I'm happy to allow Lois Winston to take over Cozy Up With Kathy today. Lois writes the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries. A Sew Deadly Cruise is the ninth book in the series and was released October 1, 2020.
By Lois Winston
Agatha Christie didn’t believe in mixing romance with mystery, even though (little known fact) she wrote a handful of romances along with her many mysteries. Much has changed in cozy and amateur sleuth mysteries since Dame Agatha’s day. Many authors now add romance to their sleuth’s lives. Some even dare to leave the bedroom door open a crack.
Once upon a time I wrote books that ended with the hero and heroine always winding up either married or planning to wed by the end of the book. My romance writing days ended once Anastasia Pollack, the reluctant amateur sleuth of my eponymous Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries, took over my life. These days you’ll find my laptop planted firmly in the mystery world. However, Anastasia is an extremely demanding protagonist, and in order gain her cooperation, I had to enter into negotiations with her.
When I made the move from romance to mystery, I had to switch up my writing style. Romances are character driven. The stories center round a hero and heroine. Mysteries are plot driven. They don’t have heroes and heroines. They have protagonists, whether amateur or professional sleuths, and those protagonists may or may not have a love interest.
Even if there is a love interest, in the traditional cozy the love story plays second or third fiddle to the mystery. Sometimes the love interest is mostly off-camera, only referred to occasionally by the protagonist. A mystery is first and foremost all about the sleuth finding out whodunit. Of course, that doesn’t mean that the characters aren’t fully developed in mysteries. No one wants to read about cardboard characters, no matter what genre.
When Anastasia’s husband permanently cashed in his chips at a roulette table in Las Vegas, her comfortable middle-class life crapped out. Suddenly, she found herself juggling two teenage sons, a mountain of debt, a communist mother-in-law, and her dead husband’s loan shark. Add to that a mother who claims descent from Russian nobility; a communist French bulldog, a haughty Persian cat, and Ralph, the Shakespeare-quoting parrot. Toss them all into one small suburban ranch house, and you’ve got chaos and conflict galore. And that’s all before Anastasia suddenly finds herself tripping over dead bodies!
Did I mention I write humorous amateur sleuth mysteries?
If I was going to write a multi-book series featuring the same characters, I needed to give Anastasia a character arc over the course of the series. I wanted her to deal with internal, as well as external, conflicts and experience emotional growth as the series progressed. That’s where her dysfunctional family and their assorted baggage come in. But right from the start Anastasia rebelled, refusing to go along with what I wrote. I needed to dangle a carrot in front of her.
What better way to do this than to turn to my romance roots? Enter Zachary Barnes. I introduced him in the first book when he rents the apartment over Anastasia’s garage. He claims he’s a photojournalist. But is he? Anastasia starts suspecting the photojournalism is cover for a more covert career. Is Zack really a spy? So far neither Anastasia nor my readers have learned the answer to that question, but they both learn a bit more about Zack’s background in A Sew Deadly Cruise, the ninth and latest book in the series.
Zack also looks like someone dumped the genetic components of Pierce Brosnan, George Clooney, Patrick Dempsey, and Antonio Banderas into a pan and baked up the epitome of male perfection. Anastasia isn’t sure what Zack sees in her, but she’s not questioning his motives. Or mine. With this gift I’ve given her, she’s decided to cooperate--somewhat. She’s definitely more reluctant amateur sleuth than your average nosey Nellie amateur sleuth, but life is all about compromise, right?
A Sew Deadly Cruise (An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery) by Lois Winston
About A Sew Deadly Cruise
Cozy Mystery 9th in Series
Independently Published (October 1, 2020)
Print Length: 226 pages
Life is looking up for magazine crafts editor Anastasia Pollack. Newly engaged, she and photojournalist fiancé Zack Barnes are on a winter cruise with her family, compliments of a Christmas gift from her half-brother-in-law. Son Alex’s girlfriend and her father have also joined them. Shortly after boarding the ship, Anastasia is approached by a man with an unusual interest in her engagement ring. When she tells Zack of her encounter, he suggests the man might be a jewel thief scouting for his next mark. But before Anastasia can point the man out to Zack, the would-be thief approaches him, revealing his true motivation. Long-buried secrets now threaten the well-being of everyone Anastasia holds dear. And that’s before the first dead body turns up.
Craft projects included.