Catherine has always wanted to be a writer, and after working a wide range of jobs, from legal secretary to family law practitioner and everything in-between. But now she is a full time author! She writes the Tommy and Evelyn Christie Mysteries and the Martha Miller Cozy Mysteries. Catherine has give all of her links to connect, and I hope you’ll check them out. I was honor to work with her on our Mysteries, Midsummer Sun and Murders anthology where she worked behind the scenes on our prize pack. Here are her Links;
FB readers group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/329269528445295
Lets hear Catherine’s answers…
What made you decide to write a Historical Cozy?
In May 2020 I was locked down in my home with my two teenagers (during the first major Covid lockdown in the UK) and I’d started writing again. Years earlier I had written category romance books (self-published) and naturally started writing in the same genre again during lockdown as I was desperate to do something to pass the time! However, my daughter suggested I try to write a crime book because I was always watching crime/mystery programmes on the TV, and I’ve always been a big fan of Agatha Christie books. In fact, whenever I feel as though I need comfort TV, I turn to the BBC adaptations of the Miss Marple books with Joan Hickson. At the same time, I was re-watching Downton Abbey from series 1 and thought it would be really cool to create a series that was a bit of a mishmash of the two programmes. So, in that very roundabout way, I decided that I would write a historical cozy.
Tell us what time frame your stories are in and what setting or world?
My Tommy & Evelyn Christie mysteries are set in the 1920s with the family being based in North Yorkshire, England though the characters have also got around a bit – in that series I have mysteries set in London, India, and a book planned for Ireland.
My Martha Miller mysteries are set in the 1940s in the Berkshire, England countryside.
Who is your protagonist? Tell us a bit about them and why they were chosen.
When I decided to write a cozy mystery, I first wrote out a family tree (I do still have this if you want to show it as a photo) so I could keep straight who was who in the large family! I also did this to make sure I was clear on how my main character inherited his title. Tommy served as a police officer prior to his time in the Army during WW1 – at that time he was 4th or 5th in line to the title so there were no constraints on his choices. Evelyn wanted to be a police officer but could not because she was a woman. Although she was allowed to join up during the war, she was only permitted to do very low level tasks. During the books she fulfills her wish to investigate crimes and is every bit as involved as her husband despite the prevailing social expectations of her during that era. I chose a couple as my main characters as I wanted to have them both investigating and interviewing suspects on their own. They then meet up to discuss what they have found out and plan their way forward. This means the reader gets to see everything that happens through the eyes of the characters and can keep up with their thought processes throughout the books.
I was asked to write a second series by my publishers, Boldwood Books, and came up with the protagonist Martha Miller. She was abandoned by her husband and managed to make ends meet by taking in her glamourous younger sister, Ruby, as a lodger and by selling and trading the food she grows in her garden. Despite popular village belief, her missing husband, Stan, is not underneath her potato patch! Martha starts off as a rather mousy, subservient character but really comes into her own when she pairs up with the dishy village vicar to investigate crimes!
What sets your mysteries apart from other cozies?
The things that readers tell me over and over is how much they love my characters – especially the irrepressible Aunt Em in the Tommy & Evelyn series and the dogs that also feature strongly through both series (Gordon Setters in the Tommy & Evelyn books and an Irish Setter in the Martha Miller series).
How much research do you do to create your story, and how much do you include in your books?
Lots! Probably too much is the answer. I read books set in that era, watch as many TV shows set in similar time periods, and any research books I can find that include information on what it was like to live in England during those times – including social, political, fashion, pop culture etc. However, all that research did not stop me including a fridge in my first Martha Miller mystery – you can bet reviewers quickly told me how bad my research was when they read that!!
Do you feel the crimes committed in historical cozy are very different from a contemporary cozy?
I think the crimes are probably the same: strangling, shooting, stabbing, hit over the head, etc. but the reasoning behind the crime is often very different. For instance, when I researched the motives in the Miss Marple books, I found the same ones again and again: love, money/greed, secret, revenge. Whilst I think those motives are also present in a contemporary cozy, the character’s reasoning is usually very different – ie people will kill to keep secrets in the 1920s that they wouldn’t care about being uncovered in modern times.