When I’m reading a book, I often wonder about what the writer’s life was like during the crafting of the story. What were they thinking and experiencing day-to-day that influenced the story? Why did they choose to write about the subject matter? What personal hobbies or habits contributed to the writing?
Since I’ve wondered those sorts of things while reading, I’m sure you’ve had the same sort of questions. So… here’s a peek into my little world as I work on my Enchanted Flower Shop cozy mystery series.
First of all, let me give you a little background about the series. So far I’ve written two stories, Stop and Spell the Roses and Hex it in the Bud. I’m currently writing the third book, Pushing up Demons and Daisies.
The stories all take place on a ranch in Montana. The ranch is sprawling and vast, with a big main house and lots of out-buildings. There are a few stores on the property, too, like a flower shop and an apothecary.
Most of the characters have supernatural abilities. Throughout the series a sorceress is missing, and those searching for her do not age.
So… why? Why Montana? Why a ranch? Why all the supernatural, magical stuff? Let me pull the curtain aside and give you that behind-the-scenes, backstage tour!
Why Montana? That’s easy! It’s safe to say I’ve romanticized Montana for my whole life. To me, it’s a place of beautiful, mountainous vistas, pure wilderness, stunning ranches, big rivers, and incredible, starry skies. I wanted my main character in this series to be pulled out of her ordinary life in a city and thrown into a strange environment. I knew the whole series would unfold in this one particular setting, so I wanted the location to be an enticing, exciting one. In my mind, Montana fit the bill.
A ranch is not exactly a common setting for a cozy mystery! Lots of cozies take place in “cozy” environments like tea shops, bakeries, book stores, or bed and breakfasts—places associated with sweet, comforting emotions. I completely get that, because I love immersing myself in cozies like that. I like to imagine myself in the main character’s shoes, whipping up a batch of chocolate chip cookies for customers before the day’s sleuthing begins.
Even though the setting I chose for this series is a little outside the box, it felt natural and right to me. That’s probably because of what’s going on in my life. Two years ago I moved from a busy part of Colorado, Summit County, to rural, Southwestern Colorado. Now that I’m living in a rural area, I am surrounded by ranches. I’ve never, ever lived in this kind of setting! It fascinates me.
I’m totally in awe of what I see happening on a daily basis. I get to see cowboys and cowgirls herding cattle, which can be incredible to watch (horses are more agile and quick-footed than I ever realized). I hear border collies and other work dogs barking after a long day of helping with tasks out in the fields. I pass by bunkhouses, barns, mess halls, tractors, and baby cows, all on my drive to the grocery store.
Maybe it’s because I didn’t grow up around this sort of thing that I find it all so exciting and cool. I don’t know. I do know that when I sat down to brainstorm ideas for a new series, I had ranches on the mind. It’s been fun to hear back from readers who like the fresh, different setting. We all love the familiar tropes and themes, but now and then it’s really refreshing to mix things up.
In the series, the main character finds herself working for a rather mysterious family. The Nights are trapped in time, sort of like Bill Murray’s character, Phil, in the movie Groundhog day. For the Nights, time doesn’t really move forward. They don’t age. They are stuck. You’ll have to read the stories to learn why they are stuck in this way (it has to do with a missing sorceress!). This aspect of the story comes from my long-standing fascination with time.
You might think time is a boring subject to think about, but it’s not at all! Honestly.
I’ll fess up to being a geeky in my personal life. One way that manifests is that I love to read books about physics. Over the past few years I’ve been reading about time, and how it’s actually relative. For example: on a high mountain top time moves at a different pace than at sea level. The differences get more drastic if you go out into space. Isn’t that wild? The idea boggles my mind. I thought it would be cool to play with time a little in my stories, so in this series I did that.
Now you know that when it came time to start a new cozy series, I followed my love for Montana and I had ranches on the mind. My thoughts kept circling back to dusty cowboy boots, horses, barns, and hay. My personal hobby of reading and learning about what “time” actually is and how it works contributed to the writing of the books. I hope you’ve enjoyed this look into the way the gears of my mind spin! It’s been fun sharing with you.
I’d love to hear from you. Have you ever read a cozy mystery set on a western ranch? Share your answer in the comments section, below!
Amorette Anderson writes warm-hearted cozy mysteries that star witchy characters. She lives in Colorado with her husband and furbabies, pups Marley and Teddy. When she’s not writing or reading she’s dreaming up ways to make life a little more magical.