Christa Nardi - Murder Mystery Without the Gore
Christa Nardi loves cozy mysteries - which is evident through her Cold Creek series. She enjoys a good murder mystery that doesn't contain gore. As our Author of the Day, Nardi explains why she writes in first person, tells us a bit more about Sheridan and reveals which famous novelist she would have loved to meet.
Please give us a short introduction to what Murder in the Arboretum is about
Sheridan Hendley is a professor and psychologist at Cold Creek College who helped with a murder once before. When a body is found in the arboretum the Chief decides that the obvious suspect was the groundskeeper, Clive, who found the body. Others who know Clive don’t believe he’s the murderer; but the Chief arrests him anyway. Sheridan asks questions to find out who the killer is and puts herself in danger in the process.
Why did you pick a small town as the setting for your book?
I prefer small towns myself – not a city girl – and college towns tend to have a small town feel (unlike most larger universities).
Why cozy mysteries? What is it about the genre that you like?
I like reading (and writing) cozy mysteries as they are less violent and have less graphic detail. There’s the mystery, but not the gore.
How do the different books in the Cold Creek series tie together? Can they be read as standalones?
They can definitely be read as stand alones – each one has a different mystery. They are tied together in the growth of the major characters and the developing relationship between Sheridan and the hunky detective, Brett McMann.
How do you make your characters so relatable? Are any of them based on people you know in real life?
Not so much on individual people, but on characteristics – personality quirks – of many people combined into the various characters, and, of course to the extreme.
What is your secret to keeping the outcome unpredictable and keeping readers from figuring out who the murderer is?
There’s always a couple of people who have a motive, and that helps. In all but Murder in the Arboretum, the victim is not exactly likeable, a villain of sorts with lots of enemies. That makes it easy for many to have a motive. Honestly, it probably helps that I don’t really know who the killer is to begin with myself until I finish the first draft!
Tell us about Sheridan. Who is she and what makes her so special?
She’s middle-aged, divorced, intelligent, caring and intelligent. But she’s not perfect – she’s a coffee addict and chocoholic, and carries some baggage from the cheating ex. She’s curious and that can get her into trouble.
If you could meet any person, living or dead, who would it be and what would you talk about?
Louisa May Alcott – I’d like to talk to her about what it was like to be a woman when she was growing up and how she managed to be such a prolific writer when that wasn’t exactly the expectation for her generation.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
Baking cookies, and unfortunately, I’m pretty good at eating them, too.
Both your books are written in first person. Why did you take this approach?
It was easier to write if I could get inside Sheridan’s head and share her perspective on everything. Third person, to me, makes it hard for one person to be the clear protagonist.
When did you decide to become a writer?
I’ve always liked to write – short stories and poetry as I was growing up; technical (non-fiction) for a job. Someone I know joked with me about it and I decided to see how it went. It’s a lot of fun.
Do you consider yourself a disciplined writer? Do you have a schedule that you stick to, or is it more in the moment?
Definitely not a schedule. I grab time when I can. If an idea comes to mind, I write.
What are you working on right now?
The fifth in the Cold Creek Series – probably the last one for that series. Hopefully, the story will come together in time for a summer release. Cassidy Salem and I are working on a new teen/young adult mystery series at the same time.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
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