Lynn writes both nonfiction (How to Be Published and How to Market Your Book) and fiction. Her series include Oxford Key Mysteries, Cleo’s Midlife Series, Stakes & Spells Mysteries. She also writes The Nomad Mom Diary. Lynn follows on simple question in her quest to create her delightful cozy mysteries; What IF… then she lets her imagination take her and her readers on some amazing adventures. Find out more about Lynn by visiting her website or following her on Facebook.
A dead chef, a ruined gala, and the ghosts didn’t see a thing!
Natalie’s newfound magical abilities might be the only thing that can save her dream job at Oxford from turning into a nightmare. But only if she figures out who murdered St Margaret’s famed chef in time to save the autumn gala.
Now, lets find out what Lynn has to say about her Love-Kissed Cozy!
Which is more important to your book, the mystery or the love story?
The mystery always sits front and center in my stories. I start by asking myself who’s dead, who might have done it, and how will my sleuth solve the mystery. Once I’ve got the mystery in place, I turn to a secondary focus on character development. Romance is central to helping my sleuth change and grow. The love interest can bring out the best and the worst in my sleuth, and can act as a foil when she gets carried away. I also like to leverage the romance to provide some light-hearted comic relief.
What type of love story plays out in your book—friends to love, enemy to love, instant love, or something else?
I wanted a romance which would slowly build over the series. In Murder at St Margaret (book 1 in the series), I played up the enemies to friends trope. Natalie (my sleuth) and Edward (her love interest) couldn’t be more different if they tried. They get off on the wrong foot and every subsequent interaction only seems to make it worse. And yet, they can’t stop turning to each other – there is a clear flame of interest, even if they haven’t realized it. The first four books in my series span a year in time, which gave me plenty of room to let the relationship grow at a pace which feels very natural. Watching the pair go from adversaries to grudging respect to admiration and finally love makes for a lovely arc over the course of the series.
Does the love element cause problems for your protagonist?
Absolutely! My sleuth Natalie discovers she has a magical connection to Oxford – one which is kept a secret for obvious reasons. With ghosts and supernatural creatures forming a key part of her sleuthing team, she is stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to explaining how she uncovers some of her clues. The love aspect adds another level of complexity. She wants Edward, her love interest, to respect and admire her… and telling him that a ghost told her isn’t going to help!
Edward encounters problems as well. He knows Natalie is hiding something from him, but what is it? He has to battle his own inner doubts. The pair have to take that leap of faith in deciding whether to proceed with a relationship or not, before the truth can be shared. That they do is testament to the power of love.
What comes first, the plot or characters?
Character first, always! I start with my main character and a setting, and then build the rest of the world around them. In this case, I started with Natalie, mulling over her identity, history, and interests until I had a clear picture of her in my mind. The setting was key – why was she coming to Oxford, what made this particular job so special to her, and what would being in Oxford allow her to do/think/feel. When I could see a natural progression for her character, I began plotting the books.
Can you share with us something about the book that isn’t in the blurb?
Although my book is set in the modern day, it has turned out to be equally popular with fans of historical mysteries. This is no accident! For each book in the series, I researched the real history of the college where the book is set, and loosely based my magical Eternals on people from the college archives.
This blend of historical facts and magical fiction fits perfectly within my setting of Oxford University. Oxford is a magical place, where historic halls sit side-by-side with modern shops and restaurants. When you walk through the streets and alleyways, it feels entirely possible that you could meet a ghost or a cheeky wyvern around the next corner. When I set out to write my books, I made sure I wove strands of past and present into the stories, so readers could feel what it is really like to live in Oxford.
Share something your readers wouldn’t know about you.
Although I’ve lived in Oxford, England for nearly a decade, and in Europe for almost 14 years, I am American. Oddly enough, I grew up in Oxford, Mississippi, and somehow ended up living in Oxford, England. I have been the fish out of water many times in my life. Those experiences proved to be very useful when writing cozy mysteries. While I’ve never stumbled across a dead body, I do know what it is like to walk into a strange place where everything seems topsy turvy.