Interview with Erin Johnson, Author of Spelling the Tea

02 Feb 2021

What can you tell us about your new release, Spelling the Tea?

It’s the first book in my new Vampire Tea Room Magical Mysteries series. In the story, Minnie Wells is working her marketing magic to save the coziest, vampire-owned tea room in Bath, England. But add in a string of murders, spells to learn, and a handsome Mr. Darcy-esque boss, and Minnie’s cup runneth over with mischief and mayhem. It’s a light, fun mystery with sprinkles of magic and romance. I was inspired by a trip I took with my sister, where we attended a Regency-themed ball in Bath. I just fell in love with the city, and passed that fondness for Bath, along with my Jane Austen fangirling, along to my main character Minnie.

What or who inspired you to become an author?

I’ve loved writing and reading since I was little. Books just seemed like these magical escapes to other worlds, and as someone with a pretty active imagination, I was inspired to create my own worlds.

What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?

Gosh, this is a hard one! It’s going to be a pretty eclectic mix. I’d have to say Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas, Uprooted by Naomi Novik, The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, and The Lord of the Rings by J. R.R. Tolkien.

Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask?

I’d probably bring Naomi Novik on. I love pretty much anything fantasy, and I found her descriptions of magic in Uprooted so incredibly real and enchanting (pun intended). I’d love to know what she drew on for inspiration.

What’s your favorite thing about writing?

I love the moments when I get into the flow and the rest of the world disappears and I really just get to live the story alongside my characters. I think the next best thing is hearing from readers who experienced the same escape and got to share that world with me.

What is a typical day like for you?

Well, typical has been a little unusual this past year haha! But usually, I’ll wake up around 5am and my partner brings me a matcha latte in bed (yum). I need the caffeine to jump start my brain. Lately, I’ve just been working out of bed most of the day. I’ll do some admin work, then depending on where I’m at in my current manuscript, I’ll write, edit, or outline. I take my dogs for lots of walks in between to stretch my legs and will sometimes dictate passages while I’m out with them (I’m sure my neighbors think I’m a little nuts, walking around, talking about poisonings and witches). In the evenings and on weekends, I take time to eat with my partner and watch some shows. I’ve also recently taken up weaving as a hobby, so I’ve been having fun with that.

What scene from Spelling the Tea was your favorite to write?

In the book, Minnie’s going through a divorce and will be deported from England, unless she can convince Fitz, the vampire owner of a tea room, to hire her. Fitz was in his prime years during the Regency, when he was turned, and he’s uncomfortable with modern life, and misses his time. He’s also a bit old-fashioned in terms of his views of women and business. The tea room is struggling to bring in customers and Fitz refuses to hire her. But when one of the tea room’s employees is killed, Minnie takes it upon herself to find the killer and help the tea room.

For most of the book, Fitz is a bit annoyed by her persistence, and she’s frustrated with his outdated ideas (though there’s some attraction bubbling under the surface). They have a moment in the kitchen of the tea room, when Fitz is baking, where all those feelings sort of bubble over and they both bond over having trouble letting go of the past and moving on. I loved writing that scene. It was fun, fast-paced, and it felt like both characters opened up and showed more vulnerable sides to me, and to each other.

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

I just try to follow whatever feels magical and lights me up, even if it’s silly. And when things feel intimidating or scary, I just think of it as an experiment. I’ll give it a try and can always change my mind or try something else.

Erin Johnson is the author of the new book Spelling the Tea.

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