Welcome everyone. Today we start the first interview/post of the Mysteries We Write Blog Tour. And today's guest is Marja McGraw. Before we start, grab some delicious food from the refreshment table. Don't forget the tea--and there's something to add, don't worry. Now settle in and let's begin.
www.marjamcgraw.com and read her blog at http://blog.marjamcgraw.com/.
I used to own an antique store/tea room. How I moved from that to mystery writing is a mystery to me. I suppose antiques are a little mysterious in their own way, but in general they don’t enter into my stories.
Sandi Webster is a young female P.I. who’s constantly having to learn new lessons about life and the people around her. She’s surrounded by interesting characters, like her love interest, Peter Goldberg, an Italian ex-cop. Stanley Hawks was a mild-mannered greeting card writer until Sandi handled a case for him, and his new girlfriend is as small as a pixie and she’s a hand model. Figure that one out.
In A Well-Kept Family Secret Sandi’s menopausal mother asks her to solve a hundred-year-old murder. Can a murder that happened so long ago be considered an antique crime? Maybe cold case would be a better description. She does end up moving into a vintage home though, and the attic is filled with years of left-behind antiques.
In Bubba’s Ghost, Sandi still lives in the aging home. Other than the house, there are no antiques in this story – just a dog who seems to think there’s a ghost in the attic. There’s also a young widowed mother who’s being harassed by a bum, and she lives in an old house, too. The murder is current though, so no antique crime there. However, you might learn how much Sandi likes vintage movies.
Prudy’s Back! has a whole different antique angle. Prudence Lewis was a P.I. back in the 1940s, and she wants Sandi to solve the crime she couldn’t get a handle on. Is Prudy the antique or is the crime? Prudy wears an aged fur coat and carries a retro cigarette holder, although she doesn’t smoke anymore. Oh, yeah, you’ll also find her wearing cowgirl boots. She’s an interesting woman.
The latest in this series is The Bogey Man, which entertains the reader with some 1940s slang and mode of dress. Chris Cross has an uncanny resemblance to Humphrey Bogart, and he tries to take advantage of that. He walks the walk and talks the talk, and he wants to be a P.I. just like the real Bogey was in some of his movies. Sandi has a thing or two to say about that, and when someone is murdered at a costume party, the fireworks begin.
Readers liked the Bogey Man so much that I gave him his own series, which begins with Bogey Nights. Chris now has a wife and young son, and two yellow Labrador retrievers. The dogs find a body buried in a basement, and it’s been there since 1942. Aha! A vintage body. How much more antiquey can things become?
So, from antique store and tea room to mystery writing. I guess I never really got away from enjoying the wonderful things from the past. I’ve just incorporated some of them into my books.
In the tea room we served scones, finger sandwiches and some gourmet goodies. Mary asked for the scone recipes, so they’re presented here for you. (See below for recipes) I hope you enjoy them, and while snacking on them, remember this story. We (my daughter and I) used to play 1940s music in the store. On opening night an older couple came in. They were obviously annoyed with each other. They weren’t speaking and they both appeared angry. Sitting down at a table, they began listening to the old music. After a couple of songs they began talking animatedly, and I could see them looking toward the speakers and listening to the music. It transported them to another era, and seemed to bring back some memories. By the time they ate their scones and drank their tea, they were holding hands. They walked out the door and kissed each other while standing in front of the store window. Wow! Who knew a tea room could solve a problem?
1-3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
5 tbsp. unsalted butter
Approx. 3/4 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 450°
Combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add just enough buttermilk to form a soft dough.
Turn out onto a floured board and roll out until 1/2 inch thick. Use a 2 inch round cookie cutter and place on an ungreased baking sheet.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown.
Makes approximately 12. They’ll resemble biscuits in appearance, but what an awesome flavor.
Top with your favorite jam (Tayberry Jam is delicious) and cover with clotted cream or whipped cream.
2 cups all purpose flour
3 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 beaten egg yolk
1/3 cup molasses
1/4 cup milk
1 slightly beaten egg white
Preheat oven to 400°
In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, ground ginger, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a “well” in the center.
In a small mixing bowl, stir together the egg yolk, molasses and milk. Add all at once to the well in the center of the flour mixture. With a fork, stir until combined (mixture may seem dry).
Turn dough onto a lightly floured board. Quickly knead dough for 10-12 strokes or until nearly smooth. Pat or roll dough into a 7” round. Cut into 8 wedges. Arrange wedges on an ungreased baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Brush with egg white.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until light brown. Cool scones on a wire rack for and serve while still warm.
Nutmeg Whipped Cream
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. finely shredded orange peel
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
In a chilled small mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients. Beat with chilled beaters on medium speed until soft peaks form. Can be chilled for up to two hours.
Thank you, Mary, for inviting me here. I’ve enjoyed telling my stories, and I hope your readers like the scones.
Thank you Maria, I'm so enjoyed your post, and your scones.