[Note from Frolic: We are so excited to have author Tracy Gardner guest post on the site today. Take it away, Tracy!]
I began writing cozy mysteries before I knew what they were called. The things I love in any good story—mystery, friendship, a little romance—can all be found in my Hallmark Publishing cozy mystery, Out of the Picture: A Shepherd Sisters Mystery. The book hits the shelves September 3rd, and I believe it will be as much fun to read as it was to write! Former art authenticator Savanna Shepherd has just moved back home to her idyllic Lake Michigan town of Carson after a painful breakup. Savanna’s sharp eye for detail leads her to discover that someone is trying to kill her beloved family friend, town matriarch Caroline Carson. Together with her sisters Sydney and Skylar, and with an assist from intriguing town doctor Aidan, Savanna works to save Caroline’s life. Here are the three things I loved most about writing this cozy:
1. Red herrings are a lot of fun.
As I was creating my cast of characters, I realized that almost anyone can be a plausible suspect depending on the situation. That sweet and helpful neighbor, the uncle who’s always a little grumpy, or even the local coffeeshop barista that everyone confides in can all make great red herrings, with the right motive and opportunity. We cross paths with so many people in our day to day life, it was easy to compile a list of possible suspects. I thoroughly enjoyed making them all look guilty, and I loved discovering that I don’t have a favorite type!
2. Sisterhood is a unique type of friendship.
Savanna and her sisters relate to each other on several levels, and they each have their own distinct personalities and roles in the sibling trio. Middle sister Savanna is independent and inquisitive. She chose to stay in Chicago after grad school, but returned home to Carson after a failed engagement. Savanna looks up to her married older sister Skylar, the town attorney, for advice and help, and Skylar is the grounding force at times for Savanna and little sister Sydney. Sydney runs Fancy Tails & Treats, Carson’s dog-centric salon, and Savanna sometimes wishes she was more like Syd—free-spirited and always up for a new adventure. While writing the story, when Savanna needed help with something, I never had to wonder which sister she’d turn to; it was automatically clear, depending on the task. The dialogue between the Shepherd sisters often seemed to write itself. I know having my own network of fabulous women—my sister and my friends—helped me immensely in crafting the banter between Savanna and her sisters, and I loved every second!
3. Slow-burn romance is the best romance.
Being able to include a love interest for Savanna in Out of the Picture was important to me. Savanna is still recovering from an ugly breakup. She isn’t looking for a new relationship, and after she runs into (quite literally) Dr. Aidan Gallager in the first scene, she puts a lot of effort into trying to ignore her growing feelings for him. I loved showing Savanna’s evolution from a wounded ex-fiancé to a strong, confident woman finally brave enough to trust again. By slow-burn romance, I mean a relationship that may take weeks or even months to really progress. The subtle, quiet, blossoming friendship between Savanna and Aidan was something I’d dream about at night, wake up thinking about, and could hardly wait to sit back down to write. I learned to rely on the little things: a hand on an arm, a gaze heavy with unspoken thoughts, the uncertainty of whether a feeling is mutual, the anticipation of a chance encounter. Chemistry can be a tangible thing. Bringing it to life on the page was one of my great joys in writing this book!
About the Author:
Tracy Gardner is a Detroit native who writes mystery and romance novels. A daughter of two teachers, she has been writing since she could hold a pen. Tracy grew up on Nancy Drew mysteries and rock and roll. When not writing, Tracy works as a visiting nurse in a rural community, where she lives with her husband, two fun-loving teens, and a menagerie of spoiled rescue dogs and cats. She is a strong believer in the power of baked goods, live music, and girlfriend therapy as staples to a happy life.
Out of the Picture: A Shepherd Sisters Mystery by Tracy Gardner, out now!
There’s an art to solving a mystery…
Savanna Shepherd is a former art authenticator―someone who can tell a forgery from the real thing. She’s got a talent for spotting secrets hiding in plain sight.
In the wake of a painful breakup, she moves back to her idyllic hometown on the banks of Lake Michigan. At least she’s close to her sisters again, and she’s enjoying her new job as a grade school art teacher.
Savanna even rediscovers her creative soul when an old family friend hires her to paint a mural. But sad and strange incidents occur at the woman’s mansion, compelling Savanna to investigate. With a little help from her sisters―and from Aidan, the intriguing town doctor―will she be able to figure out what’s wrong with this picture?