Although I consider myself a romantic suspense author and fan, I also used to be an avid reader of cozy mysteries especially those featuring cats. For those of you who also share that interest, I will be featuring Cozy Chats with cozy mystery authors on this blog. If you are an author who writes a cozy series and would like to participate in a future Cozy Chat, please contact me.
Today, I have the pleasure of speaking with L.J.M Owen about Olmec Obituary, Book One in the Dr Pimms, Intermillennial Sleuth series. It is a planned cozy mystery series of 9 books.
Hi, L.J.M. Thanks for joining us on Cozy Chat. Have a seat and help yourself to some tea while we talk.
Can you tell us a little bit about this new series? What gave you the idea for it?
Dr Pimms, Intermillennial Sleuth is the story of an archaeologist/librarian who solves ancient mysteries from across the globe, with plenty of forensic science, culinary exploration and historic trivia along the way. There are ancient libraries, modern libraries, cats and – of course – recipes in the back.
Book One in the series, Olmec Obituary, introduces Dr Elizabeth Pimms as she struggles with a job she doesn’t want, a family she both loves and resents, and the volatile excavation director of a royal Olmec cemetery. Amid seventeen concealed skeletons, an evolving mental library and Welsh soup Elizabeth strives to determine cause of death for a 3,000 year old athlete before being fired.
This first mystery, and the second one, feature the archaeology of ancient Mexico. The remainder of the series will explore the ancient cultures, homicides and libraries of Egypt, Mongolia, Persia, India, China, Britain and Crete.
My original inspiration for the series was a sense of wanting to give back.
Like many quiet, studious children I never quite fit into the world around me. I spent much of my childhood escaping into storyworlds created by others. As an adult, tired, stressed and overworked, I continued to snatch an hour or two in those otherworlds to recharge my batteries.
As a writer I realized I wanted to construct another space for readers to escape to. I figured the most sensible course of action was to draw on what I knew. I have a degree in archaeology, a degree in library management and a PhD in palaeogenetics, so felt most comfortable writing about these subjects. I could also indulge my love affair with other cultures, past and present.
And like many, I am intrigued by the classic whodunit. I love to pit my reasoning skills against the fictional detective of the hour.
So Dr Pimms, Intermillennial Sleuth was born. It’s a mix of the archaeology of Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series, the forensic science of Kathy Reichs’ Temperance Brennan series and the cozy setting of TV series such as Midsomer Murders or Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple. With more libraries.
My hope is, ultimately, that the Dr Pimms, Intermillennial Sleuth series becomes another place of refuge for readers everywhere.
How very interesting. I don’t know if you know that I’m a librarian as well as an author, and your series sounds especially appealing to me – cats and libraries how can you go wrong?
Do you have any advice to other authors about writing cozies or writing in general?
Read the books you love. Read the kind of books you want to write. Study the basics of storyworld, character, plot and theme. Sit down and write for at least an hour a day. Research how to improve your writing. Rinse and repeat.
Remember that if you love what you write chances are someone else will too. Some people will also hate it. That’s just how it works. The important thing is to know exactly what sort of book you have written and make it clear to potential readers to increase the chances so that the people who pick it up have a good chance of liking it.
That’s exactly what I believe, too. What are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on Book Two in the series, Mayan Mendacity, which sees Dr Pimms contend with the maimed skeleton of a Mayan warrior, a vengeful Tikal Queen, the Phantom of the Stacks and an intruder in her phrenic library. I can’t wait to finish writing it! I’d like to release it ahead of Christmas next year.
Do you write any other genres than cozies?
I’ve started work on a range of short stories in other sub-genres of crime but at the moment I’m having too much fun with cozies with an archaeological twist.
I don’t blame you. I’ve written some short stories I’d like to gather into a collection one day, but they are very different than “A Stone’s Throw,” and I’m working on a sequel to that right now. My publisher, Limitless Publishing, is planning to put out a holiday anthology next year, and I’m hoping to contribute to that.
Can you tell me how you got started in writing?
I worked through some online writing courses and read widely on how to develop rich, rounded characters. I prepared the overarching storylines for the whole series and developed full character sketches for the top twenty characters in the series.
As I’m a very planned writer I love the ‘snowflake method’ developed by Randy Ingermanson, which he provides free on his website (just Google ‘snowflake method’). When it came to drafting Olmec Obituary I followed this method fairly closely.
To be honest, for me, it turned out that the process of writing was as natural as breathing. It’s everything else that goes along with being a writer that I struggle with. Typesetting, printing, distribution, marketing, PR and social media were far more challenging for me than writing.
I feel exactly the same. And, coincidentally, I also took online writing classes my library offered through Gale Courses before I wrote my novel. I’ve never heard of the snowflake method, but I will definitely check it out. Thanks for the info.
What are your hobbies besides writing?
I love investigating many branches of archaeology and history. I also spend a lot of time in the kitchen experimenting with a huge range of recipes – under strict feline supervision, of course!
lol. Cats do like to observe us humans
Is there anything else you’d like readers of this blog to know about you and/or your books?
As I’m Australian the series is written in British English. If a reader is used to American English I think this enhances their experience of escaping to another time and place, but I know some readers who prefer American English like to know about the slightly different spelling upfront.
Here’s a few links for readers of your blog who are interested in Olmec Obituary.
Paperback copies from Book Depository with Free International Shipping: http://bit.ly/1IR0H30
e-copies from Amazon: http://amzn.to/1XRgTNG
The Dr Pimms, Intermillennial Sleuth Book Series Facebook page: http://on.fb.me/1N8nyej
A Booklover Book Review: http://bit.ly/21LokWl
The Goodreads entry (with reviews): http://bit.ly/1QbUrub
Wonderful! Thank you so much for joining us on Cozy Chat today, and good luck with the series.