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.
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.
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. www.JHAuthors.com