Interview with cozy mystery author Marilyn Leach

Today I’m happy to host mystery author Marilyn Leach as she tours her novel Up From the Grave: A Berdie Elliott Lenten Mystery. This novel is a cozy mystery available now
from Harbourlight Books/Pelican Book Group.

As a special treat, Marilyn will be
awarding an e-book copy of her first book, Candle For A Corpse to a
randomly drawn commenter at each stop, plus a grand prize of a $20 gift card
to the Pelican Book Group website to a randomly drawn commenter during the
tour. To be entered to win either or both prizes, make sure to leave an e-mail address with your comment below. And if you’d like to increase your chances of winning, visit other stops and leave comments there.

At the age of
nine, Marilyn wrote her first work with a childhood friend. It was a mystery.
And she has been writing ever since. A graduate of Colorado State University, she
taught art to underserved children and co-authored several plays and
screenplays. Marilyn is a dyed-in-the-wool British enthusiast after
“discovering her roots” in England. She lives in a lakeside cottage
on the Denver outskirts.
Welcome, Marilyn. Please tell us about
your current release.
Up From the Grave offers all the elements of good
British suspense: village setting, British English vocabulary, a local
constabulary, glowing romance, an amazing sleuth and shadowy figures. But
there’s more. One reviewer said of the writing, “it’s a Jan Karon meets Agatha
Christie style with energy.” Berdie Elliott intrepidly combines both church
service and crime solving in the small village of Aidan Kirkwood where a
whisper on one end of the village becomes a roar on the other. When a
sod-turning ceremony in the church back garden exposes bones, the whole village
sets to on uncovering the mystery. But Berdie Elliott, vicar’s wife and sleuth,
digs deeply and comes up with the truth. Who is the visiting contessa that
appears at the sod-turning, along with her aide? How do Swithy Hall and the
beautiful nuptials of a Presswood niece come into play? And in what way do
plants and herbs spell out a divine message? All becomes clear when Berdie
unearths the answers. Up From the Grave
is a modern times soft suspense laced with romance and a dash of humor along
with inspirational uplift. As Berdie might say, “Up From the Grave is a jolly
good read.”
What inspired you to write this book?
My writing
partner and I finished a successful screenwriting project and he decided to
write a novel. I said, “And what will I do?” He suggested that I write an
English mystery since I was such a big Miss Marple fan. I thought and prayed about
it and decided to give it a go. In the process, I really enjoyed creating the
Berdie Elliott character, a sleuthing vicar’s wife. Then it followed, after the
first book which took place during Advent, I’d write more mysteries aligned
with the liturgical calendar of the church. Up
from the Grave
is a Lenten mystery. The more I work on the stories, the
more I feel I’m right where I’m supposed to be, doing what was designed for me
to do.
Berdie read aloud. “Doktor Herman Schultz, twenty-five
Morgan Strasse, Heidelberg.” Curiosity getting the better of her, Berdie lifted
the thin airmail envelope up to the morning sunlight that flooded through the
glass doors. She tried to scrutinize its contents.
Cherry spotted the backside of the envelope and emitted a
quick gasp.
“It’s slightly open.” Cherry looked at Berdie, chin down and
eyebrows raised.
Berdie tried to adjust her ‘vicar’s wife hat. “This is a
personal correspondence,” she advised. And then the vicar’s wife hat went
askew. “Is there a chance he may have intended the letter for you?”
Cherry grasped the envelope from Berdie’s hand and gingerly
moved her finger along, lifting the flap of it ever so carefully. Then, with
great concentration, she pulled out a single tri-fold sheet of office paper and
unfurled it.
Berdie made every effort to stay glued to her seat. She
tried desperately not to be overly eager.
“Oh, it’s a bill,” Cherry informed with a bit of
disappointment. Then her eyes enlarged. Berdie held back the impulse to grab
the paper and read it herself.
“A bill for thirty thousand pounds,” Cherry all but shouted.
“Thirty thousand pounds?” Berdie lifted her well-kept brows.
“Hang about.” Cherry ran her finger over the paper. “This is
a confirmation of payment. It’s a receipt. He’s paid thirty thousand pounds.”
Cherry was agog.
Berdie calmly nodded while grasping the arm of the sofa.
What exciting story are you working on
In the
Berdie Elliott series, I’m working on an Ascension Sunday mystery, Into the
Clouds. At a village Ascension Sunday fete, someone goes missing. Berdie and
the whole village get involved in trying to find the missing person and, like an
onion, peel back layers to discover who committed the crime. It takes lots of
twists and turns as Berdie uses her divine gift of sorting truth from fiction
to find the perpetrator.
When did you first consider yourself a
I co-wrote
my first play when I was nine years old, and it was a mystery. I’ve written
most my life as an avocation, and now as a vocation. It wasn’t until I sat in
the back of a performance venue and watched the audience react to the words
written in a play I was a part of writing that I realized how this could be a
skill I should pursue. It actually touched people’s lives and was incredibly
rewarding. I thank God for the opportunity.
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s
your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find
time to write?
I now write
full time, although I substitute teach occasional days as well. I taught art to
underserved populations for several years before writing full time. After my
meditative quiet time, exercise, and breakfast, I write for at least one hour
before I do anything else. Then I sprinkle marketing, more writing, household
chores, and idea boosting in integrated plots of time. Since it’s only a couple
of years that I’ve been writing full time, I’m still working out my writing
rhythm in the day to day.
What would you say is your interesting
writing quirk?
one of my quirky habits is to watch Miss Marple and Poirot DVD’s every Sunday
afternoon. I actually take notes about things that strike me such as plot
twists, hidden clues, character development, and think about my current writing
project as I view them. Just recently, I’ve begun watching them in the order
they were created by Agatha Christie. Murder at the Vicarage was her first Miss
Marple mystery; her second was The Body in the Library. Though screenwriters
add their own bit, I like to track the development of story from project to
project. Watching the DVD is a quick study.
As a child, what did you want to be
when you grew up?
As a child,
I hardly gave a fleeting thought to becoming a grown up. I lived very much in
the minute. My major in college was psychology, until I changed it to art,
until I changed it to education, then I settled on art education. I minored in
French until I switched it to English, and eventually got certified as a
language development specialist. Do we see a pattern here? But enjoying writing
has been consistent all the way through.
Anything additional you want to share
with the readers?
If you
enjoy a good brain-tickle that includes humor, romance, village life and
genuine uplift, I think you’ll enjoy reading any of the books in the Berdie
Elliott series. Up from the Grave is an especially great spring read.

Thanks, Marilyn.

Readers, don’t forget: Marilyn will be awarding an e-book copy of her first book, Candle For A Corpse to a randomly drawn commenter at each stop, plus a grand prize of a $20 gift card to the Pelican Book Group website to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. To be entered to win either or both prizes, make sure to leave an e-mail address with your comment below. And if you’d like to increase your chances of winning, visit other stops and leave comments there.

5 thoughts on “Interview with cozy mystery author Marilyn Leach

  1. Catherine Lee says:

    I love those British words…like constabulary. LOL. You were an art teacher…It sounds like you have a healthy creative side.
    catherinelee100 at gmail dot com

  2. marilyn leach says:

    Catherine, thanks so much for following the blogs and leaving your comments. It's been fun learning British English. I have friends in England who review my manuscripts just to make sure the vocabulary is appropriate. I would say I have a healthy creative 3/4. Sometimes the practical feels about 1/4. Thanks.

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