A guest post by Daryl Wood Gerber aka Avery Aames
Do you have a favorite bookshop? I do. A couple of years ago, I was invited to sign Cheese Shop Mysteries at a culinary bookshop in the quaint town of Occoquan, VA called Salt & Pepper Books. (The store has since moved to another location in National Harbor, Maryland; it’s a fabulous store. Check out its web site!)
What the heck is a culinary bookshop? Let me take you on the journey.
On that lovely day, we drove into town, which is about two-miles long and perhaps three blocks wide. On each street were shops and cafés. Salt & Pepper was located in a charming, all-white complex adorned with green shutters, beautiful columns, and fresh flowers. On both floors of the complex were darling shops that every crafter would love.
I entered the store and literally gasped. It was tiny, but the owner had stocked shelves and more shelves filled with cookbooks, a variety of culinary mysteries, and culinary fiction (like Chocolat and Water for Chocolate). She even carried books like the origin of chocolate. In addition, she offered the most darling culinary gift items like salt shakers and peppermills, cutting boards, decorative spatulas, and aprons.
While there, I had an aha moment. I knew that the store would make a wonderful setting for a cozy mystery. Mystery lovers love bookstores. They love books about books. They love mysteries that include food. This store was the inspiration for my Cookbook Nook series.
When I was doing research for my series, I searched for other culinary bookshops. I didn’t find any that matched up to what I’d seen. There were plenty of bookshops that carried cookbooks. There’s an entire floor in a Barnes and Noble in New York dedicated to cookbooks, but the people working at the store didn’t have a clue which one was good. I love that about Salt & Pepper; the owner and staff really know their business!
Now, I have other favorite bookshops, purely for buying mysteries. There’s Mysterious Galaxy in Redondo Beach, CA. It’s a well-laid out store with a wide variety of mysteries and thrillers, including children’s and YA fiction. There’s also Poisoned Pen Press in Scottsdale, AZ, Mystery by the Book in Houston, TX, and Mystery Lovers Bookshop in Oakmont, PA. The people that work in all of these bookstores really know books. They are readers. They have lots to recommend. Trust them.
What’s your favorite bookstore? What’s your favorite aisle in the store?
Daryl/Avery is the Agatha Award-winning author of the national bestselling Cheese Shop Mystery and Cookbook Nook Mystery series.
Prior to her career as a novelist, Daryl wrote screenplays and created the format for the popular TV sitcom Out of this World. A fun tidbit for mystery buffs, Daryl was also an actress and co-starred on Murder, She Wrote,
as well as other TV shows. Daryl is originally from the San Francisco
Area and graduated from Stanford University. She loves to cook, read,
golf, swim, and garden. She also likes adventure and has been known to
jump out of a perfectly good airplane. She has been happily married for
over twenty-five years, and she and her husband have a grown son.
Berkely Prime Crime has been kind enough to provide a copy of Inherit the Word for me to give away. Please answer Daryl's questions in the comments, and be sure to include a valid email address. Entries from the US only, please.