Hi Patti, thanks for inviting me to talk about my recently released cozy mystery, Well Read, Then Dead, the first novel in the Read ’Em and Eat series published by Berkley Prime Crime. I’ve always loved writing short mystery fiction and I’m fortunate that my short stories have appeared here and there in anthologies and magazines. Over the years I’ve written noir, crime, traditional mystery, and paranormal mystery short stories. I’ve even managed a cozy story or two.
I must confess that when it comes to novels, I read cozies more than any other type and I have always wanted to write and publish a cozy mystery series.
I was actually inspired to write Well Read, Then Dead by Christine Begley, who works for Pennypress/Dell Magazines. She and I met several years ago at the annual Alfred Hitchcock/Ellery Queen pre-Edgar bash. Chris told me about a book she’d recently read called Shadow Country written by the late Peter Matthiessen. He introduces his readers to the untamed and isolated Ten Thousand Islands on the edge of the Everglades in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries He bases his fiction solidly in fact. I read the entire book (about 900 pages) in a few days and then re-read the parts I loved most. Matthiessen made the south Florida Gulf coast so fascinating that I knew I had to write about it.
At first I intended to write a short story set in that time and place, but ultimately I decided that a modern story with references to the past would make a perfect cozy mystery. So I asked my daughter, who lives in southwest Florida, to suggest a barrier island that would make a nice home for the café and bookstore known as the Read ’Em and Eat. She suggested Fort Myers Beach and I have to say it is the perfect cozy community with an enduring cadre of full time residents and enough vacationers to add variety.
As a cozy reader, when I finish reading a book, I always want to spend more of my time “living” with the characters. I hate for our visit to end. Writing this series allows me to spend an expanded amount of time hanging out in the Read ’Em and Eat and roaming Fort Myers Beach with Sassy, Bridgy and the gang. Of course it’s all completely in my head, but isn’t that where we readers have the most fun?