Fall Cozies!

There is that quiet time between the fun and randiness of Halloween and the excitement and anticipation of Christmas that somehow seems to get lost in all the noise. Fall, Autumn, Thanksgiving. But writers don’t forget, and I have some special books to bring your way for this sweet season of peace and reflection by several of my author friends. I hope you will enjoy them.

Lets start with Cathy Tully’s Chiro Cozy Mystery books; Misallignment and Murder & Fixation & Fraud.

Cathy has been featured in the blog before- her books are that good! You can follow her on Facebook, check out her Website and follow her series on Amazon.

Why did you choose to set your story at this time of year? When I started the series, I had thought about doing stories focused around holidays. I didn’t realize how POPULAR holiday cozy mysteries really were. The first one, Dr. Shine Cracks the Case was set at the Fourth of July. My sleuth, like me, is a chiropractor in a small town in Georgia. And also like me, the main character, Dr. Susannah Shine, isn’t from the town she lives in. She doesn’t come home to inherit a business. She starts one in a place and really loves, but she’s also a bit of a ‘fish out of water’. Her friends and her staff have to keep her grounded Southern traditions. I wrote Dr. Shine Cracks the Case after a decade in practice, where we actually were a part of the local business group and attended their festivals as a vendor to meet new people. What luck, right? I also had no idea how common it was to see plots that included local-festivals-run-by-the-business-group in cozies, especially the culinary cozies. I set that one on the Fourth of July because I wanted to have fireworks and watermelon at the festival. LOL. Our local festival was the weekend before Memorial Day. That just didn’t sound as good! So I moved it.

Anyway, after that, I asked myself what holiday comes next? My birthday didn’t count, so the next was Halloween, and then Thanksgiving. Since my cozies have a lot of humor and a lot of eating, both were no-brainers, even without mentioning pumpkin spice!

Tell us what time frame your stories are in and what setting or world? The second in the series, Misalignment and Murder, is set at Halloween. My series is a contemporary series, set in small-town Georgia, so it features a murder at a school Fall Festival. Like my Sleuth, Dr. Susannah Shine, I grew up in New York and fall festivals were not the big deal that they are here, so it was fun to write that scene where there are big bales of hay, games and a dunking tank! After that, Dr. Shine and her side-kick, Bitsy Long, find clues at a haunted house run by local teens, a civil war era cemetery and a Halloween costume contest for dogs and their owners, where Bitsy has entered a Bassett hound dressed as Sherlock Holmes—deerstalker cap and all. The third in the series, Fixation and Fraud, is set at Thanksgiving and features a murder that happens in the pecan orchard of Bitsy’s family, who owns a small farm. The investigation takes place around Thanksgiving and part of the plot is a dessert contest among Bitsy’s cousins and it includes dessert recipes, one of which–Double Chocolate Pecan Pie–I will be using this Thanksgiving. My mysteries also involve animals (non-talking), like Dr. Susannah’s office cat and her pal Henry the Betta fish. This book introduces a stray dog and a potbellied pig who become part of the team.

Who is your protagonist?
My protagonist is Dr. Susannah Shine, a former NYPD transit police officer, turned chiropractor. One of my best friend’s growing up on Long Island became a New York City Transit Police officer, so that bit of backstory I took from her life. I became a chiropractor and landed in a small Georgia town after chiropractic school, so that part is from my life. Everything attached to those backstories is made up, of course. The stories usually start in the office and then Dr. Shine and her staff (Larraine, her office manager and Tina, her assistant) and Bitsy follow the clues. These women have each other’s backs, and Dr. Susannah depends on them. They call themselves the Ladies Crime Solving Club, and they like to get together over meals to hash out the clues.

Is your book part of a series? If so, you tell us about the series.
The books are part of a series which is inspired by my life moving from NY to GA for chiropractic school and then opening a chiropractic practice in a small Georgia town which had peach orchards. There has been a lot of development in the decades since I moved here, and the peach orchards are sadly all gone, but they still exist in the novels, and in the name I chose for my small town, Peach Grove.

Does your book focus on the season, or is it more of a backdrop?
I guess it’s more of a backdrop. My series is not paranormal, so no one is talking to ghosts at Halloween. And in Misalignment & Murder, even though Apollo the Basset hound finds a clue, he doesn’t talk either. Fixation and Fraud happens between Thanksgiving and Christmas, so the season is more of a backdrop in that one also. But with my Christmas Novella, the Purloined Poinsettia, I made more of an effort to focus on the Christmas Season.

How much research do you do to create your story, and how much do you include in your books?
It depends. A couple of my mysteries have poisoning as a subplot. In my education as a chiropractor, I’ve taken many classes on human physiology, nutrition and herbal medicine. So the transition to poisoning a character was fairly easy!

For The Halloween mystery, I had a lot of fun researching canine Halloween costumes! My original idea was a dog dressed as a hot dog, because, hilarious. Right? But then a couples costume with the dog as Sherlock Holmes seemed even better. For the Purloined Poinsettia, I spent a lot of time researching (if by researching you mean Googling images of) ugly Christmas sweaters. I own a few of those myself, so that was really eye opening. Some are in questionable taste!

For me, I’m very inspired by real life, especially things that have a lot of history behind them. For example, in the next town over from where I actually live, there is this old building that was a Feed & Seed store. I was only in it once as a Feed & Seed, and then it closed. Well, the building remained, and I would pass it every time I went to that town. When I began to write Misalignment & Murder, I decided that building would be a good place to put a haunted house. So I used the physical store as a template for the haunted house in the story, though everything about the haunted house and the cemetery behind it comes from my imagination.

A Word From Cathy; I enjoy writing seasonal stories because it adds flavor and texture to the plot. The characters all react differently to different holidays depending on their family history and their own likes and dislikes, so it’s a way to continue to explore the characters along with remembering what the temperature should be! LOL!

Victoria LK Williams

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