Today we have the author of the new Brewing Trouble cozy mystery series sharing how she can to write about craft brew beers. I reviewed the debut in this series (click here).
My Path to Writing Cozy Mysteries
If someone had told me even ten years ago that I’d be writing cozies, I’m not sure I would have believed them. Back then, I was the part-time secretary for my local police department and the book I was writing was more of a police procedural, and my main character was an ex-cop who taught martial arts. It was definitely NOT a cozy in any way, shape, or form. It made sense to me to “write what you know.” I knew cops and I knew martial arts—I had a second degree blackbelt in Taekwondo.
Then in 2008, I was let go from that job and I wondered what to do next. Did I find another part-time job? Or should I take the opportunity to write full time and see what happened? Fortunately we didn’t need the tiny bit of income I’d had so I chose the latter and started a new book. The new story featured a police secretary named Irma Jean. She was a bit of a smart aleck. I let myself write without putting a label of “procedural” or “cozy” or anything else on the book. I just wrote the story. When it was finished I sent out queries and an agent liked it enough to work on revising it with me. She had me restructure the book and soon it was ready to submit to publishers.
Except…she dropped a bombshell on me. She was leaving to take her dream job with a publishing company. Eventually I found another agent who started submitting the book. Then she left agenting to go back to school, but the good news was another agent at the same agency took me on. Whew.
To make this long story a little shorter, In Spite of Murder ended up on the desk of an editor at Berkley. She liked the story but the book wasn’t cozy enough for their line. She liked my voice and wanted to know if I’d be interested in writing a cozy.
I’d been reading a lot of cozies and I realized deep down that was what I wanted to write. That was the genre I had the voice for. I just had to figure out what my book would be about. I didn’t do crafts. I did help hubby with some home improvement type things, but there were already cozies that covered that topic. I tried to think up unusual occupations, but it seemed like most had been done. It finally dawned on me ( I may have been drinking a beer at the time) that there were no cozies with a craft brew theme.
Max O’Hara, my protagonist would be a female brewmaster and I’d set it in my hometown of Pittsburgh. She’d have five older brothers and her dad would be a homicide detective. Her romantic interest would be her childhood crush—the best friend of one of her brothers. I wrote a proposal for what I was calling the Brewing Trouble Series. The proposal included a synopsis of the first book, To Brew Or Not To Brew, plus ideas for following books. I sent the proposal along with the first three chapters to my agent.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
I am so thrilled to be able to finally share this book with readers. I can’t wait for you to meet and spend some time with all my characters. I hope you’ll love them as much as I do. Someone recently asked me if I had a favorite character and I think they were surprised it wasn’t the hunky ex-hockey player-chef, Jake. (An early reader said she needed more Jake in her life, lol.) I happen to adore Elmer, the ninety-two year old World War II vet. He says anything and everything that’s on his mind and doesn’t care who hears it!
I feel very comfortable in the world of writing cozies. Right now, I can’t imagine doing anything else!
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Thank you Joyce. I loved your new series and the craft beer theme. I love hearing about your path to getting to this stage in your writing career.
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