Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Patricia V. Davis and her magical realism/women’s paranormal fiction trilogy, The Secret Spice Cafe.
Book One: Cooking For Ghosts
Do hearts broken long ago forever leave a tangible trace?
A Vegas cocktail waitress. An Indian herbalist. A British chemistry professor. An Italian-American widow. Four unique women with one thing in common: each is haunted by a tragedy from her past.
Cynthia, Rohini, Jane, and Angela meet on a food blogging site and bond over recipes. They decide on impulse to open The Secret Spice, an elegant café on the magnificent ocean liner, the RMS Queen Mary, currently a floating hotel in Long Beach, California. Rich in history and tales of supernatural occurrences, the ship hides her own dark secrets.
The women are surrounded by ghosts long before they step aboard, but once they do, nothing is quite what it seems. Not the people they meet, not their brooding chef’s mystic recipes, and not the Queen Mary herself. Yet the spirits they encounter help them discover that there’s always a chance to live, as long as one is alive.
An Official Pulpwood Queens Book Club Selection, and read by Ann Marie Gideon, COOKING FOR GHOSTS is an unforgettable tale of love, redemption, and divine female power.
Book Two: Spells and Oregano
A mother desperate to save her twin sons, a war veteran in torment, a beautiful young psychic with a terrible secret, a powerful magician with a shattered soul, and a Queen steeped in history and glory. These extraordinary beings cross paths and set off a remarkable chain of events in Spells and Oregano: Book II in The Secret Spice Cafe Trilogy.
Overcome by despair after a trauma when she was sixteen, Sarita Taylor has spent the past ten years isolated and lonely aboard her beloved RMS Queen Mary. Fearful of outsiders, she dedicates her time to managing The Secret Spice Café, now an award-winning restaurant. Until Luca Miceli, a man with a dark past, steps on board.
Patricia V. Davis deftly spins past and present, mystery and magic, into a potent story of passionate longing and family tragedy all at once. Spells and Oregano is a compelling tale of atonement, devotion, and undying love, set aboard one of the world’s most magnificent, haunted ships.
The Secret Spice Trilogy is an Official Pulpwood Queens Book Club Selection.
Book Three: Demons, Well Seasoned
Dare to Believe in Your Power…
A long-lost grandmother. A stay-at-home mom. A comic book fan. A five-year-old girl with a star-shaped birthmark. And nine more.
The cast is bigger, the stakes are higher. When Sarita’s grandmother, a Vodou priestess, foresees a terrible evil, Cynthia, Jane, Angela, and Rohini reunite on a heart-rending mission to save all that’s precious to them, including the iconic ship, the RMS Queen Mary. They cannot do it alone–the priestess tells them there must be thirteen on the night of the thirteenth moon. in this life-or-death pursuit. Yet, can she be trusted?
Spiced with history and the supernatural, Demons, Well-Seasoned takes us from 1930s Glasgow, to New Orleans and Harlem in the 1950s, to present-day southern California, and back again, on a metaphysical voyage that is both exhilarating and poignant. But before you embark upon this final sail with the denizens of The Secret Spice, be warned: expect to lose sleep, and keep tissues at hand. These valiant characters might just stay with you long after their story comes to a close.
Characters, Characters, Characters
Patricia V. Davis has woven a complex tale, spanning generations. I asked her what techniques she used to make sure her readers didn’t get lost in her large cast of characters. Here is her fascinating response.
To keep a reader turning pages in novels such as these, they have to be invested in the characters as much as they are in the story. With a large cast of characters, it’s always a challenge to make their voices distinguishable from one another. In the case of Angela, Cynthia, Jane, Rohini, Sarita, and Cristiano, who are the main players in an even larger cast of characters, I had to consider the region of the world from which they each came, their ages, their sex, and even their life experiences.
How does that translate to the page? It’s simple enough to give a character description, a synopsis of all of the above for each. Simple, but boring. I could have written, “Angela was a forty-five-year-old Italian-American from the east coast of the USA,” or I could show that by her actions, her thoughts and perceptions, her manner of speaking. Each character was given “tells”—phrases they use routinely, motions they make, habits they have.
A reader could go through each novel with a highlighter if they wished, and find these things. Sharp eyes would notice that Rohini rarely, if ever, uses contractions when she speaks, for the reason that her English is careful and precise, as it’s her second language, and she learned how to speak it in her native India. Cristiano, from Spain, will often sound more like he comes from Mexico. He explains that in the storyline. Sarita nibbles on her thumbnail when she gets nervous, Cynthia moves her hands way more than most, Jane sometimes uses expressions from her native northern England, such as “you lot” to mean, “you people,” that a number of American readers unfamiliar with the lingo might think is a typo.
I got lucky—so lucky—on the audiobook narrator, Ann Marie Gideon. She loved the idea of all the accents, regions and ages so much, that she spent a lot of time with me, asking questions about each character. And she really nailed them. Her audiobook narration is the best I’ve heard.
Bottom line, writers worth their title research meticulously each character’s background, socio-economic level, life experiences, and take all of that into consideration when writing dialogue, and action. I’m lucky to have met many people from many different parts of the world. That made it easier for me. I enjoyed writing them, as much as I enjoy hearing a reader say how ‘real’ the characters seemed to them.
They are real, as real as my imagination and pen could make them.
About the Author
Patricia V. Davis’s debut novel series, The Secret Spice Cafe, is comprised of three books: Cooking for Ghosts (2016), Spells and Oregano (2017) and Demons, Well-Seasoned (2019.) The audio books will be released in 2020 by Tantor Media, and narrated by Ann Marie Gideon.
Patricia lives with her husband, who is both a poker player and a rice farmer, so she divides her time between southern Nevada and northern California.
Find Patricia V. Davis at:
Read my review of her first book, Cooking for Ghosts!
Yes, there is a giveaway
Patricia V. Davis will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
Enter here to win.
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My Favorite Excerpt
from Demons, Well Seasoned
The rain was beastly. It blackened the sky. Like a serpent, it sprang from the pavements, coiled around potholes, and slithered along the road’s perimeters. But when it hit the car windows, it fell like tears, the tears of the inconsolable, the tears the Queen hid in her heart.
They were almost there. The most arduous part of the journey, the five-hour train ride from Ballater, was over. They were only six miles from Clydebank, thereabouts, and that was a mercy. She was exhausted already, and apprehensive about speaking in public for the first time. Not to a small gathering, moreover. She’d been told to expect an audience of two hundred thousand at least. That number had her clenching her gloved hand in her lap. Nerves and worry crawled and bumped around inside her in the same way the black Daimler limousine crawled and bumped over the drenched cobblestones and grooved steel tram tracks of Glasgow Road.
Her role was to maintain an air of serenity and confidence, so she kept her jitters to herself. It would be unthinkable to her to voice them aloud, which was just as well, as no one else shared her mood. Certainly not today. Despite the wet gloom saturating the shoes and clothing of the endless thread of men, women, and children who stood four and five deep on both sides of the streets, their expressions were jubilant as they waved to the Royal motorcade going by. And George, sitting beside her, waved back proudly. As he should do. As he deserved to do.
He’d saved them all.