Guest Chick: Marla Bradeen

The Chicks are thrilled to have fab author Marla Bradeen with us today. She talks about the importance of representation in mysteries, beyond the usual suspects, and shares some exciting information about new a grant opportunity through Sisters in Crime for LGBTQIA+ mystery authors! And be sure to check out her wonderful Cozy Cat Caper mystery series (written as Paige Sleuth). Take it away, Marla!

What was the last book you read featuring an able-bodied, white, straight, cisgender protagonist? What about the last book you read with a cat—sassy or otherwise—who plays a prominent role? I’m guessing you don’t need to think back too far to answer the first question. And if your library is anything like mine, you won’t have any trouble answering the second either.

Now tell me about the last book you read starring a heroine with a disability, or a Latino hero, or a character who is transgender. How long did it take you to name a title that fits into one of those categories, if you could even come up with one?

Bradeen book coversThere’s nothing wrong with books centered around able-bodied, white, straight, cisgender characters, of course. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with cats taking over those fictional pages (at least I hope not, since the foundation of my own author career is my Cozy Cat Caper Mystery series written as Paige Sleuth). But if your world is anything like mine it is filled with more than bossy four-legged creatures and people who check all of the above boxes. I don’t think any bookworm is surprised by the studies that show reading increases our emotional intelligence and ability to empathize with others. When you are offered a peek into another person’s worldview, it becomes much easier to understand reactions and perspectives that don’t necessarily match your own.

Reading may allow us to immerse ourselves in a variety of experiences, but someone has to write those stories. And who better to take on the task than someone living it in real life? Unfortunately, in traditional publishing there still seems to be a stigma that stories starring anyone other than able-bodied, white, straight, cisgender characters will have a harder time finding a mainstream audience. Worse yet, the industry often seems to doubt that anyone other than able-bodied, white, straight, cisgender authors can even pen a decent story.

MBradeen Pride AwardThankfully, Sisters in Crime disagrees. Sisters in Crime are advocates not only for women crime writers but for all crime writers who have been historically underrepresented or undervalued in the industry. And while I’d like to think women crime writers today face far fewer barriers than they did 35 years ago when the organization was founded, there is still a lot of work to be done to equal the playing field for writers of color and those in the LGBTQIA+ community. To help with that, Sisters in Crime has two $2,000 annual grants available to emerging writers in both of these areas. If you qualify, both Anna Belle the cat and I hope you will apply. The world needs your stories.

Readers, if you’d like to discover more LGBTQIA+ mystery authors and those of color, I hope you’ll check out Sisters in Crime’s Frankie’s List, Crime Writers of Color, and Queer Crime Writers. Then share your own diverse book recommendations in the comments. Anna Belle says there’s no such thing as a too-big TBR pile!

Writers, learn more about the Sisters in Crime Pride Award for emerging LGBTQIA+ crime writers here (applications accepted through March 15):

Interested in Sisters in Crime’s Eleanor Taylor Bland Award for emerging crime writers of color? The application period opens later this month:

Author Bio:

Marla Bradeen mugMarla Bradeen writes mysteries both as herself and as Paige Sleuth. A former software consultant and analyst, she gave up her day job in 2012 and now enjoys killing off imaginary people with lives more interesting than hers. When she’s not plotting murder, she spends her time catering to the demands of her two rescue cats. You can download her first Cozy Cat Caper Mystery book, Murder in Cherry Hills, for free, or learn more about her and her books on her website. You can also connect with Marla on Twitter and Facebook.


Would you like to see more diverse voices, protagonists, and characters in mysteries, especially cozies? Is there an author or series you already enjoy that features more diverse characters?


29 thoughts on “Guest Chick: Marla Bradeen

  1. Marla, so happy to have you visiting Chicks today! Thanks so much for sharing information about the Sisters in Crime Pride Award and Eleanor Taylor Bland Award for emerging diverse voices!

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Marla, thank you so much for this great, very necessary post! I’d love to see more diverse cozies. There’s so much room for them. I always try to make my series diverse, although it’s a bit harder with the Catering Hall series, since it revolves around an Italian family. But I always think, who would be the real people in various positions? When I answer that, diversity becomes baked in.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I love that question, and how diversity comes naturally as a result. I do think publishers are starting to realize there is a market for more diverse cozies, which is wonderful. And thank you so much for inviting me to guest post today!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for being on the Chicks today, Marla! I’m glad for more voices to be represented and happy that Sisters in Crime has all these wonderful grant opportunities.

    Though not a cozy, I really liked reading Mexican Gothic this year. For cozies, I need to toot the Berkley horn. My fellow authors include Abby Collette (Ice Cream Parlor Mysteries) and Mia P. Manansala (Arsenic and Adobo, May 2021). I’m also looking forward to reading Raquel Reyes’ Mango, Mambo, and Murder (Crooked Lane Books, October 2021).

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Berkley is definitely leading the way with diverse cozies–including your own! Thank you for giving shout-outs to those series. I enjoy Abby’s books and am looking forward to reading the others.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Thanks so much for this wonderful and much needed post, Marla! I’m so excited about the newly-announced Sisters in Crime Pride Award, because–as you point out–there are far too few mysteries out there with queer protagonists. Yes, lots of books have “quirky” gay side characters, but as protagonists? Not so much.

    I’m currently holding my breath, actually, as I have a new series set in Hawai’i out on submission right now with a lesbian main character, and I’m well aware of how leery publishers are to take a chance on something like that. Fingers crossed!

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Your new series sounds like it would be a refreshing addition to the mystery world, and I’m thrilled to hear it’s out on submission, Leslie! Like Becky, I’m crossing all my fingers. Can’t wait to read it!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Marla … thanks so much for this post! I love supporting the diverse authors under the mystery umbrella, but I do get a little nervous writing characters who aren’t straight white able-bodied middle-aged women such as myself. I worry about speaking about something I have no experience about, especially when there is someone who could do it so much better, having lived a life different from mine. Any advice for writers to be more authentically inclusive?

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I completely understand that, Becky! I struggle with the same issue. I definitely think it’s beneficial to ask someone from the community you’re including to beta-read (or sensitivity read) for you. I also think it helps to read books written by diverse authors. Nobody sees the world the same way, and as authors our own unique perspectives often become baked into our books, either consciously or not. Sometimes a throwaway line that might not mean much to the story is the one that sticks with me the most because it opened my eyes to a new viewpoint. One of the many reasons why I believe everyone can benefit from having more diverse voices published!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You’re absolutely right that reading broadly and deeply helps hone those voices. Let’s hope we live to see the day when diversity is the norm and we have a ton of interesting voices!

        Liked by 3 people

  6. Welcome, Marla, and thank you so much for this important post!! I’m so glad that more diverse voices are being amplified and love that you shared about the Sisters in Crime Pride Award and the Eleanor Taylor Bland Award. As for the question of whether I’d like more diverse voices, protagonists and characters in mysteries in general and cozies in particular, my answer is a resounding yes, yes and yes!! Thanks again for being here and for your wonderful post! ❤

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you so much, Kathy! I love that Sisters in Crime is so committed to making everyone feel welcome in the crime-writing community, and I appreciate all of the Chicks for letting me spotlight these two grants!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you so much, Marla! Great post and I love your books.

    Yes, please, to more diverse voices in every genre!

    For two years, I had the honor of serving as an ETB judge, and there were so many PHENOMENAL submissions (a number of which have been published since then or will be published soon, hooray).

    Agree that Sisters in Crime is doing important work.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I’m so glad I don’t have to judge the entries, Cynthia, because I’m positive I would want to pick more than one. But I love that you were an ETB judge, and thank you for all of the work you continue to do with Sisters in Crime!


  8. Marla, we’re thrilled that you are our guest today (yay!). We always enjoy and appreciate your comments here at Chicks, and readers who aren’t already familiar with your Cozy Cat Caper Mysteries are in for a treat! Thank you for spotlighting the SinC grants and the importance of diverse mysteries–this is an exciting time as the number of authors and titles grow and much-needed changes continue within the publishing industry. As everyone knows, we are huge fans of Chick Emeritus Kellye Garrett’s Detective by Day series, and I’ve most recently enjoyed Olivia Matthews’s (aka Patricia Sargeant) Sister Lou Mysteries.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love both of those series and am looking forward to Olivia’s newest with Hallmark Publishing releasing later this month. And thank you so much for the kind words about my Cozy Cat series! It’s an honor to be a guest here today, and I so appreciate everything the Chicks do to help readers find new authors!


  9. Marla, your cozy cat caper stories look like great reads. Putting them on my TBR list!

    I think the more we read about different social, cultural, gender, and lifestyle differences, the more we can all grow together as one community. One book that I recently read that I really enjoyed dips into the LGBTQ world is “Love Power” written by Martha Reed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have not read Love Power yet, but it has been on my list since I first saw it mentioned on the BOLO Books blog a few months ago. Sounds like I need to move it up the queue! And thank you so much for adding the Cozy Cat mysteries to your TBR! I hope you enjoy them.

      Liked by 1 person

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