Guest Chick: Julia Henry

And Julieanne Holmes, and J.A. Hennrikus, and… I think that’s it? Ellen here, welcoming Julie to the Chicks, AND she’s offering a giveaway! I can’t believe it’s only her first visit, considering how prolific and wonderful she is. Today’s she’s going to share about the genesis of her latest work, The Garden Squad Series.

Thank you to the Chicks on the Case for having me on the blog today! Can I just say that I LOVE your tagline? Kick-butt cozies and fun, fearless sleuths. Yes to both, please.

A friend recently asked me where I came up with the idea for the Garden Squad series. I couldn’t answer her. My agent and I were talking, and he mentioned gardeners. I wanted to create a series with an older protagonist. I thought about it for a while, and then Lilly Jayne popped into my imagination. Lilly’s a 65-year-old widow and master gardener who is starting to come back to life, thanks to her friends.

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Her friends showed up in my imagination as well. Tamara O’Connor, Lilly’s best friend. Her husband Warwick. Ernie Johnson, who owns Bits, Bolts and Bulbs, the local hardware store. Delia Greenway, the graduate assistant of Lilly’s late husband who moved in to help him finish his work and stayed to take care of Lilly. When I started writing, Roddy Lyden, the mysterious and handsome next-door neighbor arrived.

Lilly and her friends are guerilla gardeners in Goosebush, Massachusetts. There are several gardening issues that the town isn’t addressing, so Lilly, Ernie, Tamara and Delia go out in the middle of the night and take care of them. Then they start addressing other problems in town, including murder. Less to solve the murder, and more to help the person wrongly accused.

One of the things I like about reading cozies, and writing them, is the community aspect of the books. People care about each other. Relationships grow and change over time. When I open the cover of a series I love, I’m looking as forward to “seeing” folks again as I am to the mystery itself. Caring about our town and our friends is universal, and the cozy celebrates that. Lilly and Tamara have been friends for over sixty years and know their town well. They are both forward thinking, but they also remember the past.

I feel very blessed that the muses introduced me to Lilly and the rest of the Garden Squad. The first book in the series, Pruning the Dead, came out in January. Next week Tilling the Truth will be released, so readers have the chance to visit Goosebush twice this year.

In Tilling, readers will learn that the Garden Squad is still in action, but that citizen gardeners around town have taken it upon themselves to clean things up. I love the idea of collective action around gardening, don’t you? The world is a better place with trimmed hedges, weeded gardens, beautiful flowers and home-grown vegetables, don’t you think?

Do you love gardens, either enjoying them or working in them, or both? Let me know in the comments–I’ll choose a name on August 24 and send them a copy of Tilling the Truth.

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Julia Henry writes the Garden Squad series. She lives in Massachusetts, where she has set all three of her mystery series. She blogs with the Wicked Authors and Killer Characters. Follow her on Facebook and on Instagram as @jhauthors.



60 thoughts on “Guest Chick: Julia Henry

  1. Welcome, Julie! I love other people’s gardens. Does that count? I’ve never had a garden myself. Part of me thinks I would enjoy one, but another part knows they’re a lot of work. Maybe if there was a Garden Squad in my area I would be more motivated to start my own. Until then I will read about them in wonderful books like yours!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love them both as well! A lot of vegetable growers plant flowers as well to help with bugs and pollination. I even like seeing large farms of corn and wheat. There’s something about things growing that soothes my soul.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love flower gardens, but I didn’t get the gardening gene. I have really bad luck with plants. I’m looking forward to reading the new book — I loved the first book! Thanks for the chance!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for your kind words about PRUNING! I used to have the gardening gene, but lately my plants are suffering from neglect. My sister has the gene in the family, and she also answers all my questions.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Julie, thanks for your post. Sounds like an amazing series–love how Lilly has a flower name and is literally using gardening to help her blossom again. Connecting with the protagonist and the community is what makes cozies cozy.

    Not much of a gardener… maybe someday!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. OOH, yeah, you could have gone nuts with the names. Like Lily, Dahlia, Rose… perhaps a friend named Bea, who buzzes around getting into everyone’s business…and maybe their handsome neighbor, who is a bit of a rake!

      I only grow vegetables: 11 tons of them last year, in our church Mission Garden. with *ahem* a little help…from about 100 friends.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Congrats on the upcoming release, Julia. Thrilling times! My wife enjoys working in her “salsa garden.” She grows peppers, tomatoes, and spices. My main gardening skill is staying out of the way. lol Wishing you lots and lots of sales of the new book!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. What a terrific idea for a series, Julia–love it! My garden is in full swing right now–zucchini and green beans overflowing from my countertops, and the tomatoes are just starting to turn red (here in coastal California that fog delays things a bit).

    So glad you could join the Chicks today, and congrats on the new book! Yippee!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I bet I could learn a thing or two from you master gardener character! I do like to garden, but tend to let things get away from me–hence the research and purchase of a new perennial each year. And the splitting of previous ones! I grow veggies too–everything is beginning to ripen at once! Congrats on the new book and thanks for the chance to win!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. My sister’s father-in-law split his perennials and gave them to people. He passed 10 years ago, but his flowers are part of his legacy. Love that practice.

      Have fun with your blooming garden!

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  7. I have a very black thumb, but I do enjoy plants and gardens. I just killed them if I try to Garden.

    This is a great series. I’ve read both books and they are fun.

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    1. I love succulents! When I owned a house I got rid of the grass (there wasn’t much, it was in the city) and put plants that were impossible to kill all around. Presto! Thanks for inviting me today, Ellen!


    1. I love beautiful perennials in the ground, and annuals in pots. And oddly, I get satisfaction out of weeding.


  8. We have a large garden for our family of 10 (8 of us are Vegan or Vegetarian) and many planters/hanging pots in our yard. My husband & I enjoy garden shows & the magic we find there!
    Kelly Braun

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you so much for hanging out with us, Julia, and warmest congrats on the upcoming release–just days away! I absolutely loooooooooooove book genesis stories. Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your series’ inspiration!

    I’m terrible at keeping anything but my children alive, but I enjoy seeing other people’s gardening handiwork. We do have some blueberry plants, which are doing quite nicely (but I think that’s because I basically don’t interfere).

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Big congrats on the new book, Julie!! It sounds fantastic! As a kid my job was to weed my mom’s prize rose gardens for 5 cents a grocery bag full. I saved up, not for my college education, but for Madame Alexander dolls. I do grow shamrocks and succulents now—on my windowsills. Also appreciate the flowers that come back every year that our home’s previous owner thoughtfully planted.


  11. I share a garden with my sister-in-law. Part of the garden is devoted to vegetables and herbs, the other part to flowers.


  12. So happy that you’re visiting us–thank you! I could not agree more about the friendship aspect of cozies. What a lovely point!

    I love gardens! Very much admire the art of gardening, though I’ll confess I’m not a gardener…we tend to plant perennials, then basically let nature do its thing. I’m sure there is more we should be doing for maintenance, but I don’t know what it is. Ha.

    Congratulations on your success–I’ve read and enjoyed all of your series. Was thrilled to get a copy of Pruning the Dead at Malice…it’s WONDERFUL. Excited to read the new one!


  13. My husband is the gardener and he does it very well. Only problem are the deer and rabbits. We were wiped out from them this year, everything. He spent so much time in that garden and it was just a shame. Any tips on keeping these guys away? This book looks fantastic! Thanks for the chance.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s so difficult, isn’t it? I know folks who put netting over the gardens, which can help. My mother tried Irish Spring, different essential oils and more, but her hostas are still down to the nubs. I will try to find more suggestions and add them to my next book.


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