When you write a cozy mystery, you really have to create two stories. The first is what really happened. In other words who the killer is, why they did it and most important how they did it. This story is told in order and not necessarily very interesting. It’s also a good idea if you figure out the flaw that gets him or her caught in the end. It doesn’t really matter that it is pretty much “and then the killer did this and then they did that because the reader never sees that story. It is purely for the writer.
What the reader gets is the other story which has lots of other stuff going on. There is usually a crime, most often a murder near the beginning and then the clues from the first story are mixed up and put in out of order. Some other suspects are added and perhaps a red herring while the amateur sleuth puts together the puzzle which reveals the first story.
In my case there are even more stories I have to come up with that are layered into the mystery. Both of my series have strong romantic subplots, so I need to know how they are going to play out in a particular book. Both of my series have love triangles and it is a challenge to keep my sleuths juggling men.
Since I write yarns about yarn – okay I know your rolling your eyes on the corny play on words – which means I have come up with a whole other story line.
I use yarn crafts as a way to bring my characters together. Knitting and crocheting are social crafts and it is common for people to get together in a group and talk while they work their needles or hooks. They become friends and not only help each other figure out things with their craft, but help each other figure out things with their lives as well. I personally belong to a group. We have stuck together after losing the room in a hospital where we met, survived meeting in the food court of creepily deserted mall, and finally found a home in a Joann’s store. If I was solving a mystery, I’m sure they would all want to help.
In the Crochet series, Molly Pink and the Tarzana Hookers have a much better deal and meet in a bookstore that has added a yarn department. Molly is the one who seems to be always tripping over bodies, but the Hookers are her cohorts in finding out what happened. The fact they get together to knit and crochet makes it seem natural that they are in on what’s happening.
In the Yarn Retreat series, Casey Feldstein inherits a yarn retreat business from her aunt. Again there is a reason for a group to be gathering. They can be suspects, victims, or the killer. Knitting and crocheting is the glue that holds all the characters together.
You might wonder how I weave knitting and crocheting through the story. It’s probably best to explain with an example. The yarn retreat series is about a dessert baker who inherits her aunt’s yarn retreat business. Casey doesn’t know a knitting needle from a crochet hook at the beginning of the first book, but as she puts on the first retreat she learns how to knit. Since my books are meant to be read by non crafters along with yarn people, I need to keep it from getting too technical, but since a lot of my readers are crafters and I include patterns in all my books, I have to create an item that fits in with the story, but isn’t hard to make, and then weave it in with the mystery. I try not to be too technical. Knitting and crochet are not that foreign to most people. We all wear sweaters and a lot of TV sitcoms seem to have granny square afghans hanging on a couch.
In A TANGLED YARN, the fifth book in the series, the original plan to have the retreaters learn arm knitting and finger crochet hits a glitch and Casey needs to come up with a plan B while finding herself wound up in a murder where people aren’t who they seem.
Very often Molly and Casey uses tools of the crafts to catch the bad guy. I’d tell you more, but I don’t want to give too much away. Sometimes the clues are hidden in a knitted or crocheted item.
There is always a lot of food in my books as well. I include recipes, so I do the same thing I do with the knitted and crocheted items – I make them part of the story. In A TANGLED YARN, Casey has the challenge to come up with a muffin recipe that might help her make peace with the local police lieutenant whose wife has forbidden him to eat his favorite apple fritters. Her final recipe is included.
About the author:
Betty Hechtman grew up in Chicago and has a degree in Fine Arts. She has been into mystery and handicrafts since she was a kid. Being able to mix her two loves in the national best selling Crochet Mystery series and the Yarn Retreat Mystery series is like a dream come true. She has many eclectic interests and has taken classes in everything from improv comedy to magic.
She has written newspaper and magazine pieces, short stories and screenplays, along with a children’s mystery, STOLEN TREASURE which also includes the 13 year-old- babysitters favorite recipes.
The current release in the Yarn Retreat series is A TANGLED YARN and HOOKING FOR TROUBLE is the latest in the Crochet series.
She lives in Southern California with her family and a lot of yarn.
For more information, log onto her website: BettyHechman.com or her Facebook page: Betty Hechtman author .