Cherie J is the winner of a copy of Cheddar Off Dead!
I’m so delighted to welcome Korina Moss to The Wickeds! There isn’t anything more fun than celebrating an author’s first book. I remember all those feelings when Tagged for Death came out and have loved Korina’s posts on social media this week. It’s a joy to see someone go from unpublished to published author. It’s a lot of work and Korina stuck to it! And I adore her clever titles! Look for a giveaway at the end of the post!
Korina: Thank you, Sherry, for inviting me to the Wicked blog today! Since Cheddar Off Dead’s debut on March 29th, I’ve been in a lovely, chaotic whirlwind of speaking with cozy mystery readers about my Cheese Shop Mystery series. I continue the series with Gone For Gouda and am currently writing Book #3.
Creating a new series is kind of like being invited to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. When I started the first book, Cheddar Off Dead, I was like one of those golden ticket winners—able to enter a world of pure imagination. I was as exhilarated as any of those children walking into the Wonka Chocolate Factory, overwhelmed and amazed by the bounty before them. Just look at all the options I’d have for creating characters, mapping out my fictional town, designing my cheese shop… everything down to choosing the town gossip. But just as the children shouldn’t have given in to their impulses, I would also face consequences if I didn’t use forethought. Once I handed in the completed manuscript to my publisher, it would go through copyediting, layout, binding, etc. Everything it takes to turn a manuscript into an actual book would be happening while I was working on Gone For Gouda. This meant that nothing from Cheddar Off Dead could be changed anymore.
All the characters (well, the ones who didn’t get bumped off or do the bumping off) would still be living in my fictional town of Yarrow Glen. Since there must be fresh characters and new suspects for each book, much like Violet after she stole Mr. Wonka’s 3-course dinner gum, it could get quite overinflated.
While making sure Cheddar Off Dead was a fulfilling book on its own, I also needed to create the beginning of a wider, more subtle arc to the whole series. As much as I wanted to lap at that Chocolate River and allow every dazzling willy-nilly idea I had to spill over into that first book, I had to refrain or else face the consequences. Augustus Gloop’s consequence was falling into the chocolate river and getting sucked out through a tube to the fudge room. Mine could be just as messy—the books could lack focus and I’d have less creative freedom in telling the stories that my characters would eventually demand.
To keep myself in check while still making Cheddar Off Dead satisfying and delicious, I concentrated on my cheesemonger protagonist, Willa, and her two shop employees—retired high school drama teacher Mrs. Schultz and nineteen-year-old Archie. Willa lives in the snug apartment over her shop; therefore, next-door neighbor Baz was introduced. A limited suspect list—the five small business owners who attended her cheesemaking class after hours—allowed me to fully portray those characters and their shops and businesses in downtown Yarrow Glen. Of course, the handsome detective gets plenty of screen time while still maintaining a bit of mystery about him.
As a writer, I like to hang out with my characters for a while, live with them, find out their backstory, and know how they interact with each other before deciding what comes next for them. Although I had to give a general plot description to my publisher for the following books in the series, I had a lot of leeway for the growth of my characters, their relationships, and the town itself.
Keeping the bigger series picture in mind allowed my subsequent books to grow organically from the story told in Cheddar Off Dead. Like Charlie, with a little bit of patience, all my ideas were able to take flight.
Readers: What draws you into reading a series? I’ll send one U.S. commenter a copy of Cheddar Off Dead.
About the Book
Cheesemonger Willa Bauer is proving that sweet dreams are made of cheese. She’s opened her very own French-inspired cheese shop, Curds & Whey, in the heart of the Sonoma Valley. The small town of Yarrow Glen is Willa’s fresh start, and she’s determined to make it a success – starting with a visit from the local food critic. What Willa didn’t know is that this guy never gives a good review, and when he shows up nothing goes according to plan. She doesn’t think the night can get any worse… until she finds the critic’s dead body, stabbed with one of her shop’s cheese knives. Now a prime suspect, Willa has always believed life’s problems can be solved with cheese, but she’s never tried to apply it to murder…
About Korina Moss
KORINA MOSS is the author of the Cheese Shop Mystery series set in Sonoma Valley. Korina’s short stories are included in the anthologies Crime Travel and Death By Cupcake. She also blogs on Writers Who Kill. You can find Korina and links to buy her books at https://www.korinamossauthor.com/
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