On sale 1/31/17
Pippa Winterbourne runs Moorehaven, the Oregon Coast’s quirkiest bed-and-breakfast and former home of world-famous mystery writer A. Raymond Moore. Guests come there to write their own crime novels. When a real-life murder takes a local’s life and washes a handsome boat pilot into her arms, Pippa is yanked into a deadly plot of her own. A tangle of secrets crashes past into present, and Pippa must uncover clues dating back to Seacrest’s Prohibition days, including a secret Moore himself hid from the world.
Juggling her book-writing guests, small-town intrigues, secret club agendas, and a possibly fatal attraction, Pippa must sort fact from fiction to know who to trust before a desperate killer claims a final revenge nearly a century in the making.
Please join me in welcoming Morgan Talbot, author of the just-released cozy mystery Smugglers & Scones, to the blog today.
MT: I’ve always written. My mom has a rhyming poem I wrote with a crayon when I was four. I wrote poetry through college, where I gradually transitioned to short stories and novels. It was only a hobby, though, until I had my second child. Then it hit me: I’m outnumbered now. I needed something just for me, something grown-up and easy to think about while I was taking care of two small children, and writing was an obvious choice. I decided to explore what it would take to get good enough to hope for publication. Within a few years, I’d found a bunch of awesome people and learned a whole set of skills I didn’t know existed. And I even got published. And that’s when the rest of my life began!
Why did you choose to write in the cozy mystery genre?
Cozies are one of my favorite mystery subgenres, though I read pretty much everything in the Mystery/Thriller genre. I like the friendly atmosphere, and because I was a shy child, I always enjoy reading about all the crazy friends the protagonist has. I like cats and food, I appreciate people who have mastered hobbies and skills, and I grew up in a small town. I love everything about a good cozy. Especially how an ordinary woman can catch a killer in the end. It gives hope to the everywoman that she, too, could stand up and be clever enough to stop actual crime.
My personal entry into writing cozies began several years ago, when I was fully engulfed in the hobby of geocaching. I checked online to see if anyone had written a mystery novel about a protagonist who knows how to spot things hiding in plain sight and who can winkle clues out of a clever puzzle with aplomb. But there were none! So I wrote the book I wanted to read, and geocachers the world over have written me excited notes and reviews. This time around, I’m writing a series that harks back to my mom’s baking lessons when I was a girl. I think they’ll be downright delicious.
What are your favorite authors / genres / writing influences?
I grew up reading mysteries and adventure stories, but in high school I got into epic fantasy, and I fell in love with the vast vocabulary it wields. To this day, my ears perk up at some historical term for a certain part of a castle or a particular medieval weapon. My poetry and stories got pretty flowery after that, I confess. Even now my editors have to remind me that certain words don’t really work in cozy mysteries as well as *cough* other genres. My favorite author of all time is Lois McMaster Bujold. Her Curse of Chalion is one of the books I’ve enjoyed reading even more after becoming an author than I did before becoming an author.
Do your real life acquaintances or experiences ever find their way into your writing?
Not directly, though I do steal certain traits. I always feel like taking a real person in their entirety and putting them into a story would make them less… flexible… than everyone else in my story. I’d be trying to write them faithfully, but at the same time I’d be bending my plot back and forth for the best fit, and real people just don’t change that quickly. So I tend to graft real-life tendencies onto fictional characters instead.
Coffee or tea?
Tea, if you’ve got it. I’m actually sensitive to caffeine. Even eating too many chocolate-chip cookies (read: four) in one sitting gives me enough caffeine to mess with my heart rhythm. I will say that the sensation of your heart racing and then abruptly stopping, repeatedly, is excellent first-hand experience for what murder victims might go through. So yay for accidental research, I guess.
What hobbies do you enjoy when you’re not writing?
I do some amateur photography. I like closeups and unusual angles, because I generally tend to study things very closely and from several perspectives out of sheer curiosity. I also like to get pictures of very ordinary objects from interesting angles so that they look out of place or amazing. So that you notice them. Red herrings, anyone?
What book(s) / series can we expect to see from you in the future?
I’m working on the sequel to Smugglers & Scones right now—tentatively called Burglars & Blintzes—and I plan to continue this Moorehaven Mysteries series for the foreseeable future. I have ideas for the next couple books already brewing in the back of my head—always more ideas than time to write them!
What are you reading now? (or bingwatching, or listening to….)
I’m literally on the very last episode of Midsomer Murders on Netflix. I’ve binged all 18 seasons, and OMG it was wonderful. I love British crime fiction, and Midsomer Murders is just a constant-yet-quaint English-village murder-fest all the way through. It’s such a great show, and I love trying to figure out who the murderer is.