By Liz, excited to welcome Alexis Morgan! She’s talking about how she gets her ideas to keep the murders fresh in her Abby McCree Murders. Take it away, Alexis!
One of the biggest challenges when it comes to writing a cozy mystery is bringing something fresh to the party. Sometimes it’s an unusual location. At other times, it’s coming up with an unexpected twist in the plot, or choosing a murder weapon that hasn’t been done to death (pun sort of intended.) Across the first five books in my Abby McCree Murders series, I’ve done a little of all three of those things.
I have worked hard to vary the locations. In the first book, Abby founds a body buried in her own backyard. In another, the victim dies during a 5K run. In another, the victim is murdered during a movie-in-the-park night in Snowberry Creek, the town where Abby and her friends live.
It’s always fun when it comes to choosing possible suspects for Abby to investigate. Despite her desire to avoid getting embroiled in police business, she can’t simply stand by and watch someone she cares about be accused of murder. Abby will go to extreme lengths to protect her friends and relatives.
When it comes to the weapon used, it has to be something that multiple characters would have been capable using, thereby making them all believable suspects. Having said that, the murder weapon in DEATH BY ARTS AND CRAFTS, the newest book in the series, is my absolute favorite—a fancy garden stake made of twisted wrought iron with a finial at the top encasing a blown glass ball.
I got the idea sitting in a friend’s backyard on a lovely summer day. I was admiring her landscaping and happened to notice several decorative yard stakes on display in and among the plants and bushes. I was immediately struck with the idea that you could really kill someone with one of those! Probably not the reaction most people would have had, but that’s how a writer’s mind sometimes works. ☺
That one thought quickly gave rise to the central premise of the plot: an artist is found murdered with a piece of his own work at a busy art fair. That meant multiple people would have to have reasons to be mad at the man, and each of them would have to be strong enough to skewer the guy in a fit of temper. After that, Abby would need a reason to get involved, so one of her best friends became one of the suspects.
Once I had my victim, the murder weapon, and the cast of characters all lined up, then it was just a matter of deciding whodunit! And yes, that means sometimes I don’t know that answer until after I’m well into writing the book.
As a mystery reader myself, I’m always trying to figure out who the guilty party is as I read the book. Sometimes I’m right and sometimes the writer manages to really surprise me.
That has me curious—how is your track record for guessing correctly before the author does the big reveal in the story? Readers, let me know in the comments! I’ll pick three random commenters for signed copies of DEATH BY ARTS AND CRAFTS (open to USA only).
When a killer’s handiwork threatens the Snowberry Creek arts community, Abby McCree starts looking for clues in her own murder investigation . . .
As the newest member of the Snowberry Creek City Council, Abby is picked to liaise between the council and the new planning committee for the town’s first ever arts and crafts fair. As far as gigs go, it’s a fun one—Abby’s spending the weekend tooling around Washington State, checking out similar fairs with her two besties, Bridey Roker, and Dayna Fisk.
As Abby spreads the word about Snowberry Creek’s fair, the trip feels like a glittering success. But then, someone is found murdered at one of the events and vendors begin disappearing amid suspicious circumstances. Abby resists getting drawn in until Dayna finds herself at the top of the suspect list. Now, Abby must weave the clues together and clear her friend’s name before the killer claims another victim—maybe even Abby herself . .
USA Today bestselling author Alexis Morgan has always loved reading and now spends her days creating worlds filled with strong heroes and gutsy heroines. She is the author of over fifty novels, novellas, and short stories that span a wide variety of genres: American West historicals; paranormal and fantasy romances; cozy mysteries; and contemporary romances. More information about her books can be found on her website.