Author Interview and Giveaway: Dorothy St. James author of Flowerbed of State

We like to welcome today to the blog Author Dorothy St. James. She is the author of Flowerbed of State and Birds in Paradise. Dorothy also writes under the name of Dorothy McFalls. You can click HERE to read Ana's review for Flowerbed of State. After the interview will be offering 2 copies of Flowerbed of State. Now we hope you enjoy the interview. 

Dorothy St. James's Links:

Welcome Dorothy!

OUaT: When writing “Flowerbed of State” who did you enjoy writing the most and why? And who was your least favorite or hardest and why?

I had the most fun writing Milo, the president’s naughty puppy. I know from firsthand experience that puppies and trouble often go hand in hand, and Milo is no exception. He couldn’t resist using the bushes and plants as his personal chew toys. None of the characters really gave me fits (something I can’t say for book 2). The most challenging character in Flowerbed of State to write was probably the villain. If I tell you why, I’d have to kill you.

OUaT: I read that you have an undergraduate degree in Wildlife Biology and a graduate degree in Public Administration and that you also worked for several government branches. What made you change careers and become a writer?

I think I was born with a pen in my hand and stories swirling in my head. I wrote my first “novel” before grade school. The tale involved a purple people eater and a small boy with a bb gun. Not overly realistic or sophisticated, but my family made a big fuss over it. I continued to write stories throughout my childhood, garnering great reviews from my parents. But in school, although some teachers encouraged my creativity, several others seemed to go on and on about silly things like spelling, grammar, and punctuation to the point that when it came time to pick a college degree, writing was my last choice.

I love the biological sciences and research. I loved working in government, but my urge to write never truly went underground. One day I woke up and decided I needed to follow my passion. I needed to take that chance I never even allowed myself to consider when picking my college degree. About a year later, after tightening our budget belt and saving like mad, I quit my job so I could write full-time.

OUaT: In "Flowerbed of State" you mentioned several trees that are currently planted in the White House that were given by important people to U.S. Presidents over the years and some trees that were planted by previous presidents too, is that true?

Yes, it’s all true. President Andrew Jackson’s wife, Rachel, tragically died shortly before he took office. In 1828, the bereaved President planted a sprout taken from his wife’s favorite Southern magnolia tree at The Hermitage. The tree stands there today to the left of the White House portico. This marked the beginning of the commemorative tree-planting tradition that every president has since followed.

OUaT: Where did you go to do your research for “Flowerbed of State”- Internet, books, etc.?

I go wherever I can find information. The Internet has a wealth of resources with the White House museum and historical society websites and several blogs dedicated to all things about the White House. It helps that I’ve become a bit of a political junkie and enjoy following the craziness that goes on in D.C. I read every memoir I can get my hands on and watch documentaries that offer behind-the-scenes access to the White House and its employees.

My favorite resources, however, are those I’ve found on the ground in D.C. I’ve made several trips to our nation’s capitol and interviewed any- and everyone who has even a remote connection to the White House. I had the pleasure of touring the White House and its gardens as well as the State Department.

OUaT: What is your favorite book of all time?

That’s not fair. How can I pick just one? I generally have one or two books that I’m reading at a time. When I’m looking for inspiration, I usually turn to Hemingway’s works. His short stories trigger something in my head that gets the words flowing.

OUaT: What is your guilty pleasure?

Chocolate, the darker the better. I keep a bar of gourmet chocolate hidden away in a drawer in the kitchen. Every night I eat a square. Some days (okay, most days) I eat more than one square. Perhaps more than two. I really can’t help myself!

OUaT: Give us 3 good to know facts about you. Be creative.

1. Here’s a secret no gardener likes to admit. I’m allergic to something growing in my yard, and I haven’t been able to figure out what it is. For the longest while (oh, just 15 years or so), this mystery plant had chased my gardening efforts out of the yard and into pots on my patio. This year, I braved planting a vegetable garden in my yard again. And yep, I have the itchy welts to prove that the mystery plant is still thriving out there in the wilderness that masquerades as my tame yard.

2. During college (while pursuing a degree in wildlife biology) I worked at the International Primate Protection League where I studied and interacted with rescue gibbons at their sanctuary.

3. Despite an irrational fear of fish, after college I tagged game fish for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. If you go fishing in the inshore coastal waters in South Carolina, you might catch a fish that I tagged.

OUaT: Describe your typical day?

I start out the day at sunrise and get up to walk the dog. (Right now that’s plural (dogs). We’ve been fostering a couple of puppies for our local shelter so it’s been quite a zoo around here.) After breakfast, I read the Washington Post and a few non-partisan political blogs to get my mind into Casey Calhoun’s world. I then answer emails, research, catch up on promotion work. By the time that’s done, I’m hungry for lunch. The afternoon is dedicated to writing, writing, and more writing, which often bleeds into the evening after dinner. At night, I either read whatever novel I have going at the time or veg out with a show on Netflix. I’m lucky because I have a husband who’s a wonderful cook. Otherwise, I’d probably eat peanut butter sandwiches and soda for every meal. He keeps me healthy.

OUaT: I hear you have a new book coming out in May 2012. Can you give us a sneak peek on what it is about?

Tentatively titled The Scarlet Pepper, the second book in the White House Gardener Mystery series takes place during the White House’s summer growing season.

Casey Calhoun is back to work in the gardens in the hot, humid July sun of D.C. She’s helping the First Lady get her vegetable garden ready for its first harvest when chili peppers show up where bell peppers should be. The tomatoes go missing entirely. And there’s a dead reporter in a flowerbed. What else could possibly go wrong? Wait, Casey really shouldn’t ask that!

OUaT: How can a reader contact you, or purchase your books?

I love to hear from readers! They can find out more about my books and where to purchase them at my website: I also hang out at Facebook ( and Twitter (!/DorothyStJames) I also have a e-newsletter that goes out periodically to keep readers up to date with new releases and what’s happening in my garden:

Thank you for Dorothy for taking time out and answering our questions. So here comes the extra fun part. We are offering for giveaway 2 copies of Flowerbed of State. So that means 2 winners.  

To Enter:
  • Fill out the FORM
  • Open to US and CA
  • Giveaway ends June 20th at midnight
  • Leave a comment below
  • You don't have to be a follower to enter, but of course we love if you do. 


  1. Great interview, sounds amazing.

  2. Great interview. Sounds really good.

  3. thank you for the giveaway!! i look forward to reading Dorothy's book!!!!

    good luck & congrats!!!


  4. Thank you for the opportunity to win the giveaway. This sounds like something I would really enjoy reading.


  5. Thanks for the giveaway! This sounds like a good read:)
    jwitt33 at live dot com

  6. It sounds like a pretty interesting book.
    mce1011 AT aol DOT com

  7. Nice interview! Sounds like a good book, and I'd love to read it. Cute cover.



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