Peg Cochran is a national bestselling writer with a background in art—she once managed an art gallery owned by the son of Henri Matisse. She also has a love of cooking and has a special fondness for dessert. Her latest cozy mystery is Dead and Berried, which is the third book in the Cranberry Cove mystery series.
Light reading — cozy style
“Cozy mysteries are generally ‘light’ reading with nothing too upsetting in them—other than the murder, of course. But I feel there is room to include something slightly more serious assuming it is handled in a delicate manner. Without giving too much away, one character in Dead and Berried is an older woman dealing with the challenges of dementia. I also touch on the subject of scams perpetrated against older people.”
Cochran said the series came about when she had a sudden vision of a body rising up in a flooded cranberry bog. “In the first three books,” she said, “I’ve followed the seasons on a cranberry farm—harvesting in the fall, sanding and icing the bogs in the winter and in this book, bringing in bees to pollinate the cranberry flowers in the late spring/early summer. The bees gave me the idea for the murder and I built the plot from there.”
Bees? Oh, aren’t they in trouble? “Yes, the book also gave me the opportunity to discuss—lightly!—the plight of the honey bee and their rapid disappearance and what that means to food production.”
Peg Cochran feels lucky
Cochran said she feels unbelievably lucky and privileged to have achieved her dream of being published. “I still pinch myself when I see all my titles lined up on my bookshelf. I love the writing process—except when I hate it, LOL—and I can’t think of anything I’d rather do.”
Double Trouble Entry Code: RedBerries
Research can be tedious, but can also lead to some very unusual situations, something Cochran learned when she was researching the first book in the series at a cranberry farm.
“It was a perfect fall day with blue skies and all those ruby-red cranberries massed together in the flooded bog. The owner of the farm led everyone on a tour and explained each step of the harvesting process. When he asked if anyone had any questions, I raised my hand. ‘What would you do with the cranberries if a body suddenly floated up in the flooded bog as you were harvesting?’ He gave me a strange look, took a step backwards and didn’t answer! He looked relieved when I explained it was research for a book. But he still didn’t have an answer for me!”
The strange world of art
However, if you think writing is a funny profession, you ain’t seen nothing yet. During her first week in the art gallery, Cochran was asked to make a delivery. “I was sent in a taxi along with a dealer and the three Chagalls he’d brought to his gallery on Madison Avenue to collect the one million dollar check he owed for the paintings. I’ve never handled such a large check since!”
During her second month on the job, Cochran’s boss and his wife left for their summer home in the south of France. “I was left to handle the gallery by myself. At one point I had a question and called my boss. His wife answered and said there was no way he would come to the phone at that moment because he was out on their terrace with his telescope. The terrace looked out over the Bay of Monaco—and Princess Caroline was out sunbathing topless on her yacht.”
And then there’s the you’ve-got-to-love-a-twist story, a favorite tool of mystery writers. “We had an exhibition of an artist who was extremely popular with collectors. The gallery was packed from morning until night. My boss was tired of answering questions and when a gentleman in very casual dress asked him how much a certain painting was, he snapped—why don’t you just enjoy looking at it because you probably couldn’t afford it, anyway! The gentleman bought the painting and his brother came in later and bought another one. The paintings were selling for a quarter of a million dollars.”
Learn more about Peg Cochran at pegcochran.com.