Sara Rosett is a bestselling mystery author who writes the Ellie Avery series, the On The Run series, and the Murder on Location series. She teaches an online course called “How to Outline a Cozy Mystery,” and loves to get new stamps in her passport. Her latest release in the Ellery Avery series is “Mother’s Day, Muffins, and Murder.” For this interview, Rosett discussed how those very disparate subjects worked within the book.
Back to school
“Parenting and motherhood are themes that run through most of the books in the Ellie Avery series,” Rosett said. “I don’t set out to make a point with a book, but my thoughts and feelings on some issues do come across. For instance, ‘Mother’s Day, Muffins, and Murder,’ is set at an elementary school so one of the topics that comes up is standardized testing.”
As a mother herself, Rosett said preparing to take the tests, which included learning test-taking skills and practice questions, were part of her kids’ routine all year long. “Once the standardized tests were over, it was as if everyone took a breath and relaxed. So I include details and references to the tests and the attitudes toward them.”
Rosett knows many cozy mystery readers enjoy learning something new about a subject when they read a book, which is why she includes references to the testing. However, her main focus is on the mystery elements of the story and the interaction of the characters. “I think readers are much more interested in solving the puzzle of whodunit and relating to characters than learning what I think about any certain topic,” Rosett said.
The beginnings of Mother’s Day, Muffins, and Murder
A few years ago, Rosett’s editor suggested the topic of Mother’s Day for a book. She said, “I couldn’t think of a way to use it, so I put it on the back burner. Later, when I was preparing to write this book, I was thinking about all the traditions at my kids’ elementary schools—that’s plural because we moved a few times as a military family. One of their favorite events was Muffins with Moms Day. Moms were invited to the school to have muffins with their kids before class started and it was usually scheduled during the month of May near Mother’s Day. There was also a Donuts with Dads day. Once I decided my book would open with Ellie arriving for Muffins with Mom Day, it seemed like a perfect fit.”
Even though Rosett writes cozy mysteries, she needs to research some dark subjects. She said, “If a reader is looking for a dark gritty thriller, then my books aren’t for them. My books are murder mysteries, but the emphasis is on the puzzle and trying to figure out who the killer is. Once I was researching poisons and requested four books on poisons and dangerous plants from the library. When I went to pick them up, the librarian said, ‘I assume you are a writer?’ He really wasn’t going to let me check them out if I wasn’t!”
Life experiences in writing
In addition to her research, Rosett uses her life experiences in her writing. So far, she hasn’t used indoor rock climbing, of which she’s a huge fan (even though she doesn’t like heights), but she has brought in her time spent overseas in her On the Run series.
”We lived for a few months in both Italy and Germany. We lived in an apartment, bought fresh fruit and veggies from the little shop down the street, and saw places like the Colosseum, Pompeii, and Capri. It was a completely different way of life. We’d walk down the street, order a Margherita pizza, and watch it being made and then cooked in a wood-fired oven. Three minutes, and it was done—so different from Pizza Hut. Those experiences inspired my On the Run series, which is a throw back to the classic romantic suspense stories of Mary Stewart and Elizabeth Peters. They have more travel and adventure and a little romance along with some mystery.”
Rosett said that no matter what she’s done, whether it’s moving around the country as a military family or traveling to sightsee, she always wants to write a book about it. That’s why she decided to tackle the subject her editor had thrown out years before—Mother’s Day. “I thought it would be fun to write about all the grade school traditions like Field Day, classroom parties, field trips, and meeting my kids for lunch at the school cafeteria.”
Learn more about Sara Rosett on her website at SaraRosett.com.
Book & a Latte Contest
What: This month, Sara is giving away two copies of “Mother’s Day, Muffins, and Murder” and I’m adding two $5.00 Starbucks gift cards. Two random entries will be chosen as winners. Each winner will receive a book and a gift card.
How to enter: Choose one or more of the options below. Each option gives you an additional chance to win.
Who can enter: This contest is only open to continental US residents over 18 years of age.
Winners: Selected winners must claim prizes within 72 hours of notification. Verification of entries: All winning entries are subject to verification.