My turn on this wonderful tour today!
I am thrilled to welcome Lesley
to Escape With Dollycas today!
Failure Is Fatal
by Lesley A. Diehl
Why I write Cozy Mysteries (And Why You should Read Them)
Lesley A. Diehl
Someone, knowing my background as a psychologist, asked me why I didn’t write thrillers or suspense. Why mysteries, and specifically why cozy mysteries? Let me back into answering that question by telling you a bit about my background in psychology. I was not trained as a clinician per se, but my Ph. D. is in developmental psychology. I’ve always been interested in the normal course of development and early in my career I studied curiosity in young children. As I aged, so too did my interests and I began to focus on adults and then on the aging process. In all these areas the family constellation was of major interest. For some years I did run a private practice, but my clients were young adults, mostly young adults, whose presenting issues were anxiety and identity issues. No serial killers or psychopaths here.
That’s why I don’t write thriller and suspense, but why would a psychologist choose cozy mysteries? At least fifty percent of what I read are cozies. My preference was developed early in my life. Now I read some thrillers and suspense, but this genre is not my favorite. I’ve always been a Nancy Drew and later Agatha Christie fan, and I think these early reading interests shaped my love of mysteries, particularly the cozy mystery.
And there are parallels between the lives of the characters in a cozy and my own life. For example, cozies are often about small communities. I grew up on a dairy farm, and, with the exception of life as a university student and just after retirement, I have spent most of my life living in rural towns. There are aspects of a large city I like, but I can’t say I’m very comfortable there for long periods of time. I have to confess that I have nightmares about getting lost in an urban area and not being able to find my way out of the maze of streets. There is something “cozy” about village life where you know almost everyone and they know you. The down side is that you know almost everyone and they know you. That aspect of small town life can be used to advantage for the cozy mystery writer who uses the buried secrets and lies in a small town to create tension and motivation surrounding a local murder.
Training as a social scientist (which is what the discipline of psychology is) created in me a love of the logic that goes into social scientific research, a logic which has worked well for me when I construct the plot twists and turns in my cozies. If the writer doesn’t respect the rationality of tight plotting, the mystery falls apart. But because my discipline focuses on behavior, I get to use that aspect of psychology to develop and create my characters, and characters are what make cozies compelling especially if the characters are drawn well enough to make them feel like the people you who live next door to you. My understanding of family issues also allows me to embed my characters in their home lives and explore the working of families, some that function well, others that don’t. And that can make for a great murder mystery.
Cozies seem to have found their wings lately by entertaining serious issues by doing so within a community context. For example, in my first Laura Murphy mystery Murder Is Academic, Laura becomes concerned about what is happening to the lake she lives on when fish kills and bacterial overgrowth flood its water. Not only is murder the issue in the book, but so is the environmental issue of water pollution along with other concerns such as greed, ambition and ruthless competition within the community. So cozies are more than warm fuzzy stories. They are stories about how we live our lives.
In Failure Is Fatal I entertain another issue in a college community—town/gown relationships specifically how Greek organizations interact with both the college and the town in which many of their residences are located. This is familiar ground for me, having taught at the university level for many years. In addition, I consider the issue of disciplinary boards on a campus and how they address infractions of the law by students. I consider the college yet another small community with the advantage to the writer of bringing in people from outside the region.
Serious issues, but ones I prefer presenting in a cozy with humor. Laughter is good for the psyche, and you got that from a psychologist!
Cozy clearly is my mystery of choice. It allows me a familiar, proscribed setting and is perfect for creating a cast of characters that feel familiar to the reader. It’s murder in one’s own backyard where the woman across the street who nags you about your cat peeing in her bushes takes revenge upon those she dislikes in ways that are up close and often personal. So beware her digging up her garden by the light of the moon or hauling heavy trash bags out to the curb on garbage pick-up day. She may not be composting her table scraps or recycling that old rug. It could be the stuff of a good cozy mystery. Best to keep Miss Marple’s phone number at hand.
Failure Is Fatal (Laura Murphy Mysteries)
2nd in Series
Creekside Publishing (January 21, 2016)
Paperback: 324 pages
E-Book ASIN: B01AYNXO64
Someone at Professor Laura Murphy’s college appears to be playing a joke on her by planting sexually explicit stories in her research results, but the joke turns deadly when one story details the recent stabbing murder of a coed. Laura’s close friend, Detective Derrick Pasquis from the local police, asks for her help in interviewing the prickly suspects who resist intervention from outside the campus community. Eager to search out clues, Laura ignores warning signs that playing amateur sleuth may jeopardize her newly developing romance with Guy. And of course her usual intrusive manner puts her at odds with everyone on campus—colleagues, the college administration, the head of campus security and fraternity members. Is there no one Laura can’t offend in her eagerness to find the truth? The closer she gets to solving the crime, the more it appears that the past—the coed’s, that of a prominent faculty member and Laura’s own—is the key to the murder. Caught in an early winter blizzard, Laura must choose between wandering the mountains and freezing to death or taking her chances with a killer clever enough to make murder look like the work of an innocent student.
About The Author –
Lesley retired from her life as a professor of psychology and reclaimed her country roots by moving to a small cottage in the Butternut River Valley in upstate New York. In the winter she migrates to old Florida—cowboys, scrub palmetto, and open fields of grazing cattle, a place where spurs still jingle in the post office, and gators make golf a contact sport. Back north, the shy ghost inhabiting the cottage serves as her literary muse. When not writing, she gardens, cooks and renovates the 1874 cottage with the help of her husband, two cats and, of course, Fred the ghost, who gives artistic direction to their work.
She is the author of a number of mystery series (Microbrewing Series, Big Lake Mystery Series, Eve Appel Mystery Series and the Laura Murphy Mysteries), a standalone mystery (Angel Sleuth) and numerous short stories.
Find more books by Lesley Diehl here.
May 2 – A Blue Million Books – INTERVIEW
May 3 – I’d Rather Be Reading At The Beach – REVIEW
May 4 – Back Porchervations – REVIEW
May 5 – Readsalot – INTERVIEW
May 6 – Shelley’s Book Case – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST
May 7 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – GUEST POST
May 8 – LibriAmoriMiei – REVIEW
May 9 – Brooke Blogs – CHARACTER GUEST POST
May 10 – Island Confidential – REVIEW, GUEST POST
May 11 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT
May 12 – Author Annette Drake’s blog – REVIEW, INTERVIEW
May 13 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST
May 14 – ReGina Welling Author Spotlight – SPOTLIGHT
May 15 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW, INTERVIEW
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