Please join us in welcoming Elizabeth Penney, author of the Apron Shop Series mysteries. Hems and Homicide, the first book in the series, is available now. Delighted that you are here today, Elizabeth!
Creating Your Cozy Community
Thank you to Chicks on the Case for including me as a guest! The cozy community of writers and readers is wonderfully supportive and close-knit. We have fun, don’t we?
But the community I’m talking about today is the fictional world authors create when they develop a cozy mystery series. As often defined, cozies take place in a small, confined community, among people who know each other. Although many mysteries are set in small towns, some have extended this definition to include city neighborhoods. Any place that brings sleuth, victim and suspects together.
The Apron Shop Series is set in small town coastal Maine. Not only did I grow up in Maine, this state is popular with readers, with its charming, historic Main Streets, lighthouses, and lobster boats. As an early step, I needed to map out my fictional town, named Blueberry Cove, so I could write about it. Since I’m a visual person, this was literal, on paper with a pen. And because I write contemporary fiction, not fantasy, my imaginary town had to be a place that could exist. This is where the field trips come in.
I visited Belfast and Camden, Maine (again) and poked around like a tourist. For those who haven’t been to Maine, Camden is a perfect jewel of a town, with gorgeous historic captain’s mansions, a brick downtown, and docks filled with sailboats. Set in a bowl created by mountains, the town’s slogan is, “Where the mountains meet the sea.” A quaint stone tower on Mount Battie provides an incredible vista of islands floating in the bay.
Lovely as it is, Camden’s waterfront is no longer home to working fishermen. Belfast, about twenty-five miles up the coast, still retains a bit of real-town grit. Although rapidly gentrifying now, Belfast was once home to chicken farms and sardine canneries. Lobstermen (and women) still work out of Belfast, and it’s a U.S. Customs port of entry.
Blueberry Cove’s geographic layout is similar to Camden, with a north-south Main Street, waterfront park, and neighborhoods on the hill. But, like Belfast, there are working boats and a larger public wharf. I’ve added an environmental college and a lighthouse from other Maine locations. And as I write books two and three, I’m adding new businesses and features to my personal series guide. Like the series, Blueberry Cove is a work in progress.
Now it’s your turn. Tell us about a favorite fictional world, either in your own work or in books you enjoy.
Elizabeth lives in New Hampshire’s frozen north where she pens mysteries and tries to grow things. She’s the author of the Apron Shop Series, with book one, Hems and Homicide, available now, as well as numerous titles for Annie’s Fiction and Guideposts.
About the book:
Welcome to the first in the Apron Shop mystery series by Elizabeth Penney, set in the quaint village of Blueberry Cove, Maine where an expert seamstress turned amateur sleuth is getting measured for murder. . .
Iris Buckley is sew ready for a change. After the death of her beloved grandfather, Iris decides to stay in her Maine hometown to help out her widowed grandmother, Anne—and bring her online hand-made apron designs to real-time retail life. Her and Anne’s shop, Ruffles & Bows, is set to include all the latest and vintage linen fashions, a studio for sewing groups and classes, and a friendly orange cat. The only thing that they were not planning to have on the property? A skeleton in the basement
Anne recognizes the remains of an old friend, and when a second body shows up in the apron shop—this time their corrupt landlord, whom Anne had been feuding with for decades—she becomes a prime suspect. Now, it’s up to Iris to help clear her name. Enlisting the help of her old high-school crush Ian Stewart who, like certain fabrics, has only gotten better-looking with age and her plucky BFF Madison Morris, Iris must piece together an investigation to find out who the real killer is. . .and find a way to keep her brand-new business from being scrapped in the process.