I am so delighted to welcome Abby L. Vandiver who also writes as Abby Collette. Her first book as Abby Collette is A Deadly Inside Scoop an Ice Cream Parlor mystery. Look for a giveaway at the end of the post. Here’s a bit about the book:
Recent MBA grad Bronwyn Crewse has just taken over her family’s ice cream shop in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and she’s going back to basics. Win is renovating Crewse Creamery to restore its former glory, and filling the menu with delicious, homemade ice cream flavors—many from her grandmother’s original recipes. But unexpected construction delays mean she misses the summer season, and the shop has a literal cold opening: the day she opens her doors an early first snow descends on the village and keeps the customers away.
To make matters worse, that evening, Win finds a body in the snow, and it turns out the dead man was a grifter with an old feud with the Crewse family. Soon, Win’s father is implicated in his death. It’s not easy to juggle a new-to-her business while solving a crime, but Win is determined to do it. With the help of her quirky best friends and her tight-knit family, she’ll catch the ice cold killer before she has a meltdown…
A Supporting Cast Member
Abby: I love a good whodunit. Following the amateur sleuth as they figure out the clues and catch the killer while the reader tries to see if they can guess, too, gives hours of enjoyable and satisfying reading. But as a writer of cozies, I know my main character wouldn’t get far in solving the mystery without the help of secondary characters, or the “supporting cast.” It goes without saying, a good story needs to be populated with memorable characters.
Cozy mystery protagonists need reliable, relatable sounding boards to bounce their ideas off of, to ground them and provide additional insight. In most cozies it’s usually a best friend, family member or a romantic partner.
But people aren’t the only secondary “characters” a story can have. I believe that writers can make the “setting” of their story a character in its own right. Like a character’s personality, a setting can cause conflict and evoke feelings of familiarity. Giving the setting of your story a personality through the description of place and the experiences of the characters as they interact—the combination of details and the emotions attached to them—can make it into a living thing. Through the eyes of the reader, the setting can become an anchored emotional center to the story.
In a cozy, it is almost per definition that the setting of the story is a quaint town (or village) giving off a homely feel. It evokes all five senses from the bookstores, libraries, bake shops and knitting circles to the lives of the neighborly inhabitants–close knit, quirky, nosy people who don’t mind exchanging gossip, whether it’s helpful or not. It’s usually the place where the protagonist has moved back to and considers “home.” And what’s better than home? Everyone can relate to that. They know exactly how it makes them feel. (Although, most people in real life wouldn’t be tempted, no matter what feelings are evoked when home is brought to mind, to move into a place where murder abounds as it does in cozies.)
In my cozies, I’ve love adding some life and personality to my settings—Southern charm, small town life and in my newest book, A Deadly Inside Scoop, waterfalls and a family business that has been in the same location for generations, permanent fixtures in a world that is constantly changing. I’ve tried to write my setting so that my readers can snuggle in and get lost inside the world I’ve built.
A Deadly Inside Scoop is set in Chagrin, Ohio a real suburb of Cleveland where I live. It is a charming little village with big old houses, a quaint main street with shops and people, and it has local annual events that have tradition and lots of history. In real life, people flock all year round from all over to the village of Chagrin Falls to see the waterfall and visit the place where I have my story takes place. The book’s fictional ice cream store, Crewse Creamery, sits over the waterfall and the inside was created with the hope of evoking the feeling of being in a 1950s soda shop. Bright. Colorful. And of course cozy.
I hope you’ll drop by and meet Win, her family and enjoy a scoop of the delicious ice cream she makes because, in the book, recipes are included!
Readers: Ice cream can evoke memories of special times, chase your blues away and just the thought of its creaminess and decadent and fun flavors can dial up your cravings to full blast. In A Deadly Inside Scoop, Win makes snow ice cream because it reminds her of her grandmother. What feelings or memories does ice cream evoke for you and have you ever concocted your own homemade flavor?
(To celebrate the release of A Deadly Inside Scoop, I’m giving away a signed paperback. Just leave a comment to enter.)
Bio: WALL STREET JOURNAL, USA TODAY and internationally bestselling author, Abby L. Vandiver, also writing as Abby Collette, is a hybrid, writing both as an indie and traditionally published author. She has penned more than twenty-five books and short stories, including her Logan Dickerson Cozy Mysteries and Romaine Wilder Mystery series. She resides in South Euclid, Ohio and enjoys spending time with her grandchildren and is looking forward to writing more of her new series, An Ice Cream Parlor Mystery.