Christin Brecher is making her debut as an author with Murder’s No Votive Confidence, the first book in the Nantucket Candle Maker cozy mystery series. In this behind the story interview, Christin shares her love of the cozy mystery genre and how it led to writing Murder’s No Votive Confidence.
Books—a taste of independence
“I value good friends and family,” said Christin. “Although New York City is a big place to live, I feel lucky to live in a neighborhood I’ve known my whole life, with friends I can count as decades old. I’m a small-town girl in a big city. A dream come true for me is that The Corner Book Store, near my apartment in New York City, and Mitchell’s Book Corner, in Nantucket, have welcomed the Nantucket Candle Maker Mysteries. These are my two favorite book stores and each holds special memories for me. I built my mystery collection at Mitchell’s. And, when The Corner Book Store opened in the 1970s, we felt that our neighborhood had really made it. My parents even opened a house account at the store, which was incredibly empowering. The books I bought in both stores were probably my first independent purchases.”
The path to cozy mysteries
Christin said that writing has taught her opportunity can come about in unexpected ways. “I started to write as a personal challenge after I left the corporate world when my kids were babies. With a husband who travelled a lot, and two small kids to raise, writing was a portable challenge as well as an intellectual one. When I started, I had a goal of finishing a book. I didn’t rush. I took my time to learn the craft while I was deeply steeped in my career as a mom. Then, one day, I wrote ‘The End.’ It was an amazing feeling, and I realized I wanted to journey to those two words again and again.”
Looking back to the purchases Christin made in Mitchell’s and The Corner Book Store, those were what eventually led her to discover the cozy mystery genre. It’s a genre she loves for several reasons. “I love the number of strong female characters who get the job done, whatever it takes. Writing the character of Stella Wright has been one of my favorite parts of the Nantucket Candle Maker Mysteries. She is a small business owner, a master craftswoman, and an active member of her town’s community. She knows who she is and appreciates the good fortune of her life. And she’s not afraid to step into the unknown when she’s called upon to catch a killer.
“Recently I read a blog by well-known cozy author, Sherrie Harris (The Gun Also Rises), who was frustrated that the cozy genre is often seen as too fluffy, with too-cute titles and covers, and a rated-G tone that’s too ‘cute.’ In this day and age of cynicism and negativity, these are the exact reasons why I see the genre as bad-ass. I love that the covers and titles are over-the-top, and I think that the opportunity for inter-generational enjoyment of a story is refreshing. Combine that with strong female protagonists, and I wonder why everyone hasn’t picked up at least one cozy. In fact, cozy mystery titles often come in the form of a good pun. I was lucky enough to have a grandmother who doled them out on a daily basis. Back then, we laughed and rolled our eyes, but I never imagined her skill would come in handy one day!”
Murder’s No Votive Confidence—the beginnings
Christin said the idea of a candle maker sleuth on Nantucket seemed like a perfect character for several reasons. “First, there’s the island’s history in candle making. Nantucket became one of the wealthiest communities in America in the late 18th and early 19th centuries because of its success in the whaling industry. Nantucketers discovered precious oil in sperm whales which could be used, among other things, to make candles which were considered to be the cleanest, whitest, and longest lasting candles in the world.
“Second, the island’s mysterious aura. I grew up spending my summer’s in Nantucket where my parents rented houses, eventually all over town. One summer, in a house on India Street, I read the owners’ Agatha Christie collection while I built my own mystery library of Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew and The Bobbsey Twins books from Mitchell’s Book Corner in town. The combination of reading these books at night to the eerie sound of fog horns from the island’s lighthouses, often during the then-common blackouts, ignited my love of mystery.
“Third, the island’s unique combination of closed-knit, local community, and seasonal tourists, all of whom hold the island near and dear. Stella Wright uses this dynamic to help her solve crimes. As a native to the island, she is both a big fish in a small pond, and also “invisible” to visitors who are more focused on their vacations than the locals. As a result, she can pick up information from those who know the island’s news, while also passing as a sympathetic ear to visitors who let down their guard and confide in her.”
Christin Brecher on research
Of course, writers have to research their stories. And that research often tells us a good deal about them. In Christin’s case, it reinforces her values about good friends and family. “My favorite day of research was when my dad and I drove all over Nantucket to make sure I’d correctly described the locations in my book. That morning, I had visited Nantucket Book Works in town where I’d purchased a bright pink, lacquered candelabra. Everywhere we went, I put the candelabra at the scene and took a picture. I looked like a crazy woman, but we had a ball.”
Learn more about Christin Brecher at www.christinbrecher.com.