Welcome everyone! Today’s guest on Wednesday Writers is cozy mystery Cathy Elliott, who just happens to share a passion of mine—quilting! Cathy’s going to talk a bit about the research process she used for her cozy mystery A Stitch in Crime. Welcome, Cathy!
A Little Cozy Research
A crime has been committed – most often a murder – and the puzzle must be solved. The police get involved and clues are gathered. But how does the writer lend authenticity to the mystery?
That depends on what kind of mystery one writes. I write character-driven cozy mysteries with a setting that can also be a sort of character. My book features an amateur sleuth from a small, surviving Gold Rush town called Larkindale. When I set up the town, I studied the area where it is placed and wrote a history to match the time it was established. There is a town founder, a mayor, and stores named and built in Old Town. With those facts in my files, I could now write a parallel book or series set in 1850s Larkindale. But I digress….
Since my protagonist, Thea James, runs the family business, James & Co. Antiques & Collectibles, I did extensive research about the antique world, often noting descriptions, ages, and places of origin of the merchandise sold in the store. Thea needed to share accurate information with her customers. And I wanted her world to feel real.
After perusing a book about Civil War quilts and the Underground Railroad, I learned how messages were passed along through quilts. Then I created the fictional Larkin’s Treasure, a crazy quilt with the secret of great riches covertly stitched into the fabric.
In my cozy, A Stitch in Crime, Larkin’s Treasure was highlighted in Larkindale’s First Annual Blocks on the Walk Quilt Show. Sure, I’d figured out the secret to the quilt, but I had to do extensive digging to understand how to orchestrate a quilt show. Interviews with the event’s chairperson and on-the-job training at a real show gave me lots of fodder to help make it authentic for the reader. And since a major Gold Rush display opened in the book’s museum during my quilt show, I needed to know what to put in the cases, reflecting the forty-niner days of old. More research.
Gram, Elspeth James, was one of my favorite characters in Thea’s world. English born, she came to America after World War II as a British War bride. What a joy for this anglophile to delve into the history of these adventurous women so our dear, bumbling Gram appeared a bona fide Brit bride. Complete with her habit of wearing big hats in deference to the Queen.
Research is a delight to my heart. And fortunately, the author must investigate some situations before the novel’s sleuth ever attempts to crack the case.
Lucky me, I say.
A Stitch In Crime
Thea James thought working as co-chair for Larkindale’s first quilt show extravaganza would be a natural extension of her antique business. But while organizing the busy week’s premiere events would make anyone frayed, she doesn’t expect a complete unraveling! At the opening soirée, local matriarch Mary-Alice Wentworth is knocked unconscious and robbed of her diamond brooch. Soon a rare quilt—the main attraction and a rumored key to great riches—goes missing. Those who signed up to help Thea are strangely no help at all. What more could possibly happen?
Amid a cast of colorful characters and a tight schedule of garden galas, tea parties, and televised socials, everything is falling apart at the seams – and nothing is quite what it seems. Can Thea sew everything back together?
WHAT READERS ARE SAYING:
“…Fans of inspirational fiction will enjoy the funny, feel-good whodunit.” Publishers Weekly Review
“…There is mystery and laughter, and Elliott’s characters are strong, confident and determined to make their mark….Fans will want to add this gem to their keeper shelf.” RT 4-Star Review
Links for Purchase…Also available on Audible.com (talking book) & in Lg Print.
- Barnes and Noble
- BAM! (Books-A-Million)
- Cokesbury – You can read a sample chapter on site!
- Christian Supply
About the Author:
Cathy Elliott is a full-time writer in northern California whose cozy mysteries reflect her personal interests from quilting and antique collecting to playing her fiddle with friends. She also leads music at church and enjoys time with her grandchildren. Cathy’s previous plot-twisting works include A Vase of Mistaken Identity and Medals in the Attic.
You can find Cathy on:
Want to read about Cathy’s quilts? Click here