I'm delighted to welcome my friend and fellow writer, Peg Cochran, as my first guest to Make Mine Mystery. I’m in awe of Peg’s unbound energy and prodigious output. While working full time, she writes two cozy mystery series for Berkley Prime Crime. The Sweet Nothings Vintage Lingerie series, written as Meg London, is set in Paris, Tennessee. The Gourmet De-Lite series, written under her own name, is set in Connecticut.
Marilyn: What did you study in college? How do you think that affected or influenced your writing?
Peg: I was a Journalism major at Ohio University. I loved to write and was considered “good at it” and that was the only major that I knew of at the time that involved writing. I ended up doing a lot of freelance non-fiction writing for magazines and web sites, but what I really wanted to write was fiction.
Marilyn: How do you think the little Westie in one of your series adds to the dimension of your cozies?
Peg: Reg is quite a character—both the fictionalized one and the real one who lives with me! I think he allows for some playfulness in the series and helps show my protagonist’s nurturing side. There is a French bulldog named Pierre Louis Auguste in my Sweet Nothings series. The first book in that series, Murder Unmentionable, debuts on September 4.
Marilyn: What part do you think romance plays in your cozies?
Peg: I think romance is important because it’s a part of real life for most people, and it helps lend some spice to a book. In Allergic to Death, first in my Gourmet De-Lite series, Gigi is pursued by two men. She’s just come away from a divorce, and is leery about getting involved and is in no hurry to make a decision. In Murder Unmentionable, Emma Taylor reconnects with her best friend’s older brother—and he suddenly realizes she’s not a kid anymore. Meanwhile, her Aunt Arabella is juggling two different gentlemen herself!
Marilyn: How do you pick your characters’ names?
Peg: Sometimes they just “come” to me. I wanted Gigi to be half Irish and half Italian so I gave her the surname of Fitzgerald and decided on Giovanna as a first name (my grandmother’s name!) and nicknamed her Gigi for short. The detective, Bill Mertz, is rather stiff and not terribly sophisticated, and I thought his name conveyed that. I often look in the phone book for last names, and I have two baby name books that I consult. My husband still gets nervous when he sees me thumbing through them, despite the fact that we are now grandparents.
Marilyn: When you create the settings for your cozies, do you have a real location in mind or do you create a new scenario?
Peg: I’ve done both. The Gourmet series is set in a fictional town in Connecticut which I’ve populated with all the things I love about small towns on the East coast. The Sweet Nothings series is set in Paris, Tennessee, but I’ve added a lot of fictional buildings to their charming downtown area, including Sweet Nothings, Arabella’s vintage lingerie shop.
Marilyn: What would you like your readers to come away with after reading one of your cozies?
Peg: A warm, cozy feeling of course! And that they’ve met some fun characters they’d like to meet again. And that justice was served.
Marilyn: What is it about mysteries that appeals to so many readers?
Peg: I think it’s partly the puzzle and the chance to ferret out clues, motives and red herrings along with the protagonist. Also, that you generally have a wide variety of characters and that things happen. There’s rarely a dull moment in a mystery!
Bio: Peg grew up in a New Jersey suburb, about 25 miles outside of New York City. After her husband died, Peg remarried and her new husband took a job in Grand Rapids, Michigan where they now live . Besides her two debut cozy mystery series, Peg has two e-books on Amazon--a mystery, Confession Is Murder and a young adult book, Oh, Brother! Visit her at www.pegcochran.com and www.meglondon.com.