Pamela Grandstaff - Cozy Mysteries Set in a Mountain Resort
Pamela grew up in West Virginia, where she always had her nose in a book, and over the years found that she loved to write. In 2007 she started her own book and decided to make it a mystery. The Rose Hill Mystery Series has 12 books, and the Cozy Mountain Mystery Series has 6. Pamela's books are all set in West Virginia. The covers feature her favorite flowers, and many of the character names are inspired by the Irish, Scottish, Italian, Greek, Lebanese, Jewish, Hungarian, German, and Polish names of the friends and neighbors she remembers from her childhood. Although cozy mystery is her genre, her books also delve into romantic relationships, family, children, small-town life, and steadfast friendships. As our Author of the Day, Pamela tells us all about her book, Cozy Mountain Breakdown.
Please give us a short introduction to what Cozy Mountain Breakdown is about.
Cozy Mountain Breakdown is the fourth book in the six-book Cozy Mountain Mystery series. The series features long-time best friends Emma and Abby. Breakdown takes you on the next leg of their friendship journey, which turns out to be a twisty, rocky path.
What inspired you to write this story? Was there anything in particular that made you want to tackle this?
I started this series in the spring of 2020, after the start of the pandemic. In March I quit my day job to look after my mother, who is in her eighties. By that time, I had written 12 Rose Hill Mystery series books and wanted to try something new and different. In the midst of a worldwide panic attack, when my only goal was to keep my mother alive, I had all this time and solitude to think and create. I decided to make the most of it.
Tell us more about Emma and Abby. What makes each of them special?
When the series begins, Emma has always been the strong, decisive one in the friendship, and Abby has been more of a follower. Because of Emma’s background–biracial, poor, abandoned teenage mother who never knew her father and lost her mother at a young age–she has always had to work hard to support herself. Abby lost both of her parents at a young age, and up until Emma became her friend, never felt as though she mattered. Up until she befriended Abby, Emma never had a close friend who hadn’t betrayed her in some way. Their friendship has been healing for them both.
Interesting cover. Please tell us more about this choice.
Most of my books feature floral covers just because I love the look of them. I wanted this cover to give readers the cozy feeling of fall in the mountains.
This is Book 4 in your Cozy Mountain Mysteries. Can it be read as a standalone? How do the other books in the series tie in with this one?
Although all six books are like one very long book, any one of them can stand alone. In each book, I try to give just enough backstory so that new readers can catch up, but hopefully, they will like it enough to read the others.
What did you have the most fun with when writing this book?
Any place where I can inject some humor is always my favorite part. I think readers occasionally need that break in the action, plus it reveals the playful part of the characters’ personalities. In the Cozy Mountain series, the character Georgie was always my favorite to write because he is so entertaining.
Why did you title this "Cozy Mountain Breakdown"?
It’s a play on words connected to the bluegrass tune, “Foggy Mountain Breakdown,” but it’s also about major upheavals in both friends’ lives. Emma very literally has a breakdown, and Abby finally has the opportunity to take care of Emma for a change and repay that emotional debt.
What drew you to Mystery as a genre?
When I wrote my first book, back in 2007, I wrote it as straight fiction and quickly got bored with it. Just for kicks, I decided to try it as a mystery, and suddenly I was more challenged and engaged in the process. I enjoy solving logic puzzles, and to me, mystery books are like long-form logic puzzles which also just happen to feature the quirks of human nature.
Why did you pick a mountain resort as the background for this series?
In West Virginia we have The Greenbrier resort, and just across the Virginia border is The Homestead. The Homestead, in particular, is the perfect setting for a mystery series. It’s an isolated small town where the locals all know each other, depend on the tourist business to survive, and resent the corporate resort overlords even though they depend on them to attract tourists. This is all a projection on my part, of course, but Cozy Mountain is based on my version of that.
Where do you go for inspiration?
I grew up a daydreaming, introverted bookworm, so everything I’ve ever read, plus all the classic movies and television shows I watched. I’m interested in human behavior, so I’m always paying attention to what people are saying/doing, and looking for patterns. I was inspired to start writing the Rose Hill series by watching the BBC’s “Jam and Jerusalem,” an ensemble comedy written by Jennifer Saunders, which featured close friendships between adult women. Any random subject I get interested in sends me deep into research that often ends up in a book.
How many more books do you plan for this series?
I know better than to say ‘never’ about anything because I thought I was done with Rose Hill at twelve books but just published a thirteenth. I felt done with Cozy Mountain at six, but I could have a dream about them one night and wake up inspired to write more.
Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing like for you?
I don’t know how interesting it is, but when I’m working on a book, I tend to daydream about it for several days and then write like a maniac for a day. Before the pandemic, because I always had a day job, I tended to write all day on Sundays. As soon as I think of them, I write down plot points or other odds and ends in a notes app on my phone so I won’t forget. After I wake up in the morning but before I get out of bed, when I’m kind of half awake, I often get ideas for the book I’m working on. I love weird and wonderful names, so I collect them and people send them to me.
What are you working on right now?
I just published the 13th book in the Rose Hill Mystery series, and I think I have at least two more on deck. I had more ideas than there was room for them in #13 so that’s always a good sign.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
I have a website, pamelagrandstaff.com, where I post book descriptions and where readers can sign up for my newsletters. I don’t bombard people with newsletters, but I do let people know about new books that way. Readers can email me at [email protected] and I always answer, even if it takes a couple of days (I’m back working so I’m not as available as I was). I enjoy hearing from readers that way and appreciate their kind words more than they know. I am a thin-skinned introvert who holds a grudge, so while I love to get news from social media, I’m afraid to attract random engagement from scary internet trolls.