We love introducing you all to authors whom we enjoy ourselves. Here’s one of my favorites, cozy writer Emily James.
Emily James grew up watching TV shows like Matlock, Monk, and Murder She Wrote. (It’s pure coincidence that they all begin with an M.) It was no surprise to anyone when she turned into a mystery writer. Alongside being a writer, she’s also a wife, an animal lover, and a new artist. She likes coffee and painting and drinking coffee while painting. She also enjoys cooking. She tries not to do that while painting because, well, you shouldn’t eat paint. Emily and her husband share their home with a blue Great Dane, a Boxer-mix, eight cats (all rescues), and a budgie (who is both the littlest and the loudest).
And to celebrate being interviewed by us, Emily is giving away a FREE ecopy of Book 1 in her 2nd series, Sugar and Vice. Winner will be randomly selected from those who comment on this post.
Kass Lamb (on behalf of the whole mp gang): Help our readers get to know you. What two or three things do you feel people need to know in order to understand who you are?
Emily James: Me in a nutshell. That’s tough, but I’ll try.
(1) I’m a Christian, which directs how I live my life and influences a lot of the themes I explore in my books, like mercy, justice, second chances, and found family. My books aren’t Christian books, but they do include characters who pray and go to church. They’re also people who make mistakes and try to learn from them.
(2) I’m an animal lover and huge advocate for adopting from shelters. My husband and I have eight cats, two dogs, and a budgie. Animals might be in jeopardy in what I write, but there’s always a happy ending.
Kass: Why crime fiction? What is the appeal of mysteries for you?
Emily: I love the puzzle. I’m a naturally logical and analytical person, so when things don’t make sense in real life, it’s frustrating for me. Mysteries give the satisfaction of searching out and putting together clues to find a solution.
I also think they give an important reminder about good conquering evil. Sometimes, in the real world, it feels like evil wins more often than not, because the news loves to highlight all the bad stuff. In a good mystery, justice is served at the end, and we aren’t left wondering.
Kass: What type, i.e. subgenre, of mysteries do you write? Why does that subgenre appeal to you as a writer? Do you also prefer it as a reader?
Emily: I write cozies, but as a reader my love is split evenly between cozies and historical. For me, cozies show that you can write a great story that doesn’t have to depend on graphic violence, profanity, or sex to catch people’s interest. It’s all about the plot and the characters.
And cozies are also fun! They highlight how quirky people can be, and they remind us to laugh even in the worst of situations.
Kass: Where are you in your writing career—newly published, have 20 books under your belt, or somewhere in between? Tell us a little about your stories.
Emily: I’m somewhere in between. I recently completed my thirteen-book flagship series (fourteen if you count the prequel), the Maple Syrup Mysteries. Struggling criminal lawyer Nicole Fitzhenry-Dawes inherits her uncle’s maple syrup farm and sees her chance to escape a life full of murderers, liars, and criminals. She couldn’t have been more wrong.
I just released book three in my five-book follow-up series, the Cupcake Truck Mysteries. Isabel Addington wants only two things from life—to hide from her abusive husband and to run her cupcake food truck. But while she’s baking up sweets, everyone around her seems to be cooking up murder.
I’ll be finishing up the Cupcake Truck Mysteries in 2021, and I already know what’s coming next, but I haven’t revealed it yet!
Kass: What do you find to be the most fun and/or the most difficult part of the writing process—first draft, editing, researching?
Emily: I find plotting the book to be the most difficult part. I want to make sure I put enough red herrings in so that readers won’t guess the true murderer and motive right away, but I also want to play fair. By the end of the book, I want readers to feel like they should/could have guessed it. Finding that balance, and then adding in enough twists, is a challenge.
Kass: What’s the oddest and/or most difficult thing you ever had to research?
Emily: I’d say the oddest thing I had to research was sporadic fatal insomnia (for Book #8 in the Maple Syrup series, Bucket List). It’s an extremely rare disease caused by a mutated protein. Only about 100 people worldwide have it. Not only does it have no cure, but it has no useful treatment to extend the lives of the people who have it. Most of the time sleeping pills make it worse.
Kass: In your latest story, what was your favorite (or hardest to write) scene?
Emily: I’m a writer who loves writing characters. My favorite scene in Gum Drop Dead, which is the third Cupcake Truck Mystery, was actually part of the subplot. Isabel is a flawed person. She’s always expecting people to betray her, she’s paranoid, and she lives in fear of her husband finding her. She also has trouble with being physically close to people, specifically men, because of how she’s been hurt in the past. In my favorite scene, she makes a step forward, and she starts to think that maybe she could someday have a normal, healthy relationship again.
Normally, though, my favorite scene will be in the last quarter of any book I write where I put my main character in mortal danger. I don’t know what that says about me, but I have so much fun putting them in those life-threatening situations and watching them try to get out!
Readers, do you have any other questions for Emily? Ask away in the comments below. (And you’ll be entered in her giveaway! Or you can just say hi.)
GUM DROP DEAD, A Cupcake Truck Mystery:
While cupcake food truck owner Isabel Addington is baking up sweets, everyone around her seems to be cooking up murder.
Isabel and her business partner Claire are working out of a borrowed truck that’s too small for them, but they couldn’t miss the opportunity to sell their cupcakes at the annual hot air balloon festival. It’s the break they need to expand the business.
But the day goes from bad to worse to murder when a man plummets to his death from one of the hot air balloons. The operator swears the man jumped out on his own. The man’s family insists he wouldn’t have killed himself.
Isabel finds herself in the middle of the investigation again, but more is at stake than she realized. Especially when someone delivers a threat into the hands of one of the people Isabel loves the most.
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