Friday, March 11, 2016

Tea Talk: an Interview with Lorraine Bartlett

I'm pleased to welcome Lorraine Bartlett to the blog today. Lorraine is a New York Times Best Selling author who writes under her own name as well as pen names Lorna Barrett and L.L. Bartlett. She writes the Booktown Mystery Series, the Victoria Square Mystery series, the Lotus Bay Mystery series, the Jeff Resnick Mystery series, and more. She also happens to love tea!

KJK: I generally prefer my tea iced, although I do drink it hot as well, but I never add sugar, cream, or milk. What about you? How do you like your tea?

LB: I drink black tea, hot, with milk. I gave up sugar when I was seven, because my Dad didn’t have sugar in his tea. I went a week without it, then put sugar in my tea and wanted to barf—it was too sweet. After that, I never again liked sugary drinks. (Except for cocoa—but I don’t like it strong.)

KJK: I love all sorts of teas, but am partial to lapsang souchong. Do you have a favorite tea?

LB: Black tea—English Typhoo. For a while I was drinking Barney’s Raspberry cream as a treat, but they went out of business and that was the end of it. When I was a kid, my parents drank orange pekoe. (Red Rose tea.) My friend and Cozy Chicks blog sister, Mary Jane Maffini, suggested I give it a try once again. I have a box of Red Rose in the cupboard but haven’t opened it yet.

KJK: You collect tea cups. How did you begin? Do you have any particular favorites? Is there a hunt for an elusive pattern?

LB: When my parents bought our family cottage over 40 years ago, it came with two bone china teacups. I thought they were pretty. But it wasn’t until 20 years later that I asked my mother if I could have them. By then, one of them had been broken. That was my first cup. It got broken when I was having some work done in my kitchen (and the workmen didn’t even tell me they’d broken it. I found it after they’d gone.) It broke my heart. One of my readers found a smaller version of the cup and sent it to me. That was such a kind thing to do.

I haven’t counted, but I must have more than 40 now, including one celebrating Queen Victoria’s 60th year on the throne. That was a birthday gift from Mr. L. Most of them came from yard sales. I buy just about every one I see and have given many of them away. I gave eight of them away when the Cozy Chicks had a Facebook event for Valentine’s Day in 2015.

I have several favorites. Well, maybe twenty of thirty favorites. They’re all so pretty!

KJK: Do you collect any other tea accouterments?

LB: Not a lot. I have a few bone china three-tiered plates, some creamers and sugars, etc. But I do collect chintz china. I don’t have a huge collection—a couple of cups, plates, sugars and creamers, and a small bowl with a matching sugar spoon—in all different patterns. I buy teapots at yard sales because I have a tendency to break them. I have a tea tray (reproduction) with Victorian tiles that’s pretty. And I saw one exactly like it used as a prop in the kitchen on the old (English) TV show As Time Goes By. I have it hanging in my dining room.

KJK: Do you consider yourself a tea connoisseur, a tea neophyte, or simply a person who enjoys tea?

LB: The latter. I like to start the day with a cuppa – and then have more during the afternoon.

KJK: How does tea play a part in your writing?

LB: When I get stuck, I usually go make a fresh pot of tea.

KJK: Are any of your characters particular tea fans?

LB: Tori Cannon (Lotus Bay Mysteries) prefers tea over coffee. She was rather overruled in the first book with the beverage of choice served in her grandfather’s home, but she’ll get her way in the future.

Several of my characters are tea aficionados. Katie Bonner (Victoria Square) always wanted to open a B&B and serve afternoon tea. There is a tea shop on Victoria Square which played a big part in the first book. Kathy Grant (Lotus Bay) has similar ambitions, but she will actually get to open her B&B (eventually). In my next Booktown Mystery, Tricia and Angelia take tea on the Celtic Lady cruise ship. Jeff Resnick owns a pretty china teapot and cups, but not because he bought it. His girlfriend, Maggie, wanted to drink out of it when she visits, and bought it for him.

KJK: What does tea mean to you?

LB: My parents were English, so it’s the first thing I ever remember drinking. We all always started the day with a cuppa tea. I knew when I started Recipes To Die For: A Victoria Square Cookbook that I would have an entire section just with tea recipes. They’re ones I actually use, so it was my favorite part of the book.


The immensely popular Booktown Mystery series is what put Lorraine Bartlett’s pen name Lorna Barrett on the New York Times Bestseller list, but it’s her talent -- whether writing as Lorna, or L.L. Bartlett, or Lorraine Bartlett -- that keeps her in the hearts of her readers. This multi-published, Agatha-nominated author pens the exciting Jeff Resnick Mysteries as well as the acclaimed Victoria Square Mystery series, Tales of Telenia adventure-fantasy saga, and now the Lotus Bay Mysteries, and has many short stories and novellas to her name(s). Check out the descriptions and links to all her works, and sign up for her emailed newsletter here:

Lorraine’s next book, written under her Lorna Barrett name, is Title Wave. (June 14th).

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