I'm pleased to welcome Codi Schneider to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Codi writes the Viking Cat Mystery series. COLD SNAP is the first book in the series and was released this week!
Kathy: COLD SNAP is a mystery, but it's also a fantasy adventure. Do you enjoy reading both genres?
CS: Yes, I absolutely love both genres and the majority of books I read fall into one of the two. The twists and turns of mysteries, and the world building and magic of fantasies, create the perfect elixir needed for me to fall in love with a story.
Kathy: The animals in COLD SNAP are so unique. Are any of them based on real animals you know?
CS: Bijou, the protag and narrator of COLD SNAP, is based on my own cat, Caska, and while she’s not a Norwegian Forest cat or a Viking, she’s my main muse (or mews, if you like). The border collie, Cork, is inspired entirely from my parents’ two collies, Buck and Sligo. My other characters are more of a mishmash of animals I’ve known in real life and ones I’ve imagined.
Kathy: I love Bijou's Viking lineage and how she brings it forward. Have you always been interested in Viking lore? Bijou is quite knowledgeable on the subject, were you prior to writing the book?
CS: I’ve always been drawn to Vikings and Norse mythology but I’m certainly no expert on Viking lore. This has made it a fun project to research and I’m looking forward to learning more!
Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
CS: When I first wrote Cold Snap it was purely for my own pleasure/amusement and then I wasn’t sure how to categorize it! After some doing some research and taking advice from other writers/editors, the cozy mystery genre was clearly the best fit for this book. I love how the genre embraces small town/amature sleuth characters and how it allows for a lot of quirk and humor. I’m very happy to be a part of it.
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
CS: I’ve tried my hand at a few different genres, and while so far I’ve been the most successful with cozy mystery, I’m still intrigued by others. I have some outlines for both a thriller and a fantasy that I’ll be working on in the future (along with more Viking Cat books of course!).
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
CS: When a murder shocks her peaceful mountain town, Bijou, a plucky house cat with a Viking spirit, must dive paws-first into solving the mystery before another life is taken—maybe even her own.
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
CS: I really love Bijou. There is something so amusing about plopping her into any situation, no matter how dramatic or benign, and then figuring out how she will react. I also love Skunk, the Pomeranian. I think her character helps to balance out Bijou. She’s the perfect sidekick, easygoing and willing to follow Bijou’s lead, but also smarter than anyone thinks and completely necessary to solving the mystery and keeping Bijou humble.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
CS: I first got the idea when I read an article about real-life Viking cats. These brave felines sailed the world in longships, working as mousers for their human counterparts. I also find great amusement in watching my own cat and trying to decipher what’s going on in her head. Writing a story with a cat protagonist and from a cat’s point of view simply sounded fun.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
CS: I’ve dreamed of being an author for as long as I can remember so publishing has always been the goal (though I’d never stop writing even if publishing didn’t happen).
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
CS: What a tough question! Definitely J.K. Rowling, P.G. Wodehouse, and T.J. Klune. Now for an author who doesn't use their initials as a pen name. . . . Okay, Agatha Christie. Now that’s a dinner party!
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
CS: Two books: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (a classic I somehow missed out on until now) and A Light in the Sky by Shina Reynolds, a wonderful upcoming fantasy that will be released on November 9th.
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
CS: When I’m not writing or reading (or binging Netflix), I love getting outside and riding my Highland Pony, Sarge. I also love trail running, yoga, and swimming in nearby lakes. Traveling, too, is one of my very favorite things and I can’t wait to get back to it as the world opens up again.
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
Chips and Sadie’s salsa (Sadie’s is THE BEST)
Brown rice pasta
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
CS: I’m currently working on book two of my Viking Cat series. I think Bijou has a lot of hot water to fall into and many new mysteries to solve.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
CS: I love watching a story unfold, and often in surprising ways. I love befriending my characters (though some of them are far too unpleasant), and I really love the freedom of working from home.
Proud of her Viking heritage, Bijou Bonanno is a Norwegian Forest cat with an attitude. She happily runs a pet inn with her human, Spencer, and a Pomeranian named Skunk. When Eddy, a baker moving from California comes to stay, along with his two pets, Bijou senses a change in her clan. While she sympathizes with the terrified deaf mute rescue puppy, she is affronted with the man's other pet - a pig, at least until she learns of the pig's status in Viking lore. Soon cat, dog, and pig are working together-someone they know had been killed, and someone they love is missing.
COLD SNAP is a fantasy adventure wrapped in a mystery. With character names like Dirk Square Jaw and Bobi Pinn, who just happens to be a hairdresser, not to mention a pig named Hamlet, Gray Birch, Colorado takes on the appearance of a fantasy village. There's also the fact that the protagonist is a cat who knows her Viking lore and dons her imaginary helmet to take on foes. The format of the mystery is also unusual. The story opens with the discovery of the crime, but readers are unaware of the identity of the murder victim and though readers know the name of the other victim, we know nothing about him...yet. From this point the story backtracks and readers get to meet the varied characters, taking quite some time for the murder to occur, although other sinister events as well as snippets from police interviews keep the crime fresh in readers minds.
I absolutely adore Bijou. She's smart with decided opinions, yet she's able to admit when she's been wrong. In fact, I love all of the animals here, from boy crazy Skunk, to the intelligent and eager Hamlet, and poor little Fennec, as well as the guests of the Fox Burrow Pet Inn and their neighbors.
The first Viking Cat mystery gives plenty of laughs, but there are also heartbreaking moments. Indeed one incident leads me to question the cozy genre label, and still has me tearing up, especially as I remember last words, even though we never really knew this character.
COLD SNAP is a delightfully unique adventure mystery. Norse mythology and real world issues combine in an animal buddy story that tugs at the heart strings while also making you chuckle. I truly enjoyed this book and can't wait to read more about Bijou and her clan.