PRAISE FOR GRAND OPENINGS CAN BE MURDER:"With as many unpredictable twists and turns as the hurricane approaching Galveston, Grand Openings Can Be Murder is an intriguing cozy mystery set in a new chocolate shop along the island’s historic Strand. Readers will love learning about the bean-to-bar chocolate-making process while the store’s owner, Felicity, pursues truth, justice, and the perfect chocolate bar."
-- Diane Kelly, Award-winning author of the Death & Taxes, Paw Enforcement, House Flipper, and Busted mystery series.
Interview with Amber Royer
What do you think most characterizes your writing?
I have a breezy, fun writing style that focuses in on character relationships and protagonists who protag from the heart.
People also tell me my books make them hungry.
Why did you choose to write a cozy mystery?
I’m primarily a science fiction writer, so this is a whole new genre for me to write in. I guess that may seem like a weird jump to make, but I’ve been an avid reader of cozies for many years. Dorothy Cannell’s The Thin Woman got me hooked, back when I was a teenager. Cozies are light and fun but allow for a thoughtful exploration of theme and character change underneath, which isn’t so different from the other things I write.
I’ve always liked mysteries. Even when I was a kid, some of my earlies influences were Hank the Cowdog, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and Encyclopedia Brown. I think there’s an element of mystery to any story. Readers read because of uncertainty – that need to know what happens next, what really happened in the story’s past, that all will be set right with the world. Mysteries approach those questions head on. Which make them appealing to tackle.
I’ve toyed with the idea of writing a mystery before, but never seriously – until after I spent time researching and publicizing the Chocoverse sci-fi books. I met a number of craft chocolate makers and learned more about the businesses they run, and I found what was missing in my earlier ideas: an amateur sleuth with a unique passion. I was at an event for writers, pairing myself and a chocolatier I know, and we were talking about food in writing, and I made an offhand comment that there were a number of people doing mysteries with chocolatiers – but someone should do one with a craft chocolate maker. The idea stuck in my head, and I wound up writing it myself.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
The hardest part for me was blending fictional places into a real city. For instance, Galveston Island has a real-world indie bookstore. But, despite the fact that the architecture is similar, the bookstore in Grand Openings Can Be Murder is NOT that bookstore. It has a different name – and is definitely run by different people. One of them even winds up on Felicity’s suspect list. It’s a hard balance to strike. You want to make things different enough that no one will be upset or offended – without losing the idea that the fictional business or location at least blends in with the reality of life on the Island.
I also mention some real places, such as Pleasure Pier, because they are iconic to Galveston, and giving them a different name just felt really odd.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
I really enjoyed writing the character relationships. One thing the cozy subgenre lends itself to is creating a sense of community for your protagonist. So once I figured out who Felicity was, it became a matter of reverse engineering the kind of friends and family that would have influenced her character. I had so much fun writing Felicity’s aunt and uncle because they have an honest interest in Felicity’s wellbeing – even if their attempts to push her out of her comfort zone embarrass and fluster Felicity at times. And her potential love interests are both pretty good guys at heart – though they have a professional rivalry going on that predates Felicity even meeting one of them. Which makes for an interesting dynamic.
What is your favorite quote?
My favorite writing-related quote is from Toni Morrison. She said, “If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.” Someone cited that quote in a Writer’s Digest article that I read back in 2015, and it has stuck with me ever since. Both the quote and the explanation of what it means: you shouldn’t be writing generic-feeling books to try to appeal to everyone, and you shouldn’t be trying to be the next fill-in-the-blank-favorite-author-name-here. You have to figure out what you’re passionate about, what you want to explore (Morrison also has a great quote about not writing what you know, but what you don’t know) and what will make you unique. She also implies that if you have ideas, and the ability to create, that you practically have a moral imperative to do so – that the world will be a less rich place without your art.
What do your plans for future projects include?
I just finished drafting the second book in the Bean to Bar Mysteries series. I’ve also outlined a couple more adventures for Felicity, which you can look forward to soon.
But I haven’t left science fiction behind. I also have a piece I’m working on that involves time travel and Impressionist art.
|2/9/21||Excerpt||Texas Book Lover|
|2/9/21||BONUS Guest Post||Hall Ways Blog|
|2/9/21||BONUS Promo||LSBBT Blog|
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|2/12/21||Playlist||All the Ups and Downs|
|2/14/21||Author Interview||Rebecca R. Cahill, Author|
|2/16/21||Scrapbook Page||KayBee's Book Shelf|
|2/17/21||Review||The Page Unbound|
|2/18/21||Review||It's Not All Gravy|