Since each book will feature a specific berry, I needed to figure out which berry should kick off the series. It took me about one minute to decide that strawberries should take center stage in my debut Berry Basket book Dying for Strawberries. A favorite since childhood, they are literally the first berry I remember. And I can trace my love of strawberries back to my paternal grandmother.
When I was little more than a toddler, we visited her home in Beacon, New York. As it was the depths of a Hudson River Valley winter, there were no fresh strawberries in the house. However, her kitchen table was draped each morning with a white tablecloth decorated with little red strawberries. I was fascinated by that tablecloth. Years later when I moved into my first apartment, I chose a wallpaper dotted with tiny strawberries for my kitchen. Although many years had passed since my visit to Beacon, the wallpaper seemed an exact match to my grandmother’s berry tablecloth.
Because of that tablecloth, I’ve long been drawn to anything strawberry related, including the Beatles’ song Strawberry Fields Forever. I own a strawberry charm bracelet – with earrings to match. My keys dangle from a red crystal strawberry key ring; I even bought a duplicate, in case this key ring breaks or is lost. But strawberry ice cream may top the list. My dad adored ice cream and often took my sister and me out for ice cream treats; his favorites were butter pecan and strawberry. I never warmed up to butter pecan, but for several years I refused any ice cream but strawberry. During one of several childhood bouts with tonsillitis, my mom served me strawberry ice cream throughout the day. It was almost worth the pain my tonsils were causing me.
While I enjoy the sweet taste of strawberries, another reason I have a fondness for them is due to its color. I love red. In college, I wore red clothing so often, other students nicknamed me ‘The Lady in Red’. And yes, my all-time favorite shoes were a pair of red leather flats which I wore until they literally fell apart. After I graduated, one of the places I applied to for a job in my field of historical archaeology was the history museum in Portsmouth, New Hampshire called Strawbery Banke. It may have been for the best that they didn’t hire me. I don’t know if I ever would have overcome my frustration that the museum spelled their name with only one ‘r’.
Although I’ve travelled to Europe several times, I haven’t yet visited Belgium. When I do, my Must See list includes the Musee de la Fraises de Wepion, aka the Strawberry Museum of Wepion. Strawberries are almost as big a deal in Belgium as tulips are in Holland. The strawberries grown in the region surrounding the town of Wepion are regarded as especially desirable. And, be still my strawberry loving heart, they also offer tours of Jardin des Petits Fruits, a 35-acre garden filled with fruits, both local and exotic. With tastings included!
Of course, I also enjoy many other types of berries. I recently discovered how tasty cloudberry jam is. And I look forward to writing future stories that spotlight different berries: blackberries in Book Two and blueberries in Book Three. But I am happy I was able to pay tribute to my favorite berry in Dying for Strawberries. While I wouldn’t actually die for this delicious fruit, I will admit that strawberries have brought me much pleasure since I first sat down before that tablecloth. Thanks, Grandma.
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Back Cover Copy – Dying for Strawberries
With seasonal crowds flocking to its sandy beaches, lively downtown shops, and The Berry Basket, a berry emporium with something for everyone, the lakeshore village of Oriole Point is ripe for summer fun—and murder.
Much has changed for Marlee Jacob since she returned to Oriole Point, Michigan. Between running The Berry Basket, dodging local gossip, and whipping up strawberry muffins, smoothies, and margaritas to celebrate the town’s first annual Strawberry Moon Bash, the thirty-year-old hardly has time for her fiancé, let alone grim memories of her old life in New York . . .
But unfortunately for Marlee, Oriole Point is muddled with secrets of its own. First her friend Natasha disappears after an ominous dream. Next the seediest man in town threatens to crush her business. Then an unknown person nearly kills her on the night of the Bash. When she discovers a dead body, Marlee realizes she’ll have to foil a killer’s plot herself—before the past permanently stains her future.