Tag Archives: Deadly Bakery series

Food in Fiction: Why cozy mystery author J.M. Griffin loves writing about food

While shopping the other day, I ran into a woman who reads my books. She asked me a question that I find I have to answer quite a lot. She wanted to know why I include food in all of my novels. Initially, I chuckled when she asked, and then gave it some thought, as I always do when asked that same question. I think it goes back to childhood, really, where meals together were an important time to catch up with our daily happenings, and to enjoy the taste of homemade goodness.

Image: andyskitchenblog.wordpress.com

Image: andyskitchenblog.wordpress.com

My mother was a great cook and an even better baker. We had wonderful meals, homemade bread and pastries, and in summer, our garden produced the best veggies ever. I watched Mom make delightful meals and luscious desserts. We always had dessert after dinner, and a yummy snack before bed. No junk food at our house, we lived in the countryside, where there were no stores to run to for snacks.

When I married, an Italian, no less, food played a huge part in our household. I enjoyed baking and still do. Back then, when certain fruits were in season, I’d make jams, jellies, pickles and all those delicious things we’d enjoy throughout the winter. My husband’s father was a chef, who taught me to make chicken cacciatore, eggplant casseroles, the tastiest pasta sauce ever, and many other meals that tickled the taste buds of our friends and family.

My kids grew up and left home, but became great cooks in their own right. Now my grandson cooks on Sundays, making meals for his week ahead. I guess that food plays a major part of all our lives and is comforting to us.

Image: eatathomecooks.com

Image: eatathomecooks.com

The Vinnie Esposito series began some years ago with Vinnie stopping by her parents’ house to cadge a meal from her family. Even though she and her father butt heads more often than not, he still manages to give her a bag of food to take home with her. Vinnie’s best friend, Lola Trapezi, owns a deli not far from Vinnie’s house, so again, food becomes part of the story. As the other characters in the novels stop by Vinnie’s house, she offers them a snack or a meal. Again, the story includes food. There’s just something special about that and I get comments all the time concerning the importance of how the food plays into the story.

Death Gone AwryMaybe it’s the comfort of food, or the fact that is brings warmth and meaning to our lives. I’m unsure of the answer, but when I’m asked why I include food in all my novels, I simply say, “It brings us together.” For, if you truly think about it, food does that. How many times do we meet friends for a meal, a snack, or a cookout? Often, we have business meetings that include food. Somehow, it soothes our anxiety.

So, tell me this, how do you feel about food and what does it mean to you? I’d really like to know. In the meantime, I’m off to throw an antipasto together for later. Good eating my friends and thanks for stopping by!

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Filed under COZY MYSTERY, COZY MYSTERY SERIES, craft of writing, FOOD, Food in Fiction, Lachesis Publishing, MYSTERY, MYSTERY SERIES

The Mystery of Cozy Mysteries by J.M. Griffin (cozy mystery author)

Image courtesy www.clker.com

Image courtesy http://www.clker.com

Have you ever wondered, really wondered, what the difference is between regular mysteries and those well-loved cozies? For years, I read as many mystery novels as I could get my greedy little hands on, but my favorite ones were cozy mysteries.

A mystery is like a puzzle. The pieces are scattered here and there, until bit by bit, they slowly come together to take shape and form, and whammo, you have the complete picture.

JessicaflectherTake Jessica Fletcher for instance. She lives in the small seaside village of Cabot Cove on the coast of Maine and is an amateur sleuth. She becomes embroiled in the least likely situations and never takes the sheriff’s word for anything. She knows his idea of the guilty party is far from accurate and sets out to prove it by linking pieces of the puzzle together as they present themselves.

Most cozies take place in a small town where people are friendly, except the killer, of course. Many of the residents also have something to hide, which is a perfect ingredient when whipping up a cozy mystery because we need more than one suspect, right?

mi David Suchet as Hercule PoirotThe cozy mystery usually has a well-educated, female, amateur sleuth, unless he’s Hercule Poirot, Inspector Barnaby, or Inspector Lynley, that is. The town is generally small, and the story has a theme. (I have a cupcake theme in one of my own series, an Italian family and their histrionics in another, and then there’s the artist with visions theme in the third series. Humor runs throughout each of these series, since it’s important to find humor in life, no matter how dastardly it becomes.) Often times there are cat, dogs, or some pet or other that is crucial to the plot. Animal lovers enjoy it when their favorite type of pet is included in the story.

SEASON FOR MURDER COVERIn the Vinnie Esposito cozy mystery series, my heroine lives in a small Rhode Island village. She’s nosier than any person should ever be, which in turn leads her to discover someone has been murdered and she needs to find culprit. Her Italian father insists she mind her own business, find a husband, have a slew of kids, and settle down, which results in an ongoing clash of wills. There’s a stray cat that wanders in from time to time, who manages to help out when need be. I also write the Faerie Cake cozy that includes faeries and cupcakes. (People love food themed stories.)

I digress . . . Let’s get back to the differences between regular mysteries and cozies. Besides the small town and an amateur sleuth, there is little to no sex in a cozy, or it takes place behind closed doors. That alone gives the reader something special to imagine. Cozies don’t tend to be gory, other than a stabbing or conk on the head with a blunt instrument, the description of the death is brief. For those who don’t like blood and guts, that really counts.

Focaccia fatality 453x680Many cozies are in series form. Why? Because the audience enjoys following their favorite character through the ins and outs of finding who committed the crime. At the end of every cozy mystery, the killer is found, explanations are made and all is again well in the quiet, peace loving, town where people greet each other in the local diner, neighbors talk over fences to each other, and the story’s pacing has moved quickly. I enjoy a fast read, a page turner, a story where I can relate to the characters, with an ending that will surprise the daylights out of me. Don’t you?

J.M. Griffin. is the author of two cozy mystery series for Lachesis Publishing. The popular (and sexy) Vinnie Esposito series and the fun (and yummy) Deadly Bakery series.

Connect with J.M. Griffin on social media: twitter, web site, facebook

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Filed under COZY MYSTERY, COZY MYSTERY SERIES, J.M. GRIFFIN, Lachesis Publishing, MYSTERY, MYSTERY SERIES