The 2023 September/October selection for the Rocket City Mom’s Virtual Book Club was At the Coffee Shop of Curiosities by Heather Webber. As always, a special thank you to our sponsor, The Snail on the Wall, who brought Heather’s work to our attention. This is our second selection by Heather Webber so I thought it would be a good idea to find out more about her. Let’s get to it.
We read Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe in May of 2020, and it takes place in Alabama. Our current selection, At the Coffee Shop of Curiosities, is also set in Alabama. We LOVE this being the Rocket City Mom Virtual Book Club choice. Tell us about your connection to Alabama and why you set your books here?
My first trip to Alabama involved a bit of serendipity. It was February 2007 and after another author had to cancel, I was invited as a last-minute fill-in for two corresponding book events, one in Birmingham and one in Wetumpka. Somewhere during the hour and a half drive from one location to the other, through the small towns, past the old farmhouses and new developments, past the sky-high pine trees and kudzu vines, I bonded with Alabama. This was a place that felt strangely like…home. When I realized it wasn’t possible for my family to move south, I decided I could travel there as often as I wanted through my books. I have a mystery series set in a fictional town in northern Alabama, and happily, I’ve been able to go back again and again with my standalone novels. I often think about where my career would be now if that other author hadn’t canceled…and definitely think there was a bit of Southern magic involved.
I just finished At the Coffee Shop of Curiosities and the setting of the beach town of Driftwood made me want to move to the beach immediately. I want to know its origin story. When did the idea of this book occur to you?
My books are often influenced by songs, and this story started with a very broad concept of wanting to retell Eleanor Rigby’s story. It was going to be set in a hoarding house (with possible ghosts) and involved a mysterious letter from the other side. However, after only a few chapters of writing, the story took a detour—as my books often do. My Eleanor turned out to be a man with a cranky cat who isn’t quite what he appears to be. And while his house is chock-full of whims, as he calls them, it’s far from a hoarding situation.
The idea for the letter came from a Facebook acquaintance who shared that earlier that day she’d found a note from her mother, who had passed away months before, in her “other” folder on the site (where spam messages go). That post stayed with me, and it had me wondering what a character would do if they received a message out of the blue from someone who’d passed away…
Add two women who need to learn when it’s time to let go, a charming town, eccentric townsfolk, adorable pets, and a coffee shop I’d love to visit and you have At the Coffee Shop of Curiosities.
I am not ashamed to say, I teared up at the end. Without spoiling the ending can you describe why you made the decision you made at the end with Estrelle?
This is challenging to answer because of spoilers, so I’ll just say that I love believing it’s possible.
I assume you take time to read books by other authors. We’re always interested in the last great book someone has read. Can you tell us what that is for you?
I was completely enchanted by Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt. Such a unique, charming story about what’s truly important in life. I really love books where I can get lost in the pages, making me remember I was a reader long before I was a writer.
Rocket City Mom Virtual Book Club consists primarily of moms who live in Huntsville, although we have members from all over. Are you a mom and if so, how do you complete your writing and your work and take time for your children and your family?
I am a mom. My youngest (of three) is now 28, however, so I’m a bit past the challenges of being a working mom. When my kids were younger, I was able to find time to write when they were napping or at school or in the car while they were at soccer/baseball/music classes. I’m continuously amazed by how much writing I was able to get done back then. When I only had a few hours to work, I made use of every extra minute. Now that my days are wide open, I tend to put things off, thinking I have plenty of time. Until I don’t! Procrastination is my worst enemy.
I know you have more hobbies than reading. Rocket City Mom reposted the lovely snail you crocheted for our sponsor, Lady Smith of Snail on the Wall Books. You have/had an Etsy shop? Will it reopen? What else do you enjoy doing?
I truly love crocheting. It’s my way to decompress at the end of the day and allows me to quiet my thoughts—because I’m counting stitches! I open my Etsy shop, Blue Dandelion Crochet, a couple of times a year. Right now, I have quite a few items to list (mostly chickens based on Cluck-Cluck in At the Coffee Shop of Curiosities and also birds), so I’ll likely be opening again soon. I also love to bake and go for walks or hikes.
What, if anything, can you tell us about your upcoming work? Can we expect more stories in the set in Alabama?
I return to Alabama in A Certain Kind of Starlight, where the town of Starlight, Alabama, is famous for the field where a star once fell, leaving behind a shallow crater with a magical aurora that helps people find clarity in their lives. No one needs that clarity more than two sisters who come back to town to help their aunt run her bakery while she deals with health problems. It’s a heartwarming story full of love, healing, and cake! It will be out in July 2024.
Tell everyone how they can connect with you.
CLICK HERE to join the Rocket City Mom virtual Book Club as we discuss AT THE COFFEE SHOP OF CURIOSITIES on Thursday, October 26 at 8:30 PM CDT. See you there!
Rocket City Mom Virtual Book Club Discussion
AT THE COFFEE SHOP OF CURIOSITIES by Heather Webber
MIDNIGHT AT THE BLACKBIRD CAFE by Heather Webber
REMARKABLY BRIGHT CREATURES by Shelby Van Pelt
Blue Dandelion Crochet
A CERTAIN KIND OF STARLIGHT
Heather Webber’s Book Group
Heather Webber’s Author Page
Heather Webber’s Instagram
AT THE COFFEE SHOP CURIOSITIES RCM Virtual Book Club Discussion
Shannan Moore Malone squeezes in the time to write while taking care of the Buddy Man. As you already know, she loves books but she also loves great movies, running, and is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, a foodie. Though generally more on the quiet side, you can get her talking by mentioning living authentically, the importance of clarity and organization, and enjoying life, which she occasionally writes about on her blog her blog and posts about on Instagram.