This week's cozy mystery author in residence in our Cozy Mystery Book Explorer Facebook group is Liz Hedgecock, best known for her historical cozy mysteries.
Liz will be taking over the group from Friday 14th December until Friday 20th December, when we'll be joined by a new cozy mystery author in residence. This is a brilliant opportunity for cozy mystery fans to get up close and personal with the author and to ask them any questions you like, about the characters, series, life as an author, and inspiration behind the books, so please don't be shy.
A Little Bit About Liz Hedgecock
Where to begin? Well, I live in England - in a village in Cheshire - and I write the Pippa Parker cozy mystery series which (surprise!) is set in an English village. However, I grew up in London and have an interest in the Victorian period, so I also write alternative Sherlock Holmes mysteries and I co-write a cozyish humorous Victorian mystery series with two female protagonists, the Caster & Fleet series.
How did I start writing? Well, I've always been a big reader - I was an only child and I devoured my own books and everything else I could find. Then I did an English degree at uni and a master's in Victorian Literature, but, well, at that age everyone tells you you should get a real job. So after a couple of years teaching at uni, that's what I did. I'd occasionally write a story, but as for doing anything with it... Fast forward a good few years, including getting married, having 2 boys, and moving from city to village, and the job I loved suddenly changed and acquired a killer commute.
The writing itself almost happened by accident. I went on a one-day course through work about writing for publication - not novels, but in trade journals or case studies. But the tutors were really encouraging, and that got me to thinking 'What if...?' Soon after I saw a call for short stories on Twitter. I wrote one, sent it to Londonist magazine, and a few days later, they emailed. And that was it. I was hooked.
After another year of grinding my teeth and sitting in traffic, I quit my full-time job, and now I divide my time between writing, shouting at my children, and working in a lovely primary school. My commute is now either an easy drive outside peak hours, or walking downstairs to my computer!
Over the course of the next week I'll be posting bits and pieces, including snippets about my characters, some of the inspirations for my books, and a couple of freebies you can get via my newsletter. Looking forward to chatting with you all!
A Little Bit About Cheryl Phipps
I live in a semi-rural town with my wonderful husband of 42 years (we meet at camp as teenagers) and family is a huge deal for me.
Keeping things lively are my three married children, their spouses, and my seven grandchildren. We get together every second Sunday for a meal (I love to cook for others) which is surely why my mysteries are culinary and that they are set in small towns with characters having close relationships with friends and family. Not that these are always harmonious but real life is like that too, isn’t it?
After losing our beloved terrier of 18 years I’m currently on the look-out for a new furry friend. There are plenty of animal shelters here but my husband is a little nervous about me coming home with more than one as I’m a big softie.
My parents emigrated to New Zealand in 1957. Dad was in the royal navy and mum (an amazing woman who left everything to follow her husband) was a nanny, then a postie on a bike! With 5 children they needed help so my nan (mum’s mother and a widow) was brought out from England to help care for us.
Dad was strict but away for months at a time which often made me feel as though we lived in two worlds—one with plenty of freedom while the other contained far firmer boundaries. This might sound unusual, but it definitely gave us a broader spectrum of life and the ability to adapt. (An Englishman’s ire is not a pretty sight!)
The only real complaint I had was of having no other relations on this side of the world, which became another reason to treasure family times. With five siblings having three children each who in turn began their own families we are a merry band of 40-50 every Christmas with a few strays mingled in.
I might add that this is just my side! We celebrate my husband’s Christmas on boxing day and as he has 6 siblings of a similar age and family status, well, you can just imagine that’s another 40-50 and counting!
Having lost both parents to cancer a few years ago and experiencing two bouts of breast cancer, I am a firm believer in living life to its fullest, making the best of any situation and ensuring those you care about feel loved.
I’ve worked in administration most of my adult life and became a caregiver for my parents when they needed it. I’ve also spent time as a reliever for my mother and father-in-law who ran foster homes for abused children, ran vegetable co-ops, and spent years helping to run a football club (soccer) for all ages. I also played the game at a high level until I was 49. (Really.)
Writing has always been my passion and I finally left my other job last year to do this full-time. With 21 books out over 4 years and a USA Today Bestseller badge, I feel privileged to be doing something I love that gives other pleasure. (hopefully ;-)). Reader satisfaction is the most important part of my job, so in making sure my stories are the best I can and to always have a promised happy ending makes me happy. That’s a win-win, right?
I am also ¼ of the SPAgirls podcast - a free service offering advice and tips for new authors which has been amazing as we’ve interviewed so many famous authors from the wider writing community.
Enough about me! I’d love to hear what makes you happy, especially with Christmas on our doorstep. Do you celebrate this holiday? With a large family gathering? Or perhaps, you like quiet time with a good book?
You can find me here:
Last year I was lucky enough to be filmed for a new Channel 4 television series called 'Genealogy Roadshow' which was later renamed 'My Family Secrets Revealed'. Almost a year to the date when we filmed it in the Lake District, it was exciting to be back in the Lake District (this time filming a new television series called Deep Water, based on the books by Paula Daly) and to learn that episode 3 of the series would be aired. For those of you in the UK, it will be available to watch on Catchup on Channel 4 for the next 28 days, but for those who are abroad, I've tried to film it so you can watch it here instead. I hope you enjoy the episode, and learn a little bit more about what makes me tick as a cozy mystery author too.
I did film a little vlog on the day that we filmed the main episode, in the snow during the 'beast from the east'.
This week's cozy mystery author in residence in our Cozy Mystery Book Explorer Facebook group is Margaret Lashley, best known for her Val Fremden Humorous Mystery series.
Margaret will be taking over the group from Friday 30th December until Friday 7th December, when we'll be joined by a new cozy mystery author in residence. This is a brilliant opportunity for cozy mystery fans to get up close and personal with the author and to ask them any questions you like, about the characters, series, life as an author, and inspiration behind the books, so please don't be shy.
A Little Bit About Margaret Lashley
I’m Margaret Lashley, Sarah’s first “guinea pig” guest author through December 6. (Forgive me as I bumble along in new territory.)
I am an American, born and raised in Florida, and am the author of the best-selling Val Fremden Humorous Mystery series, which just happens to be conveniently set in my hometown of St. Petersburg, Florida.
How did I get into writing? After graduating with a degree in communications, I got my first real job (unless you count roller-skating waitress) when I landed a spot as a “Girl Friday” at a small advertising agency. I didn’t realize at the time that the job mostly entailed running around the office screaming “The sky is falling!” at lackadaisical artists unfazed by impeding deadlines. In search of a more rewarding position, in my spare time I tried my hand at writing copy for brochures and ads. Every morning, I slipped my fledgling, typewritten attempts under the office door of the agency president. I guess he got tired of stepping on them or throwing them away, because not long after, he promoted me to junior advertising copy writer.
That day, my writing career was born. I’ve never looked back.
I’ll admit it. I LOVE to write. And that’s a very good thing, because I can’t say I have too many other marketable skills. (Snarky stand-up comedian and evil genius don’t pay peanuts unless you know somebody. And getting references? Forget about it!)
I began writing the Val Fremden series because I couldn’t find many books out there featuring a woman with thighs bigger than a hamster’s. And all the female protagonists were either in their twenties or nineties. What about all of us wonderful gals in-between?
Val, my main character, is a smart, snarky risk-taker who hasn’t won all her battles. Maybe not even half of them. At age 45, she still doesn’t have her act together. In fact, she’s divorced, broke, and wondering what Friskies Cat Chow might taste like for dinner. Princess material she most definitely is not. But she does know how to laugh. And that trait, along with a gin and tonic, is, most of the time, enough to get her through.
With Val, I wanted to explore the ups and downs of being a woman, while mining midlife for all the laughs along the way. Val is a heroine who clever, world-wise women can identify with, cheer for, cry with, cringe over, and be happy they met her (and even happier they AREN’T her).
The Val Fremden 10-book series just wrapped up with Cloud Nine. The final book released on November 22 – just a week ago. It’s been a wild ride. And it’s been gratifying to see the series get discovered and loved by readers. (The first book, Glad One, is currently topping many charts on Amazon!)
So, now what?
I’m currently taking a break to read, relax a bit, regroup, and explore what I want to do next. I most definitely will keep on writing. I can’t imagine a day without putting words on the page.
When I’m not writing, I’m traveling. In my late 20s, I started backpacking all over Central America. And while I don’t sleep on hammocks on the beach anymore, I still love to visit new places. I’ve been to well over 40 countries so far. I even lived in Europe for nearly eight years. I’ve been back in the US for five years now. I try to plan a big trip every summer – both for inspiration and to escape a chunk of Florida’s long, hot summer.
So, enough about me! I want to hear from YOU. Feel free to post a question in the comments section of the Facebook group during the week. I’ll be popping in regularly to answer your questions in between doing what I love best…telling stories.
Don’t be shy! I’m here all week folks!
Since November is all about celebrating historical cozy mystery books, I thought we'd take a moment to appreciate author Kerry Greenwood and her female sleuth and fearless flapper Phryne Fisher. These books are set around 1928-1929 in Australia. They have some of the most beautiful book covers too! I'm not 100% certain that they are cozy mystery books, but they are certainly close enough and it would be too sad not to include them.
Audiobook Versions to Add-On
Whenever you buy the Kindle version of a book, always check if to see if you add the audiobook version at the same time. These are often reduced from over £20 to around £2.99 for folks who have the ebook. This usually means that you can make use of the Whispersync function on your Kindle device and switch between reading and listening to the story - perfect for when you are at the gym, or driving your car. You can also get the audiobooks as part of an Audible subscription, or sign up for a free 30 day trial to see if you like audiobooks first.
Technically, Agatha Christie can't really be included under the heading of Historical Cozy Mysteries because the books were not written at least 50 years after the time period she was writing about. But not to include her in our celebration of historical cozy mystery books would just seem like blasphemy given that Christie is considered the Queen of the Mysteries. The technical term for Agatha Christie's books would really be 'classics' but they certainly give us some insight into the time in which she wrote. Not all of her books are cozy mystery, since they are really crime thrillers, but I'm going to break my own rules and include some of them anyway - such a rebel I know! If you want to explore more of Agatha Christie's books and wonderful book covers, check out my Pinterest board here.
Inspector Poirot Cozy Mystery Books
Miss Marple Cozy Mystery Books
Free Agatha Christie Audiobooks
Every Friday I include free audiobook codes in my Free Book Friday mailing list for you to use to download any book you like from Audible in the UK, US, Germany, or France. You can also get the books on your 30 day free trial if you aren't already a member. What would be super cool, is that you leave a review on whatever book it is that you listen to, as this will really help future readers and help me to acquire more free codes from Audible that I can pass on to you. Need more audiobook suggestions, check out my blog post here or for more Agatha Christie audio books click here.
Agatha Christie Crime Thrillers
More Historical Cozy Mystery Books