Emma leaves London and her life in high finance behind her and moves to an idyllic village in Cornwall, with its cobblestone streets and twisting byways. She plans to open a village tea shop and bake the recipes handed down to her from her beloved grandmother, and of course there’ll be plenty of space for her talking corgi, Oliver, to explore. Yes...talking. Emma has always been able to understand Oliver, even though no one else can.
As soon as Emma arrives in the village she discovers that the curmudgeonly owner of the building she wants to rent for her shop hates dogs and gets off on the wrong foot with Oliver. Although some might turn tail and run, Emma is determined to win her over. But when she delivers some of her homemade scones as a peace offering, she finds the woman dead. Together, Emma and Oliver will need to unleash their detective skills to catch a killer.
WHY WRITING COZIES SAVED MY 2020
This past year, I’ve been grateful for a lot of things. My family. My friends. Really good Wi-Fi. Zoom. My overflowing embroidery stash.
But most of all, I was grateful for being a cozy writer.
I’ve been writing since I was in seventh grade. I got my first professional rejection when I was in high school (it was from Young Miss magazine, if you’re curious). I sold my first short story in 1986. Since then, I’ve written in just about every genre, from science fiction and fantasy, to romance, to young adult to suspense, and now, mysteries — traditional, historical, and of course, cozies.
Being a writer was my goal as a young woman, and my vocation as an adult. I never seriously considered doing anything else. I love the writing process. I love finishing out the day with something on the page, or the screen, that didn’t exist before. Nothing beats the excitement of seeing my name (whatever it may be at the time, I’ve had a lot of pen names), on the cover.
But this last year, writing my cozy To Fetch a Felon just helped get me through. In this story, everything I like best about writing came together.
In To Fetch a Felon, Emma Reed has left the world of London finance to move to Trevena village in Cornwall to open a tea shop. Trevena is based on a place called Tintagel where I visited back in the nineties, while researching another book. It was a delight and an escape to get to revisit that trip and to embellish on all those memories, even while I was spending most of my year on the couch. Literally. My writing spot is now the couch in our living room, facing my TBR bookshelf.
And then there was the food. I’ve leaned hard into “pandemic baking,” and am particularly proud of my sourdough starter than I’ve kept going for the whole year. But with a main character who dreams of becoming a baker, I got to dive into recipes, ambitious projects and ideas on a whole new level. And yes, I can name all the winners of the The Great British Baking Show. Why do you ask?
Then there was the research. I am a nerd, I admit it. Part of what I love about being a writer is the chance to do research. I’d never written a dog as a full character in a story. I didn’t want Oliver to just be a side-kick in a fur suit. I wanted him to be a dog. So I got to spend time diving into the world of dogs — how they think, how their senses affect their “view” of the world, how they bond with their owners. It was fascinating.
But most important to me, writing a cozy is about optimism. In a cozy, no matter what kind it is, people come together, overcome odds, and not only solve the big problem (the murder), but forget new friendships, repair old wounds, or like Emma, finally realize their dreams. There may be bleak moments and real problems, but in the end, there are solutions, because people came together, put their heads and their skills together, and believed there could be.
And this year, and every year, that was just exactly what I needed.