Delighted to host today's first Blog Tour stop
23 October 2020
My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book
and the invitation to the blog tour
It is said that something magical happens during the festival season in Coraloo, something unexplainable. People tend to be a little crazier, reckless. Maybe it's because it coincides the full moon, but Coraloo's constable, Roy Blackwell, is beginning to think it's something else. That said, Roy has other things on his mind, like marrying Margarette Toft. A controversial decision as the Toft and the Blackwell families have a hatred for one another that is older than the town itself. Tradition collides with superstition as the feuding families compete to organize the events surrounding the most talked about wedding in the history of Coraloo. Despite the array of minor catastrophes that ensue, and the timings clashing with a four-week long festival celebrating a legendary beaver, Roy and Margarette hold fast and declare they will do whatever it takes to wed. That is until Roy unearths a town secret - a murder involving a pair of scissors, an actor with a severe case of kleptomania, and the mysterious marriage of Innis Wilkinson. Can good come out of unearthing the past - or will only heartbreak follow?
**I'm delighted that Lauren has joined us today on her blog tour**
Welcome to Jaffareadstoo, Lauren. Where did you get the first flash of inspiration for The Marriage of Innis Wilkinson?
I would definitely say the first flash came from my mother. She made wedding dresses when I was a young girl. So, I have always had this vivid memory of my mother surrounded by laces and satins. I would just sit and watch as she made the most gorgeous gowns for friends and family. When I had to give Innis Wilkinson a reason to wear a pair of antique sewing shears, I knew that she too would have the same memory of her mother.
How does The Marriage of Innis Wilkinson fit in with the previous book?
The reader meets Innis Wilkinson for only a few short moments in The Death of Mungo Blackwell. Innis is the cleaning lady at the Coraloo Flea Market who wears these rather heavy sewing shears around her neck all of the time. We are also introduced to Roy Blackwell the town constable in Mungo, and for a brief, uncomfortable second meet who will become his fiancé, Margarette Toft. The rivalry between the two families is already well established by this point, however The Marriage of Innis Wilkinson can stand alone for the reader who has never read The Death of Mungo Blackwell.
The sequel is sometimes considered more difficult to write – were there any challenges with this book, and if so can you tell us how you overcame them?
Oh my goodness, yes! I had such a hard time with the second book as it took me nearly two years to truly find contentment with The Death of Mungo Blackwell and six months to turn out The Marriage of Innis Wilkinson. We had so much going on in our lives – a move, a change in schools – that at one point my editor said they felt I had lost my magic and I literally had to go back and rewrite entire scenes and fix my phrasing. For me, it was a bit personal. I not only had to take a deep breath and learn to rest, I had to figure out what that magic was. And for me, it had a lot to do with remembering my joy in writing – the art of storytelling. I also looked for a bit of inspiration in the things I found most lovely in the book, trying to dwell on those things so as to really bring about my voice… the magic.
Your writing is very atmospheric – how do you ‘set the scene’ in your novels and how much research did you need to do in order to bring this book……. series to life?
(Oh, thank you! What a lovely thing to say!) I actually study lots of images of British villages and landscaping. Even though I am not specific to Coraloo’s location, I really want my readers to wonder… I want them to imagine Coraloo forty-five minutes from whatever city they are closer to whether it be in the US or UK. There is something so absolutely charming about England, but I feel it important to pay homage to my Kentucky home. So, there is a lot of Kentucky traditions and flavour that pop into the book as well. I usually research as I go… the hard part is not getting so distracted! I look up lots of recipes and lovely places. That’s how I want Coraloo to feel to the reader – a lovely escape.
Whilst you are writing you must live with your characters. How do you feel about them when the book is finished? Are they what you expected them to be?
I miss them! And sometimes I feel a bit guilty about setting them aside to write someone else’s story. Usually my favourites will make a few fun appearances in the next book, just so my readers can see what they’ve been up to from one book to the next. And it’s funny, because my characters definity develop as I’m writing them – they become stronger, more comfortable in their own skin, finding virtue in their flaws. Often times the side characters surprise me the most, how they work themselves into the most important part of the tale.
Tell us about your writing day - are you disciplined, strictly 9 til 5, or are you more of a have a cup of coffee and think about it sort of writer?
I’m not exactly sure disciplined is the correct word… But I do thrive on routine. I quickly learned that a writer’s day is full of far more than actual writing – emails, marketing, blog posts, social media. And being a stay home mom adds another layer for my to-do list. I try to officially get started on my writing day after a bite of lunch. Then I usually start off with a bit of prayer and study. It calms me down and gets my mind in the right place. I can write a lot in a short amount of time – editing is my favourite layer of the process – so a messy first draft is totally acceptable. If I can write about 1,000 words, I feel I’ve done well for the day. And I think it was Stephen King who said something about stopping when you feel the plot really moving and not when you find it hard to type the next sentence. You want to “want” to come back to it the next day. That’s typically my goal. My other goal is to be present with my children when they come home from school. So, I try to be done a few minutes before they let out.
Can you tell us if you have another novel planned?
Yes… I actually have two more stirring in my brain that are set in Coraloo. One is about Pastor Donaldson who is referenced in The Death of Mungo Blackwell – his namesake informs one of the other characters that it was Pastor Donaldson who delivered him in the middle of the Coraloo Flea Market to an audience that tips rather well. We also get to see a bit more of Pastor Donaldson in The Marriage of Innis Wilkinson – after all, if there is going to be a wedding, we might need a pastor. And the second is about a lady known in town as Widow Melviney. I dropped a bit of a clue to her whereabouts in The Marriage of Innis Wilkinson, but you won’t hear much about her until Pastor Donaldson has his story told. But I really think you’ll like her… she has a bit of a thing for pirates.
What did I think about The Marriage of Innis Wilkinson
I fell in love with the quirky town of Coraloo in the first book of this series which began with The Death of Mungo Blackwell and have been delighted to return there in this intriguing story about The Marriage of Innis Wilkinson which reunites us with some of the characters from the previous book but also gives us more of insight into the feud between the Tofts and the Blackwells which comes gloriously to life when Margarette Toft and Roy Blackwell announce their engagement at a gathering of stunned relatives.
There's an old fashioned charm about these stories which help to fix them firmly in your heart. There's nothing at all to dislike and I find that I am reading with a huge smile on my face and in these troubled times that feeling is worth its weight in gold. For the time it took me to read about The Marriage of Innis Wilkinson, and what an intriguing story that turned out to be, I was transported into a world of quirky characters who get themselves into some improbable situations, all of which are made probable thanks to the author's skill in bringing them gloriously alive in the imagination.
There's intrigue, drama, fun and laughter, all wrapped up in a delightful story about love, friendship ...and family feuds.
Lauren H. Brandenburg is also the author of The Death of Mungo Blackwell as well as middle-grade series The Books of the Gardener. Lauren and her husband, Jamie, live in Nashville, Tennessee with their children.
Twitter @LHBrandenburg #TheMarriageofInnisWilkinson