With the fall leaves comes deliciously cooler weather that just begs for a comfy
chair, a warm blanket and a cozy mystery to curl up with.
This month, Iâ€™m combining my look at whatâ€™s new in cozy mysteries this month
with my author interview.
Iâ€™m delighted to feature author Elaine Viets, whose latest
book is AN UPLIFTING
MURDER: A Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper Mystery.
Elaine Viets is also the
author of the Dead End Job Mystery series. She is an Anthony Award and Agatha
Award winner. She lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with her husband. Author
website: Elaine Viets
and her blog: www.thelipstickchronicles.com
Elaine was gracious
enough to take time to answer a few questions for her readers!
At what age did you know that you wanted to be a writer?
Elaine: I've wanted to write since high school. I did well in
English and the nuns encouraged me to write. They steered me into a career in
journalism back when women were supposed to be homemakers. I'm grateful to them.
I got my degree in journalism and worked at a newspaper for nearly 30 years
before I became a mystery writer.
Sharon: How did you get interested in writing "cozy" mysteries?
Elaine: I write the kind of books I like to read. I read four
or five mysteries a week. I want my characters to have relationships with
friends and families, to be connected to their communities. I enjoy learning
about new neighborhoods, cities, careers or cultures. I don't like novels about
soulless serial killers or psychopaths. My books are funny and fun to read.
Sharon: What inspired the mystery shopping theme of your
Elaine: Penguin asked me to try out for a mystery shopper
series. I came up with Josie Marcus, a single mother with a pre-teen daughter
and a mother who is fiercely protective. Josie is part of the sandwich
generation. Josie hasn't much money, but her best friend, Alyce, is comfortably
off. The two of them complement each other. The series was supposed to last two
or three books, but "An
Uplifting Murder," the sixth Josie Marcus mystery, was published in
Sharon: What appealed to you about the genre of cozy mysteries
as opposed to hardcore mysteries or suspense stories?
Elaine: My mysteries are about friendship, which is important
to women. We need the advice and emotional support of our friends. Shopping is a
form a female bonding that's as legitimate as male bonding in bars. You can tell
a lot about a woman when you shop with her: Is she patient? Is she honest? Will
she tell you if that dress really does make you look fat?
Sharon: Your main character is a mystery shopper - where did
you gather your inspiration for these characters?
Elaine: My mother was a mystery shopper back in the mid-1960s.
She and her best friend, Connie, shopped supermarkets and fast-food places. Mom
and Connie were a bit like Alyce and Josie. Mom's mystery shopping job was
flexible enough so that she could work during the day, but be home when we kids
got off school and still have dinner on the table for my Dad at night.
Sharon: With more and more series coming out in the cozy genre,
do you see the competition for readership becoming more fierce? What do you do
to keep your readers coming back for more?
Elaine: The cozier the better. There are so many sub-divisions
in the cozy world. Joanna Slan has a scrapbooking series. Joanna Carl has a
chocolate series. Sally Goldenbaum writes the Seaside Knitters series. These
series are fun to read and I learn about everything from scrapbooks to chocolate
I want my readers to identify with Josie and her problems with her daughter and
her mother, as well as enjoy an entertaining mystery.
Sharon: The cover art on your books is just gorgeous - very
eye-catching! Who does the artwork for each book, and are you consulted as to
how it will look?
Elaine: Thank you. I love my covers, too, and I'm lucky to have
such good ones. They're by a Japanese artist, Tsukushi. My editor asks me for
ideas for each cover, but I never come up with anything as clever as NAL's
Sharon: Who are some of your favorite authors? Who inspires
Elaine: I like Michael Connelly, Nancy Pickard, Charlaine Harris, Sue Grafton, especially
her earlier books, Lawrence
Rosenfelt. There are so many good ones to read.
Sharon: What do you have coming up in the future?
Elaine: I've just turned in my tenth Dead-End Job mystery,
"Pumped for Murder," about the world of extreme bodybuilding. The novel will be
published in hardcover from NAL this May. Helen Hawthorne has married Phil and
they've started Coronado Investigations, their own detective agency. They are
asked to solve an old murder from the 1980s and a new one that takes place at
the gym where Helen works.
Sharon: What advice would you have for anyone wanting to break
into the "cozy mystery" genre?
Elaine: Learn your craft. Read as many mysteries as you can.
Make friends with your local bookstore and find out what sells and what doesn't.
Go to the conferences, such as Malice and Sleuthfest, to get advice from other
writers. Listen to the panels. Attend the workshops. Meet editors and agents.
Joanna Slan got her start when she met an agent at Sleuthfest.
Hereâ€™s a little about AN
On Josie's latest assignment, her former teacher-now working in a lingerie
shop-is in need of some serious support when a customer is found murdered.
Unfortunately, the teacher's alibi is flimsier than the camisoles she sells, so
Josie will need to bust out her sleuthing skills to expose the real killer!
Here are a few more cozy mysteries that are guaranteed to warm up your November
By Jordan Gray
Harlequin Books; $7.99
Locals in the English coastal town of Blackpool don't take kindly to strangers,
but newcomers Michael and Molly Graham have managed to make a few good friends.
Dylan Stewart has encouraged them to join him and go native during the town's
annual Seafaring Days celebrations. The event makes for lively crowds, colorful
costumesâ€”and a perfect cover for murder.
Troublemaker Willie Myners is found stabbed in his boat and the police's main
suspect is Dylan himself. Michael and Molly can't help but be pulled into the
mysteryâ€”and deeper into the dark history of Blackpool. Amid whispers of cursed
sixteenth-century coins and gypsy gold, what they discover is something far more
sinister than the revenge of a jealous husband. And much more dangerous.
This is the second book in the Blackpool Mystery series that is loosely based on
the Mystery Case Files video games by Big Fish. The next book in the series,
"Submerged," is due out in February.
THAT BIND: A Bibliophile Mystery
By Kate Carlisle
Obsidian Mystery; $7.99
Book restoration expert Brooklyn Wainwright returns home to San Francisco to
teach a bookbinding class. Unfortunately, the program director Layla Fontaine is
a horrendous host who pitches fits and lords over her subordinates. But when
Layla is found shot dead, Brooklyn is bound and determined to investigate-even
as the killer tries to close the book on her for good.
By Charles Finch
St. Martins Press; $24.99
Returning from a continental honeymoon with his lifelong friend and new wife,
Lady Jane Grey, Charles Lenox is asked by a colleague in Parliament to consult
in the murder of a footman, bludgeoned to death with a brick. His investigation
uncovers both unsettling facts about the family he served and a strange, second
identity that the footman himself cultivated.
Going into the boxing clubs and public houses, the Mayfair mansions and
servantsâ€™ quarter of Victorian London, Lenox gradually realizes that an old
friend may be implicated in the footmanâ€™s death. Soon a suspect is arrested, but
Lenox has his doubts. Desperately trying to balance the opening of Parliament
and what he feels sure is a dark secret, he soon discovers that the killer is
someone shockingly innocuousâ€”who may be prepared to spill blood again, even a
THE PUMPKIN MUFFIN MURDER:
A Fresh Baked Mystery
By Livia J. Washburn
Obsidian Mystery; $14.00
Phyllis loves to spend quality time with her grandson. She'll be taking him to a
festival with hopes of winning the baking contest-now that her friendly
competitor, Carolyn, is judging and not competing. But when a decorative
scarecrow is actually a dead body in disguise, it's Phyllis's sleuthing skills
that are needed.
The dead body is that of the festival's organizer- and his wife, Carolyn's
friend, falls under suspicion. Carolyn turns to Phyllis for help, because who's
better at dishing out some justice than a baker extraordinaire who can handle
ENGLISH: An Amish Country Mystery
By P. L. Gaus
Plume Books; $13.00
The peaceful town of Millersburg, Ohio, in the heart of Ohio's Amish country, is
rocked by the vicious murder of one of its citizens at the hands of an
ex-convict. When a local reporter covering the story ends up dead as well, with
the convict already behind bars, suspicion falls on David Hawkins, father of the
first victim. But Hawkins is nowhere to be found, not even among the protective
Amish colony that had taken him in as one of its own regardless of his shadowy
KNOT DIE: A Crochet Mystery
By Betty Hechtman
Berkley Prime Crime; $24.99
Her crochet group, The Tarzana Hookers, is working overtime for the holidays-but
Molly Pink is having trouble finding time to crochet so much as a snowflake. The
bookstore where she works is adding a yarn department, and planning a huge
launch party where the mysterious author of a popular series will reveal his or
her true identity.
But before the author appears, another person disappears. The husband of Molly's
neighbor is missing. When a suicide note arrives, it appears the husband has
jumped off the Catalina Ferry- but Molly smells something fishy. Despite the
protestations of her detective boyfriend, Molly's soon hooked on unraveling
another mystery. She better watch out-or her sleuthing may get her on someone's
1 comment posted.
I am a branch manager of a small southern library and I can't wait to order some of these cozy mysteries.
(Liz Campbell 4:43pm December 31, 2010)