Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Guest Blogger Susan Wittig Albert
Meet the Darling Dahlias
I love launching a new series (for the record, this is number four, after China Bayles, the Robin Paige Victorian/Edwardian series, and the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter ). I love the excitement of exploring new settings, creating a new character ensemble, and embarking on new and different research. And I take a special delight in introducing a new series to readers.
So—meet the Darling Dahlias!
The Dahlias are a garden club, named for their founder, Mrs. Dahlia Blackstone, who recently died and left them her house and gardens. Darling is a small town in southern Alabama. The year is 1930, the first year of a challenging decade, and the Depression is already beginning to take its toll. In the first book, The Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Tree, the town is fretting about the health of the Savings and Trust, the sheriff is hunting an escapee from the local prison farm, and cosmetics clerk Bunny Scott has turned up dead in a stolen car. But never mind: the Dahlias are on the case, with probate clerk Verna Tidwell, legal secretary and newspaper reporter Liz Lacy, and Ophelia Snow, the mayor’s wife, handling the investigations—with other Dahlias lending eager assistance.
The thing I’ve loved most about writing this series is the opportunity to read and research and think about the 1930s, an era that had a profound influence on my parents and grandparents. I have tried to include as period detail in the books as I could--clothing, furniture, cars and trucks, slang, music, the arts, the political environment--all the things that made the 1930s so unique. And there’s the Southern detail, too: regional dialects, regional cookery, Southern plants and gardens, and the lingering effects of the War Between the States and (sadly) of slavery.
As an added bonus for readers, I’ll be sharing my resources both in the series’ books and on the Dahlias’ website—where you’ll also find a map to the town, a collection of good Southern recipes, and (as time goes on) bits of 1930s’ history.
And speaking of series books, I’m happy to tell you that the second book is already finished! It’s called The Darling Dahlias and the Naked Ladies. It’s scheduled for publication in July 2011, with the third book (The Darling Dahlias and the Confederate Rose) planned for July 2012.
And just in case you’re wondering about my other work, here’s the scoop. The Tale of Oat Cake Crag, the seventh book in the eight-book Beatrix Potter’s Cottage Tales series, will be out in early September, 2010--at the same time that my newest nonfiction book, An Extraordinary Year of Ordinary Days, will appear. And China Bayles wants me to be sure and let you know that her series is continuing. The latest is Holly Blues ; the next, Mourning Gloria, #19, will be published in April, 2011.
Now it’s your turn! I’d love to hear from you and will be dropping in regularly over the next few days to respond to your questions and comments. As a special treat, we’ve set up a book drawing page where you can enter your name to win a signed copy of The Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Tree. The drawing will close on Thursday, July 15 at noon, so click on over there now, before you forget!