I'm pleased to welcome Catherine Coles to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Catherine pens the Tommy and Evelyn Christie Mystery series. Murder in Belgrave Square is the fourth book in the series and was released last month.
Kathy: The Tommy and Evelyn Christie Mystery series is set in 1920s England. What made you choose this time period and location for your series?
CC: I loved watching Downton Abbey on TV, and I’ve watched the BBC adaptations of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple books repeatedly. I wanted to write something that had the glamour of Downton and the fascinating characters of a Miss Marple mystery. When lockdown hit last year, I watched those types of shows more than anything else. Maybe because they gave me a sense of familiarity and comfort during a time that was the complete opposite. I chose England, and specifically, the north-east, because that is where I live.
Kathy: Historical mysteries require an extra special brand of research. What's your favorite method to research this time period?
CC: Watching Downton Abbey J Haha! Seriously, I look a lot up on the internet, and the research books on my shelf grow with every book I write. I read lots of books on the 1920s before I started writing so I felt more comfortable with what society was like, what people did for fun, even what the politics were like at the time. I also look at what was happening in the world at the time of writing and mention some events to hopefully bring a little more authenticity to my writing.
Kathy: In Murder in Belgrave Square Tommy and Evelyn are faced with a dead body, an abandoned baby, and houseguests! Which aspect would you find most daunting? For me it would be dealing with a baby!
CC: For me, it would definitely be the houseguests! I was a childminder, and then a foster carer for over 12 years, so dealing with a baby is something I feel comfortable with. However, guests I do not know would terrify me! Especially the type of guests Evelyn and Tommy seem to get at their homes!!
Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
CC: First, it was Agatha Christie and second, my daughter asked why I wasn’t writing something with murders and mysteries to solve J When she was growing up, I was constantly watching things like Murder, She Wrote and my shelves are full of detective type books from Patricia Cornwell to Lisa Gardner to John Grisham. I knew I didn’t want to write something really gritty and full of blood and gore. I think especially because I started this series during the pandemic. I wanted something that felt a little more gentle and reassuring than real life. Hopefully that doesn’t sound odd given there’s always at least one murder in my books!
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
CC: I wrote medical romances for year but don’t write those anymore. I have written another series that also started as a love for that genre in books and on the TV. For years I’ve been fascinated with wagon trains and particularly the pioneers who travelled west in the mid-1800s in the USA. I have a novella and one full-length book in that series written under the name of Catherine Kennedy.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
CC: Tommy & Evelyn Christie mysteries are books anyone in the family can read. They explore different emotions and character flaws. I’ve also highlighted the terrible effects of World War 1 on returning soldiers.
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
CC: Aunt Em is probably my favourite. I think that’s because I let her say and do what she likes. She’s 84 years old, and so I think she’s earned the right to speak her mind. She doesn’t suffer fools. Em is also excellent at people watching and is a great source of both friendship and advice to Evelyn.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
CC: Of course, I’m hugely inspired by Agatha Christie. I greatly admire her work and her ability to create complicated mysteries. However, I think her greatest talent was for creating characters that readers wanted to read about over and over again.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
CC: I’ll be very honest here. It was lockdown in England. I’d left my job for personal reasons the WEEK BEFORE the world changed. I had a list of different things I thought I might do but, of course, none of those things were possible during the pandemic. As I mentioned earlier, I had written medical romances previously and so I dusted off my keyboard, took some courses, and decided what to write and went for it! I am so very glad that I did J
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
CC: Obviously Agatha Christie J Jackie Collins because I think she wrote books that challenged the way society thought about women at a time where men were definitely dominant. I think she’d be a really interesting dinner companion. Enid Blyton because her books were probably the first ones I read as a child. I devoured everything she wrote and I think I admire her and Dame Agatha so much writing at a time without computers!! Laura Ingalls Wilder because I’d love to hear firsthand about her life. My poor brother spent years being ‘taught’ by me in the attic of our house and could only leave for ‘recess’ J
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
CC: I’m currently reading a lot of Amish romance. I don’t read within the cozy mystery genre while I’m writing because I would hate to accidentally replicate something I’ve read. I have Verity Bright and Helena Dixon’s latest to read next.
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
CC: I watch a lot of rugby and football, I also love American football too. My boys both play football, so I watch them on a weekend (luckily they both play on the same team now). I like to knit, crochet and walk my dogs.
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
CC: Fresh orange—I have a glass every morning. Marmalade—the really posh, expensive stuff!! I like to have toast and marmalade on a weekend as a treat. Herbal tea—I don’t drink tea or coffee but have an enormous selection of different herbal teas. Garlic—I’ll chop that up and put it in anything!!
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
CC: I plan to write 10-12 books in this mystery series. I don’t want to write so many that it gets boring and people become bored with the characters. I also think there’s only so much you can do with characters in terms of them growing and changing over a series. I don’t want to end up making up increasingly more bizarre things just to keep things going. I do have an idea for a new series, set after World War 2, written in first person, that has the tagline Grantchester meets Agatha Raisin.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
CC: My favourite thing is probably also my least favourite thing. I love it gives me the freedom to work from home and choose my own working hours. I find it hard to ‘switch off’ though. There’s always something else I can just nip into my office and finish J That said, I feel incredibly lucky to do something I love every single day.
Murder in Belgrave Square: A 1920s cozy mystery (A Tommy & Evelyn Christie Mystery) by Catherine Coles
About Murder in Belgrave Square
Historical Cozy Mystery 4th in Series
Publisher: INSPIRED PRESS LIMITED (April 30, 2021) ~200 Pages
Tommy & Evelyn Christie were hoping for a break from solving murders when they agreed to host Aunt Victoria and her daughters, Madeleine and Elise at their London home in Belgrave Square.
Recently widowed Victoria has returned from France for the London Season and to mend bridges with her estranged family.
None of them were prepared for the doubly shocking sight of a newborn baby and a dead body on the back doorstep of their imposing London residence.
Tommy & Evelyn face a race against time to solve the murder and the mystery of the abandoned baby before cousin Madeleine's London Season is ruined.
About Catherine Coles
About Catherine: I’ve always wanted to be an author…or a songwriter…or a nurse…or a teacher…I never have been able to make up my mind J My working career is a testament to this. Over the years, I’ve worked as a legal secretary, a night carer, in a bar while I completed my law degree, a family law practitioner, a childminder, a foster carer, a home carer, a receptionist, facilitating car deliveries for online customers, and a PA/HR Manager. Now I am living my dream as a full-time author. Well…in truth…one of my dreams—a girl should never have only one dream! Catherine lives in the northeast of England where she shares her home with her children and two spoiled dogs who have no idea they are not human!
Purchase Link - Amazon