I'm pleased to welcome ML Erdahl to Cozy Up With Kathy today. ML writes the Seattle Wilderness Mystery series. Spring Upon a Crime is the second book in the series and was released last month.
Kathy: In Spring Upon a Crime we meet Crystal Rainey, a wilderness guide. Are you fond of hiking, camping, and other wilderness pursuits?
MLE: I spent my entire life enjoying the outdoors, including working in the Olympic National Park for several summers. It gave me an expansive knowledge to start from, but when I need to do more book research, it is way more fun than going to the library or searching on the internet. So far I have taken up snowshoeing, rock-climbing, and white-water river rafting to immerse myself, all to bring them to life in my books.
Kathy: Crystal has to deal with loggers, developers, and eco-protesters as she seeks to help her friend. Whose camp are you more inclined to be in?
MLE: I have a muddled background to be sure. I come from a home-steading family with both my grandfather and one of my uncles being loggers, but went on to a twenty year career as an environmental chemist. At the core, I am an environmentalist, but viscerally understand the hardships logging communities face when their income source is taken from them in the interest of conservation.
Kathy: The Olympic Peninsula is said to be breathtaking. In fact, my cousin recently moved there. What makes this location a perfect setting for your mystery series?
MLE: The Olympic Peninsula is peppered with quaint, quiet towns surrounding the stunning mountains. When I worked in the Olympic National Park, we used to leave the woods once a week to get burgers in Forks, so it was quite a shock to see it become a well-known name from the Twilight series. The tight-knit communities of the Peninsula make it the perfect place to set a cozy mystery. Everyone knows each other, allowing for that ideal level of gossip and suspicion.
Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
MLE: Years ago, my wife and I did a genre swap to spice up our reading life. I gave her Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, and she offered up mysteries. I loved the books by Mary Daheim, Janet Evanovich, and Nevada Barr, and my own mystery began percolating in my brain.
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
MLE: I haven’t yet, but I think my next series will be a paranormal cozy mystery series. It allows me to mash up my two favorite genres of fantasy and cozy.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
MLE: The Seattle Wilderness mystery series is Crystal Rainey’s story, who jumps off the corporate hamster wheel and bluffs her way into being a wilderness guide. She’s determined to succeed, but suffers from imposter syndrome as she leads people on their excursions..not to mention a whole lot of unfortunate murders.
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
MLE: One-hundred percent, my favorite is Roxie, the hostess and chef. She is a former actress who adopts a southern accent since it gets her better reviews from guests who adore her classic Southern hospitality. She has a heart of gold, and lacks social filters, which makes her a ridiculous amount of fun to write.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
MLE: The outdoor seasons are a constantly changing setting that inspires the titles of the novels. The characters in my books are part imagination, as well a blending of people from my life (Many of my wife’s traits make it into Crystal’s personality.)
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
MLE: I wrote the first draft simply because I love writing. When it was finished, I re-read the book. I’m not going to lie, it was the roughest of rough drafts, but I could tell there was a top-notch story at the core. I joined my local writers’ association, read books on the craft, and hired an editor. I applied everything I learned to the revisions until it was highly polished, and then pitched it to what is now my current publisher, The Wild Rose Press. The rest is history.
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
MLE: This is a tough one, since there are so many interesting author personalities. However, if it comes down to it, I’m sending invitations to Agatha Christie, Edgar Allen Poe, JRR Tolkien, and Robert Jordan.
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
MLE: An ARC for Deadly Reunion by my friend and fellow cozy author Linda Hope Lee.
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
MLE: As you can guess, I am constantly hiking, camping, and jumping into the outdoor activity I’m currently writing about. However, in my quiet time, I love to read and garden. The zen of those activities keeps me grounded for my otherwise hectic life.
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
MLE: Coffee (I am from Seattle after all), tea, cheese, and trail mix—Everything I need to face the day.
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
MLE: The Seattle Wilderness Mystery series will be at least four books, one for each season. After that, I’ll probably start my paranormal cozy series before returning to Crystal’s adventures at a later date.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
MLE: The best moments are when inspiration strikes, and you know you’ve concocted the perfect scene. The pen flows across the paper, and the details fill themselves in. It’s a magical moment when all you want to do is keep writing forever.
Spring Upon a Crime (A Seattle Wilderness Mystery) by ML Erdahl
About Spring Upon A Crime
Cozy Mystery 2nd in Series
Publisher: Wild Rose Press (January 13, 2021)
Paperback: 294 pages
Wilderness guide Crystal Rainey leads a group of college students to a private campground amidst the awe-inspiring Olympic Rain Forest. The excursion is ruined when the charming hostess Roxie is discovered standing over the land owner's body, murder weapon in hand.
Enlisted to investigate the crime to absolve her friend, Crystal descends on the quiet city of Forks to find loggers, developers, and eco-protesters circling the property, intent on either exploiting or protecting the bastion of old-growth forest. The list of suspects is intimidating. Can Crystal find answers in a community determined to keep her in the dark?
About ML Erdahl
Award-winning author ML Erdahl lives amidst the trees of the Pacific Northwest, where he pens humorous cozy mystery novels set in the wilderness he has spent his lifetime exploring. The only thing slowing him down is when his adorable rescue dogs, Skip and Daisy, demand to be pet and cuddled on his lap while he types. When he's not working away in front of a computer, you can find him gardening, hiking, or grumbling to his wife, Emily, about the perpetual Northwest winter rain that prevents him from going outside.