In this interview, Sara and I discuss her High Society Lady Detective series, how she decided to write the series, how it has changed over time, why she chose the indie author route, her recent Kickstarter campaign, her podcasts, and much more.
In this interview, Sara and I discuss her High Society Lady Detective series, how she decided to write the series, how it has changed over time, why she chose the indie author route, her recent Kickstarter campaign, her podcasts, and much more.
Sara's recommended reads are:
My Read-Alike Request Recommendations:
Murder at the Mansions can be purchased at my Bookshop storefront.
Ask Me Anything question for me for April's episode? Submit it here.
Want to submit a Read-Alike Request for the podcast? Submit it here.
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[00:10] Cindy: Welcome to the award winning Thoughts from a Page podcast, a member of the Evergreen Podcast Network hosted by me, Cindy Burnett, a voracious reader and book columnist who provides you with casual author conversations, book recommendation episodes and insider information on all of the newest releases that I have read and endorse, and on the publishing industry in my Behind the Scenes series. With so many books coming out weekly, it can be hard to decide what to read, so I find the best ones and share them with you. For more book recommendations or define my backlist of interviews, visit my website at thoughtsfromapage.com. In 2023, I am adding a new segment to my Tuesday episodes called Read-Alike Requests. Listeners can submit a book they loved and tell me why they loved it, and I will suggest some similar reads. There is a Google Form included in today's Show Notes I would love for you to send in a request. If you love to read, I hope you will consider joining my Patreon group to access additional content, including bonus episodes and early reads, and pre-pub author chats for February. Lauren Willig's new book is one of my selections, as well as A Likely Story, a debut by Leigh Abramson. The link to join that is in the Show Notes as well. Today I am chatting with Sara Rosett about her High Society Lady Detective series, indie publishing, and her podcasts. Sara is the USA Today bestselling author of 30 cozy and historical mysteries for readers who enjoy atmospheric settings and puzzling who done it. She also hosts two podcasts: Mystery Books podcast for readers and The Wish I'd Known Then for Writers podcast with Jamie Albright. I hope you enjoy our conversation. And now for my new segment called Read-Alike Requests. In 2023, I am adding a new segment to my podcast where listeners can submit a book they loved and let me know why they loved it, and I will suggest several similar books for them to read. While every book is unique and stands on its own, certain elements of books we love really stick with us. And that is what I want to tap into the aspects of the book that appealed to the requester and to focus on finding those elements in other books. The first request that I'm going to tackle is from Adrianne, and she selected Love and Saffron by Kim Fay. It's an epistolary novel set in the 1960s about two women in different stages of life who develop an unexpected friendship. I thought this was the perfect book to launch this segment with because it is one of my favorite books of 2022. Adrianne liked the book because she loves epistolary novels, and what she also really liked was that it was fiction centered around food and a strong female friendship. I too am a huge fan of epistolary novels and had fun revisiting some of my favorites while deciding what to recommend to Adrianne. My first recommendation is actually going to be two books by the same author, the Chilbury Ladies’ Choir and The Kitchen Front by Jennifer Ryan, both of which are set during World War II. The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir is one of my favorite epistolary novels, and it centers around the women in Chilbury who rebel against the local vicar's wish to disband the church choir. While the men are away fighting, these women band together and end up having a profound effect on the town. The second is The Kitchen Front, which is not written in letters but does focus on both strong female bonds and food, so I am including it as well. Four women compete to earn a spot on a BBC cooking show, but discover the power of friendship along the way. There is definitely a heavy focus on food in The Kitchen Front. The next book I am recommending, as Read-Alike to Love and Saffron, is Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson. Two of the elements that Adrianne liked in Love and Saffron feature prominently in Meet Me at the Museum is an epistolary novel and it focuses on an unexpected friendship, this time between a man and a woman. But it is such a beautiful book, and as I was reading Love in Saffron, it frequently made me think of Meet Me at the Museum. Meet Me at the Museum is told through letters between Tina Hopgood, a farmer's wife in England, and Anders Larson, the curator at a Danish museum. As they continue to write back and forth, their lives, loves and losses are unveiled to each other and the reader, and the pair develops such a sweet bond, much like the relationship between Joan and Imogen and Love and Saffron. The last book I want to recommend is The Lido by Libby Page. Now, this recommendation may seem like it's a little bit out of left field, but based on Adrianne's interest in a strong female friendship, I am recommending The Lido. When the book came out in paperback, the publisher renamed it Mornings with Rosemary because Americans do not use the term lido, which means an outdoor pool and rec center, so it may be easier to find it under that title. The Lido tells the tale of Kate, a lonely 26-year-old suffering from anxiety, and Rosemary, an 86-year-old widow who swims daily at her local Lido. And the Lido is being targeted by a development company who wants to buy the land to build another expensive apartment complex. Kate works at a local paper and is assigned to write a story about the closing of the Lido. As she begins to work on the story, she meets Rosemary and the two form a life changing friendship that benefits and transforms both women. It is such a heartwarming and touching story. I cannot end conversation about Epistolary novels without mentioning The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Anne Shaffer and Annie Barrows. It is a must read for anyone who loves epistolary novels. Thanks, Adrienne, for helping me kick off this segment, and I hope you enjoy these recommendations. And now on to my conversation with Sara Rosett. Welcome, Sara. How are you today?
[05:34] Sara: Good. How are you doing?
[05:36] Cindy: I'm doing great, and I am so glad you are here to talk about so many different things. But first your High Society Lady Detective series and then a lot of the other things that you do in the book space.
[05:46] Sara: All right, sounds great.
[05:47] Cindy: Why don't we start out by talking about the High Society Lady Detective series. Just tell me all about the series, how you got started, how you came up with the idea for it, just the whole shebang.
[05:57] Sara: Okay, all right, well, I was reading I've always loved mysteries and for the longest time I just read cozy's, just contemporary mystery fiction. And then I got into the Golden Age detectives. I started reading Agatha Christie and Patricia Wentworth, and I just loved it. I especially loved the tone, the banter, the lightness of it. I read the first Tommy and Tuppen's mystery, The Secret Adversary, and it has all these thriller elements that I wasn't as into, but I just loved the relationship between the two characters and the way they're kind of fun, light, witty banter between them. I was just so in for that. So that sent me down this rabbit hole of reading all these books from the 1920s and I just loved them. And I thought, I would love to do this. I would love to write a book that would read like this, like it was from the had some different ideas. And I started thinking about what I could write. And I was writing a contemporary, cozy series that was set in a small English village. And one day I thought I could just take that village and kind of that setting and move it back to the 1920s. And that was just like a light bulb moment for me because I was like, oh, I wonder what the town would have been like in the 1920s. And then from there, you know, I had to create a whole new cast of characters, but I already had this kind of the bones of the setting and then I knew kind of the tone that I wanted the series to have. So after that, it was just like creating the characters. And a lot of that was just sort of I would take the characters that I'd read about and kind of think, okay, who else could be part of these fun, light hearted stories? So yeah, so I came up with this character named Olive who she comes from that little village, but times are hard, and she doesn't want to just get married because the choices in her little village are not quite what she's hoping to do for the rest of her life to be married to one of the men there. So she goes to London and she gets involved in a mystery and it just kind of took off from there. And yeah, it's been a really fun ride. I'm really enjoying writing the series and just delving into the time period and just learning about the different things that were going on then and the different people that lived in. I just try and work it all in.
[08:18] Cindy: Did you find it really different writing historical series versus a contemporary series?
[08:23] Sara: Well, I think the historical series, I'm always worried about the details, and so I'm always researching the details is such a rich time, and there was so much going on, so many changes, that it made it easy for me to think, oh, I'd find some little detail. And I think, oh, this book is going to revolve around this setting or this little aspect of life during that time. And so it's a little challenging for the research. But the possibilities, I love the possibilities. So it's a great place to be writing.
[08:55] Cindy: I think it's such a fun time period.
[08:58] Sara: Yes, it is. I love it.
[09:00] Cindy: And there are seven books currently in the series. Murder at the Mansions came out last January and that's the most recent, correct?
[09:06] Sara: Yes, that's right.
[09:07] Cindy: Okay, good. And I'm assuming you're going to be working on book aid at some point.
[09:11] Sara: Yes, I've started it now and Olive is going to do a little international travel. Most of the books have taken place like either in London or in an English country home. And so in this one she goes and visits some places overseas. So I'm having a good time. It's like a new area to exploring research because travel was a big part of high society life then. So it's a great topic to delve into.
[09:37] Cindy: Good, well, I look forward to that one.
[09:40] Sara: Great.
[09:40] Cindy: So you are an indie author. Can you tell me how you decided to go that route and how it works for you step by step?
[09:46] Sara: Well, I was traditionally published first with my first cozy series and that was back before self-publishing or being an indie author was really all that possible. And I started hearing about people publishing their own books and I was like, that's really interesting. And so I looked into it and I self-published a couple of short stories and I started earning money from it and I was like, this is really interesting. So eventually I've transitioned. For a while I was a hybrid author, and I wrote for my traditional publisher. And then I brought out my books myself as an indie author. And now I've transitioned to where I just basically am an indie author. I just write my books and release them myself through the bookstores. I can bring out the audiobooks, I can bring out print books. Indie publishing has evolved to the point where you can pretty much do everything that your publisher would do for you. You can pretty much do it all yourself. The process is pretty much the same as when I was traditionally published. But I just take on the like. I hire a copy editor. I hire a proofreader. Sometimes two proofreaders, because historical readers are very into the details and I want to make sure I don't mess anything up and that I don't have any as few typos as possible. And then I'll hire a narrator to narrate it and then it's releasing it and promoting it. And when I was traditionally published, I did just as much work promoting the books as I do now. So I don't feel like I've given up a lot to be indie published. I feel like I have more freedom. I can write what I want. I can market it like I would like. So I really enjoy the creative freedom of it.
[11:26] Cindy: And you have a huge following.
[11:28] Sara: Well, I mean, I've been doing this for a long time, so that may be part of it, is just kind of sticking around and doing the same kind of light hearted mystery books that probably contributes to that. But, yeah, I do have quite a few readers who are interested in my books, and I love it. It's great to know that there are people interested in the books and waiting for them. That's a big motivator.
[11:52] Cindy: And how does the cover process work for you? I love the covers on this series, and I was so curious how they came about.
[11:58] Sara: When I do a cover, originally, I would have, like, a single idea in mind or I'd be like, oh, it needs to have this scene. But now I've realized as I've gone through this process of learning kind of how all this works, is that it's more the feel and the tone that you want to convey, not necessarily specifically a scene in the book or something very detailed. So what I did for this series is I took a bunch of travel posters from the 1920s and created, like, a mood board, and I sent it to my cover artist and I was like, okay, this is kind of what I'm going for, and this is the feel I want. And this is a general description of what the character looks like. And then I just kind of let them do their thing. I just kind of stay out of it because I feel like they're the expert and I have so little design background or knowledge that I feel like it's better if I just let them do let them handle that. And then they'll send back a couple of versions and we may tweak it a little bit, but a lot of times they'll say, okay, like, if it's a new series, they'll say, do you like this font? Do you like this color palette? But mostly I just kind of let them run with it. And I love them too. I think they're I'm so pleased with the way they've turned out, because they really convey kind of that time period and the feel of the books. I think they do a really good job of that.
[13:20] Cindy: I agree completely. And they're also just really fun. I enjoy looking at them.
[13:24] Sara: Yeah, me too.
[13:25] Cindy: Which is a nice feeling. I mean, that's one of those things I think you get a sense from looking at a cover, and you want that to be a sense that people want to pick up the book. And I think with yours, they do.
[13:35] Sara: Well, that's great to hear. I'm glad.
[13:37] Cindy: What surprised you the most when writing this series?
[13:40] Sara: Probably just I mean, there's so many things that you feel like writing historical, you've got to be so super detailed, and I don't want to get anything wrong. Like, I don't want to have them taking a train that didn't exist until, like, 40 years in the future or something like that. But that's not what the readers are interested in. The readers are very interested in the characters, and I just have to keep that in mind. So I think that's been surprising to me that they like the historical elements, but that's not the only reason they're reading the books. I think they're reading first for the characters and their actions among the characters, and then they want a good mystery, and then they do want all the historical elements pretty much correct. They'll let me fudge things a little bit for the sake of the plot sometimes. Yeah. But I think the factor that they're more interested in the characters than the actual historical elements sometimes has been a little surprising to me.
[14:36] Cindy: That is interesting. I'm sure you do get feedback from readers, and I know historical authors say this all the time. They're getting letters from people saying, oh, this wasn't exactly like it should be, and things like that. And that's good to realize that those don't really matter, and you can just kind of keep plugging along, trying to get it as right as you can.
[14:52] Sara: Yeah, because it's impossible to have a book that's 100% perfect. I mean, you're probably going to have a typo sneak in there no matter how hard you try. And I feel like if I get too wrapped up in the details, then I can't get the book down. Like, I've got to press on and at least get the book finished and then go back and make it as good as I can. But if I get wrapped up in, oh, you know, did this hotel exist in 1923? You know, and would she have walked past it on her way to get a coffee? It's just some of those details I get too wrapped up in. They really don't matter for the big.
[15:25] Cindy: Story as a whole and probably pull you out of the writing process.
[15:30] Sara: Oh, yes. Although sometimes I'll find interesting details. I'll go down these rabbit holes trying to find out, like, strange things, like did cars have windshield wipers in the 1920s, or did that come later? And then I'll find out something totally different. I'll be like, oh, this is so interesting. And it becomes like a plot point or a red herring. You just never know where it's going to go.
[15:51] Cindy: Which has to make the historical aspects really entertaining.
[15:55] Sara: Yes, so much fun. I've learned so much about just things that have become part of the books. There are some things that I don't want to say because they're spoilers if anyone is interested in reading the books and haven't read them. But I've learned things about especially like World War I and the after effects of World War I didn't realize that plastic surgery had its roots beginning in World War I. When the soldiers came back, they were trying to create reconstructions for their faces, and they had all kinds of masks that they created, and then they did some physical surgeries to reconstruct their faces, things like that, that I just never knew. And that's been worked into a couple of the books.
[16:36] Cindy: I was amazed when I first learned that originally they used metal for some of those masks, and it's sort of hard to imagine.
[16:43] Sara: It is. And then if you go online, you can actually find some pictures of them and they're very lifelike. I mean, obviously if you looked, you would be able to tell, but at a glance, they were very well done. It was a way that allowed people to go out and do things in public without feeling so self-conscious, I think.
[17:03] Cindy: Absolutely. And it's one of those things that, as you mentioned, do you think of plastic surgery as being something much more new and not something that's been around for over 100 years. And so it was fascinating to learn that in your books. That that was one of the things that they actually really worked on from World War I on.
[17:19] Sara: Yeah, and I've learned so many different things, like about makeup and travel and just photography, just different things that I've tried to kind of layer into the books that are interesting details. The most recent one, I have a character who's a female cartoonist. She draws kind of what we would call a cartoon, maybe more like a political cartoon for the newspapers of the day. And I did some research, and there were a ton of female cartoonists that worked during that time period, and some of them we've heard of, but most of them we haven't. But it was because it was very acceptable for a woman to be an artist. So maybe it would be a little bit easier to be a cartoonist rather than a reporter, because that would be a little more frowned on. But I mean, there's just so many aspects of life back then that I'm like, oh, I didn't know this. That has to go in a book.
[18:13] Cindy: That's what I like so much about historical fiction. And about historical mysteries is that I feel like I learned something really cool like that every time I read one of them.
[18:22] Sara: Me too, and that's one reason I love mysteries. I like the closed circle mysteries where you kind of delve into this little world and you usually learn something about the world and then I love the historicals because you're learning about historical time period as well. That's one of my favorite things about mysteries and historical mysteries especially.
[18:40] Cindy: I agree. And I'm a huge mystery fan, so I'm the same way. It's really fun to read a mystery. I do enjoy the closed circle as well as just regular ones. I just really like them to be well plotted. And so I think as long as you've got that, which yours do, then they're so engaging.
[18:55] Sara: Oh, that's great. Yeah, I agree. I have to have the good plot and then I want that little extra something about the world or the characters or the time period.
[19:03] Cindy: I agree. Well, you recently did a Kickstarter campaign for a special edition in your series. You want to talk a little bit about that?
[19:11] Sara: Yes, it was so interesting and so fun. I've never done one of those before, but I decided to give a special edition for the first book in the historical series. It was Murder at Marchly Manor, and I had a new cover made and I included a bunch of special extra things in the Kickstarter. And so I didn't know a lot about it, but I'm learning as I'm doing it. But the way the Kickstarter ended was that for some of the special stretch goals, I did more color in the book. So the final book has just been printed and I'm getting ready to send it out and it will have color chapter headings. It'll have a color map inside. And then the people who backed the campaign, there's all kinds of extra special things that they got, like downloads and digital downloads of books and reading journals and things like that. So it's been a fun learning experience. I've learned a lot and I feel like it's a way to connect with my readers that I didn't have before. I know that not everyone could back the Kickstarter and not everyone was interested in it, but for those readers who were, it's given me a way to give them an extra special book and I'm really excited to have discovered this way of connecting with them.
[20:24] Cindy: And it's a limited event. So you have this book, you can do the campaign for it. When the book is done, the campaign is done. You've given them everything you needed to for their support and then if you want to start another one, you can. If not, then it's all wrapped up.
[20:37] Sara: Yes, and it's a very intense I did mine for about two and a half weeks. It's an intense two weeks and then it's time for a break, which I was ready for.
[20:48] Cindy: I didn't realize it had been that limited of a window. I get your newsletters, which I love because you have a lot of good recommendations in addition to information about your books. So I was receiving the emails about the Kickstarter campaign, but I didn't realize it was that brief, which probably didn't seem brief to you at all, but.
[21:02] Sara: No, it seemed like it went on for a while for me. But I did enjoy the aspects of connecting with people and seeing how excited they were about these different things that we were doing. It was something that I hadn't experienced before because usually when I release a book, I just release it on the retailers and people email me and say, oh, I loved it, when is the next one? That's usually the extent of the communication, but this was much more community based. It was like, oh, we really love this. I did a survey, I was like, what do you want to see for stretch goals? And so it was really fun to get that interaction. But yes, I was just exhausted when it was done.
[21:41] Cindy: You're like two and a half weeks seems like a very long time.
[21:44] Sara: It does for me, yeah.
[21:45] Cindy: And you teach online courses as well. One about writing a cozy mystery series and one about a mystery series, is that correct?
[21:52] Sara: Well, it's sort of a self-paced how to outline a Cozy mystery because I took everything that I Wished I had known about writing a cozy and put it into a course. And that's available. Anybody can take it and just kind of go through it themselves. It's self-paced, basically. I don't check homework or anything like that, but it's kind of giving them kind of an insight into what they'll need to know to work on a cozy. And cozies have all kinds of special situations like how do you get your sleuth involved in an investigation and kind of like you have to figure a lot of these things out so it kind of walks you through those things. And then I have a book on how to write a series so the course has a workbook, the cozy course has a workbook and then the how to write a series book is just a book, it's not a course.
[22:43] Cindy: Okay, got it. I knew you had both, but I wasn't exactly sure what the format was. Yeah, in addition to that, you are a host on two podcasts. Correct. The Mystery Books podcast and then Wish I'd Known Then which I was a guest on.
[22:56] Sara: Yes, I've been bitten by the podcast bug.
[23:00] Cindy: I get that, totally. And I really enjoy your mystery podcast. The other one's really geared more toward writing, so I don't really listen to that very often just because I'm not writing anything. But I really like the mystery book one.
[23:11] Sara: Can you talk about both of them? Sure, yeah. The wish I'd known then for writers is I co-host that with Jamie Albright. And we talk to writers kind of about what they wish they'd known when they got started and how they've been successful and what they've learned from their mistakes. So that's a fun. We just interview authors and kind of go through their careers and kind of try and learn from them. And then the Mystery Books podcast one, that one, I don't interview authors on there. I just talk about basically what I've been reading, my favorite books, and I kind of give a little recap of the book. And I talk about tropes that are in it because I feel like a lot of readers, they want to know, well, is this a locked room mystery? Is this set on a train? Kind of like the highlights of the book but not giving away any clues or red herrings or who done it. And then I say, if you like this book, you probably like. And I try and list out a couple of other similar books. That one, I do it in a series, like I'll do a season, and then I'll take a break and then do a season because podcasts are pretty time consuming. And if I did that one, I would probably never get any books written. So going to have to dole that one out in between my books and.
[24:25] Cindy: Wish I Had known Then for Writers comes out regularly, correct?
[24:28] Sara: Yes, yes. It's we do it. We try and do it every week. We've had a kind of a little break early this year in the fall, you know, in fall of 2022. But we're back at it now every week.
[24:41] Cindy: And on your Mystery Books podcast, how do you decide what you're going to talk about? Obviously things you've read and liked. But do you have things you're looking for? Do you want to talk about similar mysteries? Do you want to find something totally different? What's that whole process like for you?
[24:55] Sara: Well, sometimes I want to talk about a popular book because everybody's talking about it. That was one reason I talked about the Thursday Murder Club because I was like, let's kind of dig into this book and what makes it so interesting to so many people. And then other times I'll read a book and nobody's talking about it, or I can't find anybody shouting about it online. So I kind of want to bring some of the books that are not as well known to the forefront. Sometimes I do classic books. Like, I have an episode about the unpleasantness at the Bologna Club by Dorothy L. Sayers, this most recent season. Just books that it's kind of a mixture. Like, sometimes it's books people are talking about. Sometimes it's books that I feel like have kind of been overlooked. And then I like to throw in a classic book every once in a while, too, because that's so much of what I read. I love to. Read the books from the so every once in a while I want to throw in one of those and hopefully get some more people reading Golden Age books.
[25:53] Cindy: And I think there's a lot of interest in Golden Age books, and sometimes people don't know where to start. I know when I worked at Murder by the Book, which is when you and I met originally, there was a ton of interest in that. And there's that whole series that they put out where they're constantly republishing a lot of the older Golden Age books, and they've got these great intros explaining kind of where the book fits into the whole genre and how popular it was when it first came out and who the writer was friends with. I loved all those details and those were always super popular.
[26:21] Sara: Yeah. And I think there's a real interest, like a resurgence of interest in that because mysteries are popular now. And I've read so many cozies, I kind of know where most stories are going. So I'm like, let me read something a little bit different now. I'll read a cozy and let's change to do something different. And the Golden Age books are they're just different from the books that come out now, but they're still very readable, most of them. There are a couple I've run across that I'm like, oh, my goodness, this was some hard going here to get into this story, right? But most of them are very readable, even though they're some of them are over 100 years old. And I just think it's interesting. I love teasing out what's the same and what's different between the two time periods. I love seeing that some people had phones in 1920s, but not everybody, and it was much more difficult to make a phone call and things like that. I have to work into my writing that I just didn't even think about when I first started. I was like, oh, yeah, she's not going to have Google Apps on, you know, Google Maps on her phone. She's going to have to go find an atlas to do this. So it's just interesting to see the contrast in the Golden Age books in today.
[27:31] Cindy: And I'm always fascinated by this party line concept, and my parents even talked about that when they were young. So in the 40s that you'd pick up the phone and you could hear all sorts of other conversations. You had to wait till they were done, and then the operator would put in your call and you would take up part of the party line and nothing would be private because everybody could hear you.
[27:51] Sara: Yes. And you didn't want to talk about anything that you didn't want everyone to hear. Yes. It is a strange concept for us today to even think about.
[27:59] Cindy: It really is. So I just always find that fascinating. It's one of those things that if I could time travel and go back in time, I would want to see how it worked.
[28:06] Sara: Yeah, me too. And I think it would be in a way, it's almost comparable to our social media now. Like, we put something out and everybody can read it. That would be like the party line in the, you know, early 20th century.
[28:19] Cindy: That's a great analogy. And also just that somebody would dial the phone for you. You know, you'd pick it up and you'd say, my parents would say they had, like, three letters first and then three numbers, and now we have these phone numbers that you just dial yourself. So it's all kind of so fascinating to see how it worked then and how far we've come.
[28:36] Sara: Yes, very true.
[28:38] Cindy: Well, you must stay so busy because you really do a variety of things.
[28:42] Sara: I do, and I think part of it is I feel like I love writing the 1920s series, and I feel like I can just camp out there for a long time and write lots of books in that series. And I feel like that's kind of given me some space to do some other things that I think would be interesting. So, yeah, I'm enjoying writing books and also podcasting and trying the Kickstarter and just doing some different things well, and they all overlap.
[29:09] Cindy: And that's what I find kind of about what I do, is that it's all really interwoven together. It's not like each thing is totally separate. I'm usually talking about a book I loved or talking with an author about a book they wrote that I loved or I'm recommending it, or that all can go into my book column. So I do think it's not like they're all completely separate.
[29:26] Sara: Yes, I agree. Yeah. And lots of overlap is good.
[29:30] Cindy: Yes, exactly. It makes it a lot easier. Well, let's get to the part I always enjoy so much, your recommended reads.
[29:37] Sara: Okay. Yeah. One of these will be out later. I'm not sure. I think the release date was in January, but it may be pushed further into the future. So we'll have to double check the dates on this one. But I recently read Unnatural Ends by Christopher Wong, I believe is how you say it. The last name is spelled Huang. And this one, it's a modern book, modern author. But it really has that Agatha Christie Golden age feel to it. And I just loved it. It was so good. It was one of the ones that I just read it all just as quickly as I could. So that one is, like, at the top of my list for my favorite new book so far this year, even though as we're recording this, it's in 2022. I think it's coming out in 2023.
[30:22] Cindy: Well, it'll be closer in time by the time this episode aired is I'm not familiar with that one, so now I'm going to have to look it up. What's the title of it again?
[30:29] Sara: Okay? It's called Unnatural Ends. And his name is Christopher Huang, and he also wrote A Gentleman's Murder.
[30:36] Cindy: Okay, I was going to ask you that. I was like, I think that's the name of the guy that wrote A Gentleman's Murder. Is this a follow up to that?
[30:46] Sara: No, it's historical. It's a historical setting, but it's not the same characters. It's a totally new group of characters, but he is a contemporary author.
[30:55] Cindy: Got it.
[30:55] Sara: When I read A Gentleman's Murder, I was like, is this a Golden Age book or is this a modern book? Is it by a modern author so he's able to create that atmosphere and feeling of the 1920s or thirty s, I guess.
[31:10] Cindy: I was thinking about that book the other day because we sold so many of it at Murder by the Book and got all these requests of whether it was going to be a series and when the next one will be out, and then nothing ever came out again, and I wondered what was happening with him. So I'm glad he has a new book coming out.
[31:24] Sara: Yes, I was thrilled to see it because I enjoyed A Gentleman's Murder as well.
[31:28] Cindy: Yeah, good.
[31:29] Sara: I know that World War II fiction is super popular, and I have a series that I really enjoy. It's the Crown Colony series by Ovidia Yu. And her last name is spelled Yu. And recently I read The Mimosa Tree Mystery. And so they're set in Singapore. So it's a different look at World War II. It's just like if you're used to reading World War Two books that are set in France or England, this is a completely different look at World War II. So anyway, I just really enjoy it. And it's about a young woman who is living in Singapore and she becomes involved in the British police force. She goes to work for them, and then of course, Singapore is taken over, and so it just follows the whole thing through. And like, right now we're at Singapore is occupied by the Japanese, and she's having to navigate all that, but each book is a mystery, so it's very interesting. It's just a totally different look at life and at World War II.
[32:32] Cindy: I have been so glad that more and more books set during World War II that are in the Pacific Arena are coming out because I just knew so little about what happened with the war there other than Pearl Harbor. So it's nice to be able to fill in with some of these stories. So I'm going to have to check that one out.
[32:48] Sara: Yeah, I think you'll enjoy the series. The character is very she has a very strong voice and she's got little snarky comments, but it's a very respectful community. So a lot of these things she doesn't say, but she thinks them. You get to hear her inner dialogue.
[33:03] Cindy: Which is always fun.
[33:05] Sara: Yeah. And then for like a modern setting, cozy type, I don't know. It's not actually super cozy. It's more of just a traditional mystery, I guess you'd say. I read Augusta Hawke by GM Malliet. It's set in DC. It's about a woman who is a writer. And I always love those books that are like book related, like a bookstore or an author. So this woman is a very successful author and she sees something happen outside her back window. She lives, like, in this community. It kind of gave me a rear window feeling if you know that movie where the guy is looking at his window and it's all about what's going on and what he can see of his neighbors. Yeah.
[33:43] Cindy: Jimmy Stewart.
[33:44] Sara: Yeah. So it's got that kind of feel to it and I really enjoyed it. It's kind of contemporary, I would say mystery, traditional mystery.
[33:54] Cindy: I'm very familiar with G.M. Malliet. It's books that are set in the UK about the vicar, but I didn't know that she wrote other books. That's really interesting. I'm going to have to look that up. Those were huge sellers at Murder by the Book.
[34:05] Sara: Yes. I think this is a new one. It came out pretty recently. Oh, good.
[34:08] Cindy: I'm going to have to track that down. Um, because that is another series that we sold a ton of and murdered by the book. And so I haven't ever read any of them.
[34:15] Sara: Okay, good.
[34:16] Cindy: I'm going to look for that.
[34:17] Sara: Yeah, I think it's pretty new. Just maybe a couple of months old.
[34:20] Cindy: Okay, good.
[34:21] Sara: I just have one other one. And this one is I would say it's a mystery thriller. It's called Her Dying Day by Mindy Carlson. It's definitely not cozy. So if you only want cozy reads, give this one a pass. But it's got some thriller elements to it. It's about a woman who is doing a graduate degree and she is a filmmaker. And so she's going to make this film about a woman who disappeared years before. So it's a cold case and she starts looking into it and of course gets involved in this mystery and wants to solve the mystery. And then she's got all these personal issues going on. So it was one of those that I just couldn't put down.
[35:03] Cindy: I love books like that where you literally are like, everyone leave me alone, keep turning the pages and figuring out what happened here.
[35:10] Sara: That's right. Because it's important to get to the end to figure this all out.
[35:14] Cindy: Yes, exactly. And then I'm so bummed when it's over because I'm like, I loved that book, but you want to get to the end and know what happened. So these are all great recommendations and I don't know that I was familiar with any of them. M, so that's wonderful. I love that.
[35:27] Sara: Yeah. Good. I'm glad to give you something new because I know, you know, your knowledge of the mystery and book world is wide.
[35:36] Cindy: Well, I always say that I thought I read a lot till I started working at Murder by the Book, and I just had no concept how many books come out every single week and how crazy it is. And I think that was the thing that surprised me the most about working at the store, was just the sheer volume of titles coming out week after week, and I was like, Gosh, you could read your entire lifetime and never make it through all of them.
[35:58] Sara: And to think that we have all these wonderful new books, and then there's so many books, classic books that I haven't read that I want to go back and read, it gets a little overwhelming at times.
[36:08] Cindy: It does. And I think there's been a big renewed interest in Agatha Christie and her books, and I've seen a variety of people asking where they should start and which was her best one, and so it's interesting to see how these things kind of cycle back over and over again.
[36:23] Sara: Yes, I think that's so true. There's so many I mean, if you just look at the movies like Knives Out and The Glass Onion and then the one about The Mousetrap, I can't think of the name of it, that it had a smaller release. But, yeah, there's more interest, I think, in Just mysteries, and anything to do with Agatha Christie is always going to draw interest, I think.
[36:45] Cindy: Yeah, I think that's exactly right. And there was a great group of short stories that came out about Miss Marple this fall, and I think that probably contributed a little bit, too. It's Marple: Twelve New Stories. And I interviewed one of the authors about another book that she had coming out. But we talked briefly about this anthology and she said that the Agatha Christie estate commissioned the book and then I guess had some say in which authors were participating. But they said Ms. Marple had to be older, she couldn't be young, she couldn't fall in love, and she couldn't meet Puerto, which I thought was really interesting.
[37:16] Sara: I think that's perfect because it keeps her like the readers want her to be. You know, it's exactly I don't know that I want Ms. Marple a new version of Ms. Marple.
[37:28] Cindy: I think that's exactly right. But I just thought it was really fascinating to me to hear the criteria that they gave, and I think you're exactly right. They want it to fill a need around the story she already has and to kind of weave in with them. But it was just kind of interesting to hear that.
[37:43] Sara: Yes, I agree. Yeah, I haven't read that yet, but it's definitely on my list.
[37:47] Cindy: It's so good. Well, Sara, thank you, as always, for chatting with me. I'm so glad you came on the Thoughts From a Page podcast, and I can't wait for those that aren't familiar with the high society lady Detective series and all of the other things you do to check them out.
[38:01] Sara: Well, thank you for having me, and thank you for all that you do for authors and just to get the word out about great books. We really appreciate it. Absolutely.
[38:12] Cindy: Thank you so much for listening to my podcast. If you liked this episode, and I hope you did, please follow me on Instagram at @thoughtsfromapage, consider joining my Patreon group to access bonus content and support the podcast, and tell all of your friends about the show and rate it or subscribe to it wherever you listen to your podcasts, I would really appreciate it. The book discussed in this episode can be purchased at my Bookshop storefront, and the link is in the show notes. I hope you'll tune in next time.
Sara Rosett is the USA Today bestselling author of 30 cozy and historical mysteries for readers who enjoy atmospheric settings and puzzling whodunits.
She hosts two podcasts: Mystery Books Podcast for readers and the Wish I’d Known Then For Writers Podcast with Jami Albright.