Sharon’s Cozy Corner
All about the cozy mysteries: interviews, reviews, books
When women have a common interest, it is a delight to gather and discuss elements of that interest with each other. Book clubs, knitting groups, and sewing circles are just a few examples of these types of groups that encourage friendship and companionship.
Elizabeth Lynn Casey is the author of a delightful new series of cozy mysteries , the Southern Sewing Circle Mysteries, that features a close-knit of vivacious ladies who stitch and solve crimes when they put their heads together! Elizabeth’s first book, SEW DEADLY, came out in August, 2009 to rave reviews. Her second novel, DEATH THREADS, is due to be released in May, 2010.
Elizabeth Lynn graciously agreed to be interview for this humble column as she was hurrying to the Southern Kentucky Book Festival in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and we talked about her books, her writing, and her influences.
Sharon: At what age did you know that you wanted to be a writer?
Elizabeth: I was just ten-years-old when I got bitten by the writing bug. And by bitten, I mean BITTEN. I was playing at a friend’s house on a rainy day. We’d run out of things to do and so she brought a stack of white paper to the kitchen table and said we were going to write children’s books. An hour or so later, I was hooked. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to be (other than a mom) since.
Sharon. How did you get interested in writing “cozy” mysteries?
Elizabeth: While I’d read Nancy Drew and the like as a child, I truly fell in love with the mystery genre compliments of Mary Higgins Clark. I think I was 14 when I read, WHERE ARE THE CHILDREN. I remember reading that book at my desk and nearly jumping out of my skin when someone tapped me on the shoulder. A CRY IN THE NIGHT sealed my fate as a mystery writer.
Now even though Mary Higgins Clark isn’t a “cozy” writer, she wrote about real people, people I could identify with…and imagine.
Then, when it came time for me to actually give fiction a try, I guess I gravitated towards cozies because that’s what I like. I like the puzzle of figuring out whodunit rather than the gore. I don’t need to see the murder, I just like to figure out who/why.
Sharon: What inspired the theme of your series, and is “Victoria “Tori” Sinclair” (the heroine/sleuth in the Southern Sewing Circle Mysteries) based on anyone you know?
Elizabeth: While there are many “craft-related mysteries” on the shelves these days, what intrigued me about this series was the “circle” aspect. People flock together over common interests all across the country—bunko, knitting, sewing, writing, you name it. And these kinds of commonalities bringing together people that might not necessarily gravitate towards each other otherwise. Having such wide age ranges and backgrounds together in one place makes for great stories!
As for Tori, no, she’s not based on anyone I know.
Sharon: What appealed to you about the genre of cozy mysteries as opposed to hardcore mysteries or suspense stories?
Elizabeth: The puzzle aspect. I like the focus being on who/why. I think it calls to that former journalist in me.
Though, I have to admit, suspense calls to me. In fact, I have a suspense story living in my computer right now, waiting for a little time and attention from me.
Sharon: Your main character, Tori, is an accomplished seamstress – do you sew? And she is a librarian – did you want to be a librarian growing up?
Elizabeth: I don’t sew. In fact, I liken myself more to “Leona Elkin”—the lone member of the Sweet Briar Ladies Society Sewing Circle who doesn’t sew…though she’s learning (and so am I)…
I never considered being a librarian (probably because the writing bug took over so early), but I have always loved libraries and librarians. I mean, really, what’s better than a building devoted to nothing but books…and filled with people who love books as much as I do.
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?
Elizabeth: I guess I just hope that readers give my series a shot…and that I intrigue them enough (via fun stories) to keep coming back for more!! I’ve tried to create a cast of characters that people enjoy. Sure, there may be a member of the circle they don’t like (that’s life, isn’t it?), but whether you love, like, or even dislike someone, you tend to know what happens to them. And, eventually, as this series continues, all of the characters will have their time in the spotlight.
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?
Elizabeth: I know! I am in love with both the artist and the designer Berkley has working on this series. They just get it. Every time I think I have a favorite, they come up with another one I like even more (wait until you see the artwork for PINNED FOR MURDER – due out in October)!
Sharon: Who are some of your favorite authors? Who inspires you?
Elizabeth: Mary Higgins Clark is my all-time favorite author—the one who made me turn my writing aspirations towards Mystery. Now that I’m there, I enjoy Harlan Coben, Hannah Dennison, Susan McBride, and many others!
Sharon: What do you have coming up in the future?
Elizabeth: Lots! PINNED FOR MURDER (the third in the Southern Sewing Circle Mystery Series) will be out October, 5th and this book will focus on Rose (the oldest member of the circle). DEADLY NOTIONS (the fourth book) will be out next spring. There will also be a # 5 and a # 6…and hopefully more!
Sharon: What advise would you have for anyone wanting to break into the “cozy mystery” genre?
Elizabeth: Write every day (even if it’s just 30 minutes). Read, read, read. And trust your gut (which is different than your pride).
Elizabeth has a lovely website (www.elizabethlynncasey.com) where she maintains a daily blog on the site (and it’s a hoot sometimes!). She also has a Facebook Fan Page under Elizabeth Lynn Casey as well as a website for alter-ego (real-life), the romantic Laura Bradford (www.laurabradford.com)
In celebration of the release of DEATH THREADS, Elizabeth will be holding a special launch-week contest at her website, starting May 3rd, so be sure to check it out!
Sharon Chance has been a freelance entertainment journalist for the past fourteen years. As a regular contributor to the Wichita Falls Times Record News, she has written well over 1,600 articles covering everything from concert and movie reviews to museum openings to interviewing some of the top musicians performing today, including members of Bon Jovi and Guns and Roses.
But her true love lies in the world of books. A voracious reader from a young age, Sharon began reviewing books at the urging of her sister-in-law, who was a big fan of the Oprah Winfrey Book Club. What began as a simple fun attempt at sharing her views of books she enjoyed has developed into a work of passion for Sharon. In addition to being a senior book reviewer for the Times Record News, Sharon is also a regular guest contributor for the Las Vegas Review Journal’s Book Nook, as well as having written for several other publications.
A distant relative of the great Edgar Allan Poe, Sharon has a fondness for mysteries, especially those of the cozy kind. In her new column, Sharon’s Cozy Corner, Sharon hopes to bring news of the latest in the cozy mystery genre, as well as insightful interviews with the authors who write them.