A Scone to Die For
by H.Y. Hanna
(Oxford Tearoom Mysteries ~ Book 1)
Genre – Cozy Mystery
• Number of Pages: 360
Not up on Amazon or B&N until January 18, 2016
When an American tourist is murdered with a scone in Gemma Rose’s quaint Oxfordshire tearoom, she suddenly finds herself apron-deep in a mystery involving long-buried secrets from Oxford’s past.
Armed with her insider knowledge of the University and with the help of four nosy old ladies from the village (not to mention a cheeky little tabby cat named Muesli), Gemma sets out to solve the mystery—all while dealing with her matchmaking mother and the return of her old college love, Devlin O’Connor, now a dashing CID detective.
But with the body count rising and her business going bust, can Gemma find the killer before things turn to custard?
*Traditional English scone recipe included!
- Tell me about yourself and how you became a writer.
Well, I’d have to start with the cliché of always wanting to be a writer, from the time I was a little girl! I was a complete bookworm and the only thing better than reading a book, in my mind, was writing one. I was that annoying child in school who loved getting English composition homework! And always wrote 2,000 words when the teacher asked for 500. 😉
But a creative career was frowned upon so I went off to university in the U.K. (I grew up mostly in the United Arab Emirates, although I was born in Taiwan), did a science degree, followed by a Master’s, and then got a job in advertising and marketing. I worked in that field for a few years, then tried various other jobs, including teaching English as a Foreign Language and working for an international children’s publisher as an Education rep – always trying to dutifully follow society’s expectations of having a “proper” job… But then as I was approaching my big 3-0, I had one of those early mid-life crisis moments when I realised that I didn’t want to waste my life stuck in jobs I was unhappy in.
So I decided to return to my real love: writing. I began working as a freelance journalist and wrote for a variety of publications in the U.K., Australia and New Zealand – before deciding that I really wanted to be a book author. I published my first book, a children’s middle-grade mystery featuring a Great Dane detective and her canine friends, in Sep 2013 – and haven’t looked back since! I now have several books published: aside from my children’s mystery series, I also have a romantic suspense series, a sweet romance series and now my new cozy mystery series, the Oxford Tearoom Mysteries.
- Tell me about this book.
A Scone To Die For is the first book in the Oxford Tearoom Mysteries and it is a culinary cozy mystery for cat lovers and British mystery fans. The first book introduces us to Gemma Rose, who has given up a high-flying corporate career overseas to return to England and open a traditional English tearoom in a picturesque little village on the outskirts of Oxford. Business seems to be going well until a cranky American tourist is found murdered in her tearoom, by one of her famous scones, no less!
Before she knows it, Gemma is putting her sleuthing skills to the test as she dives back into the world of her old university and uncovers a mystery with roots in the hidden past. Of course, it’s not that simple, though—for one thing, the CID detective in charge of the murder investigation is none other than her first college love and Gemma also has to contend with four meddling little old ladies from her Cotswolds village… and that’s before you add in Muesli, the mischievous little tabby, and Mrs Rose, Gemma’s technologically-challenged, match-making mother!
The second book in the series, Tea with Milk and Murder, is also out already so for those who enjoy Book 1, they can dive straight into Gemma’s (and Muesli’s) next adventure!
- Cozy mysteries seem to be very popular today. What do you think makes your book/series stand out?
Well, I set out to write a series which had many of the well-loved ingredients of a good cozy mystery, including quirky characters, a quaint village setting, a fascinating insight into a special “world”—in this case, the world within the Gothic spires and beautiful cloisters of Oxford University, based on my own experiences as a student there—and lots of humour, all wrapped up in a gripping whodunit in the best British mystery style. Oh, and not forgetting the adorable cheeky little tabby cat!
But I also wanted to give it a fresh twist: something original, which hadn’t been done before in other series and to make sure I delivered a solid, intelligent mystery that would keep the readers guessing. I am known for writing wonderfully vivid atmosphere and settings, and my books are often called “page turners”—so I wanted to make sure that my new series lived up to the same promise!
I’ve been getting a lot of lovely 5-star reviews saying things like: “I couldn’t put it down, staying up way too late last night for just one more chapter….” and “I love a good mystery and I just couldn’t put this one down….. I had to finish the novel in one sitting! This author has the unique ability to describe scenes in such vivid detail that you actually feel as though you are there (I’m sure I could smell those scones baking). Such wonderful and loveable characters and twists and turns in the plot, I was kept guessing till the very end”—so hopefully, it looks like I’ve achieved my aim! 🙂
- What kind of inspiration helps you write? Any particular songs, art, or movies that help keep you going or get you through writer’s block?
I don’t tend to get writer’s block – I tend to have the opposite problem, which I’ve heard called “writer’s ADD” 😉 – I usually have too many ideas all pulling at me and not enough time to write them all. I wish I could clone myself – or not need any sleep!
As for inspiration, I tend to get it from everywhere – fragments of conversation I overhear, people I meet (even a random person I walk past in the supermarket!), the news, things I see while surfing the net, real-life stories at dinner parties, something I observe at the gym, my mind wandering as I’m sitting in the waiting room at the dentist… people are a wonderful source of ideas and inspiration. I don’t tend to watch TV or movies much so I don’t tend to look there for inspiration. Oh, and of course, books always inspire me – not necessarily consciously but just because they take me to another place and stimulate the imagination.
- What are you working on now/next?
I’ve started work on Book 3 of the Oxford Tearoom Mysteries, which will hopefully be released in mid-March and will feature more mystery, murder and mayhem – as well as more delicious English afternoon tea treats – in the quaint, historic city of Oxford!
About the Author
H.Y. Hanna is an award-winning mystery and suspense author, who also writes sweet romance and children’s fiction. After graduating from Oxford University with a BA in Biological Sciences and a MSt in Social Anthropology, Hsin-Yi tried her hand at a variety of jobs, before returning to her first love: writing. She worked as a freelance journalist for several years, with articles and short stories published in the UK, Australia and NZ, and has won awards for her novels, poetry, short stories and journalism. A globe-trotter all her life, Hsin-Yi has lived in a variety of cultures, from Dubai to Auckland, London to New Jersey, but is now happily settled in Perth, Western Australia, with her husband and a rescue kitty named Muesli. You can learn more about her (and the real-life Muesli who inspired the cat character in the story) at: www.hyhanna.com.
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