Kate Collins, best-selling author of the popular Flower Shop mysteries, is—excuse our pun–branching out with her Goddess of Greene St., a series of cozy mysteries centered around single mom Athena Spencer who after divorcing returns home to work in her family’s garden center.
It was a big change not only for Athena but also for her creator, Valparaiso resident Linda Tsoutsouris who has written 23 Flower Shop novels under the pen name of Kate Collins. Three of those books including “Mum’s the Word” were made into Hallmark Movies & Mysteries starring Brooke Shields in the role of Abby Knight, Tsoutsouris’s flower shop owning sleuth along with actors Brennan Elliott, Beau Bridges and Kate Drummond.
“It was hard to leave the flower shop, Abby, her boyfriend Marco and everyone—they were like family,” says Tsoutsouris whose two Goddess mysteries are “Statue of Limitations” and “A Big Fat Greek Murder,”
“But now I’m feeling more comfortable and I really like Athena,” she says.
As she did with her other series, Tsoutsouris has created a cast of quirky, fascinating characters including Athena’s mother, Hera who is, as one would expect of the matriarch of a large Greek family, a fantastic cook. There’s also Maia, the goddess of the field in Greek mythology, is a vegetarian in the series and Delphi, a take on the oracles of Delphi who foretold the future.
“In my book, she’s always reading tea leaves,” says Tsoutsouris.
The Flower Shop series takes place in the town of New Chapel, a stand-in for Valparaiso.
“Goddess of Green St. is a mix of Saugatuck, the Lake Michigan town in southwest Michigan and Key West,” says Tsoutsouris who lives part time in Key West, Florida. “I like to give people a point of reference.”
Before she became a writer, Tsoutsouris, who holds a master’s degree from Purdue University, worked as an elementary school teacher. After taking time off to care for her young son and daughter. Tsoutsouris became somewhat restless despite learning to macrame and so signed up for a correspondence course on how to write children’s books. She took it, wrote one, got it published and went on to write another 20. Her next shot at publication wasn’t quite so successful. Tsoutsouris wrote a romance novel she describes as horrible. The publisher agreed, rejecting her book. Always full of energy, Tsoutsouris immediately began attending as many conferences on the subject as possible and broke into that market as well.
Now with five of her books having made it on to the New York Times Best-sellers’ list, Tsoutsouris is working on the Goddess of Greene St. series and keeps in touch with Abby and New Chapel by writing Flower Shop novellas such as the just released “A Frond in Need.”
Asked where she gets her ideas as plots for so many mystery novels, Tsoutsouris that almost anything is a creative spark.
“If I see a garden pond,” she says, “I ask myself what if a body turns up in the pond?”
For more information, visit katecollins.com