Anyone who knows me is aware of my affinity for mysteries. In fact, my mom, my daughter and I share a mutual admiration for murder mysteries. We are definite Hallmark Movies & Mysteries fanatics, and we adore the mystery series that Hallmark provides quite regularly on that network. When they chose to add Brooke Shields and Brennan Elliott to a new mystery series last year, needless to say, I was practically beside myself with joy and anticipation. As I’ve mentioned in my reviews of that film series, Brooke is a throwback to my childhood, and Brennan is one of my all-time favorite actors. About the same time, the author of this Flower Shop Mystery book series, Kate Collins, appeared on my radar, and I was instantly convinced of the fact that she is an adept writer who is passionate about her books as well as interacting with fans. Recently, Kate set aside a bit of time to answer some questions about her experience as a writer as well as her thoughts concerning her books as a movie series.
RH: Why did you decide to become a writer? Tell us a little about your journey to become an author?
KC: It definitely wasn’t a clear cut journey. My ambition was to be a teacher, and I did that for six years, until the birth of my first child. Then I started looking around for an outlet for my creative bent and tried all sorts of crafts, including macrame, cross stitch, crochet, tole painting and rug hooking. I even made my own maternity clothes.
Then one day I saw an ad in the Chicago Tribune for a correspondence course on writing fiction for children. With the training I got there, I was able to get nineteen children’s stories published. Seeing my name in print was all it took to give me the courage to pursue another interest — historical romantic suspense with a hint of mystery inside. Unfortunately, after having seven novels published, I hit a roadblock. The historical market was drying up, forcing me to either change genres or quit.
That was when I decided to try my hand at mysteries, which I’d never attempted before. Being a long-time Agatha Christie fan, I followed my gut instinct and went for it. And now, instead of writing romances with mystery in them, I write mysteries with a little romance in them, and that has changed the course of my career.
With Flower Shop Mysteries, where did the inspiration for this series come from? Any special reason why Salvare was chosen for Marco’s last name (since it means save/rescue)?
When I was first developing the idea for this series, my editor at the time suggested a setting women would enjoy. My initial reaction was, “Hey, I’m a woman. Hey, I love flowers. Hey, maybe a gardening series would work.” I toyed with the idea for a few weeks, and one day the image of Bloomers Flower Shop sprang into my mind, as did the character of Abby Knight, my feisty little red-headed knight in shining armor. When ideas present themselves like that, I feel they’re divinely inspired, so I go for them.
I had originally planned to have Abby be a newly graduated law student, but my editor said that was too boring. It wasn’t until I changed the plan to having her booted out of school and completely down on her luck that my creative juices started flowing. She’s the underdog – the only one of her family who hasn’t become a success. She returns to the little flower shop where she worked during summers in college, and everything unfolds from there, including meeting the hunky former Army Ranger/bar owner who steps in to help her solve her first murder.
For the male leading character, I had in mind a modern-day pirate – dark hair, olive complexion, sexy eyes, a guy who knows how to break some rules when he has to. That’s when the name Marco sprang to mind. For his last name, I wanted something Italian that represented what Marco is to Abby, someone she can count on with the going gets tough, when she’s in over her head. I did some research and Salvare seemed just right. He will do anything to save Abby, or Sunshine, as he dubbed her.
Tell us about the process of your books becoming a movie series.
I got an email one Sunday afternoon in early June, (2015) from a man who said he wanted to talk to me about turning my mysteries into movies. My first thought was that it had to be a scam, but my son, who’s also my author assistant, did a quick search on his name and found out that Brad Krevoy was the real deal, the president of Motion Picture Corporation of America. I called Brad back on the spot, and we talked for forty-five minutes. I contacted my agent the next morning, and she said she’d handle everything for me, but that I mustn’t expect anything to happen right away, if at all. “Nothing happens fast in Hollywood,” she said. “Expect it to take at least a year.”
Yet by September, I had the script of MUM’S THE WORD in my inbox for my approval. I was able to make suggestions and got a few important things changed. The other changes the scriptwriters had made had to be left as they were for several reasons, the main one being that filming the entire book would have taken up to six plus hours to watch. And as Brooke Shields chose the series she wanted to be involved in, the scriptwriters had to make adjustments to the Abby Knight character to account for the age difference. I was very happy with their decision. Who wouldn’t want Brooke Shields as the star of the movie series?
Last November, my son and I traveled to the movie set in Canada, an all-expense paid trip, where we were treated like royalty. I was able to get to know the actors personally and was more than delighted to meet Brooke, who is as sweet and funny as she appears on TV. When I met Brennan Elliott, I wasn’t aware he’d been chosen to be Marco, and said to my son in a whisper, “Now there’s a man who’d be the perfect Marco.” We had a good laugh about that with Brennan later.
Kate Drummond, Star of Flower Shop Mystery
“The second I met Kate, I absolutely loved her. She has such a magnetic personality, and she just exudes joy. I love that I get to be a part of bringing The Flower Shop Mysteries to life! She’s been so supportive and loving towards all of us.”
Now that it is an established series on Hallmark, what is your involvement?
After the initial movie was made, my involvement wasn’t necessary. I still visit the movie set whenever I want and am always welcomed with great respect. Otherwise, I leave them to do their thing and I do mine, which is to write the best books I can.
Does it bother you that the books are being made into films out of order?
Not really. Having my books turned into movies was a longtime dream come true. I insisted they start at the beginning with MUM’S THE WORD, which they were more than happy to do. Now the producers, one of whom is Brooke, use their best judgment on which books to use next. I feel truly blessed to have this opportunity to bring my characters to a wider audience. As long as the scriptwriters stay true to the Abby Knight and Marco Salvare characters, I’m very proud to be associated with the series.
Any word on when the next in the series might be filmed?
I was just informed that they were planning to start shooting the fourth movie in the fall (2016), probably at the beginning of October. They are still considering which book to use.
Any new projects/books in the works for you that you can mention?
I just turned in #19 in the Flower Shop Mystery series, YEWS WITH CAUTION, and as soon as I get the word from my editor, I’ll begin number 20, which means I’ll be starting the title hunt again. Finding those flower/murder puns gets harder and harder with each passing book.
If you could have dinner with two authors living or dead, who would you choose and why?
My first choice would be Agatha Christie, the mother of the cozy mystery genre. I’d love to pick her brain as to how she plotted her stories.
My second choice would be Jean Shepherd, the comedic writer who wrote the book, A CHRISTMAS STORY, among others. Mr. Shepherd grew up a few blocks from my childhood home, and I became an avid fan of his books from an early age. He was my inspiration for the humor I use in my own stories. Having dinner with him would be a fun experience.
In general, what has been your experience working with Hallmark and the cast/crew? What has been your experience with the fans?
I’ve been very pleased by the respect and accord given to me by everyone on the movie set, including the crew. I even got to know Brooke Shields’ makeup and hair stylists, both of whom were kind enough to give me some tips.
As for fans, there are many who have written to say they still like my books best, and I’m more than okay with that. The books are my babies. Some fans like both the books and the movies and have learned to separate the two, which is what I also had to learn. In any event, as long as readers love my mysteries, I’ll keep writing them.
Lisa Viera Colangelo, Fan
“I love that she can write a fairly complex mystery all while keeping it light and romantic <<swooning>>!”
What is your advice to authors who dream of their books being made into a series/film?
I would tell them to keep the faith, baby. Write the best book you can. Put your heart into it. Readers can tell when an author writes from the heart, from a place of passion for her/his work, or is just phoning it in, so to speak. Producers looking for potential script material watch for a lot of fan involvement and high book sales. I was very fortunate that my series was chosen. I know they are still looking for more because Hallmark is making a name now in cozy mysteries. Remember, there is always room for more good series.
I’ll be honest–I was concerned about when the next Flower Shop Mystery was going to be filmed, and when I read Kate’s response, I whooped and hollered so loudly–let’s just say I’m glad I live in the country. While I have yet to read one of her books (I actually discovered I had one when I was going through my books recently–big surprise to me), I am fully impressed with the characters, the setting, the relationships, and essentially everything about the films. In fact, each one continues to improve upon “perfection.” (That’s what i always tell Brennan, and it’s high time I tell Kate too!) Reading Kate’s approach to having her books transformed into films dazzled me implicitly. Learning that she had been a teacher caused my ecstasy to abound because I too am a teacher (as well as an itinerant writer). Kate has truly found her niche, and I am amazed at her tenacity, her devotion to her work, and her overall cheery outlook. Furthermore, her enthusiasm and zeal for these films are infectious, and she is quick to thank everyone and anyone who supports her works whether in written or film form. Since we now can breathe a sigh of relief and rest in the assurance that a new film is on the horizon (as well as another book coming to print), be sure that you follow this gifted novelist at all the links below because I promise you, she is a wealth of information about the books, movies, and the characters.
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