Meet Melrose McFadden

Melrose McFadden is a pen name used by writing duo Beth Thomas and Leslie Thwaits.

I saved this one for this weekend, somehow it seems perfect for the holiday weekend! Happy Labor Day.

This is a first for us — a writing team! I took their info from their website (with permission) so you could read more about the woman behind Melrose McFadden…

Beth has been a professional writer/editor for 25 years, and has a master’s degree in Creative Writing. She has previously leaned more toward shorter writing, such as short stories and flash fiction.

Leslie has been a professional writer/editor for 25 years, with a natural leaning toward journalism, public relations, and marketing. She has written a middle school paranormal novel and previously written romance under another pen name.

The authors write fun beach series set in the 1980s. To our younger readers, this sounds historical; to me it sounds like a few years ago. But if cars can be considered antique after 25 years, then 1980 I can consider their books historical. Their series, Major Bummer Murders, is set on Wahoo Beach with Tiffany Sloan as the protagonist. The titles, Maga Gnarly Wipeout and Gag Me with a Spoon, along with the series title just scream 1980s and I can’t wait to read them and go back in time that I can remember so well.

You can follow the authors on Instagram@melrosecozies and Tiktok@melrosecoziesauthor. And check out their other books/series on their Website. You can find the series to buy books on Amazon. Now lets find out a bit more about our writing dual and their cozy series, through the voice of Melrose McFadden

What made you decide to write a Historical Cozy?
I was a kid/teen in the 1980s and just really wanted to write something set in that time period. The colors, the music, the language, the clothes, the non-existence of the internet and cell phones… the time period was just begging for a series of fun and clean murders. 

Tell us what time frame your stories are in and what setting or world?
My series Major Bummer Murders is set in 1986 in the fictional seaside town of Wahoo Beach, Florida. Most of the action takes place along the boardwalk, where many of the local businesses are located and all the main characters like to hang out. The day-to-day world includes an arcade, mini-golf, amusement park, pizza joint, and the sunny sand and warm tides that make up Wahoo Beach. 

Who is your protagonist? Tell us a bit about them and why they were chosen
My protagonist is Tiffany Sloan. She runs the Putts & Stuff arcade and mini-golf complex on the boardwalk, which she inherited from her father when he moved to Costa Rica. She is a 30-something redhead who knows her way around a Space Invaders video game and a windmill mini-golf obstacle, but she has found herself isolated and lonely due to her long hours at work after her dad skipped town. The series is about Tiffany solving mysteries that pop up around Wahoo Beach but also learning to take care of herself and finding friendship and love along the way.

What sets your mysteries apart from other cozies?
I think what sets my mysteries apart is the vibrant, neon, 1980s world that they exist in. It’s historical (1986 was 36 years ago at the time of this writing), but also involves pop culture references that many of us remember happening and music on the radio that we still sing along to. I’ve seen many historical mystery series existing in eras all the way up to the 1920s, but not much in the recent past. I really like writing history with details that don’t just convey facts and events that happened, but might also tug at the threads of memory.

I wanted to write something unique and fun that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and I think I’ve accomplished that with Major Bummer Murders. Take for example the novel titles: Gag Me with a Spoon, Mega Gnarly Wipeout, Members Only Murder, Barf Me Out to the Max (fall 2022), and Bag Your Face (late 2022). I think they set the tone for the stories I’m trying to tell – lighthearted cozy mysteries that should be a fun ride into the past.

How much research do you do to create your story, and how much do you include in your books?
I do a ton of research! My books include a lot of pop culture references, to ground the reader in the timeline. You should see my browser search history. “When did Sweatin’ to the Oldies come out? Best songs on OutRun video game? What years was Miami Vice on the air? What Apple computer came out in 1986? Top 100 arcade games of 1986. Billboard Top 100 1986. How to clean and wax a pinball machine.” Luckily, the answers are all just a few clicks away. And luckily, I think this kind of research is really fun!

Do you feel the crimes committed in historical cozy are very different from a contemporary cozy?
For my 1986 series, I think the crimes themselves are fairly similar to a contemporary cozy. The motives and research to find the killer are where things get a little trickier. For example, in 1986 you couldn’t just hop on your laptop and do an internet search for “art heists of the past decade” but you could go to the library and scan through old newspaper microfilm for hours. You couldn’t just pull out your phone and call the police, but you could hunt down a payphone and put in a quarter. Finding these differences and writing them until they work is half the fun! 

Feel free to add any comments you’d like about writing Historical Cozy Mysteries!
I absolutely LOVE writing this series set in 1986. I love my weird cast of characters and the predicaments and relationships they find themselves in. I also love taking a little break from the fast-paced and vibrant crime-solving to give them moments of introspection about things like family, friendship, responsibilities, love, and finding purpose in their lives.

The 1980s time period is so fresh in my memory and so ripe for a revival! The colors, the music, the Aqua Net… it’s what the world needs right now. Next year, I am planning to write a new series set in the 1990s, so that will be a new and unique challenge, which I am really looking forward to!

I hope you enjoyed this interview. Do you feel inspired to head to the nearest beach or pool and chill for the rest of the Labor Day weekend? I do!

Victoria LK Williams

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