Linda Reilly is the author of an exciting new Deep Fried cozy mystery series, Linda was first published in 1995 with her first short mystery, Out of Luck, that was accepted for publication by Woman’s World Magazine. Since then she’s had over forty short stories published, including a sprinkling of romances. In 2013 Five Star Publishing released her first full-length mystery, Some Enchanted Murder, featuring Paralegal/title searcher Apple Mariani. I loved her debut of Deep Fried cozy mystery, Fillet of Murder (read review here.) Let's welcome Linda to M&MM's blog!
When I began writing Fillet of Murder, which features a fish and chips eatery in the Berkshires, I wanted readers to like my people . . . maybe even find a few of them quirky. Isn’t that one of the things we love about cozy characters? Since I grew up in the region where the series takes place, I scrolled my mind backward (way, way backward) to my younger days, to some of the wonderful “characters” I was lucky enough to know.
I was seventeen when I first got a summer job at an old-style restaurant called The Willows (long gone, I’m afraid). The owner, Gladys, was a generous soul and one of the best cooks I’ve ever known. Throughout that entire summer I flipped burgers, made sub sandwiches, and washed a never-ending stream of dirty dishes and pans. I even scrubbed clam shells for the soon-to-be steamed clams, never realizing they were still alive until one of them snapped shut and sent my heart into overdrive!
That summer left me with so many treasured memories. I can still recall how appreciated Gladys made me feel after working long, hot hours in a kitchen cooled only by a table fan. She overpaid me and over-praised me—she was one of the kindest people I’ve ever known.
Those are the days I thought back to when I first began writing the Deep Fried series. I wanted Talia Marby, my main character, to have those same warm recollections of her first summer job. So I created Bea Lambert.
As characters go, Bea is one of my favorites. Picture a petite, sixtyish woman with springy black curls, leaf green eyes, and a darling British accent. Originally from the UK, her speech is populated with words like “luvvy” and “bloke” and “wanker.” Bea is the co-owner, with her hubby, of Lambert’s Fish & Chips—an eatery located in a cobblestoned shopping plaza designed to resemble an old English village.
Talia was a teenager when she got her first job at Lambert’s. Troubled by a rift between her mom and dad, she bonded with the childless Bea, and Lambert’s became her refuge. Even when she wasn’t working, Talia could often be found mulling over homework at one of the tables at the back of the restaurant. Bea couldn’t have loved Talia more if she’d been her own daughter.
Talia learned the fish and chips biz that summer, never dreaming she’d return there more than fifteen years later to help out Bea in a pinch. What she also never imagined was murder, right there in that charming plaza. When Bea is accused of murdering a fellow shopkeeper, Talia dives right in to rescue her friend from a certain stint in the pokey.
Looking back, I realize that Bea and Gladys didn’t have all that much in common. Not unless you counted their many kindnesses, their overwhelming generosity, and their love for humankind.
Were you ever lucky enough to have a Bea or a Gladys in your life? Do you have a story you’d like to share about your first summer job?
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THANK You Linda for sharing your memories that inspired this newest novel. My summer job....housekeeping job at a hotel. I was exhausted and ready for school to start.
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