My wish for Bloom and Doom is that readers have at least half the fun I had writing it.
Audrey Bloom is a twenty-nine-year-old wedding florist, and she’s at that stage in her life where her idealism is being challenged by some tough realities. In many ways she’s still mourning her beloved Grandma Mae. The Rose in Bloom, the shop she runs with her cousin Liv, continues to struggle.
Audrey also recently broke up with a long-time boyfriend--on the very day she had expected him to propose. The smart side of her (and she’s very smart) has decided she’s not ready for another relationship. The romantic side of her (the part of her that loves old movies and swoons over the town’s new cupcake baker) isn’t so sure, especially when she spends her days making things perfect for other people’s weddings.
Audrey loves the old Victorian language of flowers and enjoys helping a bride choose flowers that match her personality or characterize her relationship with her future spouse. In fact, Audrey just learned that no bride who has carried one of her bouquets on their trip to the altar has ever split up. But when an old friend shows up and asks for a bouquet of anemone, which means forsaken, it can’t be a good omen.
Researching all the old meanings and how they changed over time was eye-opening. Many modern florists use meanings that are all positive. (Probably because they’re trying to sell flowers!) But the older sources, while they don’t often agree on the meanings, will include many negative connotations as well. For example, to the Victorians an orange lily could mean I hate you. But now some say it means I burn for you. I may never look at a bouquet the same way again.
Not that I’ve ever worked as a florist… In Bloom and Doom we also meet the local police chief, Kane Bixby, and he’s less than overjoyed at working crime scenes that contain flowers because he’s highly allergic. (Want to guess where I got that idea? Hmm?) Still, I toughed it out, even taking a course in floral design so I could get more hands-on experience. (Thank you, Benadryl!) I’m also fortunate to have a friend who retired from running her own flower shop, so she looks over all my designs and the general workings of the flower shop. She recently told me she’d gladly come out of retirement if she could find a job with Audrey and Liv!
And when the protagonist is a wedding florist, the series is bound to contain a wedding or two. Elaborate theme weddings can be a lot of fun to plan, especially when you don’t actually have to do the work or pay for the venue--and maybe even more fun if things don’t work out quite the way they were planned to!
All that wedding planning may pay off in real life, however, as my daughter recently announced her engagement. She wants calla lilies--magnificent beauty. Oddly enough, she wasn’t interested in using any of the weddings or bouquets from the series. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because people keep dying?
Of course, Bloom in Doom is a cozy mystery, so in the middle of all that wedding planning, we have a body, breaking the peace of the cozy small-town of Ramble, Virginia. While Ramble is fictional, I had a small town picked out as a model. But while I was writing the first draft, my planned research trip kept getting delayed. It was only a couple of weeks before the manuscript was due that I was in the area and finally got to spend the day exploring my model town. I had a chance to visit the local visitors’ center, police station, and even hang around the local floral shop. While it’s not identical, the similarities were uncanny. I’m not sure I had to change anything. And I had the oddest case of déjà vus when I saw the idyllic Main Street, the historic churches, and the white gazebo in the town square!
I hope readers enjoy getting to know Audrey Bloom and the other residents as much as I have.
Beverly Allen (a pseudonym for Barbara Early) grew up buried in the snowy suburbs of Buffalo, NY, where she developed a love for all things sedentary: reading, writing, classic movies, and Facebook Scrabble.
She taught secondary English and science for several years before home schooling her daughter successfully through high school. Barbara cooks up cozy mysteries with a healthy dose of comedy and sometimes a splash of romance.
When not reading or writing, she enjoys cooking, crafts, home-improvement projects, and spending time with her husband and daughter.
Beverly's website can be found here.
Berkley Prime Crime has generously offered a copy of Bloom and Doom to one of my readers. To enter, please tell us what your favorite flower is, in the comment area below. Please don't forget to include an email address where I can contact you if you win.