Friday, June 3, 2011

Unlucky in Death

by Guest Blogger Gemma Halliday

First off, thanks so much to the fab Cozy Chicks for having me! I love all of your books, so I’m honored to be hanging with you today.

Secondly, this is the first day of my two week Hollywood Confessions Blog Tour, so please check out my website for more tour stops, as I’ll be giving away cool prizes (including gift cards, free books, cameo appearances, and Hollywood Headlines swag) at each stop!

As I mentioned, I’m a big fan of the mysteries written by the lovely ladies on this blog, as well as cozy mysteries in general. While I do enjoy a police procedural or a legal thriller from time to time, the idea of an average person getting thrown into the middle of a murder investigation is the type of story that really floats my boat. Maybe it’s the idea that this sort of wild adventure could actually happen to someone like me. (I’ll admit, the summer when I was ten, I prayed daily that I would find a mysterious stranger, a la Nancy Drew, to investigate.) Or maybe it’s the amateur element that makes it more interesting - someone getting to the truth of the matter without the aid of DNA or forensics. Whatever it is, as a reader, I heart cozy series.

As a writer, they present one unique challenge… how to make it believable that this amateur, every-woman continually stumbles on dead bodies. As much as I prayed for a Nancy Drew-esque encounter, I’ve never personally stumbled on a dead body. Honestly I’ve never even seen a dead body outside of a funeral home. And while I might suspend my belief for a moment that an average person could possibly just be in the wrong place at the wrong time once, it’s pretty hard to imagine them being unlucky enough to do that six, seven, or eight different times as a series goes on. So, the first challenge I always encounter when starting a new mystery series is how to hold onto the amateur element I love so much while still making it plausible that this character is so very unlucky in death.

In the first mystery series I ever wrote, the High Heels Mysteries, I’ll admit I went with the “unlucky” theory for book #1. But to sustain the multiple dead bodies that kept coming into my main character’s life, I gave her an on-again,off-again boyfriend in the L.A.P.D. who acted as her window into a lot of the cases she investigated in future books. Granted, she was still a bit more unlucky than your average person, but hopefully not too unbelievably so.

For my second mystery series, the Hollywood Headlines Mysteries, I thought long and hard about how to create built-in bodies. After rejecting a of couple early ideas, I decided to go with newspaper reporters. And, just to make things fun, I put a twist on the job, making the heroine of each book in the series a reporter at a Hollywood tabloid, building in not only access to deadly stories, but scandals, sensation, and juicy gossip as well.

The first book in the series, Hollywood Scandals, follows Tina Bender, the gossip columnist at the infamous L.A. Informer tabloid as she receives a threat from one of her stars that reads, “If you don’t stop writing about me, you’re dead.” In book #2, Hollywood Secrets, Cameron Dakota, the Informer’s staff photographer and paparazzo extraordinaire is witness to a movie star kidnapping. And in my latest release, Hollywood Confessions, the Informer’s newest reporter, Allie Quick, investigates the death of reality TV show producer whose concept of the word “reality” is a little on the creative side. Hopefully with each of these I’ve blended the element of the “unlucky” amateur with just enough believability to create a plausible, fun adventure that every woman can still relate to.

Since my brand spankin’ new release, Hollywood Confessions, is the 3rd book in the series, today I’m giving away an or gift card (winner’s choice) worth $15 so that one lucky winner can either download the first two books in the series (priced at $.99 and $3.99), or purchase the first book in print (priced at $12.99). All you have to do to enter is post a comment below about one of YOUR favorite cozy mysteries. I’ll pick a winner at the end of the day and post her/his name at the end of the comments!

Thanks, and happy reading!

~Gemma Halliday

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