So, do you remember when I said . . .
So, do you remember when I said . . .
Pets in Cozy Mysteries
Cozy mysteries usually fall into a category such as food and drink, hobbies, or pets. My best fits food and drink, since both and revolve around Untapped Books & Café in Williamsburg, where waitress—and amateur sleuth—Odessa Dean serves artisanal dishes and craft beer.
However, pets play a huge part in the . Huckleberry, who looks “like a cross between a golden retriever and a couch cushion that had been left out in the rain,” is the resident shop dog at Untapped. Always underfoot, he has a critical role in solving the mysteries. Rufus the cat is why Odessa is in Brooklyn, or at least he’s the excuse her aunt uses to convince her to leave Louisiana. He causes his share of trouble, but is always around when Odessa needs a friend.
As you might have guessed by now, I love animals. I’ve had dogs, cats, lizards, ferrets, birds, fish, pet rats, hamsters, and even a wolf. At one time, between me and roomies, my household consisted of three dogs, a cat, several kittens, ten ratties, a couple fish tanks, an iguana, and a hedgehog. One of my first jobs was working at a zoo, where I was an animal ambassador—the person who carried small primates and enormous snakes around to meet with visitors, and I got to spend my free time making friends with gorillas and giraffes. I’ve always had a dog in my life and am currently claimed by an adorable rescue puggle called .
Because of my—can we be honest and call it an obsession?—with animals, I’m drawn to cozies that feature pets. No discussion about cozy mysteries or pets can be complete without mention of Sassy Cat Mysteries and Oliver, the chatty corgi, from Jennifer Hawkins’s .… Series by Lilian Jackson Braun, but my enthusiasm doesn’t end there. Mia P. Manansala’s features an adorable dachshund named Longganisa, who is so cute that I had to crochet my interpretation of the little sausage dog to gift the author, and now she is often spotted on Mia’s Instagram . I also adore talking pets, like the Persian cat, Marshmallow, from Jennifer J. Chow’s
Whatever animals you’re a fan of, you’re bound to find a cozy to read with your favorite furred, scaled, or feathered friend. I especially love cats in cozies, because I’m not allergic to them in books! Kate Lansing’s Colorado Wine Mysteries feature multiple cats from Parker’s cat, Zin (short for Zinfandel, of course), to Madeline the lodge cat in her latest novel, . Laurie Cass’s have Eddie, the crafty rescue cat. Dorothy St. James’s Beloved Bookroom Mysteries always include what is, in my opinion, the most cleverly named cat in cozies—Dewey Decimal.
Do you have a favorite cozy mystery series with a central pet?
~ Olivia Blacke
About Olivia Blacke
author Olivia Blacke writes quirky, unconventional, character-driven Cozy Mysteries. After shuffling around the U.S.A. from Hawaii to Maine, she currently resides with her husband and their roly-poly rescue puggle, but is forever homesick for NYC. In addition to writing, disappearing into a good book, and spending way too much time on social media, she enjoys SCUBA diving, crocheting, collecting tattoos, and baking dog cookies.
The Season of Witching
I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.
- L.M. Montgomery
I hate picking favorites, but I love autumn.
Maybe it’s the kiss of frost on the grass in the early morning or the smell of mouldering leaves and woodsmoke. Perhaps it’s the cozy, cable-knit sweaters perfect for a walk through the woods or that first taste of pumpkin spice coffee served in an oversized mug. Who am I kidding? It’s all of those things and more. I can’t get enough. So, when it came to choosing a setting for my Evenfall Witches B&B Mystery series, I knew it had to be somewhere that showcased the finest of the season’s splendor.
It didn’t take long to narrow in on New England given all its autumnal beauty, but my editor suggested I get more specific. Salem was the obvious choice given that my amateur sleuth, Brynn Warren, comes from a long line of witches, but somehow that felt too on the nose. What I wanted was a close-knit small town with towering old trees and wrought iron streetlamps. You know, the kind of place that has sidewalks covered in crunchy leaves and historic old homes decorated with pumpkins and surrounded by orchards serving tangy apple cider on crisp fall days. A village like Stars Hollow from Gilmore Girls. We live in troubled times, so I sought to create a town that could provide readers with a magical escape…and once I had that place in mind, Evenfall, Connecticut came to life.
October nights in Evenfall are made for witches.
The yellow moon was rising up from behind the trees of the hemlock forest at the edge of town while bats swooped against the darkening sky. The crisp wind with its traces of wood smoke skittered dried leaves across the pavement as a dog barked ceaselessly in the distance. The stirrings of night magic put most creatures on edge.
-In the Company of Witches
In the opening pages of In the Company of Witches, Brynn and her aunts are settling in for a cozy evening by the fire at their family-run B&B, Ivywood Hollow, when a thump from the second floor rattles the parlor chandelier. They quickly discover guest and local malcontent Constance Graves dead in the en suite of her room. At first, it seems like an accident...but it soon becomes clear that there's something more sinister at work.
Unfortunately for Brynn, she can’t rely solely on her powers to solve the mystery. That would be far too easy. Once a witch of the dead possessing the ability to speak with ghosts, Brynn has given up her powers after the loss of her husband, so now she has to cultivate some good, old-fashioned detective skills in order to uncover the identity of poor Constance’s killer. ~ Auralee Wallace
TWISTED TEA CHRISTMAS is book 23 in the Tea Shop Mysteries. 23? Wow! With a talent for writing I only wish I could possess, author Laura Childs has brewed a mystery as fresh as the first.
The way Ms. Childs continues to come up one clever mystery after the other, it’s a possibility she may be a criminal mastermind . . . of fiction! Just fiction. J
In TWISTED TEA CHRISTMAS, author Childs has brought murder to the Christmas season and done so brilliantly. Discovering who caused the death of a grande dame, one who planned to leave her fortune to charities, seemed like an impossible task for our intrepid friends from Indigo Tea Shop. But find the killer they did. And for us, the readers, it was quite the ride watching this unfold from the first page to the last.
Get yourself a copy of TWISTED TEA CHRISTMAS and begin your Christmas reading season!
LKBR: Thank you for joining us today, Maggie!
MB: Thanks for having me.
LKBR: Please tell us a bit about yourself.
MB: I live in Waynesboro, Va., have two daughters, and two cats.
LKBR: Talk to us about your new book.
MB: My new book is the second book in the Beach Reads series. It’s about a cold case.
LKBR: What is your writing process? Do you have a certain order you use when starting a new story, such as the crime, the characters, location?
MB: I always start with the characters. In this series, Summer came to me first. She’s a book snob, who ends up not being a book snob!
LKBR: How many hours a day/week do you write?
MB: Right now, unfortunately, only about an hour a day.
LKBR: Do you have a favorite place to write?
MB: My bed.
LKBR: Are you working on any new projects?
MB: Yes, I’m working on another story in the Buttermilk Creek series, which is published under Mollie Cox Bryan.
LKBR: Have you ever thought about giving up on writing? If yes, why? What kept you going?
MB: I think about it almost every day. It’s a tough business. There is no reason to do it unless you absolutely love writing. That’s why I keep writing.
LKBR: What can you see yourself doing if you weren’t writing?
MB: If I wasn’t writing, I’d be doing another creative thing, I’m sure. Maybe art of some kind.
LKBR: If you could make one request of a reader, what would that be?
MB: Enjoy the book!
LKBR: What are three things you’d like readers to know about you?
MB: I have a full time job that doesn’t include writing so I get up before work and write. My dream is to leave that job and just write all day every day!
I almost have an empty nest. One daughter is in college and the other is in Dublin, Ireland.
People ask about pen names—the publisher insisted on a pen name for this series. So many things are not in writer’s control!
LKBR: Thank you so much, Maggie!
MB: I’m looking forward to chatting with you again soon.