Wednesday, August 10, 2022

An Interview with Daryl Wood Gerber by E. B.Davis


From Agatha Award-winning author Daryl Wood Gerber, the third in an enchantingly whimsical series featuring Courtney Kelly, the owner of a fairy-gardening and tea shop in Carmel, California. It’s a special place brimming with good vibes and the kind of magical assistance its proprietor will need to prepare for an old sorority sister’s birthday bash awhile solving a puzzling murder!

Courtney has thrown a few fairy garden parties—for kids. But if a local socialite is willing to dip into her trust fund for an old sorority sister’s fortieth birthday bash, Courtney will be there with bells on. To make the job even more appealing, a famous actress, Farrah Lawson, is flying in for the occasion, and there’s nothing like a celebrity cameo to raise a business’s profile.
Now Courtney has less than two weeks to paint a mural, hang up tinkling windchimes, plan party games, and conjure up all the details. While she works her magic, the hostess and her girlfriends head off for an indulgent spa day—which leads to a fateful facial for Farrah, followed by her mysterious death. Could the kindhearted eyebrow waxer who Farrah berated in public really be the killer, as the police suspect? Courtney thinks otherwise, and with the help of her imaginative sleuth fairy, sets out to dig up the truth behind this puzzling murder . . .


I love cozy paranormal novels so when I saw Daryl Wood Gerber had started a series featuring fairies, I decided to try it. (Some of my ancestors are from Cornwall, England—a fairy territory evidently.) Unfortunately, I did not read the first two books, but, much to my pleasure, found that they are now on Kindle Unlimited—so go download those books so, like me, you can catch up!


The setting, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA, seems a picturesque place by the description in A Hint of Mischief. I looked up the climate and was astounded. The temperature rarely makes it into the 80s and never goes below 50 degrees F. As a beach gal, it has me wondering what everyone does there because I doubt they put on their bathing suits and swim. But then, there are the shops, of which, Daryl’s main character, Courtney, owns Open Your Imagination.


Please welcome Daryl Wood Gerber to WWK.                                             E. B. Davis

You said the Carmel was well-known for its courtyards. I’m trying to envision that. Is Carmel divided in squares, having shops on the exterior sides and joined in the interior by courtyards?


Carmel is a grid with parallel and perpendicular streets. The downtown shopping, dining, and inn/hotel areas consist of charming shops and arcades, many of which are connected from one street to another with courtyards. Some of these courtyards are “hidden” and deserve exploring. You enter to see one shop, continue on to find another shop, a fountain, trailing bougainvillea, and more. Some have steps up or down to the ultimate location.


I’m surprised that Carmel has Cape Cod style, rather than Spanish style as seems common in CA. Why is that? Does it have something to do with Comstock design? What is the history?


In Carmel, there are a lot of Spanish-style structures, but there is a vast wealth of other construction. The Comstock design, or storybook houses, came along when Hugh Comstock arrived, a number of years after the town incorporated in 1916. He designed the famous Hansel House, with its flared eaves and irregular chimneys, nothing like the town had seen before.


Courtney’s cat, Pixie, is a ragdoll. Why are they called ragdolls?


The name 'Ragdoll' is derived from the tendency of cats from the original breeding stock to go limp and relaxed when picked up. Ragdolls are adorable, loving creatures.


Is there a reason why Fiona, a fairy-in-training, resides in Courtney’s shop garden? Is Courtney responsible for Fiona while she’s on probation?


What better place for a fairy to live than in a shop that sells Fairy Gardens. We don’t know why Fiona is with Courtney yet. Readers will, in time, but for now suffice it to say that Fiona is entrusted to Courtney and Courtney to her. Yet, no, Courtney is not responsible for Fiona. Fiona has her path set ahead and must follow rules in order to earn her adult wings and be able to return to the fairy kingdom. For an imp like her, it can be a challenge, but she is toeing the line.


Courtney saw fairies when her mother was alive, but she lost the ability when her mother died. Is sadness or lack of belief a factor? Is there a reason why some people can’t see fairies?


When her mother died, Courtney was crushed. She was ten. Her mother could see fairies and fostered this ability in Courtney by planting beautiful gardens. I think that people, like Courtney, can shut down their imaginations when a tragedy strikes. Courtney fell into step with her father and lived “by the book” for many years. It wasn’t until she opened her heart to new possibilities and created Open Your Imagination her fairy garden shop, that she could yet again see fairies.

What are the four types of fairies?


There are nurturer fairies, guardian fairies, intuitive fairies and righteous fairies. Fiona is a righteous fairy, which means she needs to bring resolution to embattled souls. In the human world, she helps them solve problems.


Is Courtney’s assistant Joss Timberlake really an elf or does she just look like one? Does she have a responsibility for Fiona or are they just friends?


Joss is not an elf. That’s so cute that you’d ask. But, yes, she does look like one with her slight stature and pointed ears. Don’t you know someone who reminds you of an elf? She has a sprightly nature, too. She has no responsibilities for Fiona, but she has been guiding Fiona into literature and is the reason Fiona loves Shakespeare and Sherlock Holmes and poetry.


Is fairy lore English or Irish?


Typically, folklore is a combination of Greco-Roman, Celtic, and Germanic elements. That’s why you’ll have some creatures in German fairy tales that are completely different from creatures in Irish fairy tales. Leprechauns, which are part of Irish culture, came along much later.


Who is Fiona’s mentor?


Merryweather Rose of Song is a lovely older fairy who resides at the library. She is a guardian fairy and helps attendees at the library fulfill their love of reading. She has been assigned to Fiona as a mentor by the queen fairy. She knows how to have fun and is quite powerful, but she tries her best to keep Fiona on her path to learning how to be a full-fledged, adult fairy. Unlike Fiona, who is petite and silvery, Merryweather’s cheeks are plump, her loose-fitting dress a regal crimson, and one set of her wings sport matching polka dots.


Does Fiona have second sight? Or are they premonitions?


Fiona does not have second sight. But she is quite intuitive. With her mentor’s help, she’s working on this aspect of her learning.


Courtney’s father used to be a cop, but he turned to landscaping after an injury. Courtney used to work with him, but she quit to open her shop. Was there a problem working for her dad, or wasn’t she into landscaping?


After her mother died, Courtney did everything her father wanted. She studied hard. She excelled in sciences and agriculture. She loved landscaping. She loved planting and helping things grow. She knew she would join his business. And she did. But after a while, it wasn’t fulfilling to her. Dig, plant, don’t have fun, repeat. She needed something new. When she went to a Renaissance Fair and met a woman who was making fairy gardens, she fell in love with the art. When her nana died and left her a small inheritance, she followed her heart and opened Open Your Imagination.


What is a fairy garden, which Courtney creates and helps others to create in her shop?


A fairy garden is like doll-housing for your garden. Courtney focuses on container planting for her gardens. In each, she creates a story by using fairy figurines (often made of polymer) and environmental items like small houses, fairy doors, slides, waterfalls, and more. She’ll plant the garden and then have the figurines in “conversations.” A customer could also make a fairy garden at the foot of a tree, or anywhere in their home garden. They are whimsical and a way to invite real fairies into your garden.


What happened to the fairy Aurora?


That remains to be seen. When Courtney’s mother died, Aurora vanished.


How does Fiona help Courtney investigate?


Fiona, like any good sidekick, is not only a good listener but also a contributor. She has ideas and theories that she shares with Courtney. She might intuit that something is “off” about a person, but she cannot make a human tell the truth. She, like Courtney, just dig in and find the clues and discern the details of what is going on. In one instance, Fiona is able to communicate with other fairies (her network) to find out where a missing young woman might be.


Who was Miro?


If you are referring to the artist, Joan Miró was a famous Spanish artist, born in Barcelona. His work is considered surrealism, but has also been described as fauvism or expressionism. His early works were inspired by Van Gogh and Cézanne.


Do fairies have codes of behavior, Dos and Don’ts?


Yes, they do. They cannot make anyone tell the truth. Also, they should be serious about their work, and they can’t purposely put themselves in harm’s way. Lastly, they may not allow photographs of themselves, although they could pose for an artist.


Was there a reason or issue that prompted Clint Eastwood to run and win the position of Carmel’s mayor?


I don’t know why, but when he was mayor, a single two-year term, he supported small business interests while advocating environmental protection and constructing a library annex, along with public restrooms, beach walkways, and a tourists' parking lot. He was also against the no eating ice cream on the street rule.


What are “rays of paths?”


Courtney created a center spot in her backyard garden where she has a wicker table. From that place, she created paths that are “rays” leading from it to the four corners of her garden, emulating a “sun.” She feels balance from this design.


Why would an Amish wagon feature in a fairy garden? The Amish don’t believe in fairies.


In fairy gardening, a gardener can use all sorts of containers. Pots, hanging planters, urns. Some gardeners have used suitcases that have special meaning as well as old sinks and wheelbarrows. Wagons are fun for planting because they have such a unique design. With their large scope, and entire village can be planted in one. Courtney has wanted one for the longest time. When she finds an Amish wagon on sale at the Art and Beauty Spectacular, she bids on it. Just because the Amish don’t believe in fairies doesn’t mean that whoever owns the wagon later on doesn’t. Her wagon now has prominent place in her backyard.


What is microblading? But when the hair grows back wouldn’t it be too much in the area?


Microblading is a form of shaping eyebrows. Yes, hair grows back so microblading isn’t permanent. When it goes awry, it might take too much hair. When actress Farrah Lawson suffers a bad facial, she worries that her eyebrows won’t match in the movie she’s been shooting.


What is bilateral symmetry in landscape design?


If you look at one half of the garden, it matches the other half. If there is a stand of white roses on one side, there is a stand of white roses on the other. If there is a center planting, one half of the center design is identical to the other half.


Cedric Winterbottom is a male fairy who is dedicated to one person. Does everyone have a fairy?


No, not everyone has a fairy. The relationship between a fairy and a human is quite unusual. Some fairies do not bond to any human. They remain independent, as in the case of Merryweather Rose of Song. But in Cedric’s case, he met Misty as a child, and he dedicated himself to her.


What are fairy doors?


Fairy doors are miniature doors, usually set at the base of a tree, behind which might be a small space where people left notes or wishes for fairies. Fairy doors can also be installed into a fairy garden pot.


Is the mallow plant that Fiona eats the same as in the mallow plant from which marshmallows originally were made?


Marshmallows – real marshmallows – were originally made from the candied roots of a plant, and that plant is called "marsh mallow."  The marsh mallow is a flowering plant in the mallow family. The leaves of mallow can be added to a salad, and the fruit can be a substitute for capers. 


Why would Courtney agree to go out to dinner with her ex and his wife?


Honestly, Courtney agreed because she was put on the spot and couldn’t come up with a quick response. She’s not usually a pushover, but he’d caught her off guard. When Brady Cash, her good friend, agreed to go along, she felt better about the prospect.


Fairies have their own language, which Courtney is trying to learn. Do they speak the same language world-wide?


Fairies do speak the same language. Like fairies themselves, it is a mixture of Old English, Celtic, Grego-Roman, and Germanic heritage.


What’s next for Courtney?


A FLICKER OF DOUBT, the 4th Fairy Garden Mystery, comes out in 2023. With a theater foundation tea and art show planned at Violet Vickers’s estate, Courtney is hired to create charming fairy gardens for the event. It’s not so charming, however, when her best friend Meaghan’s ex turns out to be Violet’s latest artistic protégé. Even worse, not long after Meaghan locks horns with him, his body is found in her yard, bludgeoned with an objet d’murder.


There’s a gallery of suspects, from an unstable former flame to an arts and crafts teacher with a sketchy past. But when the cops focus on Meaghan’s business partner, who’s like a protective older brother to her, and discover he also has a secret financial motive, Courtney decides to draw her own conclusions.  Fearing they’re missing the forest for the trees, and with some help from Fiona the sleuthing fairy, she hopes to make them see the light . . .




  1. Congratulations on your latest release! An enticing premise.

  2. Sounds like a fun series! Thank you for covering this for us.

  3. Fascinating interview, ladies! I learned so much. Best wishes with your series, Daryl!

  4. So much fun, Daryl and E.B.! Thanks for the interview.

  5. Thanks so much for the great interview, E.B. I really enjoyed answering these questions! Very thought-provoking. ~ Daryl