Interview with Dr. Harriet Bailey of Cobble Hill Farm

Lithograph after W.J. Allen. Original public domain image from Wellcome Collection


I’m delighted to have veterinarian Dr. Harriet Bailey, the main character and resident sleuth of the new Cobble Hill Farm Mysteries, here with us today. 

Harriet, that’s a cute “self-portrait” you’ve supplied, but how about telling our readers what you really look like? 

I’m pretty average looking, with brown eyes and long dark hair that I usually wear in a pony tail while working. I’m in my early thirties, petite, but strong, although my size still causes clients to doubt my capacity to do the heaviest tasks in a large animal practice. 

The way I hear it, you soon prove yourself to be more than up to the job. 

Yes, so far, I’ve been able to tackle most jobs with Polly’s or Will’s or the client’s assistance when needed.

Speaking of Pastor Fitzwilliam “Will” Knight, you seem to spend a lot of time with him. Is romance in the air? 

Do I? 😳 He’s been a good friend. But I wouldn’t want you to get any ideas about us. He’s a self-proclaimed bachelor.

How did you come to inherit your grandfather’s veterinary practice? 

That was an unexpected surprise. I assumed Cobble Hill Farm and everything connected with my grandfather’s estate would be divided between his two children–my Aunt Jinny who lives in the dower cottage and my dad. But my mom and dad love their life in New England. So, I guess my dad told my grandad to leave his share to me. It helps that I’m an only child. And I’m already a qualified vet–a career inspired by my grandfather from the time I was small.

But for you to leave your practice in the US and relocate to the UK must have been a huge adjustment? 

It was. But leaving was easier than it would’ve been a year or more earlier, when I’d been blissfully planning a wedding with a fellow vet at the practice. After Dustin broke off our engagement, continuing to work at the same practice was beyond uncomfortable.  Of course, it is taking the Yorkshire farmers a while to get used to their first female large animal vet. But as they like to say here in the UK, most folks have been brilliant about making me feel welcome. 

It must help that your grandfather’s practice was already well respected? 

Absolutely. In fact, I’m the third generation of Baileys to practice here. My great-grandfather opened the practice the year before the outbreak of the Second World War. The place has seen a lot of change since then, I can tell you. But I occasionally still use some of my great-grandfather’s original equipment, too. 

Your grandfather was also a talented painter, opening his own art gallery here on the farm to display his work. Do you plan to follow in his artistic footsteps as well? 

<Blows out a breath> I’m not sure that particular gift was passed on to me. And at the moment, the veterinary practice consumes most of my time. But…it’s something I might try my hand at one day. You never know unless you try, right? 

What was the most difficult adjustment for you since arriving in the UK? 

Hmm, there’s a few dishes, such as black pudding for which I still haven’t managed to acquire a taste. And understanding what some of the oldest clients are saying can still be a challenge, with the way they drop their ‘t’s and ‘h’s at the beginning of words and use many words I can’t for the life of me decipher.

But probably the biggest initial hurdle was learning to drive my grandfather’s beast of an old Land Rover on these hilly, narrow country roads. Never mind that I had to get used to roundabouts and driving on the left side of the road. I’d never driven manual and learning to do that on some of the incredibly steep grades we encounter in the moorlands is no easy feat. Add to that how close the stone walls enclosing the pastures are to the road in spots, well… I admit I’ve come close to clipping the side mirrors more than once whilst trying to pull over enough to pass a car coming from the other direction.

Notice how I slipped in the word “whilst” for “while”? 😀 I love the sound of that word. 

Driving is easy peasy when the roads are flat and empty like this, but…

it can get a little dicey when you encounter buildings that are practically on the road and you can’t see what’s coming around the corner. 

Then when I actually encounter oncoming traffic!!! I was catching a lift in a friend’s Renault when I snapped this pic through the windshield and the car’s warning siren was beeping hysterically because our “wing mirror” was scraping through the hedgerow camouflaging the stone wall behind it. I was glad not to be driving that day!

Check out Additional Bonus Features 

If you enjoyed this interview, you can find more bonus features for Into Thin Air on my bonus features page

Learn more about Into Thin Air Here: 

Into Thin Air

And Kindle Unlimited subscribers can currently read it for free! 

My 25th Novel ~ Boughs of Folly

Woohoo, today is the official release day of my 25th novel, Boughs of Folly. I’m extra excited about this release, because it is the first of my Annie’s Fiction titles available without a bookclub subscription. 

Order the 3-book bundle of Jingle Bell Mysteries, Boughs of Folly included, in either hardcover or Ebook.

Click Here to buy the Jingle Bell Mysteries Bundle 

About the Book:

Jillian Green’s holiday cheer nosedives when her great aunt’s friend is killed while helping them decorate their plantation home for a fundraiser. But the case is more tangled than a strand of twinkle lights, and if Jillian can’t uncover the killer, their friend’s night might not be the only one silenced this Christmas.

All three mysteries take place in the world of Annie’s Chocolate Shoppe Mysteries in Georgia–a far cry from the snowy Christmases I know and love. But happily for me, my long-time prayer partner is a lifelong resident of Georgia. I had great fun acquainting myself with their unique Christmas delicacies and turns of phrases I never hear in Canada. 

If you enjoy Christmas-themed novels, Jingle Bells Mysteries are worth checking out. 

On the horizon

Looking ahead, I’ve written two romantic suspense that release next year as part of a new Hearts in Peril series from Annie’s Fiction. And I’m currently brainstorming outlines for a woman’s fiction title set on Mackinac Island, and for three more romantic suspense set in Montana, which will release in 2024 and 2025. 

These will definitely appeal to my Love Inspired Suspense fans.

Whenever I can carve out spare time, I play with new storylines for a Serena Jones reboot, for my Serena fans who have been patiently (or impatiently as the case may be 😆 ) waiting for a sequel.

And the 25th book recipient is…

Congratulations, Sandra Basso! Let me know which book you would like.

Once again, thank you for joining me in celebrating this writing milestone. It wouldn’t have been any fun without y’all. I deeply appreciate your interest in my books. Your encouraging reviews and personal recommendations to friends help keep the contracts coming. Thank you! 

#23 Settling Auld Scores

Thank you for sticking with me through my 25 book countdown. I hope you’ve been enjoying the extra insights I’ve shared into the inspiration behind my stories.

My 23rd book, Settling Auld Scoreswas my final contribution to the Scottish Bakehouse Mysteries from Annie’s Fiction

Book Cover for Settling Auld Scores by Sandra Orchard
Click book cover to read back cover blurb

Like Lass and Found, this one isn’t a murder mystery. I even colour outside the lines sometimes too. 😉 

My grandson’s War Amps commercial with the Hamilton Ti-Cats inspired the football theme for this mystery. That and memories of a whopper of a football season when I was a high school junior. Like me, Laura Donovan, my baker sleuth, isn’t ordinarily a football fan, but her nephew’s participation has hooked her on the game. 🙂 

Our 23rd book recipient:

Today’s recipient was drawn from blog subscribers and commenters. 

Congratulations, Margaret Macleod, email me your mailing address and I’ll get Perilous Waters out to you. Ooh, and how appropriate that your last name is Scottish, given today’s book profile!  🙂 


Free Shipping on Cozy Mystery Bundles – Today Only

Do you love binge reading cozy mysteries? 

Here’s your chance to grab economically priced, hard cover bundles of cozy mysteries, with free shipping* from Annie’s.


12 book cozy mystery bundle

This bundle of the final 12 books in the Victorian Mansion Flower Shop Mysteries, includes my Absent without Leafand Weeds of Doubt. 

cozy mystery bundle

And the six-book bundle pictured above includes my Digging Up Secrets

The above are both still in stock. But some bundles are out of stock or have limited quantities. 

*The free shipping ends at midnight pacific time tonight and applies to US and Canadian orders, although Canadians must still pay a $10 surcharge.


Settling Auld Scores by Sandra Orchard

I’m pleased to announce that my next instalment in the Scottish Bakehouse Mysteries has shipped to subscribers from Annie’s Fiction. 

Aye, I’ve had a right braw (wonderful) time contributing to this series. Admittedly, at first I dinnae ken (didn’t know) if I’d feel at home in auld Loch Mallaig. But once I had a right old blether with the bonnie lads and lassies in town, I could hear the Scottish accent in every line. But don’t worry, only the odd Scottish word made it into the book. After all, I wouldn’t want my readers to think my heid’s full o’ mince. (every word that comes out of my mouth is non-sensical) 😀 

About Settling Auld Scores by Sandra Orchard

As Bread on Arrival’s head baker, Laura Donovan is used to scoring touchdowns in the kitchen, especially when she teams up with her best friends and business partners, Molly Ferris and Carol MacCallan. However, when it comes to parenting, unmarried Laura is a true rookie. While her brother and his wife are out of the country, Laura has agreed to host her teenage nephew, Henry, an up-and-coming football star now playing for the Loch Mallaig High Loons. Laura suddenly finds herself on defense as the safety of Henry and his teammates is tested by a persistent prankster, and Laura worries that her nephew is the main target.

From vindictive rival coaches and jilted former players to lovelorn teens intent on revenge, Laura’s roster of suspects seems endless. And as the pranks become more dangerous at every turn, Laura fears that a truly deadly incident could be next. She must take the offensive prankster out of the game before the clock runs out—or else someone could face sudden death.

Click to learn more about the Scottish Bakehouse Mysteries Bookclub from Annie’s Fiction

More Scottish Bakehouse Mysteries by Sandra Orchard


Digging Up Secrets

“Where do you get your story ideas?” is the most common question I get asked.

For Digging Up Secrets, my upcoming cozy mystery from Annie’s Attic, the answer is . . . my life!

I was staying at the hospital with my grandson Jed when I was invited to write this story for a new multi-author Victorian Mansion Flower Shop cozy mystery series, but I knew instantly that I’d have no trouble finding fodder for it.

First of all, the heroine, Kaylee Bleu, has just taken over her grandmother’s flower shop housed in an old Victorian Mansion and I live in a similar old house—very old. In fact, two days before the editor contacted me I’d been home for the weekend and our well’s foot pump went kaput, so we had to dig down to the well head. Trouble was . . . we didn’t know where it was!

We had a general idea, based on where the pipes entered the basement, and began digging. But by the time we unearthed the well head, we had a grave-size hole, five feet deep beside our house. So . . .

Of course, I knew the same trouble needed to befall Kaylee. And although being without water for several days is troublesome enough for a flower shop with countless thirsty flowers inside, how much better to find unknown human remains in the hole?

Thankfully, that part came from my imagination, not personal experience!

Then again . . . when my kids were younger, they did set up an “archaeological dig” next to our house and came across some bones.

But I’m pretty sure they were old beef bones a dog had buried.

I hope.

But I digress.

As if we didn’t have enough crazy things to deal with that summer, once we had the new pump installed, the awesome improved water pressure blew our hot water tank and flooded the basement. So . . .

Guess what other trouble Kaylee will face, besides trying to figure out who’s buried in her backyard? 🙂  To make matters worse, the police are slow to release the crime scene and allow the plumber to get her well back in operation, which not only puts her plants’ health in jeopardy, but her entire business.

It also helps that I have tons of “plant research” under my belt from my Port Aster Secrets series. 

Translation: I know lots of plants that can kill hurt people, as well as many ways forensic botanists can glean clues from crime scenes.  😉 

myrtle spurge

Did I mention Kaylee has a PhD in plant taxonomy, and had been a university professor who also did forensic botany consulting for law enforcement, before her position was suddenly eliminated?

Kaylee also tends to refer to plants by their taxonomical name, rather than their common name, a phenomenon I also have ample experience with, since my eldest daughter studied horticulture for three years.

Sadly, I didn’t actually get to visit the story’s locale, the picturesque Orcas Island of the San Juan archipelago off the west coast of Washington State, but I did a lot of “island life” research for Over Maya Dead Body, which helped.

So aside from interviewing a few florists for anecdotal details and reading up on Orcas Island, this was one book I could dive right into writing. Or should I say dig?


About Digging Up Secrets:

Nothing is coming up roses for Kaylee Bleu. Not only are all of the plants in her flower shop going thirsty because of a busted well pump, but a competing florist on Orcas Island is stealing customers from The Flower Patch. As if that wasn’t enough to turn her into Florist Grump, a new client who could be Kaylee’s golden ticket to the lucrative country club set is also her most persnickety yet—and continuously threatens to take her business elsewhere.

But all of that seems like no big deal when Kaylee’s plumber discovers a fractured skull in her shop’s yard. The remains belong to Danny Lane, a troubled teen accused of killing a high school girl in a boating accident thirty-five years ago. The consensus around Turtle Cove was that the boy fled town shortly after the accident, but Kaylee thinks the holes in that story are as big as the grave-size pit dug up around her well head.

Unfortunately, somebody on Orcas Island wants Kaylee to leave the past buried.


Image courtesy of stockdevil at