Lady Banks, anther favorite old rose, blooming in a tumbled profusion of sunshine-colored blossoms. Gorgeous. I dearly love her.
But that's not what you came for, is it? You came to find out about the new writing project I'm beginning this year. Well, here's the scoop. The new mystery series is set in the fictional town of Darling, Alabama, in the early 1930s, and centers around the members of the local garden club, the Darling Dahlias, which (next to the First Baptist Church, the Ladies' Auxiliary, and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks) is the most important of Darling's social centers. The Dahlias have a clubhouse, a flag, a garden, and a weekly column in The Darling Dispatch, written by Miss Elizabeth Lacy. They're a companionable lot of ladies, who share their party lines, passalong plants, recipes, dress patterns and feed sacks (to make dresses with), folk remedies, extra eggs, potluck dinners, and ideas for making do in hard times.
Of course, people aren't always on their best behavior (this is, after all, a mystery series). There are a few Dastardly Deeds, along with the many minor misdeeds that people get up to when they think their neighbors aren't looking over the back fence. But the focus is on friends and family: the things that cheer us up and keep us going when money is scarce and times are hard.
The first book is called (I think) The Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Tree. I'll be working on it this fall--you can look for it next summer. Hope you'll like it!
And for those of you who are worried about China: no, the Dahlias aren't a replacement for China. There will be more China mysteries, on the usual schedule: the next will be Holly Blues, in April 2010. And in the Cottage Tales series, you can look forward to Books Six (coming in September), Seven, and Eight.
Reading note. A writer's job is to imagine everything so personally that the fiction is as vivid as memories.--John Irving