News Flash: Debra Pruss is the lucky winner of Edith’s ebook.
Author Clea Simon is New England-based and a friend of the Wickeds (FOW). She visits us most years when she has a new release. Today she’s here in support of her latest book, A Cat on the Case, the third book in her Witch Cats of Cambridge series.
In her post, Clea reflects about writing her book in a pre-pandemic world, and then going through the publishing cycle and launch in our current reality. This is my situation as well so I read with great interest.
Clea is giving away a copy of A Cat on the Case to one lucky, U.S.-based commenter below.
Take it away, Clea!
When we read, especially cozies, we enter anothe, better world. Sometimes, I’m finding, that world is one that once existed – and maybe one day can again.
When the pandemic first began shutting everything down last March, I was nearly done drafting A Cat on the Case. That timing – and the fact that this is the third in my “witch cats of Cambridge” series – made what we writers call world-building easier. Authors just starting new projects as our society closed down had to struggle with whether to include this new reality in their fictional settings. I not only had most of a book already in place, I had it in an existing series universe, a place where people could interact without masks. Without fear of anything, really, except, you know, the odd murder, missing heirloom, or strange stalker glimpsed as a shadow on a dark street corner.
At first, writing a novel set in the “open” world seemed quite normal. With the exception of one wise friend who warned me, “we’re entering the Twilight Zone,” nobody I knew thought this whole COVID thing would last long. Certainly, I never imagined the pandemic would still be raging when my book came out. Then, as the lockdown lengthened and my manuscript moved into edits and revisions, I became grateful for its normalcy. “Becca ducks into the conservatory,” one of my notes read. “Visits realtor.” Even as my fingers itched to have her cover her face, to question whether an unannounced visit would be welcomed, I reminisced about such spontaneity. In-person interactions – indoors and without sanitizer… imagine that!
Now that vaccines are on the way, I’m finding this nostalgia bittersweet. Here in the Greater Boston area, the colleges – including the two music schools I based the book’s conservatory on – are already at least partially re-opened (though many classes are still online). But little shops like Charm and Cherish, where Becca works? Many of them have closed for good and will live on only in books like mine. In some cases, these were already gone, victims of gentrification or what locals call the “mall-ification” of places like my beloved Cambridge. Many, many more have gone out of business over the past ten months, victims of the pandemic-blighted economy. While these closures do not compare in any way to the loss of lives – more than 400,000 nationally – I mourn these places, too. These local independents were not simply commercial ventures. The bookstore where the clerk knew your tastes? The coffee shop that always saved you an iced lemon scone? They were our gathering places, the heart of our cities, and also the employers of so many of my friends and neighbors.
Maybe there’s a silver lining in all of this. Maybe, once we are free to socialize again, new ventures will spring up from the ashes. People who have lost jobs – or simply stayed too long in positions they once considered “safe” – will seize the moment, launching new shops, restaurants, music venues, and more. Now that we have rational leadership in Washington, I am hopeful that there will be economic assistance for such projects. There would certainly be a market. I firmly believe that after nearly a year of visiting so many of our favorite places only online – or in books, like mine, set here in my home city or in many of the other places worldwide that I love – the appetite for browsing in person, shopping, and sipping will surge forth. If that happens, maybe soon we can begin our real world-building, creating places to gather and read, to meet and laugh once again.
About the Book
A stranger comes in from the storm…
When a panicked stranger shows up at Charm and Cherish seeking advice – and maybe something more, Becca Colwin knows it’s her duty to help. The aspiring witch detective understands how challenging the city can be for a young woman alone, especially as the New England winter tightens its frigid grip. Plus, with her apartment building going condo, Becca needs all the clients she can get in case she has to find a new home for herself and her three cats.
But when that stranger disappears, leaving behind her heirloom violin, the case grows complicated – and the discovery of a dead body right next door puts Becca in danger from the law… and maybe a murderer as well. Although Becca’s cats don’t want her to get any more involved, they know their person won’t abandon the young musician who seems likely to be framed for the crime. The three littermates – bossy Harriet, manipulative Laurel, and gentle Clara, the calico baby of the litter – may squabble like all sisters, but each of the magical cats must use her particular skill if they’re going to keep Becca safe. Together the three felines must untangle a web of deceit and intrigue complicated by the history they share with the person they are sworn to protect.
The third “Witch Cats of Cambridge” cozy mystery continues the larger story of Harriet, Laurel, and Becca in a standalone adventure. “Fans of feline cozies will be charmed.” – Publishers Weekly
A former journalist, Clea Simon is the Boston Globe-bestselling author of nearly 30 mysteries. These alternate between cozies like her new A Cat on the Case, the third witch cat of Cambridge mystery, and darker psychological suspense, (Hold Me Down, coming Oct. 5). She can be reached at www.cleasimon.com
Reader question: How do you feel about reading about a pre, during, or post-pandemic world? Are you nostalgic for the past, or want to see your current reality reflected, or longing for a better, different future? One lucky U.S.-based commenter will win a copy of A Cat on the Case.