I'm so excited to be a stop on the blog tour for
Book 1 in the Christmas Village Mysteries
by T. C. Wescott
‘Twas the week before Christmas and all through the village, the night settled in over swirling-smoke chimneys.
The air was alive with pine and with holly, with sugar and cinnamon and cider, by golly!
Along snowy lanes and through shadows it crept, past windows behind which each villager slept,
Where sleeping dogs lie and cats rest a’purring—
Tonight, in Christmas Village, a killer is stirring.
Nestled betwixt an opulent garden with meandering footpaths and an ancient grove of plum trees, Plum Cottage Inn is plum-full with lodgers in for the Christmas Festival. There are no vacancies...until one by one the lodgers start dying in inexplicable ways.
Short as a stump, round as a wheel, sweet as a candy cane, and a sharp as a whip, Maribel Claus loves a good puzzle. Can Mrs. Claus solve the mystery and save Christmas?
If you enjoy the classic Golden Age small village and English country house mysteries as well as lighthearted cozies of our present day, you will fall in love with the Christmas Village Mysteries. And your love affair starts right here with Slay Bells.
Slay Bells includes diagrams of the murder scenes and a one-of-a-kind BOOK GROUP CHALLENGE
Winners will be chosen after November 14.
at the end of the tour
2 lucky readers will win a Kindle copy of
Enter using the Rafflecopter form at the end of this post.
This giveaway is through Great Escape Book Tours, not Lisa Ks Book Reviews.
LKBR: Thank you for being here today, T. C.!
TCW: Thank you for having me, Lisa. Like all mystery authors I’m first and foremost a reader. And as a cozy mystery reader I’m more than familiar with your blog and its standing in the cozy community. So, it’s quite an honor for me to participate as an author.
LKBR: Please tell us a bit about your book/series.
TCW: My latest book is Slay Bells and it’s first in the new Christmas Village Mystery series. In a nutshell, imagine the character of Miss Jane Marple if she were dropped in the world of the great classic Christmas paintings. My protagonist is Maribel Claus, just as keen as Miss Marple, but perhaps a little spunkier. The village of Christmas is entirely fantastical which gives me freedom to do things you can’t do in a standard cozy. For instance, most of the customs of the village are straight from the Victorian era or before, yet they have cell phones. There are all the modern conveniences in the village – electricity, television, internet—but they use them very sparingly, preferring instead to use gas for lighting and cooking and their own two feet over a car. The way they celebrate holidays is a mix of old and new which gives me the opportunity to work in forgotten Christmas customs that once upon a time were as commonplace as lights on a tree are today. But this is not a Christmas series, per se. Different books will take place at different times a year and even on different holidays.
The other series I’ve started is the Running Store Mystery series. The first book, Running from Scissors, is available now in Kindle, paperback and Audible editions. The second in that series, Running from Arrows, comes out in January.
LKBR: How did you come up with the concept?
TCW: A few years ago I had the idea of a stand-alone book called ‘Who Killed Santa Claus?’ in which Santa would be murdered in Christmas Village. I was intrigued not only by the idea that Santa himself might be a murder victim but that a murder mystery would take place in an isolated village filled with cottages and eccentric characters. Subsequent to this I decided I’d try my hand at a cozy mystery series. But I couldn’t find an idea I liked. One day, while washing dishes, the two worlds collided and the idea of Christmas Village Mysteries came to be. Only now Santa would not be killed. In fact, he himself is not a character. Maybe Maribel Claus is the wife of the Santa of lore, maybe she’s not.
LKBR: What are your future plans for this series? Any hints or spoilers you can give us about the next book?
TCW: My plan for this series is certainly long term. The different books will span the seasons and holidays although, of course, Christmas will be visited again and again. Many of the books in the series will, like Slay Bells, be Howdunits as well as Whodunits. That is to say they will involve impossible or ‘locked room’ murders where the sleuth as well as the reader will be tasked with figuring out how the murder was committed in order to determine who committed it.
As for future exploits in the series, I’m not settled on what the second book will be, but the third Christmas Village Mystery book, which I plan for Halloween 2019, will be titled And All Through the House and will be in the tradition of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, only I plan to include at least 4 impossible murders. I’m equal parts excited and nervous about taking on that project. But if you love old dark house mysteries, it will be an event.
LKBR: Is writing an energizing experience, or does it take a lot out of you?
TCW: If you’re doing it right, it’s both. But writing cozies is a lot less emotionally taxing than other genres. This is because it’s primarily about the puzzle and the rest of the stuff is, by its very nature, ‘cozy’ and so fun and relaxing to write about.
LKBR: Once you knew you wanted to be a published writer, who was the first person you reached out to for help? (Such as a publisher, or author)
TCW: I started a little differently from other fiction writers in that most of my output for years was research-based essays on historical crime. I published a couple of dozen essays and then wrote my first longform non-fiction book, which did well. Then I wrote my second. It was at this point that I decided to try my hand at my favorite fiction genre of all – mystery.
LKBR: What sort of research do you do for your books? Is it more computer based or hands on?
TCW: It depends. For the Running Store Mystery series I based the fictional town of Cedar Mill off my own town, so most of the businesses in there are fictional versions of real businesses. In this respect, my research was hands-on. Also, much of the information about running I learned from speaking with actual runners. Other information came from online research. I myself am not a runner. For the Christmas Village Mystery series, the research is almost entirely from books and online research. The rest just comes out of my head.
LKBR: What is your writing process? Place, time of day, by the hour or word count?
TCW: I don’t write at a specific time of day. It’s more whenever I’m alone and have a little time to myself. It’s often a struggle but I try to get 1k to 2k words per day. I work on my books every single day of the year.
LKBR: How do you come up with character names?
TCW: Some just come to me. A number of minor characters I just pull first names from this person and last names from that person. More than once I’ve turned on the TV and the next name mentioned became that character. No joke. For Christmas Village, I chose to have fun with some of the names, such as Professor Ethelbert Gildersleeve, Buckminster Folly and Barnaby Snipes. These took more thought and effort. The names alone paint a picture of the characters. I’ll invite your readers to consider what these names tell them about these characters and see how correct they are when they read Slay Bells!
LKBR: Is it difficult to write characters of the opposite sex? Do you have someone you use for advice?
TCW: I don’t find it particularly difficult. I’ve been surrounded by women my whole life so I draw upon that. One thing I’ve noticed is that stereotypes don’t often apply, so I see little need to use them when creating characters of the opposite sex. How successful I am is subjective, but the feedback I’ve received (from predominantly female readers) has been positive. My editor is a woman so if I put a real whopper in there she’s sure to catch it!
LKBR: Do you read reviews of your books? If you do, and a review is bad, what effect does it have on you? (I know some reviews are mean as opposed to constructive.)
TCW: Yes, I do. It’s hard to avoid them when there aren’t all that many. When you’re Amanda M. Lee and reviews are coming in by the truckloads I’m sure it’s easier to turn off. I’ve received a few bad reviews for Running from Scissors, but by and large I’d consider them constructive. And some are subjective. I received two back-to-back recently that were at odds with each other – one reader thought I dragged out the reveal too long, comparing it unfavorably to the 1985 film Clue; the other reader praised me for the same thing, noting that it harkens back to the Golden Age of detective fiction. Both readers got exactly what I was going for, but one liked it and the other didn’t. Both are valid, in my opinion.
LKBR: What are 3 things readers may not know about you?
TCW: Since I’m so new to the scene I’d wager they know little more than what they’re reading here. But what I would like them to know is that I take what I do very seriously. The last thing I would want to do is waste their time. My intention with Christmas Village Mysteries is to create a series cozier and more mysterious than most of the other cozy mysteries they’ll read throughout the year. That’s my objective, my goal. Again, how well I succeed will be subjective, but the way I figure it is by aiming for such a lofty goal I’m liable to get the best out of myself, and that’s precisely what I want to give my readers.
LKBR: Where can readers go to learn more about you and your books?
TCW: BookBub https://www.bookbub.com/authors/t-c-wescott
Amazon Author Page:
Goodreads Author Page:
LKBR: Thank you so much, T. C. for letting us get to know you better!
TCW: Again, my pleasure and honor. Thank you!
About the Author
T.C. Wescott was born in Missouri but has lived in Oklahoma most of his life. Like pretty much every author who has ever breathed, he is an avid reader. His favorites are classic mysteries from the Golden Age, as well as just before or just after that period (which is widely considered the period between the two World Wars). His first mystery novel, Running from Scissors, was published in July 2018 and will be the first of at least three books in the Running Store Mystery series.
The Christmas Village Mystery series will launch in November of the same year with the debut title Slay Bells. The formula for his books is simple - mixing the classic, traditional detective fiction standards with all the trappings of the modern cozy mystery.
Wescott is also (under another name) the author of two award-winning non-fiction books as well as a slew of essays and articles.
Follow on GoodReads - https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18176277.T_C_Wescott
Purchase Link - Amazon
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