by Korina Moss
Cozy mysteries are my favorite kinds of books to read because they are generally standalone series. I know standalone series sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s really the best of both worlds. Although the series is a continuation of the same characters in the same town, each book’s mystery is complete--it stands alone without plot cliffhangers. I love these types of mysteries because even when I’m racing to finish and find out whodunnit, I don’t want it to end. I always want to continue to follow the characters, even doing their routine things. Just give me a few more chapters of them eating breakfast… working together… doing anything so I don’t have to leave them yet!
I always start with the first book in a series. Being a writer of a standalone series, however, I’m aware that the first book a reader may pick up may not be Cheddar Off Dead, the first book in my cheese shop mystery series. The challenge comes in writing descriptions that draw new readers in but don’t bore those who are well-versed in my fictional town of Yarrow Glen. A friend of mine who’s an avid cozy mystery reader was put off by an author whose long-running series she loves, but who describes the town and characters the same, verbatim, in every book. As an author, I understand the temptation—it’s difficult to find new ways to describe people and places when you want new readers to know the same things that old readers know. Unfortunately, we can’t all be Sue Grafton in how cleverly she not only made her recapped descriptions work but made them comforting to return to in each book.
The best part of writing this kind of series is being able to develop my characters and their relationships over many books. I was thrilled when my publisher offered me a second contract to write three more books in my cheese shop mystery series, for a total of six books thus far. It means I can think more long-term about my characters, and it allows them more room to grow. My readers can get to know them even better and see how their personalities and relationships change over time. When readers open another cheese shop mystery, I want them to immediately feel they’re back among old friends.
The second cheese shop mystery, Gone For Gouda, releases on September 27th and is available for pre-order. Cheddar Off Dead is available wherever books are sold. You can go to korinamossauthor.com for more information.
Are you like me and always start a series from the first book or do you pick up the latest book?