Edith here, so pleased today to welcome Hallie Ephron, a friend and mentor to all of us. Careful What You Wish For, her new standalone suspense, comes out in August, and got a rave starred review from Publisher’s Weekly. Check it out – Marie Kondo meets creepy:
A professional organizer who helps people declutter their lives is married to man who can’t drive past a yard sale without stopping. He’s filled their basement, attic, and garage with his finds. Sometimes she finds herself wondering: Does he spark joy?
“Ephron’s tidy approach to stowing clues, arousing suspicions, keeping the chaos of the climax under control, then tying up loose ends makes her a professional organizer of this type of entertainment. In a word—neat.” – Kirkus Reviews
I Write Creepies, Not Cozies.
I started reading mysteries with cozies. I raced through all of the Agatha Raisins, Miss Marples, Aunt Dimitys, and Blanche Whites that I could get my hands on. Put me in an airport bookstore tomorrow and I’ll buy a cozy to while away the layover. But do I write cozy?
Like cozies, my novels are steeped in domesticity with a relatively small cast of characters, and you can be sure you won’t stub your toe on graphic violence or explicit sex. Occasionally there’s a cat. If there are cops, they’re competent. If there are children, they won’t get threatened and become plot devices. My protagonists, nice young women at whom life has thrown a curve-ball, would be at right at home in a cozy.
But there’s a lightness that I look forward to in a cozy mystery that I’m afraid my books have only in brief spurts with the occasional character who leavens the tone. Just look at my covers.
They’re dark, a little sinister and foreboding. My titles (Never Tell a Lie, Come and Find Me…) give off what I hope is a slightly ominous vibe. I like to think that if they were fairy tales they’d be the Grimms version.
Plus my last six books have been standalones, and by the end each protagonist has pretty much been through the mill. A sequel would be cruel and unusual punishment. Also not believable.
When people ask me what I write, I say creepy but not icky. I mined the dolls in You’ll Never Know, Dear for their creep-factor, not for their cutes. The old woman in There Was an Old Woman who starts wondering if she’s losing her mind is no Betty White. My August book Careful What You Wish For is inspired by Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train.
Often there’s no murder in my books, so even to call them murder mysteries is a misnomer. They’re what’sgoingonheres, not whodunnits. If I had to pick a genre, I’d label them domestic suspense, and even then I’m not sure, because I don’t use an unreliable narrator, as has become the pattern of late in that sub-genre.
I’m also happy to be categorized other. Or creepy-cozy. Or women’s fiction with a twist of suspense. Most of all, I try to write books with situations that seem utterly believable. Yes, this could happen to me, I want the reader to think. And shudder.
Edith: I, for one, can’t wait to read the new book! Please, Wickeds fans, run out and preorder Careful What You Wish For .
Readers: Have you noticed that the coziest of images can so easily be tinged with creepiness. Dolls, of course. (Doll parts! For sure.) Tea (what is that strange smell in my Oolong?) Costumes/masks. As Stephen King demonstrated, red balloons. (Feral) cats. What other cozy things can become not quite so cozy?
Hallie Ephron is the NY Times bestselling author of eleven suspense novels. Her books have been praised for integrating the mystery genre with women’s fiction. She is a five-time finalist for the MH Clark Award, Edgar finalist for Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel.