by Cynthia Chow
This week we have another fun Christmas mystery, Frosty the Dead Man by Christine Husom, and an interesting interview with Christine. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of Frosty the Dead Man. We also have a link to order it from Amazon, and from an indie bookstore where a portion goes to help support KRL.
Frosty the Dead Man: A Snow Globe Shop Mystery by Christine Husom
Review by Cynthia Chow
Camryn Brooks’ experience as the former legal affairs director for a senator in Washington, D.C., has accustomed her to the precarious and convoluted world of politics. Even she was caught off guard, when the hostilities stirred up by a small-town Minnesota City Council meeting continue to the point of her nearly calling the police the following day. Mayor Lewis “Frosty” Frost’s proposal to bring in both a microbrewery and a clothing manufacturing business to Brooks Landing has more than one resident up in arms, and they all seem to express their opposition in the Brew-Ha coffee shop. Connected through a walkway to the snow globe and specialty items boutique, Curio Finds, owner Camryn can’t help but overhear and be concerned. So when Mayor Frosty suggests that Camryn apply for a vacant city council seat when a disgusted council member resigns, she would have had second thoughts even if it wasn’t just three weeks before Christmas.
Specializing in unique snow globes from around the world, Camryn was hard pressed to see the appeal in a recent shipment of globes featuring rather ominous scenes. Despite the sinister depictions of an armed hunter facing off three bears, Camryn is unexpectedly visited by several customers interested in purchasing the globe. They are too late, as it is Mayor Frosty who purchases the first globe, and he whom Camryn finds bludgeoned to death with it in his office. An unaccountable diamond found at the scene adds yet another layer of confusion, and Camryn’s need to fix things and make things right compel her to discover how Curio Finds may have played a role in the death. A needy waif fortuitously—perhaps too fortuitously—arrives to provide some clerical and decorating assistance, allowing Camryn and her two best friends to investigate; all the while, Assistant Chief Clint Lionsbury warns her to stay safe and out of the investigation.
Just in time for the holidays, this Snow Globe Shop Mystery series, that highlights the nostalgic and iconic snow globes, entertains with the warm friendships and relationships of Brooks Landing. Camryn’s parents continue to be a beacon of loving support, her best friend and Brew-Ha owner Pinky Nelson is in the giggly bliss of a new relationship, and Camryn lends a sympathetic ear to Mayor Frosty’s son. What truly warms Camryn’s heart is seeing the joy in her customers’ eyes as they pick out the perfect snow globe, ones that remind them of their fondest memories. Experienced mystery readers may spot glimpses of the scheme being veiled by a nefarious leader, but the fun comes in watching Camryn attempt to maneuver her way through local politicians without offending or jeopardizing her business. Pennies that may actually be from heaven, as well as a possible beneficent ghost gifted with timely electrical talents, add on to the charm. A heartwarming conclusion delivers everything one could ask for in Christmas cozy mystery, gifting readers with the ideal book for the holidays.
Interview with Christine Husom:
KRL: How long have you been writing?
Christine: I was creating stories before I could read, and was very excited when I learned to read and write because then I was able to put my stories on paper. As a young girl into my teens I enjoyed writing plays and poetry. I didn’t think I had the patience to write a whole book, so I was tickled to find out I did.
KRL: When did your first novel come out and what was it called? Can you tell us a little about it?
Christine: Murder in Winnebago County, first in the Winnebago County Mystery Series, launched in 2008. It was loosely based on my father’s strange death that had been ruled an accident. The circumstances of his death were so bizarre, nineteen years later we still wonder what really happened. I was haunted by that, and one day I asked myself, “What if it wasn’t an accident, what if someone did that to him? Who would that person be, what would be his/her motivation?” The tragedy gave birth, first to the antagonist and her quest for vengeance, and then to the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department characters. My experiences working for Wright County, thinly disguised as Winnebago County, rewarded me with lots of ideas for books.
KRL: Have you always written mysteries/suspense and if not, what else have you written?
Christine: I wrote two romance novels years ago that were never published, and I’ve started a number of more mainstream fiction novels, that I may finish someday. I love mysteries, and writing about them is one of my passions.
KRL: What brought you to choose the setting and characters in your latest book/series? Please tell us a little about the setting and main character for your most recent book.
Christine: A New York agent was looking for a Minnesota author to write a cozy mystery series. It was his idea to set it in a snow globe shop and it was easy for me to imagine a shop called Curio Finds, housed in a sturdy 1924 brick building on Central Avenue in my hometown. The shop specializes in snow globes from around the world, but also carries a variety of unique items. Plus, it has an adjoining coffee shop.
I love creating characters, and protagonist Camryn Brooks was the first one I developed for the series. She had reluctantly returned to Brooks Landing after serving as a legislative director in Washington D.C. and is helping her parents manage Curio Finds. It’s not where she planned to be at that point in her career, but she’s accepted it’s where she needs to be. The bonus is she’s back with her family and friends. Cami’s biological parents died when she was five, and she was adopted by her aunt and uncle, and brought into their large family. Cami finds pennies at odd times and believes her mother is sending from heaven. She has a natural curiosity and strong sense of justice, so when she stumbles over bodies, she needs to find out what happened and why.
KRL: Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to take away from your work?
Christine: My hope is that readers will be captured by the stories, and feel like they are walking alongside the characters, and sharing their experiences. I also hope they can learn, or think about, something new.
KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just write whenever you can?
Christine: I write when I can. When I’m on deadline, or really caught up in my story, I carve out as much time as possible for writing, and sometimes feel a little crabby about the other things in life I need to take care of.
KRL: Do you outline? If not, do you have some other interesting way that you keep track of what’s going on, or what needs to happen in your book when you are writing it?
Christine: I have tried to both outline and storyboard, but I haven’t been able to pull either one off. For my Snow Globe Shop Mysteries, I needed a synopsis for the first three books, so that was handy when I sat down to write them. My process is I come up with a storyline, some sort of criminal activity and the characters involved, both good guys and bad guys. I mentally work out the basic plot, some key points, and the ending. When I start writing the books, I don’t yet know all of the characters that might show up along the line, or all the details of what will move the story along. It keeps me on my toes. As I get deeper into the story, I take notes of what’s happened, and often re-read what I’ve written, checking for any inconsistencies.
KRL: If you had your ideal, what time of day would you prefer to write?
Christine: I’d start in the morning, after my routine, and write as long as possible.
KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning?
Christine: Yes. I finished Murder in Winnebago County in 2003, and searched for willing agents and publishers. It was my part-time job for a few years. Then I entered an online “Search for the next best crime writer” contest in 2007, and met the man who became the publisher of my Winnebagos.
KRL: Do you have a great rejection/critique or acceptance story you’d like to share?
Christine: I’d turned in a proposal for the Snow Globe Shop Mysteries to my agent in December, 2012. I’d been newly elected as a Wright County Commissioner the month before. As I was walking into the courthouse for my first board meeting in January, I got a call from my agent saying he’d sold the series to Penguin. I went in to the board room thinking, “This is a really big day!”
KRL: Most interesting book signing story-in a bookstore or other venue?
Christine: One of my books got delayed with the printer, and my publisher sent the books directly to the bookstore. They arrived the afternoon of the signing and the first time I saw the finished product was when the bookstore owner opened the box. I was a bit on edge!
KRL: Future writing goals?
Christine: I’ll continue writing the Winnebago County Mysteries, and hope to keep going with the Snow Globe Shop Mysteries. I’d love to write a mainstream novel someday. And maybe some fun or inspirational children’s books for my grandchildren.
KRL: Writing heroes?
Christine: Shakespeare and Charles Dickens are my top two, but there’s a long list.
KRL: What kind of research do you do?
Christine: I scour the internet or a variety of books for details on anything from diving apparatus, to the difference between and psychopath and a sociopath, to adipocere (grave wax), to Arabian Horse disorders, to Dissociative Identity Disorder. I also interview people who have expertise in different areas. Another thing I find helpful is when I imagine a place in my county where a fictional crime has taken place, I’ll go there and sit for a while, for added inspiration.
KRL: What do you read?
Christine: Mostly mysteries, especially by authors I’ve met through Sisters in Crime, or at conventions. But I appreciate a wide variety of works; basically what I feel is a good story, or something I want to learn about.
KRL: Favorite TV or movies?
Christine: I’m a sucker for Hallmark movies and pretty much all musicals. Feel good stuff. But one of my favorite movies was the frightening thriller, In the Line of Fire with Clint Eastwood, John Malkovich, and Rene Russo.
KRL: Any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?
Christine: Write about things you’re interested in, or want to learn about. Do your homework, interview people in the know, and get to know who your characters are. Hear their voices. Be patient and appreciate that it takes diligence to finish a work, but it’s worth all the sweat and tears.
KRL: Anything you would like to add?
Christine: I’m very grateful to readers, fellow writers, friends, and especially my family for supporting me in this wonderful world of writing and marketing and publishing.
KRL: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Christine: I already gave that away that I’m a county commissioner, now in my second term. There are three cities and five townships in my district, and I sit on twenty different committees from Emergency
Medical Services to Clearwater River Watershed District: a wide variety of organizations, committees, and issues to deal with. I learn something new every day, and hopefully help people in the process.
KRL: Wow you are a busy person! Website? Twitter? Facebook?
To enter to win a copy of Frosty the Dead Man, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “frosty,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen December 17, 2016. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
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