A guest post by Amanda Cooper (aka Victoria Hamilton)
How many people will wonder why I am writing a series centered around teapot collecting? I thought I would have a go at answering the question before I am asked.
First… about tea and me. I can only speak for myself, but drinking tea is about much more than just enjoying hot beverage. There are emotions and feelings tangled up with the ritual that have never, for me, been a part of my enjoyment of coffee. Coffee is for rushed mornings, a get-down-to-work straightforward brew. Tea is for afternoon; work is almost done and I need something to usher me gently from work to enjoyment.
How did I start drinking tea, you ask? At the modest home of my very English paternal grandmother there was always a Brown Betty of very strong tea on the hob, which in modern parlance is the stovetop. The tea stayed on all day long and became as dark as pitch. Conversations took place at the kitchen table over endless cups of that incredibly strong brew; as a small child I suppose that seemed a very ‘adult’ thing to do.
My first cups of tea were mostly milk and sugar warmed with a few tablespoons of hot tea from the pot, but it was tea, and I felt so grown up! My maternal grandparents gave me a milk glass teacup just fitted to small hands, and some English neighbors down the road brought back a very special tea mug from England for me; I was never actually allowed to use it, but it was mine! It has the Pied Piper on it, is English china, and I still have it in my china cabinet, a treasured piece.
But the beginning of the ritual was the teapot and ever since, I’ve loved them. For a collector there is a world of fascination in the teapot realm. You can go from rare antiques to kitschy figurals in the blink of an eye. There are teapots for animal lovers in the shapes of elephants, cats, birds and more. Consider the delicate beauties adorned with different chintz patterns, or admire silver teapots with Bakelite handles for the china or silver connoisseur. In fact there are so many types of teapots that collectors build museums to display them and folks travel for miles to marvel. Usually the museum aspect starts with a personal collection and ends with overabundance and the need for more space.
But why so many kinds of teapots? You don’t see figural coffee pots. For me the answer lies in the drink itself. Coffee is a ‘hurry up and consume’ potion; get some energy quick, drink it down! Tea is a ‘sit down and visit’ tonic. Tea encourages long gossip sessions with intimate friends, or dreamy afternoons with a book. Coffee is fuel; tea is pleasure.
Coffee mugs have witty sayings or company logos and coffee pots are strictly utilitarian, for the most part. You can get coffee pots in china patterns to fit your set, but the coffee pot is a skinny long necked afterthought addition to the elegant set consisting of teapot, sugar bowl and creamer.
I hope readers enjoy the Teapot Collector mystery series just as much as I am enjoying writing them, and that they will read with a hot cup of tea at the ready, to sip and savor.
Photo credit: ML Simpson Photos
Amanda Cooper is the pseudonym for bestselling mystery author Victoria Hamilton. She writes the Vintage Kitchen Mysteries and the Merry Muffin Mysteries as Hamilton, in addition to the Teapot Collector Mysteries as Amanda Cooper.
Cooper’s long time love of mystery novels started at age twelve when her mom handed her an Agatha Christie book and said ‘Read!’. Thousands of novels later Cooper is still reading. And writing.
But besides those two favorite pastimes, Cooper also enjoys collecting vintage kitchenalia, old books, teacups, teapots and other ephemera. Perfume is her secret addiction. She likes to cook, hates to clean, and enjoys time spent with friends chatting over wine or tea. She loves crafts, loathes boredom, and her guilty pleasure is ‘reality’ TV, which she knows is largely fake but enjoys anyway.Cooper thinks that people are the most interesting study of all, and more than anything, she loves to hear from readers, not just about her books but about anything and everything.
Berkley Prime Crime has generously offered a copy of Tempest in a Teapot to one of my readers. Please comment below before midnight on June 25, 2014. Entries from the US only, please.
Please don't forget to include an email address where I can contact you if you win.