By Denise Swanson
Getting my first book traditionally published was a long and arduous journey. It took a long time and two hundred and seventy rejection slips to find an agent. And even then, it took that agent eighteen months to find a publisher. Nearly twenty years ago, cozy mysteries were nowhere near as popular as they are now. And since I had my own ideas on setting, sleuth’s appearance, and sleuth’s occupation, it was lot harder than if I’d have put Scumble River in Alabama, made my sleuth Skye a size six, and had her own a bookstore or work in law enforcement.
Few editors wanted to take the gamble on a book that didn’t fit the mold and am I ever glad the editor at NAL/Signet/Penguin was willing to give me a chance! With the first book, Murder of a Small-Town Honey, in its fifteenth printing, and the nineteen book, Murder of a Cranky Catnapper, due out September 6, I think it’s safe to say there was more interest in a curvy, Midwest, school psychologist than a lot of folks ever realized.
I’m thrilled that my series is such a long running one, and I’m always a bit surprised when someone asks me when I’m going to end it. I love Skye and her pals, and I’d be sad never to visit with them again. Because I was a school psychologist myself for twenty-two years, I still have tons of great plots. In fact, in my new book, Murder of a Cranky Catnapper, I used one of my own run-ins with a school board member. The guy who gave me a hard time didn’t end up dead—at least not in real life.
And having recently moved back to rural Illinois, I’m now collecting more small-town stories, too. Expect some interesting future plots about my experience hunkering down for a tornado.
I realize with a long series that stagnation is always a risk, but I have made a continued effort to allow my characters to change and grow. This means that Skye has lost cars, houses, and boyfriends. She’s altered her goals, expectations, and how she deals with her mother. And most of all, she’s matured from a woman who was running away from a life she didn’t want, to someone who runs towards the life she does want.
In my sixteenth book, Murder of a Stacked Librarian, Skye got married, and folks started asking if I planned on ending the series. But because I don’t think a woman’s journey ends when she finds the man of her dreams, the answer is no. In fact, in her newest adventure, Murder of a Cranky Catnapper, Skye deals with sleuthing while pregnant. Certainly, a growth experience for her and her new husband.
Having a husband and children will push Skye into even more exciting adventures and will surely change the dynamic of her relationship with her mom and friends. So to everyone who is concerned that I’ll end the series, all I can say is stay tuned for book number twenty!
About the author:
New York Times Bestselling author Denise Swanson writes the Scumble River and Devereaux’s Dime Store mysteries, as well as the Change of Heart contemporary romances. She lives in rural Illinois with her husband and big black cat.
For more information, visit her at DeniseSwanson.com or at https://www.facebook.com/groups/428723763963797/
MURDER OF A CRANKY CATNAPPER A Scumble River Mystery by Denise Swanson, September 6, 2016, $7.99, 266 pages.