Guest Margaret Loudon plus #giveaway

News Flash: Patti Borgognoni is Margaret’s lucky winner! Congrats, Patti, and please check your email.

By Edith, writing from north of Boston and eating as many perfect, ripe, sun-warmed tomatoes as I can!

I’m delighted to welcome Margaret Loudon as our guest today as she celebrates her fourth Open Book mystery, which released last week. As Peg Cochran, she’s my blogmate over at Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen, and just to mix things up, she also writes as Meg London.

Here’s the blurb – doesn’t this sound fun? When murder taints writer-in-residence Penelope Parish’s charming British bookshop, she must follow the clues to catch a killer before tempers boil over. Penelope Parish thought she’d turned the page on her amateur sleuthing days but when the owner of Upper Chumley-on-Stokes’ proposed first high-end gourmet shop is poisoned, the American novelist starts to wonder if she and her quaint British town are in for another rewrite. It turns out that not everyone was a fan of Simeon Foster’s farm-sourced charcuterie and imported pastries—many of the locals were outraged by the potential new competition.

With a full menu of suspects on her hands, this just might be Penelope’s toughest case yet. Luckily, her friends at the Open Book are there to help with every twist of the poisoned pen.      

How a Series Was Born

Can I tell you something?  Shhhh…don’t tell anyone.  I am secretly an avid royal watcher.  I mean the British royal family, not the Kansas City Royals.  I’ve always been an Anglophile (I think it started with the Beatles) and the royal family is the icing on the Victoria Sponge Cake, so to speak.

Needless to say, I was glued to the drama that was Harry and Meghan but at the time, I had no idea it would lead to my latest cozy mystery series The Open Book, written as Margaret Loudon.  It began with the proverbial “what if?”  What if I used Harry and Meghan in a book? Not the real H & M, of course but the idea of them. 

The book would have to be set in England, a tantalizing idea since this was in the midst of the Covid quarantine and some armchair travel sounded enticing. 

I needed a town.  What to call it?  The Brits have such great names for towns– Upton Snodsbury, Boggy Bottom, Burnham-on-Sea.  Thus, the fictional town of Upper Chumley-on-Stoke was born. 

Photo credit Olivier Collet

I wasted er, spent, countless hours perusing pictures of quaint British towns as I slowly created Upper Chumley with its cobblestone streets, half-timbered stucco buildings and the ever-present castle known as Worthington House looming over the town from its perch on a small rise.

Photo credit Nicola Gadler

The castle needed a royal—in this case a duke–Arthur Worthington, the Duke of Upper Chumley-on-Stoke.  The red-haired Worthington speeds through Upper Chumley in his Aston Martin, drinks with the locals at the Book and Bottle and was a favorite of the queen’s.  Obviously, Worthington needed a bride…who better to stir up the townspeople’s ire than Charlotte Davenport, an American romance writer who pens what used to be known as “bodice rippers” with half-naked women and bare-chested men on the cover.  Horrors!

I needed a sleuth for my series as well, of course.  I happened to read in a newsletter that a bookstore was looking for a writer-in-residence.  Aha!  That was perfect. Penelope “Pen” Parish would be the author of a bestselling gothic novel who moves to Upper Chumley to be the writer-in-residence at the Open Book bookstore in hopes that it will cure her writer’s block as she tries to finish her second novel.   Tall and gangly with glasses that keep sliding down her nose, Pen turned out to be the perfect person to solve the rash of murders in Upper Chumley.

Photo credit Clay Banks

Pen needed a friend, a sidekick.  Enter Lady Fiona Innes-Goldthorpe, affectionately known as “Figgy,” who runs the teashop inside the Open Book. Despite her bohemian appearance with her short spikey hair and taste for vintage fashion, she is the daughter of an earl.   She and Pen become fast friends.

Who owns the bookstore? White-haired Mabel Morris appears as the proprietor of the Open Book, enjoying the quiet life in Upper Chumley after a career as an MI6 analyst.  From there, the cast of characters grew to include Gladys Watkins, Laurence Brimble and India Culpepper, all of whom continue their adventures in A Deadly Dedication, book number four in the series.  

Readers: Do you like foreign settings in books?  Which are your favorites?  Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of A Deadly Dedication.  Sorry, US only.

A former Jersey girl, Peg Cochran – aka Margaret Loudon – now resides in Michigan with her husband. She is the author of numerous cozy mystery series including the Open Book (writing as Margaret Loudon), Murder, She Reported, Cranberry Cove, the Farmer’s Daughter, Gourmet De-Lite, the Lucille series and Sweet Nothings Lingerie (written as Meg London). When she’s not writing, you’ll find her either cooking, reading or spoiling her granddaughter.

59 Thoughts

  1. Congrats on your new book release! I do enjoy reading reading books based in foreign locations. I love Italy the best and The United Kingdom 2nd. Thank you for this chance at your giveaway. pgenest57 at aol dot com

  2. Oh yes, I love being an armchair traveler in books with foreign settings, especially England, Scotland, Ireland and Italy (haven’t read many of Italy though)! Your bookshop and town sound charming.

    P.S. I also find the royals fascinating!

  3. This book and series sound like fun! I like to follow the English Royal Family and enjoy books set anywhere in the UK. I may be a bit partial to Ireland since I am very Irish despite my husband’s surname being of German origin.

  4. Congratulations! I do like foreign settings in my books – especially England, Ireland, Italy and France but I’m open to reading about any foreign land. I love reading about details (food, dress, customs, language) and learning about new places to me.

  5. LOVE armchair traveling! Never thought I’d ever be out of the lower 48, but we are actually planning a trip now for next year that will take us through Canada to Alaska. Love stories that give hints of other countries even if made up places. When an author does their homework, you feel like you are there enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of that country. As one with a grandfather that migrated from a country that now doesn’t exist and is behind Russia’s boundaries now (and also one that never talked about where he came from our his family he left behind), I think arm chair traveling has be thinking that I might be visiting a place my ancestors visited to.

    A DEADLY DEDICATION sounds absolutely amazing! I know I would thoroughly enjoy reading and reviewing it. It’s on my TBR list and I can’t wait for the opportunity to read it. Thank you so much for the chance to win a copy. I know whoever is selected is in for an amazing read. Shared and hoping to be the very fortunate one selected.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    1. I would love to see Alaska! Have a fabulous time. I’m sure your grandfather story would have been fascinating. There are so many questions I wish I’d asked my grandparents while I could.

  6. Congratulations on the new release, Margaret! I love an historical mystery set in the U.K. Must be the Agatha Christie lover in me. Cheers!

  7. congratulations on the new release. I sometimes I like mysteries set in other locations and sometimes not. i tend not to enjoy them as much if there are “accents” (not sure what to call it when or a lot of slang as that detracts from the plot for me.

  8. Congratulations, Margaret/Peg/Meg!!! Your writing is addictive, and your Open Book mysteries are delightful. I am also a Bristish enthusiast. Since early in my life ()5 yrs. old), I had a British tutor who brough the UK to life or me, and I have been passionate about that country ever since. I have traveled to Britain frequently, especially during the 12 years that my son lived in London. When my mom lived with us, we knew every step the “royals” took through her constant reading about their lives and antics. Currently, we prefer to watch Bristish mystery/detective shows on Britbox and Acorn TV. We just finished a delightful series called GRANITE HARBOUR “ I am eager to start reding your Open Book Mysteries, and love the names you have created. Thank you so much for sharing your writing talents with us eager readers! Cheers! Luis at ole dot travel

    1. I didn’t know about Granite Harbour. We have Britbox so I shall have to look for it! It must have been fun visiting your son in London. I’m sure he knew the best places to go!

  9. Congratulations on another book! I love books set in foreign places. Australia, Italy, Great Britain, anywhere.

  10. I do like foreign settings, especially Great Britain!
    And, I so enjoy your books. The writing and characters are engaging and a joy to read.
    Thank you for writing! What you do (and other cozy authors, too) is important in this hectic world.

  11. Congratulations on your release! Foreign settings are fascinating and interest me greatly especially Great Britain. I have read hundreds of memorable novels which have interesting locales and make the novel come alive.

  12. Books which I enjoy are set in France, Italy and Britain. They are intriguing, and unique. The portrayal of the areas gives me such pleasure and I can picture the beauty and history.

    1. If a book is well written, you can really “see” the location, which is wonderful. Sometimes you forget you are actually at home sitting on your own sofa!

  13. I love books set in foreign countries: Great Britain, Australia, India, and recently, Thailand. I love learning about the geography, customs, food, idiosyncrasies, and everything about the countries. Your series certainly fits right in there.

  14. There’s so many places I’d like to visit someday, but for now I really enjoy reading and learning about other places. Foreign countries are especially fun, whether it’s for the whole series or one book. I like reading about any of the places on my list, and the one I have been to, Germany, because it’s neat to say I’ve been there, I can totally picture what’s happening.

    1. I visited Germany when I was a teen. It was very interesting especially since my grandfather came from Germany. He was born in Leipzig, which at the time was unfortunately still behind the Iron Curtain.

  15. Congratulations, Peg! Yes, I love mysteries set “away”. Especially in Olde Blighty. Looking forward to getting to know your characters and I loved the glimpse at your process.

  16. I do enjoy mysteries that are set in England. Jessica Ellicott’s Beryl and Edwina Mysteries are great!

  17. This series sounds great! Reading occupies me as it is my favorite form of entertainment. Especially reading books set in foreign countries which gives me an experience which lasts and is unforgettable. Great Britain, Italy, Spain and France are my favorites.

  18. Congratulations on the new release! England is one of my favorite international locations to travel to in a book.

  19. I love stories set in foreign countries. My favorite are England, Scotland, Italy, Ireland, France, Spain and Greece.

  20. Congratulations on the new release. I love stories set in foreign countries. England and Italy are some favorites.

    Thanks for the chance!!

    1. I would love to set a book in Italy. That means I’d have to go back for research, right? My stepdaughter was married there five years ago and it was the trip of a lifetime.

  21. Congratulations on your new release. I enjoy reading books set in foreign countries as well as those set in the USA.

  22. I love this series. I enjoy books set in other locations. England is a perfect setting.

  23. Yes. I love to read about anywhere in the world. I enjoy reading about London and Paris. Thank you so much for sharing. God bless you.

    1. I love Paris! I can’t wait to go again. My daughter and her husband were planning to go for her 30th birthday but then…Covid. They finally did manage to take their trip.

  24. Oh the fun of it! A bookstore and the countryside. I love the settings of either an English, Irish or Scottish village. Congrats on the new book. I look forward to reading it!

  25. I like books set in the various locales in the USA the best, I do like books set in places that I have been or want to go to in foreign countries. I especially like ones in England, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, or France. This book sounds great, and I would a copy of it. Thanks for the opportunity.

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