Guest- Liz Ireland

Jessie: In NH where the weather fluctuates between abysmal and heartbreakingly delicious!

Today we are lucky to have Liz Ireland as our guest. I had the pleasure of meeting her some time ago and am pleased as punch to have her with us today! Over to you Liz!

Once upon a time in a faraway kingdom, a writer was sweating bullets over her latest historical mystery…

Okay, the kingdom was a duplex in Victoria, British Columbia, and the writer was me. I’m not a perfectionist by any stretch, but as I wrote those stories I buried myself in histories and old reference books, trying to weed out every anachronism and factual error. If I didn’t find them, I knew that sharp-eyed readers would.

Then came the call. It was my editor, offering me a chance to write a cozy holiday mystery featuring a Mrs. Claus character. She could be the owner of a Christmas store, he suggested, or a bakery, or a—

“No, she’s the real Mrs. Claus,” I said. No question. I was headed to Santaland, a place that couldn’t be Googled, without a single element to be fact-checked! I envisioned a golden future where the most intense research I had to do involved reclining on my couch and watching Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer for the squillionth time. Easy peasy.


Ten minutes into working on the first story, I realized that I couldn’t simply plop my characters into a cartoon universe. Obviously, this place needed to have its own geography, history, and social structure. I began by constructing the world: A bit of Bavaria, a touch of small towns I’d lived in, and also a few places I’d only dreamed of visiting (looking at you, Neuschwanstein castle). To organize the society of the book, a bit of The Crown seeped into the Claus family hierarchy, and a touch of Downton Abbey made its way into the upstairs-downstairs world of Castle Kringle, where Santa Claus lives. Instead of researching history, I was inventing a history. Every fictional world, I discovered yet again, is its own reality.


The more I built the world, the more I saw its possibilities. How would it be to be dropped into the North Pole as an outsider newly married to Santa Claus? What does it mean to live in a single-industry town, especially if the industry is Christmas? And how would a murder affect such a close-knit, determinedly merry community? Murder is a serious business, after all, even when it takes place in the coziest of cozy villages.

In other words, all of the issues raised in crime fiction applied to this off-center Santaland world taking shape in my imagination. And as for my research-free crime writing? Just a dream. So far in writing the Mrs. Claus series, I’ve tumbled down research rabbit holes about poisonous plants of the arctic, and time zone issues involved in round-the-world sleigh trips, and I now feel as if I could host my own David Attenborough-style documentary on reindeer. 

Maybe you can’t Google a street map of Christmastown, but if you’re a crime fiction reader, the themes and issues won’t be unfamiliar. Only with elves, and talking reindeer, and sentient snowmen.

Readers: Have you enjoyed any mysteries with a touch of fantasy? I’m a huge fan of Gigi Pandian’s Accidental Alchemist series, among others. If you have any recommendations, leave them in a comment for a chance to win a print copy of Mrs. Claus and the Trouble with Turkeys. (North America only, please.)

And thank you so much, Wickeds, for inviting me to be a guest today! 

Short blurb: In Santaland, it’s beginning to look a lot like…Thanksgiving…and in between the festivities, April Claus must track down a killer hiding amid a parade of suspects…

Liz’s bio: Liz Ireland grew up in Texas, where she experienced nothing but green Christmases for most of her life—until she moved to Canada. She also writes books under the names Elizabeth Bass and Liz Freeland. She currently lives on beautiful Vancouver Island in British Columbia.

61 Thoughts

  1. Mona Marple writes a few series that fit that category. One is the Waterfell Tweed Mystery Series and also her Christmas cozy mystery series where Santa’s Village is in England. Thank you so much for this chance at your giveaway. pgenest57 at aol dot com

  2. LIZ: I do enjoy reading your Mrs. Claus series. I totally agree with you about Gigi Pandian’s Accidental Alchemist series. Dorian & Zoe are wonderful, unique protagonists. I am a foodie & my mouth waters while reading about Dorian’s gourmet vegetarian meals.

    And I also like Daryl Wood Gerber’s fairy garden series set in coastal California. Courtney & her tiny fairy friend Fiona are a delightful sleuthing team. And the fairy gardens that Courtney makes has magical elements.

  3. I do enjoy some fantasy in mysteries now and then. Magical Cats by Sofie Kelly, Cats & Curios by Rebecca Hale, Fairy Garden by Daryl Wood Gerber, Bewitched by Chocolate by H.Y. Hanna, Magical Bakery by Bailey Cates are a few of my favorite series.

  4. Congratulations, Liz! The series sounds delightful – and there is always research. I haven’t read a lot of mysteries with fantasy in them, but I think I’d enjoy it as long as the fantasy wasn’t used to “cheat” the way to the resolution of the mystery.

  5. Congratulations on the upcoming release of “Mrs. Claus and the Trouble with Turkeys”! Love the concept and the story sounds amazing. It’s been on my TBR list (I even tried to win the Goodreads contest) and I can’t wait for the opportunity to explore Santaland within its pages.

    The first one that comes to mind is A Fairy Garden Mystery Series by Daryl Wood Gerber. There are several, but the brain is a bit fuzzy this morning to come up with all of them. I did just finish reading THE PRYCE OF DECEIT by Kari Bovee that I loved. There is a resident ghost in the Arabella Hotel and a great whodunit too.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  6. Welcome to the blog, Liz, and congratulations on the new series.

    I also love Gigi’s Alchemist series, and our own Liz’s Full Moon Mysteries (written as Cate Conte). I’ve also enjoyed the Low Country Mysteries by Susan M. Boyer, which includes the delightful ghost of a high school friend of the protagonist who pops up unexpectedly.

  7. I love mysteries with a little magic and fantasy. Ellery Adams has written a series about Storyton Hall which has an underlying mysticism in it’s existence. I want to move to Storyton!

    Creating a new world is a lot of fun (along with a lot of work.) For years, I did Letters to Santa on my radio station. For the three weeks before Christmas, I would read kids’ letters to Santa on the phone to the North Pole. We created a whole visual paradise for them. Kids want certain toys and “stuff”. We had whole “stuff” warehouses. It was a magical time for kids and adults alike. Adults would drive home from work and sit in their driveways until the show was over because they didn’t want to miss anything.

  8. I don’t typically read cozy Mysteries to be honest but I am in love with the Mrs Claus Series! Keep em coming! 🙂

  9. Hi Liz! Cozy mysteries with a touch of fantasy are brand new to me so I have no recommendations but I love the premise of your new book and am adding it to my TBR list which will “magically” change into my Christmas wish list I hand off to hubby so he knows what to get me.

    World building is my favourite part of writing and the most creative part other then the character back stories.

    1. Hi Laurie! One of the many reasons I love cozies is that they have so many worlds I want to escape to, with friendly neighborhoods, magic bakeries, cats solving crimes… Fantasy elements fit right in. I hope you’ll enjoy Mrs. Claus if she shows up in your stocking this year!

  10. I love your series. It is very different than any other cozy series that I have read. As each books comes out, and we readers are introduced to new facts about Santaland. I just find it so much fun.
    I do like Gigi Pandian’s series.
    I am also a big fan of magic and magical realism in books. Ellery Adams, Secret Scone Society books and her previous magical mystery series. Bailey Cates magical mystery series were also great books.

    1. Thank you, Deborah! I’m so glad you’re enjoying the series. I love Ellery Adams! I haven’t read Bailey Cates, but I just looked her up and put the magical bakery mystery series on my list.

  11. Yes, I certainly have enjoyed mysteries with a touch of fantasy. I recommend Amanda Flower’s Magical Bookshop mystery series. Please read the first book in the series before the others because it really sets the stage for the books that follow it. Amanda Flower had me laughing from the beginning!

  12. So nice to meet you, Liz! We have thoroughly enjoyed all 3 of your Mrs. Claus cozy mysteries, and can’t wait until “Mrs. Claus and the Trouble with Turkeys” is published!!! I so enjoyed reading all the information you shared with us today! As to mysteries with a fantasy element, my wife and I are currently reading DEATH OVERDUE by Allison Brook, which has a ghost in a library…cute. We also enjoyed J. C. Eaton’s Charcuterie Shop Mysteries which also have a crabby ghost…funny! Thank you for gifting us readers with your Mrs. Claus mysteries. Luis at ole dot travel

  13. Oh, this sounds like a fabulous book. Can’t wait to see how your created village matches the one your description just created in my imagination! Big fan of Gigi’s books, and Allison Brook’s books. I’m also a Jersey Girl (New not olde) who loves E.J. Copperman’s Haunted Guesthouse series, and let’s not forget Leigh Perry’s Family Skeleton series. I love Sid!

  14. I enjoy Amanda Flowers and Bailey Cates magical mystery series! I love mysteries with a touch of fantasy. Thanks so much for the chance!


  15. I love this series. You’ve got the perfect bit of fantasy worked in without taking away from the cozy murder. I can imagine the research you still need to do, but I always fall into the fantasy world you’ve created, so you are doing your job well.

    I should be finishing up this newest one today, and as always, I’m loving it. (No need to enter me in the giveaway.)

  16. I definitely love mysteries with a touch of fantasy! The Accidental Alchemist series is one of my favorites too, I got to read an advance copy of the newest one & it’s wonderful! Other favorites include the Three Tomes Bookshop and Stoker & Holmes series by Colleen Gleason and The Vampire Knitting Club series by Nancy Warren.

  17. How lucky, Judith! I’m so looking forward to the new Accidental Alchemist book. And I don’t know where the Vampire Knitting Club has been all my life. I’m in love with just the title!

  18. Congratulations on your new release. I’m looking forward to reading it. I do like fantasy in books. One that comes to mind is Daryl Wood Gerber’s Garden Fairy Mysteries.

  19. This series is one of my FAVORITES!! I can’t wait to read this one! I’ve had it preordered forever!! Sounds so good!

  20. Leigh Perry’s series with Sid the Skeleton is good.
    As for Christmas year round, have you looked at Holiday World in Santa Claus, IN. We took our boys to it many years ago, and white it is a standard theme park with a water park, it does have Christmas themes in it.

  21. Thanks for the recommendation. I would recommend Daryl Wood Gerber’s Fairy Garden Mysteries if you have not read any already.

  22. Yes. I enjoy Lauren Elliott’s A Crystals & CuriosiTeas Mysteries. She is releasing her second book in the series on November 28. Thank you for sharing. God bless you.

  23. I enjoyed Miss Frost Solves a Cold Case. That was a fun cozy mystery fantasy world. Miss Frost is from the North Pole (she’s Santa Claus’s niece) but heads to Nocturne Falls where it’s Halloween year round to solve a mystery. Super cute!

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