Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!
Today we have 2 authors visiting!!
Welcome Barbara Ross and Liz Mugavero!
Talk of the Town
Liz Mugavero and Barbara Ross both have books coming out December 27. For Liz, it’s Custom Baked Murder, the fifth book in her Pawsitively Organic Pet Food Mystery series. For Barb, it’s Iced Under, the fifth book in her Maine Clambake Mystery series. Recently, they got together to talk cozy towns.
Barb: Hi Liz. If I know you as well as I think I do, you, like me have been watching the new season of The Gilmore Girls. As I watched, I realized one of reasons for the series’ success, along with the snappy dialog and endearing characters, is the town of Stars Hollow. Like the towns we write about, Frog’s Ledge, Connecticut and Busman’s Harbor, Maine, Stars Hollow is a classic New England town with a green and a band shell and a grab bag of eccentric characters.
What do you think attracts readers and viewers to these places?
Liz: Hi Barb! Yes, you do know me as well as you think…although I have a dilemma. I made a pact with myself that I’d watch all the original Gilmore Girls before watching the new season. I started over the summer and convinced myself that I’d be done way before November 25th! Alas, life got in the way and I’m only on season four – so no spoilers for the new ones!
Now, to your question. I have a confession. I watched Gilmore Girls before I moved to Connecticut. And I think one of the reasons I ended up here was because I was convinced every town was like Stars Hollow! Unfortunately it wasn’t true, but I became obsessed with the idea that I would find a little town to love that would love me back. A town with the perfect bookstore, the perfect grocer, the perfect people. And, the perfect coffee, of course. But it’s that sense of security I got from watching the show that drew me in. The idea that the people around you had your back, even though they weren’t traditional family. It’s that idea that you make your own family, right?
So let’s talk about that. How did you come up with the people with whom you populated your town? Based on real people, or totally made up?
Barb: What a great question. Of all my characters, Gus is the only one based on a real Maine person. There really was a guy who owned an old restaurant near us in Maine with a gorgeous view of a place called, believe it or not, Cozy Harbor. The restaurant looked like an Edward Hopper painting with an old-fashioned gas pump on the outside and a candle-pin bowling lane on the inside. And, just like in the books, Gus only served food to people he knew, or people who knew someone he knew. No one else is based on a real person, though I know people in the real Boothbay Harbor like to guess who’s who!
So my town is kind of, sort of, based on a real town, highly fictionalized. What about you? Is there a real basis for Frog Ledge? How is it similar and different physically and otherwise?
Liz: My fictional town started with a real thing. The town next to me has a really cool town green with a walking path, and I started bringing the dogs there. It’s about a mile around, and there are houses on both sides as well as a bunch of historical buildings, the library, and a museum. And there are always activities happening on the green, from farmers’ markets to 4th of July fireworks to summer concerts. It’s a cool place, and there’s a lovely little Victorian house on one side. I was there one day and thought, wow, this is the place. The place where people in my books can go for all the gossip. The place where Stan should live and spend a lot of her time. The true center of town, you know? And then from there I beefed up the rest of the town with some fictional places like Izzy’s coffee and chocolate shop, the flower shop, the pub. I pulled elements of neighboring towns so it became sort of a hybrid of real places with some fiction thrown in.
It works for me. What about you? Is there something different you wish you’d done relating to how you set up your town? Or is it perfect the way it is?
Barb: Five books in, Busman’s Harbor is still growing. I’ve added shops along Main Street as I’ve needed them—a hardware store for Clammed Up, a frame shop for Fogged Inn, and a jewelry store for Iced Under. It’s kind of like an old map, some places are well understood and finely drawn, while others are completely blank “Here be dragons.” One thing I wish I’d done. I wish I’d called my main road “Maine Street” with an e. So obvious, and yet I missed it.
Of course the most important thing in a cozy mystery, wherever it is set, is a sense of community, of people pulling together, and then potentially pulling apart due to murder. Our sleuths need to set things to rights again, and that means Stan Connor and Julia Snowden have their work cut out for them.
We have our work cut out for us, too, since both of us are on deadlines for book six. Good luck with it, Liz. Let’s talk soon!
Liz: Good luck, Barb.
About The Authors
Barbara Ross is the author of the Maine Clambake Mysteries, including the Agatha-nominated Best Contemporary Novel Clammed Up, as well as Boiled Over, Musseled Out, Fogged Inn, and Iced Under. Her story “Nogged Off” appears in the holiday novella collection Eggnog Murder along with stories by Leslie Meier and Lee Hollis. Barbara blogs with the Wicked Cozy Authors and Maine Crime Writers. In the summer, she writes on her big front porch overlooking the water in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. You can visit her website at http://www.maineclambakemysteries.com
Liz Mugavero is the author of the Agatha Award-nominated Pawsitively Organic Mysteries Kneading to Die, A Biscuit, A Casket, The Icing on the Corpse and Murder Most Finicky. Custom-Baked Murder, the fifth in the series, will be released in December 2016. As you can imagine, her canine and feline rescues demand the best organic food and treats around. She is a member of Sisters in Crime National, Sisters in Crime New England, Mystery Writers of America, and the Cat Writers’ Association. She currently lives in Connecticut.
Iced Under (A Maine Clambake Mystery)
5th in Series
Setting – Maine/Massachusetts
Kensington (December 27, 2016)
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
E-Book ASIN: B01DRXCGEE
The snow is deep in Maine’s Busman’s Harbor and the mighty rivers are covered in ice. Snowden Family Clambake Company proprietor Julia Snowden and her mother, Jacqueline, are hunkered down for the winter when a mysterious package arrives—heating up February with an unexpected case of murder . . .
Inside the mystery package is an enormous black diamond necklace that once belonged to Julia’s great-grandmother and disappeared in the 1920s. Who could have sent it—and why? Julia’s search for clues takes her on a perilous journey through her mother’s troubled family history, from a squabble over the family fortune in “frozen water” to the recent unexplained death of Jacqueline’s long-lost cousin Hugh—who’d been missing and presumed drowned for more than forty years. To protect her mother’s inheritance, Julia must fend off a small army of feuding relatives, solve the mystery surrounding Hugh’s demise, and get back home before the next blizzard buries them all . . .
It may be winter in Busman’s Harbor but Julia still has a mystery to solve. Her mom received a package containing a wonderful family heirloom, one the disappeared back in the 1920’s. The problem is they have no idea who sent the package. Julia’s investigation leads her to connect with family she didn’t know she had and she arrives at their door just in time to find out the person she hoped to meet died recently. Shortly after her arrival the family learns that the death was not from natural causes, it was MURDER!
I really love these stories. So much happens in addition to the main mystery. In a subplot Julia’s sister, Livvie, is due to give birth any day and the snow coming could make getting to the hospital an adventure. This mirrors my daughter’s experience almost exactly 4 years ago. Her dad drove her to the hospital in the middle of a blizzard following a snow plow all the way. Babies seem to want to make appearances in reality and fiction at the most inopportune times.
In the main mystery plot the author introduces many new characters enabling Julia to meet and learn about family members she and her mom didn’t even know existed. She also learns the truth about an event in the past that happened very differently than her mother thought. I enjoyed the history research and the stories told by these family members almost more than the mystery and it is a great mystery full of twists and surprises.
The author provides enough background to allow this book to be read without reading the previous stories but I encourage you to read them all in order. The characters really grow and become more distinct throughout the series and each includes a stellar mystery.
Custom Baked Murder
(A Pawsitively Organic Mystery)
5th in Series
Setting – Connecticut
Kensington (December 27, 2016)
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
E-Book ASIN: B01DRXCGD0
Kristan “Stan” Connor gladly turned tail on her high-flying job and moved to a quaint New England town to sell organic pet treats. But with her nose for solving murders, there’s no such thing as a quiet life…
Summer is winding down in Frog Ledge, Connecticut, but Stan’s love life and career are both heating up nicely. In between planning her new pet patisserie and café, Stan is settling into living-in-bliss with sexy pub owner Jake McGee. Love’s on the menu for Stan’s mom, Patricia, too, who’s engaged to Frog Ledge’s mayor, Tony Falco.
Mayor Falco’s dogged ambition isn’t popular among locals, but it’s his executive coach, Eleanor Chang, who’s inspired a dangerous grudge. When Eleanor is found dead, there’s a whole pack of suspects to choose from. Stan has first-hand experience of Eleanor’s unsavory business tactics. But finding out who forced her to take a fatal plunge off the corporate ladder means unearthing some shady secrets…and a killer who’s too close for comfort.
Includes Gourmet Pet Food Recipes!
This is a series I really need to get caught up on. I did receive a note from a friend warning me that this story may have parts that would be hard for me to read after the death of my son so I will hold off reading it for now.
Thanks to the authors I have 1 copy of each book to give away!
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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.”