What do you expect out of a cozy mystery author? Sweet, gentle and demure? How about warm, funny-as-hell and candid about everything from grave robbing to muses and the worst advice she’s ever received! After thirty-plus books and eighteen years in the business, cozy mystery star, Emily Brightwell, knows what it takes to make it in this business. Lucky for us, she sat down to dish with me for Orange Blossom’s The OCC Interview.
Q – Are there any words of inspiration on your computer, in your office or in your mind when you write?
A – â€œNever tell me the oddsâ€ and â€œCrap can be fixed.â€
Q – Do you have any writing rituals? Schedule?
A â€“ My Mrs. Jeffries books are always 11 chapters long and I also do the ritual cleaning of the office whenever I start a new book. Actually, itâ€™s about the only time my office gets cleaned.
Q â€“ What is a cozy mystery?
A â€“ A comfortable setting, a murder that isnâ€™t graphically described, a list of suspects and no sex â€“ though sex can be a motive for the crime.
Q â€“ Why do you think cozy mysteries are so hot right now?
A â€“ Maybe weâ€™ve all over-dosed on serial killers, CSI, and too many episodes of Law & Order. The popularity of the sub-genre waxes and wanes, sometimes itâ€™s hot, sometimes youâ€™re only writing for a niche audience. But I love writing them.
Q – Among other things, your Mrs. Jeffries books are known for their accurate depiction of Victorian England. What is the best or most interesting piece of information youâ€™ve found?
A – I found that the spikes on top of iron fences surrounding Victorian graveyards were put there to cut down on grave robbing. Robbers used to steal corpses and then sell them to medical schools.
Q – Whatâ€™s next for Mrs. Jeffries and the rest of the cast? Is there anything you can tell us without spoiling any surprises?
A â€“ There is a surprise coming in the book that Iâ€™m working on right now â€“ I just hope it doesnâ€™t make everyone hate me.
Q – What are you dying to try next? Why?
A â€“ Actually, Iâ€™d love to write a political thriller. I hope to do so one day.
Q â€“ Youâ€™ve written YAâ€™s and romance too. Which is your favorite genre to write in? Why?
A â€“ I love all genres, but I most enjoy writing mystery and YA. Romance was actually very difficult for me.
Q â€“ Why was romance difficult for you?
A â€“ Because I kept killing people.
Q – Which is your favorite of your books? Why?
A â€“ My favorite book is the very first YA I ever wrote; Remember Me became very special when a dear friend died as I was writing the manuscript. I couldnâ€™t write the last ten pages â€“ and I swear, this is true, I was in my office feeling sorry for myself when I suddenly heard Nancyâ€™s voice in my head. She was a schoolteacher so her voice was very distinctive â€“ she said, â€œFor goodness sake, Cheryl, quit procrastinating and get those last ten pages done. I want to see how youâ€™re going to end it.â€ I finished the book in less than an hour. The book was dedicated to her memory. She was a wonderful person and I still get fan mail for this book.
Q – Is there a downside to success? Or what are the challenges that face you now that you are a success?
A â€“ There is no downside to success.
Q â€“ How do you stay motivated? What drives you to keep writing?
A â€“ Pure and simple, I love to tell stories. I just wish I could tell them without having to put in so much hard work.
Q â€“ Muses or hard work?
A – Hard work â€“ if I waited for my muse I would spend most of my time sitting on the couch watching Korean Soap operas (which, by the way, I do enjoy but only if theyâ€™re dubbed in English)
Q – What is the best advice youâ€™ve ever received?
A – I heard it in a Star Wars movie â€“ it was Han Solo and he said, â€œNever tell me the odds.â€
Q – Worst advice?
A – Iâ€™ve heard plenty of bad advice â€“ but the absolute worst was to send a â€œthank youâ€ note to editors who reject your work and make it clear they have no interest in seeing anything else from you. Rejection is bad enough, thanking someone for it is just one step away from out and out masochism.
Q – What is the one thing youâ€™ve never been asked, but you wish someone would?
A â€“ I wish someone would ask me how many words Iâ€™ve written that didnâ€™t get published!