What Is Tea Tonic and Toxin?
What is Tea Tonic and Toxin? Excellent question! Tea Tonic and Toxin is a book club and podcast for anyone who loves the best mysteries, detective stories, and thrillers ever written.
We’re starting this chronological journey with a short intro that helps explain why we started this book club and podcast. We invite you to listen in and to share your two cents!
Read: Check out our reading list.
Reflect: Read our blog.
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Weigh In: Share your thoughts!
TRANSCRIPT: What Is Tea Tonic and Toxin?
Sarah Harrison 0:00
Welcome to the Tea, Tonic, & Toxin book club and podcast for anyone who wants to explore the best mysteries, thrillers, and detective stories ever written. I’m your host, Sarah Harrison.
Carolyn Daughters 0:26
And I’m your host Carolyn Daughters. Pour yourself a cup of tea or a gin and tonic,
Sarah Harrison 0:32
… but not a toxin …
Carolyn Daughters 0:36
And join us for a chronological journey through 19th and 20th century mysteries and thrillers, every single one of them a game changer.
Sarah Harrison 0:44
So, Carolyn, what are we doing here in this podcast?
Carolyn Daughters 0:51
I think it might be helpful for us to spend just a couple minutes talking about what Tea, Tonic and Toxin is.
Sarah Harrison 1:00
That’s a lovely idea. Let me take a sip of my tea.
Carolyn Daughters 1:05
I will take a sip of my special concoction, which is clinking. I can hear it. Before we had the name, or even the idea of this specific podcast, you, Sarah, had an idea that you wanted to do a podcast.
Sarah Harrison 1:33
Yeah, I did. I wanted to do a book club. I had done a book club for about, I think, around nine years. And it was called the PORN reading program. People Obsessed with Reading Novels, PORN. And it was a lot of fun. It was an in-person book club. And we didn’t have a rule about reading the book. It was non-mandatory to read the book. I knew I was gonna read all the books. And the questions we asked were basically inspired by the book. Carolyn, you joined that book club. How did that work for you?
Carolyn Daughters 2:15
I’m gonna say it was about four years ago. I might be a little bit off. At its core, Tea Tonic, and Toxin is a book club. With Tea Tonic and Toxin, we have a book or a story. We’re starting with Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories. But for the most part, we’re gonna be focusing on a novel each month. We want to read these books, we want you to read these books, we want to be thinking about these books.
Sarah Harrison 2:50
The idea came from your PORN reading program. We moved chronologically through some of the best books written by female authors.
Carolyn Daughters 3:07
On your nine-year PORN journey, I was on the second half of that journey. As the PORN reading program was winding down — People Obsessed with Reading Novels, everybody get your minds out of the gutter — you wanted to continue doing a book club. But I was thinking I might want to do it differently. So talk briefly about what that looked like.
Sarah Harrison 3:43
Well, meeting in person became really hard. And I don’t know, at what point in the history of the Earth you’re listening to this podcast, but …
Carolyn Daughters 3:55
Sarah Harrison 3:58
People have finally caught on.
Carolyn Daughters 3:58
It’s historical, this podcast.
Sarah Harrison 4:05
There was this global pandemic, COVID-19. And meeting became really hard, and it bummed me out. But I still wanted a book club. I thought perhaps a podcast might be a way to reach my book tentacles out, and meet like-minded people. I’m interested in talking about the ideas that books inspire. Books are very clever little things. And the authors are brilliant in many ways. But what I love about them is that they get you thinking. You relate to this broader human experience. That’s why we talk about and dive into these other experiential questions that the books dredge up. I don’t know, maybe there’s four other likeminded people in the world. And they’ll say, oh, that’s interesting.
Carolyn Daughters 5:13
The listeners each month will be Sarah and me and four lucky people. One thing that was important to you, Sarah is to really understand the depth and breadth of the books that we’re reading. So we’re not reading random books.
Sarah Harrison 5:30
We’re not reading terrible books.
Carolyn Daughters 5:35
We have a genre, which is mysteries and thrillers. It includes detective fiction, amateur detectives and also police detectives. We want to explore the very best ones ever written. Now, Sarah is a scientist by nature and also by education. And she’s really interested in the sort of chronology or progression of something. Here is what it is today. But to get to where it is today, it started back here.
Sarah Harrison 6:28
I work a lot in the sphere of efficiency. So I may be killing two birds with one stone here. When you read through chronologically, you’re not just getting excellent books. You’re soaking in the development of this entire genre.
Carolyn Daughters 6:50
You’re building a knowledge base, really.
Sarah Harrison 6:55
That was one thing, too, about the PORN reading program. It was chronological. You could really see the entire development of how novels work from none of this creates a story arc to these very intricate and revolutionary-type stories. I was hoping to do a similar thing, but genre based. I’m very unfamiliar with the mystery genre, so I was excited when Carolyn culled together this list. Can you talk about the list?
Carolyn Daughters 7:30
I love mysteries and thrillers. I love them. I adore them. When I was a child, it’s what I read. I read every mystery series, the Nancy Drews and the Hardy Boys and the Dana Girls, the Alfred Hitchcocks, the Ellen Raskin mysteries. The list is quite broad. In my teenage years, I branched out into the Sherlock Holmes stories and the Agatha Christies. With the best authors, the stories are interesting and engaging. Your brain is on fire, and the stories are digestible. With some exceptions, like Bleak House by Charles Dickens, these are books you can take on the plane, you can take to the beach, you can read on your front porch on Sunday afternoon or in front of a fire. They’re accessible and interesting. And they don’t feel at all like work. I went to grad school for four years and studied Victorian novels. And I loved it. But I gotta tell you, it was work, and mysteries just don’t feel like work. They’re just pure joy for me. For me, the idea that we can start back in the 19th century and work our way forward is really fun. I’m super excited about it.
Sarah Harrison 9:04
Yeah, I am, too. I haven’t read in the mystery genre for a while. So I approached Carolyn with this idea, like what if we redo the book club and start a podcast. Maybe we reach out to likeminded people who like to have conversations about the thoughts that books make them think. I was trying to probe the waters on if Carolyn would be interested in cohosting with me. Maybe tell me a bit about why you agreed to do that.
Carolyn Daughters 9:41
I am still asking myself that question.
Sarah Harrison 9:47
Carolyn Daughters 9:47
I’ve been interested in wanting to start a podcast, and I didn’t know where to start. I am not a friend of technology, and technology is not my friend back. I figured there was a near 0% chance I would figure this out on my own. The idea that I could do this with a friend and we figure it out together made a whole lot of sense to me. It seemed like a labor of love, a really fun project. I get to read books. I have to read the books because we’re doing the podcast, so I can’t blow it off. I have to do this lovely work. To me “work” is not a bad word. I’m okay with the word.
Sarah Harrison 10:50
“Obligated” means you have to do certain things.
Carolyn Daughters 10:53
What’s happening with this podcast is that we’re figuring it out. Dear four listeners, all four of you are figuring it out with us. Essentially, we’re taking input, we’re taking feedback, we’re taking our own feedback, we’re taking our temperature each month.
Sarah Harrison 11:13
We’re going to figure it out as we go.
Sarah Harrison 11:18
Exactly. In the first year, we want to cover novels of the Victorian and Edwardian periods, starting with Edgar Allan Poe, who is the master. He wrote three short stories starring Auguste Dupin: “The Purloined Letter,” “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” and “The Murder of Marie Roget.” We’re reading two of those. We are moving on to Bleak House and moving on from there to Wilkie Collins, who wrote The Woman in White and The Moonstone. We’re going to cover two Sherlock Holmes novels written by Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet and The Hound of the Baskervilles. We’re also going to read and discuss some stories that most readers have never heard of but were instrumental to the development of the mystery and thriller novel as we know it today. We’re going to wrap up at the end of the Edwardian period with a book called Lady Molly of Scotland Yard. We have a female protagonist written by a female author. Then we’ll continue into year two, God willing, and we’ll start in a new post-Edwardian era.
Sarah Harrison 12:35
If you don’t like this, come back in a year.
Carolyn Daughters 12:41
I’m just going to throw a little edit in there — do not go away. No! We are building this foundation. I think it’s really cool. All of us are going to know so much about mysteries and thrillers and where they were born, and how they grew up, and where they are today. And we’re going to know it because we will have explored them together month by month in a chronological progression.
Sarah Harrison 13:13
Like Carolyn said, my training is in science, engineering, continuous improvement. And I would say that this podcast will definitely be subject to those methods. As we go, my main goal is to find find people who want to have these conversations. I hope that we are able to engage with folks. I’m pretty stoked. I know of at least two people who’ve listened to the whole first episode so far.
Carolyn Daughters 13:44
Sarah Harrison 13:45
That’s awesome. They’re gonna win reader awards. You don’t have to read. You just have to listen.
Carolyn Daughters 13:55
That’s super weird.
Sarah Harrison 13:59
Listener awards. That would make more sense.
Carolyn Daughters 14:02
Our website is teatonicandtoxin.com. And every book that we read each month has a page on the site that explores that book. There are a lot of opportunities right on the site for you to share your ideas and questions. Tell us what you think about the books or ask us why we chose this books. We want to hear from you. This is not meant to just be a conversation between Sarah and me.
Sarah Harrison 14:39
We hope you will engage on Instagram and Facebook. We’re going to be posting the questions. When you answer, we hope to read some of your responses on the podcast. We hope to give out monthly listener awards. Subscribe. Give us a review. Please engage with us, and we’d love to incorporate you into our podcast.
Carolyn Daughters 15:07
We’re really excited to be taking this journey with you through the best mysteries and thrillers ever written — starting in the 19th century. Our website again is teatonicandtoxin.com.
Sarah Harrison 15:24
Awesome. Thanks, Carolyn. Thanks, listeners.
September 11, 2023
Sarah, Carolyn, and Mike Nugent keep the Maltese Falcon conversation flowing with LOADS more thoughts about Sam Spade, Effie Perine, Casper Gutman, Joel Cairo, and, of course, the ever-elusive Brigid O'Shaughnessy. Folks, we have a lot of ground to cover. Join us, won’t you?Listen →
August 4, 2023
Author Mike Nugent joins Sarah and Carolyn to talk about noir, crime fiction, and all things Sam Spade (who’s described as resembling a blond satan). The Maltese Falcon changed the way crime fiction was written. You’ll want to read it in one sitting and then give our podcast a listen.Listen →
July 30, 2023
Hey, Continental Op, what’s your deal? Are you a hero? Anti-hero? Something else altogether? Hear our thoughts about the Op, Dinah Brand, Whisper, and all the gang – and let us know your tally of how many people wind up dead in the book. It’s hard to keep track.Listen →