Lynn Cahoon’s home page says she writes about small towns and families—the ones you’re born into and the ones you create. That’s a nice way to sum up all three of her cozy mystery series: the Tourist Trap series, which features the owner of a small coffee/book shop; the Farm-to-Fork series, which features the owner of an Idaho farm-to-table restaurant; and the Cat Latimer series, about a Colorado English professor who owns a bed and breakfast.
These are fun books, which is not to say they are inconsequential. Cahoon discovered cozies while she was undergoing treatment for breast cancer, and many of her readers, enduring struggles of their own, find hope and comfort in Cahoon’s stories.
“I dabble in dark themes,” Cahoon says. “I’ve written about spousal abuse, drugs, dysfunctional families, and high school bullying. But my readers know that good will win over evil and there will be a happy ending.”
Her latest work, A DEADLY BREW, has a Halloween theme and a touch of the supernatural. Like many cozies, the setting plays a strong role in the story, and in this case, it’s a long-empty house on the coastline—a perfect Halloween haunted house and the ideal place for four couples to spend the weekend in an “all-in-good-fun fright fest.” But when they try to conjure up a spirit, they get more than they bargained for.
A DEADLY BREW is a novella, book #5.25 in Cahoon’s New York Times and USA Today bestselling Tourist Trap series. The first book in the series, Guidebook to Murder, won the Reader’s Crown for Mystery Fiction. For those who like a little more spice with their mystery, Cahoon also writes romance under the pseudonym Lynn Collins.
Cahoon agreed to talk with us about her latest release. Let’s welcome her to The Big Thrill.
Congratulations on your new book! And thank you for taking the time to talk to us about it. Why don’t we start with a little bit about your writing journey and how you came to be a mystery writer?
I started taking MFA creative writing classes during my divorce. When I met my future new husband, I made a choice to trade college classes for an advanced degree in darts. I got pretty good for a girl.
Fast forward a few years and I was diagnosed with breast cancer. The best thing about the treatment is you have a lot of time to read. That’s where I found cozies. The worst? You have time to think about your future or lack of one. I decided that year that I wanted to write and have something published. I wrote and sold three essays that year and my fate was sealed. I continued to write on different novels as I learned the craft. I joined the local RWA chapter. I met and worked with other authors. I wrote for the confessions magazines until it was more of a pain to get paid than it was worth. I had two short romances published in Woman’s World.
In 2012, I sold my first book to Crimson Romance. I was one of the debut authors for the new romance line. The next year, I sold the Tourist Trap series in a three-book deal (without an agent) to my current editor at Kensington. I got a Bookbub ad early on and by July of 2014 was a New York Times bestselling author. I pitched and sold the Cat Latimer books in a mass market deal. When I got interest from a film production company, I queried and got my agent. She sold the Farm to Fork series.
I loved the Halloween theme of A DEADLY BREW. What were some of the most fun parts of writing a book set during the Halloween season?
I never get to play with ghosts or anything paranormal in my cozy mystery series. Either a reader loves it or they hate it. I’ve pushed the limits with my police dispatcher/fortune teller character, Esmeralda, in the Tourist Trap series and I adore her. When KOBO asked for exclusive content for one of the books, I wrote a short short about Esmeralda going home to New Orleans for a conference. Writing A DEADLY BREW allowed me to tell a little bit of her upbringing and introduce a new character who may come back to visit. And there’s a point during the story where you’re not sure if the ghost is real or if there is a real-world explanation.
Why do you think cozies are so consistently popular? What’s the secret of their lasting appeal?
Cozy fans want a story they can trust to be fun, creative, and give them a mystery to solve. They don’t want a lot of violence, sex, and what you’ve called the darker themes.
There’s enough evil and strife in the world today. Cozies are a great way to escape. I found them while I was undergoing treatment for breast cancer and have loved them ever since. A lot of my readers can tell a similar story.
What’s next? Will we see more of Jill?
Yes, the Tourist Trap mystery series is one of my readers’ favorite series. The next full-length book will be released in late 2019. Readers have been waiting for this one since I left off Killer Party (2017) with a bit of a cliffhanger. I didn’t expect that writing and publishing schedules would move the next book out two years. I pitched the holiday novella series (Rockets’ Red Glare, A DEADLY BREW, and coming soon, Santa Puppy). I thought having these brief glimpses into Jill’s South Cove world would ease the wait. And my publisher liked them, so they ordered up three more.
Lynn Cahoon is the author of the NYT and USA Today best-selling Tourist Trap cozy mystery series. Guidebook to Murder, book 1 of the series, won the Reader’s Crown for Mystery Fiction. She also pens the Cat Latimer series available in mass market paperback with Slay in Character coming in late 2018. In addition to releasing Who Moved my Goat Cheese in March as part of the new Farm to Fork series, Killer Green Tomatoes released July 3rd, 2018.
To learn more about Lynn and her work, please visit her website.