer in the benefits of feng shui, and have made my surroundings more harmonious utilizing its precepts. I have wind chimes hanging from the upper most gable of our house. We have crank windows to ensure positive energy flow. I look for the magic in every single day. AND Bruce & I may just have a kahlua and cream before bed, just like Lila Mae and her beau, Chance Walker!
And just between you & me, Joseph, the Chinese housekeeper in HOT CHOCOLATE, may be one of my most favorite audiobook creations of all time. Wait ’til you hear him! We hope he is a part of the cast of BITTER CHOCOLATE, Dawn’s 2nd novel in The Alcott Sisters Trilogy. Look for the audiobook some time in early 2014!
- What influence will the Feng shui have upon me while I live between a mountain and a river? (feng-shui-at-home.knowledge-pool.com)
- 6 Best Places to get Hot Chocolate in the US (travefy.com)
- Feng Shui for the Body (bigbodybeautiful.wordpress.com)
- Feng Shui (appropouture.wordpress.com)
- Fundamentals of Relationship Astrology (vicdicara.wordpress.com)
- gemstone astrology (durgaastrology7.wordpress.com)
- How to Feng Shui Your Home (alexanderteam.wordpress.com)