Welcome, Kate! Could you tell us a little about Mulled Murder?
Thank you for inviting me! I’m delighted to be here. Mulled Murder is an upstairs/downstairs kind of book, set in the Edwardian era, in the seaside village of Badgers End, England. Cecily Sinclair Baxter has to solve the murder of one of her guests, while dealing with all the trials and tribulations of managing the Pennyfoot Hotel. Her search leads her to the secret tunnels under the hotel, and with the help of her husband and an assortment of eccentric characters, she’s hot on the trail of a killer.
What made you decide to start setting all of your Pennyfoot Hotel Mysteries at Christmas?
I had written twelve books in the original series, which were set at different times of the year. I decided to end the series at book #twelve, having felt I’d taken the characters as far as they could go. I received so many Emails and letters begging me for another book, I decided to write just one more – a Christmas reunion with all the characters, as a gift for my readers. The books did so well the publishers asked me to write another one the following year. Mulled Murder is # nine in the Christmas series!
You must tell us about the Pennyfoot mice on your website!
Before I was published, I spent a lot of time working on and selling various crafts. My most successful were a group of mice, dressed as various British Edwardian characters. I had lords and ladies, English policemen, bakers, butchers, cricket players, carol singers, wedding couples, etc. The mice had long spindly legs, and I couldn’t get them to stand. Until I hit on the idea of sewing a penny into each foot - therefore, the Pennyfoot Mice. When I had to come up with a name for my fictional hotel, it couldn’t have been anything else but the Pennyfoot Hotel.
What was a typical Christmas like in the Edwardian era?
Oh, my. It was a grand affair lasting several days. Most businesses closed for the entire week between Christmas and New Year. For most people, Christmas Eve would have meant a visit to the church, followed by carol-singing around a Christmas tree decorated lavishly with ornaments and lit candles – a real fire hazard. Christmas morning the presents were opened, followed by breakfast consisting of porridge, ham, eggs, sausage, fried tomatoes, fried potatoes, fried mushrooms and fried bread. Christmas dinner would more likely be a standing rib roast with Yorkshire pudding, followed by Christmas pudding stuffed with silver sixpences and set alight. Everyone would pull Christmas crackers, which were filled with small toys and trinkets. The following day was Boxing Day, when the servants got their annual bonus and the wealthy offered gifts to their tradespeople. Men would go hunting, or sit around the fire smoking cigars and drinking brandy, while wives entertained their female visitors and children.
What are some of your favorite Christmas books/movies/traditions?
I love the classics – It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, White Christmas, etc. I also like quite a few of the more modern ones, and I watch the Hallmark Christmas movies every year with my very tolerant husband. Our favorite tradition is setting up the Christmas village on a platform eight foot long. It has over a dozen buildings and houses that light up, dozens of Edwardian figures, and a train that runs around the whole thing. It takes two days to set it up and as long to take it down, but we love it.
Is it true that this is the last book in the series? That's heartbreaking! These books have been a part of my Christmas reading for years!
Well, thank you! Yes, I’m afraid Mulled Murder will be the final book in the series. It was so hard for me to let go. I’ve lived with these people for twenty-two years. They are my family, and I’ll miss sharing their adventures with everyone. I was afraid of getting stale, however, and worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep up the quality of the books. I decided to end the series while it was still going strong.
What are you working on now?
Nothing at the moment! I’m taking a break. I’ve been under constant deadline for the last three years, and I need to step back and decide what I want to do next. I know one thing. I won’t be giving up writing. I have lots of ideas brewing, and sooner or later I’ll pounce on one and be off and running again.
Thank you so much for having me, and may I wish everyone a wonderful joyous holiday season, and all the very best for the New Year.
About Mulled Murder: This holiday season at the Pennyfoot, the head count is down—but the body count is up
With one of her housemaids leaving to get married, Cecily Sinclair Baxter wants nothing more for Christmas than some good help. Instead of visions of sugar plums, she’s calling the plumber to deal with flooded bathrooms. Then there’s the surly new janitor, who acts like he got coal in his stocking.
But as Cecily scrambles to hire and train new staff in time for the holidays, one of her guests is beyond help. Gerald Evans is found stabbed to death on the beach, and Cecily soon discovers he was a private investigator from London looking into dark doings involving the Pennyfoot. Who among the staff or guests was being pursued, and what secret drove that person to cold-blooded murder?