I am over the moon about the redesigned web page that Lisa Auslander made for me. It’s clear, concise, welcoming, and, well, cozy, like the mysteries I write. Lisa has enlivened the page with hand-drawn sketches. No long blocks of copy here. Lisa has captured what I want you to know in small, easily read blocks of type, and it is easy to move from page to page and different topics. I love the simplicity of it—too many authors’ pages overwhelm with elaborate designs.
Please do look, sign up for my “only-occasional” newsletter if you’re so inclined, and admire Lisa’s fine work.
Lisa drew a marvelous sketch of my new cottage, the place that makes my heart happy these days. There’s a sketch of Bertha Honoré Palmer, from The Gilded Cage, and a Craftsman house to introduce the Kelly O’Connell Mysteries. Look particularly at the sketch for the Blue Willow plate (Blue Plate Café Mysteries).
If you don’t know the Blue Willow story, you should. It’s a love tragedy. The beautiful daughter of a mandarin fell in love with a humble servant, defying her father’s wishes—he wished her to marry a powerful duke, who arrived bearing jewels. The night before the wedding, the young lovers ran away, taking the jewels with them. They found safety on a secluded island and lived happily for many years. But the duke never forgot and finally found them. He sent soldiers who put the pair to death. The gods, pitying them, transformed them into a pair of doves. You can follow the story on the plate, from the lovers running across a garden bridge, chased by the whip-yielding father, to the pair of doves in the sky.
My mom served almost all our meals on Blue Willow china, and I use it today. My collection includes everything from some good English china to the dimestore version, and some passed down from my mom. That china accounts for the Blue Plate Mysteries, though the name is a play on words—it can also stand for the blue plate special of the day, a term some restaurants and cafes use for the daily special. Take your pick.