Kathy: Slay Bells is the first Christmas Village Mystery. Are you a fan of Christmas and the whole winter holiday season?
T.C.W.: I am a great lover of the Christmas season and all it entails. That's what's most appealing to me in writing these stories. It's an opportunity for me to disappear into this magical world where the Christmas spirit lives year round.
Kathy: What's your favorite aspect to the holiday season?
T.C.W.: The way the air feels crisper as it gets close to Christmas, the stars are brighter, and everyone's mood and spirit improves by a notch or two.
Kathy: If you had the opportunity, would you spend a vacation in a Christmas village?
T.C.W.: Yes, absolutely.
Kathy: What's your favorite holiday film, special, or book?
T.C.W.: Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol is still my favorite. Many people do not realize that Christmas was not the popular holiday it is now before Dickens's story.
Kathy: How has the Golden Age of Detective Fiction influenced this mystery?
T.C.W.: Hugely. If not for the mention of cell phones I suspect some people might mistake it for a book written in that era. The classics (and not so classic, but old) mysteries are far and away my favorite to read.
Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
T.C.W.: I love the idea of a small group of people, or a small community, where everything is as it should be until suddenly it's not. Then the forces of good overtake the forces of evil and all is restored to how it should be. I think as readers such mysteries are appealing because they represent peaceful communities where any wrongs are sure to be swiftly set right.
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
T.C.W.: Yes, I've published two well-known non-fiction books of research into the Jack the Ripper murders of 1888. That's very much apart from the cozy mysteries I write!
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
T.C.W.: The Christmas Village Mystery series will take place in the magical fictional world of Christmas Village, with Mrs. Maribel Claus as our puzzle-solving sleuth. Many of the crimes she solves will be howdunits as well as whodunits. That is to say locked room murders and impossible crimes will abound! The other series I'm currently writing is the Running Store Mystery series. These books take place in a small town in Oklahoma and center around a store devoted to running apparel. The crimes are solved by a trio of ladies: Lacy, a middle-aged divorcee new to the town; Stax, how goofy, mouthy bookseller friend; and Ruby Maplethorpe, a retired mystery novelist from the Silver Age of detection writing. The first book, Running from Scissors, was published in July and the second book, Running from Arrows, is available for preorder and comes out in January.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
T.C.W.: Yes, I believe I do. I'm inspired by what I like and the way I write reflects that. I love the way mystery stories were constructed in the Golden Age (between the two world wars) and I love the colorful, fun, cozy settings of modern mysteries. What I try to do is combine the two in the stories I write. My hope is to up the mystery ante while still maintaining the cozy atmosphere that modern readers enjoy.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
T.C.W.: I'd had success with my non-fiction books and learned a thing or two about publishing. I'd always wanted to get more involved with fiction, so then it was just a matter of choosing a subject matter. The Christmas Village and running store motifs presented themselves and proved irresistible, so I committed myself to writing at least 3 in each series.
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
T.C.W.: The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries, edited by Otto Penzler. A great collection. I've also just started The Good Girl by Mary Kubica.
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
T.C.W.: Other than writing and reading I love playing guitar and watching unscripted TV shows, such as Survivor and Big Brother. I have two dogs, two cats, and a ferret.
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
T.C.W.: Cheetos, gluten-free pasta, spaghetti sauce, and smoked sausage.
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
T.C.W.: Yes, based on the initial interest I'm receiving from Slay Bells I expect the Christmas Village Mysteries will go on for some time. I'm going to at least do a third book on the Running Store Mystery series and then we'll see if that continues.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
T.C.W.: The writing. I love writing and the feeling of satisfaction and achievement I get when I've had a particularly good day of it. My least favorite part by a mile is the editing!
Slay Bells (A Christmas Village Mystery) by T.C. Wescott
About the Book
Cozy Mystery Brand New Series
Better Mousetrap Books (November 23, 2018)
Print Length: 273 pages
‘Twas the week before Christmas and all through the village, the night settled in over swirling-smoke chimneys; the air was alive with pine and holly, with sugar and cinnamon and cider, by golly!Along snowy lanes and through shadows it crept, past windows behind which each villager slept, where sleeping dogs lie and cats rest a’purring—Tonight, in Christmas Village, a killer is stirring.
Welcome to Christmas Village, a magical hamlet where even in December the roses hold their luster and bees buzz among the bluebells. You’re just in time for the week-long Christmas Festival, and nowhere is Christmas celebrated with such unrestrained merriment as the village which bears its name. Mayor Cobblestone and Sheriff Fell will be somewhere nearby, doing all they can to make sure you’re safe during your stay.
Provided you haven’t booked a room at Plum Cottage.
Nestled betwixt an opulent garden with meandering footpaths and an ancient grove of plum trees, Rose Willoughby’s boarding house is plum-full with lodgers. There are no vacancies, but just wait. Soon there will be one…and another…and another.Presently lodging at the cottage are: the juggler, the acrobat, the magician, the psychic, the strongman, the manager, and the pretty assistant. In town as festival entertainment they’ve each brought their own bag of tricks. And a closetful of skeletons.
When the entertainers begin dying in inexplicable ways, some villagers believe a beast from old village lore is the culprit. The sheriff knows better, but he’s just as helpless to catch the invisible killer as are the town folk with their eyes to the sky in search of a flying creature. But our mysterious murderer hasn’t counted on yet another lodger coming to the cottage: Maribel Claus.
Short as a stump, round as a wheel, sweet as a candy cane, and a sharp as a whip, Maribel loves a good puzzle. But has she finally met her match at Plum Cottage?
Can you figure out whodunit before Maribel does? If you’re up to the challenge, here’s your first clue—the key to unlocking the secret of the murderer’s identity lies in figuring out how the murders were committed. Good luck!
About the Author
T.C. Wescott was born in Missouri but has lived in Oklahoma most of his life. Like pretty much every author who has ever breathed, he is an avid reader. His favorites are classic mysteries from the Golden Age, as well as just before or just after that period (which is widely considered the period between the two World Wars). His first mystery novel, Running from Scissors, was published in July 2018 and will be the first of at least three books in the Running Store Mystery series.
The Christmas Village Mystery series will launch in November of the same year with the debut title Slay Bells. The formula for his books is simple - mixing the classic, traditional detective fiction standards with all the trappings of the modern cozy mystery.
Wescott is also (under another name) the author of two award-winning non-fiction books as well as a slew of essays and articles.
Purchase Link - Amazon
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