Please welcome Joyce Tremel, who will describe how she came to be writing cozy mysteries~
If someone had told me even ten years ago that I’d be writing cozies, I’m not sure I would have believed them. Back then, I was the part-time secretary for my local police department. The book I was writing was more of a police procedural, and my main character was an ex-cop who taught martial arts.
It was definitely NOT a cozy in any way, shape, or form. It made sense to me to “write what you know.” I knew cops and I knew martial arts—I had a second degree blackbelt in Taekwondo.
Then in 2008, I was let go from that job and I wondered what to do next. Did I find another part-time job? Or should I take the opportunity to write full time and see what happened?
Fortunately we didn’t need the tiny bit of income I’d had so I chose the latter and started a new book. The new story featured a police secretary named Irma Jean. She was a bit of a smart aleck. I let myself write without putting a label of “procedural” or “cozy” or anything else on the book. I just wrote the story.
When it was finished I sent out queries and an agent liked it enough to work on revising it with me. She had me restructure the book and soon it was ready to submit to publishers.
Except . . . she dropped a bombshell on me. She was leaving to take her dream job with a publishing company. Eventually I found another agent who started submitting the book. Then she left agenting to go back to school, but the good news was another agent at the same agency took me on. Whew.
To make this long story a little shorter, In Spite of Murder ended up on the desk of an editor at Berkley. She liked the story but the book wasn’t cozy enough for their line. She liked my voice and wanted to know if I’d be interested in writing a cozy.
I’d been reading a lot of cozies and I realized deep down that was what I wanted to write. That was the genre I had the voice for. I just had to figure out what my book would be about.
I didn’t do crafts. I did help hubby with some home improvement type things, but there were already cozies that covered that topic. I tried to think up unusual occupations, but it seemed like most had been done. It finally dawned on me ( I may have been drinking a beer at the time) that there were no cozies with a craft brew theme.
Max O’Hara, my protagonist, would be a female brewmaster and I’d set it in my hometown of Pittsburgh. She’d have five older brothers and her dad would be a homicide detective. Her romantic interest would be her childhood crush—the best friend of one of her brothers.
I wrote a proposal for what I was calling the Brewing Trouble Series. The proposal included a synopsis of the first book, To Brew Or Not To Brew, plus ideas for following books. I sent the proposal along with the first three chapters to my agent. The rest, as they say, is history.
And now I’m launching the second book in the series, Tangled Up in Brew. I really hope yinz guys (as we say in Pittsburgh) will give Max O’Hara and her friends a try. You won’t be disappointed!
Joyce Tremel was a police secretary for ten years and more than once envisioned the demise of certain co-workers, but settled on writing as a way to keep herself out of jail.
Her flash fiction has appeared in Mysterical-e, and her non-fiction has been published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police magazine. Her debut novel, TO BREW OR NOT TO BREW (December 2015) was nominated for a 2015 Reviewers’ Choice Award for best amateur sleuth by RT Book Reviews. The second book in the series TANGLED UP IN BREW (October 2016) has been chosen as a Top Pick by RT Book Reviews. The third book, A ROOM WITH A BREW, is tentatively scheduled for release in October 2017.