First off, we are thrilled to be here at Wicked Cozy Authors today. Thanks so much to Sherry Harris for inviting us.
This time of year there are so many online photos of picture perfect family get-togethers. You’ve seen them, right? The matching china, the colorful centerpiece, the happily chatting family and friends gathered around the sumptuous feast. Is that what it’s like at your house?
We have to confess that’s not quite what it’s like for us. And frankly, though sometimes we long for that magazine-cover-worthy gathering, most of the time we’re thrilled to be a part of the not-always-perfect celebrations.
You see as mystery writers, our novels are ultimately about motives and what makes people tick. So those festive parties or holiday family dinners are the perfect opportunity to observe. Like most writers, we’re fascinated with people and what makes them do the things they do. Some of the best drama can be found during a family holiday gathering.
Like who thought it was a good idea to bring six extra people to Thanksgiving? And is that guy with your brother’s daughter a boyfriend or just a friend? And does your uncle really think no one sees him packing up all that food to take home for later?
The truth is we always have way more food than we need, so the six extras really didn’t matter. and no one cared that Uncle Martin was packaging food for later. We just would have liked for him to wait until after we’d eaten. And, of course, your extremely blunt sister will find a way to ask niece Maggie about the boyfriend status. (Names have been changed to protect the guilty.)
Family dynamics play a big part in our stories. Our two amateur sleuths, Caro and Mel, are cousins and there’s a feud over a family heirloom of sorts. As a result, they’re not speaking to each other. It’s partly a misunderstanding and partly just good old-fashioned stubbornness. In Caro and Mel’s case, their feud causes them to make some occasional bad decisions and things get a bit complicated. Dare we say, a bit of family drama?
Now because we write mysteries, there are also some others who make bad choices with much more serious consequences. And ultimately to unravel the whodunit, Caro and Mel have to figure out what makes the potential suspects tick. What makes people do the things they do.
Back to those holiday dinners. No murders in our respective families. And everyone is on speaking terms with each other, for now anyway. It’s true, our china doesn’t always match, and sometimes the centerpieces are homemade (and look it), but at the end of the day, the food is always tasty, the conversations energetic, and there’s plenty of love to go around. And if there’s drama? Well, friends and family beware. You just might end up in our next book!
What about your family get-togethers? Are they more the picture perfect kind of gatherings? Or are yours more like ours, imperfectly perfect in their own way?
Readers: We’d love to hear your stories. What was your best or most disastrous family gathering?
Sparkle Abbey is actually two people, Mary Lee Woods and Anita Carter, who write the national best-selling Pampered Pets cozy mystery series set in Laguna Beach. Their series features former Texas beauty queen cousins, Caro, a pet therapist and, Melinda, a pet boutique owner. The most recent installment (book nine) is Barking with the Stars and The Dogfather (book ten) is in the works.