Sunday, January 27, 2019

Writing Historical Cozies: The Franny Calico Mysteries

Franny Calico and the Fun of Historical Cozy Mysteries

Hi all! So happy to be able to chat with everyone again. Today I was thinking about my historical cozy mystery series The Franny Calico Mysteries. As with everything I write, Franny could be placed firmly in the adventure romance category, even though she's an amateur sleuth with one real beau throughout the whole series. Franny certainly finds herself in enough exciting situations to classify her as an adventure. 

I set about writing Franny back in 2016 as a lark, writing her first story Death and Decopauge as a serial for my newsletter subscribers. They got a bi-weekly bit of the story that always kept them coming back for more. When the run was completed with the newsletter I wondered what I was going to do with Ms. Calico. At the time I didn't have any plans to write more about her, but as with any great character, she had more stories to tell. Newsletter subscribers were anxious to know what happened to Franny in France, briefly mentioned in D&D. I decided I'd better write a bit about Franny's time in Europe before we continued on with her adventures back home in Illinois. 

I think one of the best things about writing loosely-based historical fiction (and believe me, I'd definitely shelve this under alternative history) is that the world is already mostly defined, and we get to build our characters and their adventures within it. Franny, for example, left Illinois to study fashion in France post WWI. As the stage is being set for WWII to start, Franny recognizes the dangers and warns everyone that something worse than they could ever imagine is coming. After the harrowing events in France  which we follow in the prequel to D&D, Murder and Mistletoe, Franny returns home to Illinois and opens up a dress-makers shop and begins teaching decoupage lessons. 

**Side note here.. you'll notice that Decopauge is spelled incorrectly in the title, and that's on purpose because when the sign for her shop is created it's spelled that way.**

I had such a great time putting together a mystery with enough twists and turns to keep the reader interested. Franny has a push and pull relationship with the new town Sheriff, a man she grew up with. Their relationship keeps the internal tensions high, while the mystery continues to boil. 

Franny's sister Geneva, Sheriff Jump, and Old Tom are side characters that provide some humor and help Franny along the way as she works to solve the murder in Prudence. With the ladies of the town coming to her for the latest fashions, Franny hears all the gossip and puts the clues together in typical cozy fashion. 

One of my favorite parts of writing Murder & Mistletoe and Death & Decopauge is writing about the classic cars! You'll find several cars of the era mentioned. It was extra fun to drop those little bits of history into the story. Franny's own 1936 coupe is one of the first things you learn about her in Death & Decopauge... she drives, and typically drives well, which was quite the feat for a woman of conservative 1936 Illinois. Prudence doesn't really exist on any maps, but it's a mirror of many towns in the state during The Great Depression. Though the town is recouping by the time we meet up with Franny there, the people are still reeling from the difficult times they faced. 

So now you know a little about my historical cozy mystery series and the inspiration behind it. There are more Franny stories coming, and readers will get to have more adventures with Franny, Geneva, Old Tom and Sheriff Jump! 

Are you typically a readers of cozy mysteries? What makes you love a good cozy? What's the best cozy you've read, and why? Thrill me, readers!! 


  1. My grandma loved cozy cat mysteries and always passed along her copies to me. I grew up reading Lilian Jackson Braun's The Cat Who series and Lydia Adamson's Alice Nestleton series. As much as I enjoyed them I can't say I would've picked them up on my own, but as I kid I read everything I could get my hands on.

  2. I never read cozies much til the Aurora Teagarden series and later Miss FoschersF Murder Mysteries.

  3. Cozies just kind of fell in my lap 😉
    Kelly Braun

    1. Same with me, Kelly! But once you read a few it's hard to stop.



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