1) Tell us a little bit about yourself--both something we learn from [the story] and something that readers might not guess?
Hi! I’m Felicity Koerber. I’m a craft chocolate maker with a shop on Galveston Island. I love to travel. I’ve never really talked about it in my books, but my first job out of high school was at Moody Gardens, where I was a tour guide in the Rainforest Pyramid. It really inspired my love of nature and my sense of wanderlust. Even though having experienced the real rainforest makes it obvious how fake some elements of the exhibits were, I still have a fondness for what I learned at Moody Gardens. I think my love of reading has fueled my desire to travel – or maybe vice versa? I read in a lot of different genres because I’m always hoping to find a new world to fall in love with. In my first adventure, I found rare volumes of Jane Austen’s Emma at an estate sale. And while solving this second murder that happened at my shop, I stumbled on a copy of The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells. There has been some mumbling that next time, there might be an auction involving an Agatha Christie novel. I guess I’d better brush up on my knowledge of the Grand Dame.
Something about me you might not guess: I talk about music a bit in the second book, and one of the characters opens up about how they’d wanted to be a musician. Well, if you read the first book, you know Autumn and I have been best friends since middle school. There’s an embarrassing photo montage in this second book of images from Autumn’s past – and an awkward shot of me as a tween. (I told Logan the photo was from the 90s, but technically it was from 2001 – but my STYLE was still stuck in the previous decade. I highly recommend skipping those pages of the book.) But here’s the surprising part. The picture that fortunately DIDN’T make it into the montage was from when Autumn and I tried to start a band. I talked my parents into buying me a drum set and everything, and we were convinced we were going to be the next pop sensation. But playing the drums messed with my asthma, and the two friends we talked into joining our band never showed up for practice, and honestly, Autumn was the only one of us with any talent. In this second book of mine, one of the characters talks about having ambitions as a singer. Is it any wonder that I keep this embarrassing time in my youth to myself?
2) How did you first meet your writer?
It probably won’t surprise you to learn that that was in a coffee shop, since coffee is a near-obsession for both of us. I was still grieving, and looking for a direction in life, since I had lost my husband and my joy in my work as a physical therapist. Amber had written this trilogy about chocolate in space, and had been talking at a writer’s conference about how to include food in writing – and had said something about never coming across a modern craft bean-to-bar chocolate maker as a cozy mystery protagonist. I told her I’d been toying around with becoming a chocolate maker, since it had been a dream my late husband and I had shared to travel with purpose. So far this book thing is working pretty well for both of us. Well, except for the murders. I could do without those.
3) Want to dish about her?
Amber is one of those writers who likes to get the first draft out in a rush, but then goes back and polishes and re-shapes everything. Which can be a bit confusing. Especially when she changes the names of one of your friends, or puts you in a different setting for a scene entirely. But you learn to just roll with it, and trust it’s going to make for a stronger story in the end.
Amber is a night owl and I – am not. She’s more likely to come up with an idea that untangles a story idea in the middle of the night than at a reasonable hour, and she’ll get up to write it out. She says that if she doesn’t, either she won’t remember it by morning or she won’t be able to sleep, as the idea takes shape in her head, so she might as well type it while she’s brainstorming. I can’t imagine doing something like that. The only time I wake up in the middle of the night is if I’ve had a bad dream.
Amber also knows all this stuff about craft chocolate, and can describe chocolate tasting notes with the best of them. (Which makes me happy, since the products at my shop come off sounding AMAZING.) But I’ll tell you a secret. While she usually goes for craft chocolate – especially when she can support local chocolate makers -- Amber still sometimes eats Oreos. And Reece’s Cups. And her favorite bottle of wine is a $12 prosecco.
Also, she grew up in a Cajun household, but she doesn’t like crawfish. I mean, seriously. The whole family would be having friends over for a crawfish boil, and they’d wind up getting her a pizza – even when she was ten or twelve years old. And then she’s try to rescue a couple of the crawfish, which would then wind up building mounds of mud in the back yard as they dug holes. Which was really frustrating when her dad or brother would go to mow the lawn. But I think that tells you everything you need to know about HER character.
4) Why do you think that your life has ended up being in a book?
Amber teaches all these writing classes, and one thing she keeps talking about is character wounds that need to heal. I think that’s a big part of it. She could see that I was stuck living in the past, and that I needed an adventure that would make me face my loss and figure out what I really wanted to live for. Apparently, it took the stress of mortal danger to push me forward. Though I’m sure there could have been a less dramatic way to do that.
I also have some characteristics that make for a good sleuth. You know, curiosity, a logical mind, a willingness to try new things, and to stay relatively calm under pressure. I’d never tried to investigate anything before that first murder happened in my shop, but now that I have to do it again, I realize I’m getting better at this whole sleuthing thing.
5) Who's your favorite character? Why?
It is hard to choose a favorite person in my life. I’m fortunate to have close friends and family. But if I have to choose just one person – I’d have to say Aunt Naomi. She and my mom have always been super close, so she’s always been there in my life. And I could talk to her about the awkward stuff you can’t exactly talk to your mom about. Naomi even came to visit me a couple of times after Kevin and I moved to Seattle because of his work. I got to show her around the city, even as I was still exploring it. Aunt Naomi’s husband, my Uncle Greg, works offshore, so when I moved to Galveston, she invited me to move in with her. She’s a house flipper, so it has been quite an adventure.
6) Who's your least favorite character? Why?
Ash. Oh my wow. He’s this young blogger, and he’s not super big on fact checking. And – he’s decided that writing about me and my chocolate shop and the murders that have happened on the premises is good for his ratings. My shop’s name is Greeting and Felicitations, and Ash is the one that first got people calling it Sympathy and Condolences. And he’s the one that dubbed me a murder magnet. I will admit, the Sympathy and Condolences thing did turn into a way for me to grow my business, but honestly, I’d be happier if Ash never wrote anything about me again. Maybe my author could get him to move to Canada. Or New Jersey. Anywhere that doesn’t grow chocolate, so that there’s no chance I’d visit.
7) What's next for you?
Interesting that you ask. I’m really excited. There is a brand-new cruise line sailing out of Galveston, and I just got invited to go on board to do some chocolate demos and tastings during their very first voyage. It will be a nice break from dealing with the whole murder thing.
About 70% Dark Intentions
Felicity Koerber’s bean to bar chocolate shop on Galveston’s historic Strand is bringing in plenty of customers – in part due to the notoriety of the recent murder of one of her assistants, which she managed to solve. Things seem to be taking a turn for the better. Her new assistant, Mateo, even gets along with Carmen, the shop’s barista turned pastry chef. Felicity thinks she’s learning to cope with change – right up until one of her friends gets engaged. Everyone’s expecting her to ask Logan, her former bodyguard, to be her plus one. But even the thought of asking out someone else still makes her feel disloyal to her late husband’s memory -- so maybe she hasn’t moved on from her husband’s death as much as she thought.
Felicity isn’t planning to contact Logan any time soon. Only, Felicity finds ANOTHER body right outside her shop – making it two murders at Greetings and Felicitations in as many months. That night, Mateo disappears, leaving Felicity to take care of his pet octopus. The police believe that Mateo committed the murder, but Felicity is convinced that, despite the mounting evidence, something more is going on, and Mateo may actually be in trouble.
When Logan assumes that he’s going to help Felicity investigate, she realizes she’s going to have to spend time with him – whether she’s ready to really talk to him or not. Can Felicity find out what happened to Mateo, unmask a killer, and throw an engagement party all at the same time?
About Amber Royer
Amber Royer writes the CHOCOVERSE comic telenovela-style foodie-inspired space opera series, and the BEAN TO BAR MYSTERIES. She is also the author of STORY LIKE A JOURNALIST: A WORKBOOK FOR NOVELISTS, which boils down her writing knowledge into an actionable plan involving over 100 worksheets to build a comprehensive story plan for your novel. She blogs about creative writing techniques and all things chocolate at www.amberroyer.com. She also teaches creative writing for both UT Arlington Continuing Education and Writing Workshops Dallas. If you are very nice to her, she might make you cupcakes.