I “met” today’s author back in January when she posted the beautiful cover of this book on Facebook. I loved the idea of a Garden Society Mystery. I added the cover to my Recommendations Page as a book “I Can’t Wait To Read!” and we set up a date for her to visit. TODAY!!! Please help yourself to some iced tea and help me give Alyse a Cozy Welcome.
A Cozy Voice
I have to confess to being a little intimidated to be here. Lori is so organized and has such amazing guests that I feel a little like a fraud, but there you have it. Have you all watched Neil Gaiman’s commencement address? For anyone creating art and trying to make a living at it, it is worth the time to listen, but those Fraud Police really spoke to me! What if it’s discovered I’m just… you know… a poser?! An insane person trying to pass myself off as an author!
At the same time, I’ve never discovered a genre that my voice slid into quite so easily as Cozy Mystery, so I suppose I will take some assurance there.
What Exactly IS a Cozy Voice? (and why does it suit a nut quite as well as it does?)
In a nut shell, it is the ability to be silly and still make a point… to travel a complicated path, taking people with me, and to make sure they feel like they are playing along the way.
When I first had it suggested I should write cozy mysteries, I hadn’t even HEARD of them (that’s terrible, yes?). I mean when my friend DESCRIBED them, I recognized them instantly… and knew them as my favorite sort of mysteries… not because I’m squeamish—I can handle the gore or the swearing or the sex that this genre puts as taboo… but I preferred the mystery where I UNDERSTOOD the DETAILS! Where the characters were approachable and I wanted to hang out with them.
I’m not a cop. I’m not a detective. I am not a forensic specialist or pathologist (even though honestly, they are often my favorite television characters). I was terrified at the idea of writing a mystery because I didn’t feel like I knew enough… But do you KNOW how liberating an amateur sleuth is? Heck, SHE doesn’t know anything EITHER! I can write whole books without knowing ANYTHING! *cough*
Okay, so maybe not. Mysteries are really very carefully plotted… But I don’t have to know the LANGUAGE initially, for a crime scene… I can learn it as I go. I don’t have to necessarily be methodical… I mean HECK! Our sleuths get into this game because someone they care about is accused of MURDER! How many of us would really stay totally rational in that situation? How methodical is it rational to BE and still have a likeable sleuth?
The other thing though, that is so fun about Cozy Mysteries, is that there is an expectation of humor… of nuttiness… of whimsy. Most often this is character quirk or situational—the side characters are really allowed (encouraged?) to be a zany sort. And I LOVE zany characters… especially when their zaniness creates low-level, and therefore humorous conflict.
Take Petunia, for instance. Camellia Harris (Cam, my sleuth) has a sister who is prickly… a reverse snob. She hates everything that gives a status she sees as false. Rich people? Pretty people? Educated people? They ALL annoy Petunia. Petunia loves charity cases and basket cases. Unfortunately, Cam happens to WORK WITH a garden society made up of the community’s prestigious and wealthy. And hires her sister and brother-in-law to cater because she is loyal that way… Conflict potential all around!
Cam’s father, too… a sixty-something babe-magnet… every middle aged woman in the room eyes him with longing… And he definitely earns it—self deprecating charm. But it is a bit of a hornet’s nest if more than one of your bosses is after the same man who happens to be your father…
You can see what I mean. I’ve had a blast setting this up. Sometimes the quirks feed into the murder mystery, sometimes not, but they add texture to the series, and humor to the tale. So it’s possible I’m a fraud, but I am sure having a ball getting away with it!
Alyse Carlson is the pen name for the author some of you may know as Hart Johnson. She writes books from her bathtub and when she isn’t writing, does research for a large, midwest University or leads the Naked World Domination Movement (your choice).
Check out Alyse’s blog: Confessions of a Watery Tart.
Alyse you are most definitely not a fraud. You have a wonderful cozy voice. You are also an AMAZING Guest!! The door is always open. I hope you come back to visit often!!
The Azalea Assault
(A Garden Society Mystery)
A BRAND NEW SERIES!
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery]
The Berkley Publishing Group
Published by The Penguin Group
Cover Design by Catherine Deeter
Cover Design by Lesley Worrell
Cam Harris loves her job as public relations manager for the Roanoke Garden Society. It allows her to combine her three loves, spinning the press, showing off her favorite town, and promoting her favorite activity. She’s just achieved a huge coup by enlisting Garden Delights, the country’s premiere gardening magazine, to feature the exquisite garden of RGS founder, Neil Patrick. She’s even managed to enlist world-famous photographer Jean-Jacques Georges. Unfortunately, Jean-Jacques is a first-rate cad—insulting the RGS members and gardening, goosing every woman in the room, and drinking like a lush. It is hardly a surprise when he turns up dead. But when Cam’s brother-in-law is accused and her sister begs her to solve the crime, that is when things really get prickly.
This is a wonderful debut.
Carlson has created some fantastic characters that we quickly fall for. Cam is quick witted and smart, the perfect protagonist. Petunia is lovable, funny and set in her ways. Nick, the reformed ex-con, loves his wife and is her great protector. Her friend Annie bakes cupcakes, need I say more. Cam’s father makes women swoon and Rob has eyes for just one woman. Jean-Jacques was the perfect victim, if he goosed me I may have done him in myself!
The story is delightful with a mystery that keeps us tip toeing through the azaleas to pick up all the clues. Nancy Drew has nothing on Miss Camillia Harris. Take some time to stop of smell the flowers for this first installment of what I know will be a very fragrant series. The Begonia Bribe will be coming soon!!
Thanks to the people at Penguin
I have 2 copies to giveaway!!
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”