This is the part of series of interviews with writers who are new to cozy mysteries. Some of them are established authors who have published in other genres. Others are in the throes of writing their very first book and planning its publication. It takes me right back to the start of my own writer’s journey before I hit the scary “publish” button with my first cozy.
Today, I have an interview with V.L. McBeath who is launching her first cozy series—Eliza Thomson Investigates. Grab a drink and a snack, sit back, and read what V.L. has to say about writing, penguins and cookies.
1 – What genres have you previously published in? What inspired you to start writing cozies?
My first foray into publishing was with a historical family saga set in Victorian-era, England.
The thing was, when I started writing I had no intention of being a published author, it just sort of happened. The work was a passion project based on several years’ research into my family history. It turned out that my ancestors had quite a story to tell and I ended up writing a five-book series with a short story prequel, (The Ambition & Destiny Series).
From start to finish, the project took the best part of eight years to complete and once I’d published the final book, I was left with a feeling of ‘what now’.
Writing had become a way of life, but because I’d exhausted my family research (for the time being at least), I turned to a genre I had always loved. Murder mysteries.
Because my first series had been historical, and because I wanted to write ‘whodunit’ types stories (of a similar nature to Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple books) historical cozy mysteries seemed to be the way to go. The main difference though is that my amateur sleuth, Eliza Thomson, is anything but a passive little old lady. I don’t think I’m capable of writing such characters, and so Eliza is very progressive given that the books are set at the beginning of the twentieth century.
2 – What’s your favorite thing about cozy mysteries?
As I mentioned, I love whodunit types of mysteries, but I also like the more light-hearted, feel-good, nature of cozy mysteries. After writing about life in the Victorian-era with all the challenges that entailed, being able to switch gears and write something with an element of humour, as well having all the twists and turns of the plot, has been great fun.
3 – Do you have any writing rituals?
I don’t have rituals as such, but I’m not a great one for change!
When I started writing, I had a full-time, office-based job, which meant I did all my writing of an evening.
I now have more flexibility with my working hours, but I still find I am most comfortable writing in the evening (usually between about 9pm and midnight).
I go to the gym every weekday morning – because I need to do something, and then I use the afternoon to do admin / marketing or other such things. I do still work part time and so that has to fit into the afternoons as well.
4 – What’s more important – character or plot?
Character. When I wrote my first series, I was struck with how readers identified with the characters in the books and so when I came to write the Eliza Thomson Investigates series, I knew I needed Eliza to be someone readers would remember, and hopefully like.
5 – What do you like best about being an author? What do you like the least?
I love being able to go off into my own little world and back to a time when things seemed so much easier, especially given that everything seems to be in so much chaos nowadays.
I also particularly like writing murder mysteries because if anyone upsets me, I can always get my revenge by using them as the inspiration for my next plot!
What don’t I like? The hardest part is actually sitting down to write – especially when I’m stuck on a plot point. I can procrastinate for hours!
6 – What’s your favorite cookie? If you don’t like cookies, what’s wrong with you? Oops, sorry, scratch that. My follow-up question was meant to be far more polite – “Why don’t you like cookies?”
Hmm – cookies. I wouldn’t say I don’t like them, but I rarely eat them.
Maybe it’s because in the UK they don’t seem to be as prominent as in the US?
Or maybe it’s because I try to avoid buying sweet things? Eating cookies and sitting at a computer all day really would have me growing about 3 dress sizes!
Not that I’m totally angelic. Occasionally I will have one – and it will always be a white one with milk chocolate chips. Other than the double chocolate chip (which I’m less keen on) I don’t think I’ve tried any other varieties!
7 – A penguin walks through your front door wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why did he come visit you?
Penguin – “Have you seen the weather out there? It’s pouring down.”
Me – “I thought you liked it wet.”
Penguin – “I like water I can dive into, not when it’s falling from the sky!”
Me – “It’s a good job you have your hat, then.”
Penguin – “Are you kidding me? The water’s soaking straight through.”
Me – “What do you expect? It’s a sun hat, not a rain hat. Have you learned nothing while you’ve been in the UK?”
Penguin – “I’ve learned that I like snow better than rain. The guys are coming to pick me up shortly. We’re going back to Antarctica.”
Me – “Oh no … and at such short notice. I’ll miss you!”
Enter three more penguins.
Penguin – “You will? Do you have any more fish, then? That would delay us.”
Me – “Did you leave any in the fridge after breakfast?”
Penguin – “Leave fish? Do you know who you’re talking too!”
Me – “All right, I know, silly question. So, is that it? You’re just going to walk out of here?”
Penguin – “Well we can hardly fly, can we? Although perhaps it’s something we should work on. It would save us a fortune on air fares.”
8 – What else would you like us to know about you?
I can’t claim to be very exciting, but I’m married to Stuart and have two grown-up daughters and a lovely Burmese cat, called Lia.
I spent most of my career working for the pharmaceutical industry and still work as a consultant on an ad-hoc basis.
I’m originally from Liverpool, and so I’m a big fan of Liverpool Football Club (soccer if you’re reading this in the US).
My other passion is music. Unless I’m watching the TV (which might be for about an hour a day) or sleeping (considerably longer, although maybe not for long enough), I have the radio on ALL the time. I love rock music and can’t bear to be in a quiet room.
Get V.L. McBeath’s Books
A Deadly Tonic and Murder in Moreton—Books 1 and 2 of the Eliza Thomson Investigates series—are currently available for preorder on Amazon at the introductory price of 99c / 99p.
A Deadly Tonic will be available to buy from 22nd June, but is also available as a FREE download to anyone who joins V.L.’s mailing list.
Connect with V.L. McBeath
Thank you so much for being on the blog, V.L.! Your cat is absolutely gorgeous and your new cozy series sounds great. I love the idea of a progressive amateur sleuth in the early 20th century. I hope your penguin friend made it back to Antarctic safe and sound.