Alex Erickson: When the Not So Cozy Gets Cozy

News Flash: Diana Wunning is Alex’s randomly selected winner. Congrats, Diana! Please check your email. Alex will be contacting you.

Edith here, loving full summer north of Boston. Today I welcome a new guest, fellow Kensington Publishing cozy author Alex Erickson. He and I are going to have Christmas novellas published together in 2019 (along with Carlene O’Connor), so I thought I’d invite him over so we can all get to know him. He writes the Bookstore Cafe Mysteries, and his latest book is Death by Espresso. Don’t you love the cover?

EspressoBookstore-café owner Krissy Hancock has plenty to keep her occupied outside business hours, like preparing for her best friend’s wedding and solving a murder.

Krissy is meeting Vicki’s parents at the Pine Hills, Ohio, airport—it’s the least she can do as maid of honor, even if her relationship with Mr. and Mrs. Patterson is a bit strained. Besides, her own dad is coming in on the same flight. But there are a few additional arrivals, too. Her father’s brought a date—and the Pattersons, both actors, seem to have an entire entourage trailing behind them.

Uninvited guests are a headache—especially when one turns out to be, allegedly at least, the most important wedding planner in all the world. Though Vicki and Krissy have already made arrangements for a small, simple party, Vicki’s snobby drama queen mother has her own ideas. Cathy the wedding planner is raring to go, possibly energized by the chocolate-covered espresso beans she compulsively munches. But while the caffeine keeps her awake, it doesn’t keep her alive—and after Cathy chokes on an espresso bean after being hit in the head, Krissy has to find out who ended her supposedly stellar career . . .

Alex is giving away a copy of the new book to one lucky commenter here today, too (US and Canada only)! Take it away, Alex.

“You’re the wrong sex!”

I’ve heard it more times than I can count. Nearly every event I go to, someone comments on the fact that I’m a man writing cozy mysteries. While it’s not unheard of, some say cozies and men simply don’t go together.

I get it. You look up and down the aisle of authors signing their books, you do find a lot of women. I stand out. And when you sit back and look at my interests, I fit in even less.

BooksI grew up on Stephen King. That’s not exactly cozy reading. I also love my sci-fi and fantasy, both in book form and television. While I watch a lot of mystery and detective shows, many of them are of a darker, bloodier sort. Shows like The Killing. Shows like Dexter. These are not cozy.

And then there’s what I do for fun and to relax (when I’m not reading, of course.) I own a Playstation 4, an Xbox One (two in fact,) a Switch, a gaming PC, and most of them get used every single day. Even my work laptop can run most PC games at max settings. When I’m not reading or writing, I’m often found with a controller in my hands, talking to my friends through a headset.Board Games

While I also like board games, which could fit in with certain cozies, my games are quite a bit different than Monopoly.

Don’t even get me started on my music tastes. Let’s just say it isn’t very cozy.

So, how did someone who is more likely to be found at a Moonspell concert, or who spends hours playing Overwatch, or who watches shows depicting gruesome murders, end up writing cozy mysteries?

“Pops” mostly from Overwatch

Easy. I love telling stories. I enjoy making people laugh. When so much of what I do resides in the darker realm of entertainment, it’s good to get out and write something that doesn’t dwell on darkness. Sure, there’s murder, but it’s what I like to think of as “light” murder. Happy murder!

And sure, writing a female lead as a man has its challenges. Voice is important to the story. When I write, I focus on what the character would do, not what I would do in any given situation. That helps. I also subscribe to the idea that I don’t make this stuff up on my own; I’m transcribing for my characters.

While I might not spend a lot of time with traditional cozy hobbies, I am an animal person. And when it comes to cozies, sometimes, the animals are all that matters.

Alex_Erickson_8x10_BWReaders: Do you have any hobbies or interests that would surprise the cozy community? Are there any odd hobbies or themes you’d like to see in a cozy? Remember, Alex is giving a copy of Death by Espresso!

Alex Erickson has always wanted to write, even at a young, impressionable age. He’s always had an interest in the motive behind murder, which has led him down his current path. He’s always ready with a witty—at least in his opinion—quip, and tries to keep every conversation light and friendly. Alex lives in Ohio with his family and resident felines, who provide endless amounts of inspiration.

80 Thoughts

  1. I like animals too and always glad to see them included in a cozy mystery. I don’t have any unusual hobbies or interest s but how about including a radiologic technologist in your stir. Or having a mental health facility as the location?

    1. That would be well beyond my knowledge! Need a nurse or doctor to write those ones, I think. It would be kind of neat to read a cozy like that written by someone who knows the ins and outs of mental health care or radiology. I sure don’t!

  2. I love reading and learning about the authors!!! I love to quilt and anything to do with OZ. I see you have POPS. Those are neat!!!! You could always add a cozy comic con character in the mix. 😏Lol!
    Your books are great! Would love to win!

  3. I love trains – riding them, watching them, and photographing them. For years I had my own darkroom. I don’t remember ever reading a cozy with either of these topics featured. Anyone interested in giving it a try?

    I would love to win Alex’s new book!

    1. I have zero artistic eye for photography, design, art, or any of that. Someone else can write those books lest I sound like I don’t have an artistic eye for it.

  4. I don’t have any odd hobbies. Just reading! And I also love animals and agree they’re some of the best things about cozies!

  5. Sound like interesting books! (I checked out your WordPress page).

  6. I don’t have any odd hobbies and my books are only borderline cozies (IMHO anyway) In fact my hobbies might be more cozy than my books. But i have to applaud Alex’s excellent comment: “When I write, I focus on what the character would do, not what I would do” Great advice for any kind of writer, isn’t it? And important for starting out writers, to be clear about how to find that distance.

  7. Edith, thank you for introducing me to Alex Erickson, a new to me author. From the gorgeous cover and it’s wonderful title all the way to the description of the book, I’m hooked and will definitely be exploring this author and soon.

    I love that Alex writes what others might say as “out of the norm” considering his tastes and likes. To me that means that he’s a very talented writer with an awesome imagination. Of course the fact that he loves animals makes him #1 in my books. 🙂

    Some may know this already, buy hubby and I have been clowns in the past. We even were fortunate enough to meet, become great friends with and clowned with Emmett Kelly Jr. several times which was totally awesome. I know that horror stories have their place, but it saddens me that stories like “IT” have destroyed the clown image as being family oriented and just out and out fun. In today’s market with the “fear” of clowns and all the bad publicity, I don’t know if it would sell, but I would love to see a cozy written with a good, old fashioned happy, fun clown in the story. Just don’t make the clown the killer. Either have the clown the one that helps solve the case being in clown disguise or even the one murdered but in the process showing the world the clown of years gone by that makes kids laugh and is the pratfall guy.

    Thank you for the wonderful chance to win a copy of “Death by Espresso” which I so want to read!
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    1. Kay–Watch for Katie the Clown in Book #9 in my Witch City Mystery series. Release date September of 2019. She’s neither killer nor victim and I think you’ll like her.

    2. I didn’t know about you and your husband being clowns. That is so interesting. In Key West, cozy author Lucy Burdette’s husband plays tennis almost every day with a professional clown. (He works in the summer, which is why he’s around in the winter to play tennis.)

  8. I’m reading Death by Coffee right now and feel quite at home in that bookstore cafe with a cat named Trouble!. Glad to hear another cozy writer admit to transcribing what his characters say. I often feel that I’m taking dictation too!

  9. Welcome to the Wickeds, Alex. I’m not a particularly cozy person, nor do I have cozy hobbies, but I am a mystery person and after some trepidation I find I feel right at home in this universe.

    1. Thanks! I was worried coming in. When people ask who my favorite mystery author might be, I tend to struggle for an answer. I read them. I like them. But outside Kathy Reichs, who isn’t really mystery, I’m not sure I have a favorite. Earns me odd looks when I shrug and mumble.

  10. Storytelling rules, doesn’t, it, Alex? Thanks for joining us here. I’m curious – what is your day job? Is it at all cozy?

    1. Right now, this is my day job! When my wife had our son, we decided I’d stay home and take care of him so she can keep on teaching without having to worry about daycare. It was the trigger that got me writing again after stopping around college. We’ve been lucky enough that I haven’t had to go back and can focus solely on my writing. And the housework. Always the housework.

  11. Welcome, Alex. I love that you ask your characters what they would do, not what you would do. I read a lot of thrillers and I don’t garden or knit or even like to cook. Hmmmm….

  12. I’m not sure I have any non-cozy hobbies. In fact, as I write police procedurals, you might be surprised to find my hobbies are cozy (such as counted cross stitch)!

  13. I don’t have many interests these days other then reading, following all my friends online and visiting the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. Back in the dark ages I had a hobby that is unusual. I was an N.R.A. Certified Pistol Instructor. I taught single women, and single parents how to safely own a handgun for home defense. I was also the range officer for the local gun club I was a member of (no one else had the qualifications). We met at Ft. Hamilton in Brooklyn.

  14. Welcome to the Wickeds, Alex! I think the mystery world is a wide and welcoming one in general and that there is room for everyone whatever they love to write or however they enjoy spending their free time. Good luck with the series!

  15. Here’s some cliche’s to sum it up nicely: If you can’t fit in, stand out! Don’t be afraid to color outside the lines! Haha, seriously though… congratulations on the new book. I can’t wait to read it, and I hope to join the ranks of such talent very soon.

  16. Nice to meet you, Alex! I game too and watch some of those darker murder/mystery shows too.
    My family and I really enjoy escape rooms. We’ve completed eight now. Two have been with my Girl Scout troop. They enjoy them so much, we created one of our own for the local camp out we hosted this year. From the reactions, I think we have a few more converts!

    1. I’ve wanted to do one of those. Can’t decide if it would be better with strangers (ew…people???) or with family (what if they are being obtuse???)

      1. I’ve done it both ways… each has its own challenges. At the end everyone is hyped up and grinning from ear to ear with way.

  17. I love that a guy can write cozy mysteries..and write about a female character at that! He does a great job! I love love this series!

  18. Great post! I also read a lot of thrillers when I’m not reading cozies, and I love zombie movies (also not very cozy!) Thanks for the chance to win, and congratulations on the latest book!

      1. One movie I would recommend is Warm Bodies. It’s an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet – with zombies.

  19. I don’t think I have any odd hobbies, I like to quilt, cross stitch, sew, work in my garden, collect coins and of course read.I also like board games and some card games. I work in a Tax office. I’m not sure if there are any ideas mixed up in all of this or not.
    Thanks for the chance to win a copy of Death by Espresso.

  20. I don’t have any odd hobbies, I just enjoy reading.Thanks for the giveaway. I would love to catch up with series.

  21. I definitely don’t have any hobbies that would be outside the cozy realm lol and all I read are cozies. Thanks for the entry and nice meeting Alex! Hoping to get to one of his Ohio book signings some day!

  22. I think men writing cozies is awesome! I get every one of J.P.Ripley’s “Bird Lover’s Mysteries”. Let’s not forget, Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers both wrote male protagonists, why shouldn’t men be able to write a great female protagonist? I’m looking forward to reading Death by Coffee. 😉

  23. I’m a hardcore gamer who does stick fighting & listens to Jethro Tull (I even have an Ian Anderson tattoo). I’m also bilingual (English & French) & read philosophy, science non-fiction, & theological discourse.
    I don’t know if any of that would surprise a cozy reader (we tend to be an accepting lot).
    I DO know folk who share those hobbies are shocked that I love cozies (cause those are silly, right???).
    I’ve read mysteries my whole life & always will. Great stories, great characters, surprises, adventures…. What’s not to love?? Here’s hoping that we get more male writers (although the ladies are doing a grand job!!!) AND that we get more male READERS as well !!

    1. For the most part, I’ve noticed a lot of acceptance on the cozy/mystery end of things. There’s some readers who don’t like it. I had one woman say she won’t even read the book now. But in general, the mystery community has been great.

      I do get odd looks from those who know me and are into fantasy, gaming, etc. They can’t grasp the idea that someone like me could write–and read–cozies. It breaks something in their brains, me thinks!

  24. Nice to meet you, Alex. As a male cozy reader it’s nice to meet a male cozy writer.

    I doubt there is much that will surprise people with all my reviews. But I am obsessed with slasher films. About as far away from cozies as you can get, right?

    1. I’ve watched quite a few slasher films in my time, but I’ve drifted away from them. Not sure what the last one I watched was, to be honest. I used to watch a lot of movies. Took lots of film classes in college. Even wrote a few screenplays no one will ever see. I really should get back to watching more movies if time allows.

  25. I think gamers could make an interesting cozy. A group solving of a murder of gamer who cheats the system maybe. Thanks for the chance and enjoyed your personal story.

    1. The thought has crossed my mind before. And since gamers do get something of a bad reputation for being lazy or “losers,” it be good to show that no, they just have different hobbies and ideas of fun.

  26. I really enjoy this series! It’s nice to have someone with a male perspective writing a cozy! Thanks for the chance to win and loved your personal story.

  27. I have all of your books. Unfortunately, I have not started them yet. I have a bazillion books and half of them are cozy and the other half are fantasy or epic adventure. I get it. I promise to move yours closer to the top of my to be read pile!!

  28. Sounds like a book and series I will like. Always glad to find another new (to me) writer. As a former math teacher (30 years) glad that you are supporting your wife in her career as you enjoy yours and your son. I love woodworking and working jigsaw puzzles as well as reading of course. I like to create small furniture pieces.

      1. Thanks Edith. I got the email and sent him the information. How exciting to win! I look forward to reading his books.

  29. I have to admit having a bit of bias and not readily reading male cozy writers. I have since learned I am terribly wrong (with the Cats in the Stacks for example). I think when I do not realize the writer is a man I was more accepting. Now that I have admitted I used to be a horrible person, I can say I have changed my wicked cozy ways, lol. I started reading cozy because it was all I could read due to a cognitive issue related to m/s. I do not understand why that worked out, but I was sure glad it did. I am not nor did I think I would ever be a “cozy” person. I have tattoos, love hard rock and even love heavy metal. I do not do crafts, live in a small town, nor have female friends. I do not like romance (even a little) in my books, so I tend to skip over those parts, lol. About the only cozy thing would be my love of animals. All that being said, I love, love, love cozies and cannot wait to read your new release. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.

  30. I read comic books and watch TV shows and movies about them. I also read some science fiction and fantasy along with mysteries, romances, autobiographies and biographies. I grew up on Ellery Queen and Perry Mason and read some current male cozy mystery writers. Who care who writes the books as long as they are good.

  31. I don’t think it’s odd (altho some of my non-reader friends don’t understand it), but I love going to author/reader conventions.

  32. I don’t have any unusual hobbies. When I’m not reading I’m either knitting or beading. I love books that include animals in the storyline, they add so much to the book. I haven’t read this series yet, but they are in my TBR pile, looking forward to reading them.

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