Staying home means more time to read. Right?
To help pass the time between books, we asked six of our cozy mystery authors to share what they’re doing during their time at home!
We hope you’ll cozy up at home with these first in the cozy mystery series:
- Can’t Judge a Book by Its Murder by Amy Lillard, a Main Street Book Club Mystery
- Live and Let Chai by Bree Baker, a Seaside Cafe Mystery
- Death on Windmill Way by Carrie Doyle, a Hampton’s Murder Mystery
- Penne Dreadful by Catherine Bruns, an Italian Chef Mystery
- Dead in the Water by Denise Swanson, a Welcome Back to Scumble River mystery
- Last Pen Standing by Vivian Conroy, a Stationery Shop Mystery
Keep reading to cozy up with our authors and check out the books over here!
You’re trapped in a remote cabin with one character from your series for one week. Who would it be and why?
Amy Lillard: Hands down-Fern. She might not have Helen’s cooking skills or Camille’s bottomless handbag or even Arlo’s practical side, but being stranded definitely wouldn’t be boring with Fern!
Bree Baker: I would definitely spend the week with Everly Swan, the heroine of my Seaside Cafe Mysteries! She has so many amazing stories to tell. I want to hear all about growing up on the island and in her small town of Charm. I want to learn more about her ancestors, her beekeeping great-aunts, and the alleged curses they claim are upon the family. And I definitely want to enjoy all of Everly’s delicious family recipes, iced teas, and sweets!
Carrie Doyle: I’m trapped in a remote cabin but thank God I have Antonia Bingham with me! She’s the heroine of my Hamptons Murder Mystery Series. Antonia is the perfect person to be ‘stuck’ with first and foremost because she has a nice disposition and is interesting and witty. But let’s get honest–the real reason I want to be trapped with her is because she is a gourmet chef! I love to cook but I love it even more when I have a friend who is a good cook. And Antonia runs a well-received restaurant at her inn, so she knows a lot about hospitality and how to please people. I can’t wait for her to whip up delicious meals for me.
Catherine Bruns: Oh, that’s a tough one. Tessa, my main character, is a great choice because she’s warm, easy to talk to, and a fabulous chef. I’d definitely eat well. Romantic wise, it would be hard to decide between Tessa’s friend Justin (a fireman) or her new landlord Vince (also a chef.) They’re both hot but in different ways, lol.
Denise Swanson: Wow! That’s a tough one. I can’t choose one of the guys since my husband might not like it. I guess that I’d have to go with Dani from my Chef-to-Go series. She’s an awesome cook so we’d have great meals and her taste in books and TV shows are the same as mine.
Vivian Conroy: Mrs. Cassidy, a member of the Paper Posse crafting club! Together we could do amazing paper crafts, her pumpkin soup with cornbread is famous, and she has the cutest dog: Yorkie Nugget.
What’s the best part about writing a cozy mystery?
Amy Lillard: I love piecing in all the clues and leads and putting it together so it fits like a key in a lock. When it works, it works.
Bree Baker: I think the best part about writing a cozy mystery is knowing my stories give readers a little escape, a smile, and a break from the sometimes heaviness of life. My fictional characters and community stand ready and waiting to welcome readers in with open arms.
Carrie Doyle: There is a lot of world-building that goes into writing a cozy mystery because they are usually a series. That’s why it is crucial to create a community and characters that you will be living with for several (hopefully dozens!) of books. In my series, I have the Innkeeper, Antonia, who is the heroine and she has her friend Joseph, a retired historian who lives at her inn. Antonia has a love-hate relationship with Larry Lipper, the irritating crime reporter for the local newspaper, as well as an I’m-in-love relationship with Nick Darrow, the movie star who lives in East Hampton. Then there is also Genevieve, Antonia’s kooky best friend who has a kamikaze love life. These characters appear in all the books and every time I return to write a new book in the series I feel like I am back visiting my old friends. They are almost like family members–you love them warts and all.
Catherine Bruns: Being able to create my own make-believe world that feels very real to me.
Denise Swanson: I enjoy creating the funny, quirky, warm, caring characters and knowing that I can give them all happy endings.
Vivian Conroy: Putting together the puzzle, with all the clues and red herrings, making sure the reader can figure it out but without giving anything away too soon.
What are you working on right now?
Amy Lillard: I’m actually working on the fourth book in the Kappy King Mystery Series. It is set in the Amish country of Kish Valley, PA, and has about as many zany characters as are featured in my Main Street Books. It’s definitely not your mama’s Amish mystery!
Bree Baker: Right now, I’m working with my editor on revisions for CLOSELY HARBORED SECRETS, book 5 in my Seaside Cafe Mystery series, coming this winter.
Carrie Doyle: I’m currently writing a new series for Sourcebooks called Trouble in Paradise. It’s exciting because this book is set in the Caribbean and is a completely different atmosphere than the Hamptons where my other series is set. It’s fun to write about a tropical location during the cold winter months because I really travel there in my mind. The premise is this: After losing her prestigious job as a travel magazine editor, thirty-five-year-old Plum Lockhart is fed up and decides to make a dramatic move. Tired of the shrinking publishing business, the cold New York City winters, and swiping left on dating apps, she impulsively accepts a job as a villa broker and promptly moves to Las Frutas Resort on the beautiful Caribbean island of Paraiso. Undaunted by the fact that she doesn’t speak Spanish, doesn’t know the culture, and has never worked in this field before, Plum is completely confident that she will swiftly be a success, because really how hard could it be? Um, hard. Especially when one of her first clients ends up dead.
Catherine Bruns: I am getting ready to start the third book in the Italian Chef mysteries! This will be a Christmas cozy.
Denise Swanson: I am currently writing the next Scumble River mystery. It’s due August 1 and I’m about halfway through the first draft.
Vivian Conroy: I’ve just finished checking the proofreads of For Letter or Worse, the second Stationery Shop mystery. Slated for release in September 2020, it will whisk the reader away to beautiful autumnal Tundish, where Delta and Hazel are hosting a 3D card making workshop for high-profile guests ending in. . . murder!
What’s your favorite Hallmark movie?
Amy Lillard: Dater’s Handbook–I’m a list person, a find-your-answer-in-a-book person, and I have to remind myself that not everything is written down. And I love romances that reflect this!
Bree Baker: This is a completely unfair question! I love all Hallmark movies equally, but I am especially partial to ones set at Christmas.
Carrie Doyle: I don’t watch Hallmark Movies. I am obsessed with the Agatha Raisin series (BBC but now on Amazon.) I am a huge M.C. Beaton fan-just finished my fourteenth Agatha Raisin book and I am on book six of the Hamish MacBeth series. I love the characters she creates. I can’t recommend the TV series enough also, because Ashley Jensen who plays Agatha is a terrific actress and I love the Cotswolds setting.
Catherine Bruns: Anything with Aurora Teagarden or Hailey Dean.
Denise Swanson: I enjoy Charlaine Harris’s Aurora Teagarden mysteries. My mom’s a huge Hallmark fan and she always wants to know why my books haven’t been made into movies. I tell her that I want to know the same thing. 😉
Vivian Conroy: Too many to choose just one. I adore everything Christmas and those with royalty. Bonus points if there are cute dogs included!
What’s your go-to recipe to satisfy your sweet tooth?
Amy Lillard: I don’t eat sweets any longer so thanks for making me think about it! LOL
But when I did, I loved Russian Tea Cakes (also known as Mexican Wedding Cookies, though I’m not sure of the validity of either cultural claim!) The recipe can be found here!
Bree Baker: I like brownies. The chocolatier the better, and warm. . . with vanilla ice cream. . . and a little fudgy drizzle. YUM!
Carrie Doyle: If I had to choose savory or sweet, it will always be savory. Cheese and crackers are my vice. However, when I do make dessert, there are two recipes that I like, but I tweak both of them. I absolutely love Jessica Seinfeld’s olive oil cake recipe from her book FOOD SWINGS. But one change I make is that I only add 3/4 cup of sugar as opposed to 1 cup and 3/4 cup of olive oil as opposed to 1 cup. You can serve it with roasted fruit or whipped cream to add sweetness. This recipe is a big hit in our house because it is easy to make–no fancy mixer needed–and both of my teenage boys have baked it on their own. My dog likes it also. True story: I was having a dinner party so I made the cake and left it to cool on the counter. Then I went to shower and by the time I returned to the kitchen my dog had jumped up on the counter and eaten the cake. The good news is that it is so easy to make and most of the ingredients are pantry staples that I was able to quickly whip it up again before the guests arrived. The bad news is my dog ate a cake!
Another recipe that has been my go-to for years is the apple crisp from Ina Garten (the Barefoot Contessa’s) book PARTIES! I worked in the bakery section of the Barefoot Contessa store that was located in East Hampton, New York in college. I love her food and use one of her recipes literally every day. The crisp is so easy to make and is great if you are having guests over because you can assemble it in advance. Then when they arrive you pop it in the oven because it takes at least an hour and the amazing smells will come wafting out of the oven. I do tweak this recipe as well, as I do all of Ina Garten’s dessert recipes, because there is way too much sugar! I only use 1/2 cup of white and brown sugar for the topping as opposed to 3/4 cup. I also add berries (blackberries, cranberries, or raspberries) to give it a tartness. It is a home run. https://barefootcontessa.com/recipes/old-fashioned-apple-crisp
Catherine Bruns: Cheesecake. I make a good one but it’s not as great as Tessa’s.
Denise Swanson: I’ve been baking way more than usual, and I have to say saucepan brownies are my favorite right now.
Vivian Conroy: I’m a huge fan of desserts and am always trying new ones: cheesecake, tiramisu, triple chocolate ice cream, and anything pie. In the Stationery Shop Mysteries, I gave Delta and Hazel a friend with a bakery so they’re never short on sweet treats!
COMMENT TO WIN: Looking for a new cozy mystery series to start? How about SIX? Sourcebooks Landmark/Poisoned Pen Press has put together a FABULOUS prize pack of the six cozy mystery authors featured in this article. One lucky winner will review the first books in the six cozy mystery series discussed today. Just leave a comment below, telling us what you’re favorite thing about reading a cozy mystery is! US and Canada only – GOOD LUCK!