As the cover of her books suggest, Lynda Wilcox’s cozy mysteries are, apart from being well written and truly enjoyable, laugh-out-loud hilarious. I’m reading one of them myself at the moment and it’s a real treat.
As I wanted to know more about Lynda and her books, I decided to grill, I mean interview her in order to share this lovely and oh-so-British author with mystery aficionados who might have missed this author’s work (you can thank me when you’ve read her books).
A little bit about Lynda:
Lynda Wilcox’s first piece of published writing was a poem in the school magazine. In her twenties she wrote Pantomime scripts for Amateur Dramatic groups and was a founder member of The Facts of Life, a foursome who wrote and performed comedy sketches for radio. Now she concocts fantasy stories for older children (10-13) and writes funny whodunits for adults.
Lynda lives in a small town in England, in an untidy house with four ageing computers and her (equally ageing but very supportive) husband. She enjoys pottering in the garden where she grow brambles, bindweed and nettles along with roses and lilies. Oh! And slugs! Slugs that feed well on everything but the brambles and weeds.
Most of all, she loves to write — it gets her out of doing the housework. She also reads a lot and enjoys good food and wine.
And the interview:
What are you working on right now?
The current work in progress is the second in my Gemini Detectives series – stories about twins Linzi and Loren Repton who, fed up with boring office work, decide to open a detective agency.
Linzi is logical and analytical, while Loren is impetuous and intuitive – although sometimes her ideas are so “off the wall” they have a habit of rebounding and hitting the twins on the back of the head.
Alternately frowned on and watched over by their father, who is himself a Detective Superintendent in the local police, they are assisted in their crime-solving efforts by Magda – a mysterious old bag-lady.
Is your work different from others in your genre, if so, how?
Well, I can guarantee you won’t find any cupcakes in my stories!
These days it seems cozy mysteries have to have a “hook”. Whether it’s crime-solving cats and dogs, or cooks/embroiderers/and plant shop owners with a penchant for detection there is a plethora of idiosyncratic sleuths out there.
Because of that, I try not to be too quirky or too gimmicky. Both the Gemini Detectives and The Verity Long Mysteries are simply old-fashioned whodunits, though the latter has a lot of British humour.
Why do you write what you write?
The first book that I read as an adult – of course I was an adult, I was 15 and, like all teenagers, considered myself very grown-up – was by Agatha Christie. I think it was Murder on the Links, and I was instantly hooked. I’ve since read every single one of her seventy-five crime novels – some of them several times over. I lapped up Poirot, Miss Marple, and Tommy and Tuppence and, in the meantime, discovered other writers from the Golden Age of British crime fiction – Margery Allingham, Josephine Tey, and Patricia Wentworth amongst them.
It is hardly surprising, then, that when I came to write, I tried my hand at what I loved best, even though I can only dream of emulating the likes of Agatha Christie. She, for me, remains the doyenne of the genre. Her well thought out plots and clever writing sprinkled with humour, delight me to this day. If my readers get half as much fun and enjoyment out of my books as I did from hers, then I shan’t have gone far wrong.
Describe your writing process.
Long-winded and procrastinatory!
I am a slow writer, both physically and mentally. Once I have a plot mapped out – which alone can take many weeks, if not months – and start writing, I often discover the characters and the plot take on a life of their own. I write myself into corners and dead ends and often despair of ever finishing what, to start with, had seemed like a great idea and one I was excited to write about.
Add to that my inability to type (accurately, at least) and I’m having a good day if I manage to write a paltry seven hundred words. Sigh.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block and if so, how do you deal with it?
Yes, all the time. See above about procrastination!
How do you come up with your characters?
They often come to me, to be honest. They have a nasty habit of creeping into my brain just as I’m falling to sleep.
For the rest, I trawl my memory for people I’ve met over my (fairly long) life, though I usually merge them – one person’s looks added to another’s personality – so they can’t be identified.
Some, however, (like Verity Long’s crime-writer boss KD) are totally made up – in this instance by what I imagine a full time best-selling author would look like and wear, and then giving her a grand house and publicity hating character.
Do you ever want to try another genre?
I’ve been dabbling recently with a new idea, so yes. It’s a series of supernatural stories set in and around the sacred sites of England – like Stonehenge, for example. Being me, of course, I can’t help putting a mystery at the heart of them, although I think they’ll concentrate more on romance than I usually do.
Whether I’ll ever get round to writing it remains to be seen. Don’t hold your breath!