Sunday, July 01, 2012

Researching a New Cozy Mystery Series: You Can't Judge a Book's Reader by Its Cover

Over the last few months, I've been happily at work creating a new cozy mystery series called the Dewberry Farm Mysteries (release dates coming soon), set in Buttercup, Texas.  It's been an absolute delight to spend my mornings in this new fictional locale.  I've really enjoyed building a small town with the flavor of Texas, complete with quirky characters, traditional foods, and history -- not to mention learning about the Czech and German heritage common to so many small towns in Texas.

Blossom on a bad morning.
As it happens, my main character has acquired a rather mischievous Jersey heifer named Blossom, so in addition to looking up recipes and superstitions (did you know that the Moravians believed that hearing three knocks meant someone was going to die?), I decided I needed to research dairy farming, about which I knew approximately nothing.  Since reading up on interesting topics is half the fun of writing, I promptly ordered a book called Any Fool Can Be a Dairy Farmer.  When it arrived, I took it with me to a coffee shop, ordered myself a (topically appropriate) latte, and parked myself in a leather chair.  

Although the book was funny and informative -- dairy farming is evidently rife with the opportunity for humorous calamities -- I had even more fun watching the reactions of my fellow coffee drinkers as they paraded by my chair.  I quickly surmised that I don't fit most people's mental image of an aspiring dairy farmer.  By the end of the afternoon, I'd lost count of the number of people who snuck surreptitious looks at my book's cover, then my face, and then the cover.  It was like they'd gone into their local coffee shop and discovered a duck wearing pajamas.

Still, that was nothing compared to the looks I got while reading a book for the first Margie Peterson mystery, Mother's Day Out.  

I guess you can't judge the reader of a book by its cover. ;)