A dyed-in-the-wool New Englander, Linda Reilly lives with her husband in southern New Hampshire, where she loves solving mysteries of the cozy type. She is the author of the Cat Lady Mysteries from Kensington Lyrical, and the Deep Fried Mysteries published by Berkley Prime Crime. When she’s not pounding away at her keyboard, she can usually be found prowling the shelves of a local bookstore or library hunting for a new adventure. You can learn more about Linda at her website: lindasreilly.com, or connect with her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Lindasreillyauthor.
How did you get started writing fiction?
It was the mid-1990s. I was strolling through Barnes & Noble when I spotted a Writer’s Digest magazine with the words “Writing After 40” emblazoned on the cover. That was me! I had recently turned 40, and I’d always loved to write! I bought the magazine, and it sparked all sorts of dreamy ideas about becoming a published writer. I started by submitting short mysteries to Woman’s World Magazine, and that’s where I got my first story accepted.
What draws you to mystery as a genre, in particular cozy mystery?
I’ve loved mysteries since I was a kid, probably because I grew up in a sleepy community where nothing much ever happened! When I first discovered mysteries, a whole new world opened up for me; I became completely hooked on them. For years I read mostly psychological suspense, but I started reading cozies in earnest around 2008 after one particular cozy really grabbed me and sucked me into the sub-genre.
You once worked as your own sort of detective. What did you do? How did it inspire your own writing?
When I wrote my first book, Some Enchanted Murder, I had a full-time job as a paralegal/title examiner. I knew I wanted to use my title searching experience to dream up clues for my character to follow. She pretty much does the same job I once did, so I was “writing what I knew.” To me, every title search is a swatch of history, and it was fun using that knowledge to embed clues for my character to follow on the path to finding a murderer.
You write The Cat Lady Mysteries, which center around a cat hoarder, and your Deep Fried Mysteries feature a big image of a calico cat on the cover. Are you a big cat person? Do you have any fur- babies yourself?
I adore cats, but unfortunately don’t have any pets because of health concerns in my household. Writing about cats is one of the ways I get my “cat fix.”
Your book Escape Claws is about an artist. Do you have experience with art or identify with Lara in any special way?
I’m probably the world’s worst artist [Vicki’s comment: No, I think I claim that title!], but that doesn’t mean I don’t like to dabble. I actually bought a set of water colors so I could try to experience what Lara feels when she paints. Alas, even with online video instruction, the results were pretty bad!
Your Cat Lady Mystery books have a slight paranormal element in the character of Blue, a Ragdoll cat whom Lara remembers from her childhood (which would make him actually old) and whom no one else has ever seen. Does this inspire you to want to write a paranormal cozy mystery? What plans, if any, do you have?
I don’t have any immediate plans to write another paranormal series, although I do have some ideas brewing for a time travel mystery about a woman living in the early 1960s who gets accidentally bumped into the present.
Your Deep Fried Mysteries focus on a fish and chips shop called Fry Me a Silver. This is the first cozy mystery book I’ve noticed set in a fish and chips restaurant. What made you select this for your books?
It was actually my wonderful agent, Jessica Faust, who came up with the idea of a fish and chips restaurant that morphs into a deep-fried eatery. It was a challenge, because I wasn’t sure I could handle all that deep-frying, even on paper! It was great fun to write, though, and I’m glad that I took her advice.
Your Deep Fried Mysteries feature recipes, including, of all things, deep fried pickles. Are they your recipes, or did they come from someone else?
The deep-fried pickle recipe was one I created using a blend of ideas from deep-fried pickle recipes that I found online. I experimented with the recipe a few different ways, and ultimately came up with the one I liked best. I have to say, though, in order to savor the recipe you really have to love pickles!
What’s in store for the future with your writing?
I’m in the very early stages of creating a new cozy series, one that’s culinary in nature and based in New England. I also have an idea marinating in my brain for a psychological suspense novel with gothic overtones, but that’s a project for the future.
Agatha Christie, Mary Higgins Clark, Carlene Thompson (great suspense writer!), Dean Koontz, Ellery Adams. . . and so many, many more wonderful mystery writers. Each in their own way inspired me to learn the craft and write the best mysteries I could.
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