British Columbia cozy author Sarah Fox, best known for her clever and fun Literary Pub mysteries featuring a book-loving bar owner who stumbles on her fair share of small-town murders, returns this winter with a new foodie series, True Confections. Her first book in the series, Six Sweets Under, introduces readers to former actor Becca Ransom, who swaps California lights for cocoa bites when she take a job in her grandma Lolly and grandpa Pops' Larch Haven, Vermont, chocolate shop. When a local curmudgeon named Archie turns up dead and Pops is the suspect, Becca is on the case like ganache on truffles.
Fox was kind enough to share a bit about Becca in her debut outing, as well as an extremely delectable recipe for peanut butter pretzel truffles for Mystery Scene's "Recipes and Reading" series.
Mystery Scene: Six Sweets Under kicks off your fourth cozy series after your Literary Pub Mysteries, Pancake House Mysteries, and Music Lover’s Mysteries. More than a decade into writing cozies, what are you excited to try anew or challenge yourself with this latest? Does it take you in any new or unique directions from your previous work?
I’m always excited to develop new characters and explore their various relationships. In my previous series, the main characters’ families have been involved mostly in just a peripheral way. In my True Confections Mysteries, Becca Ransom’s family is very much part of the backdrop of the series. She works in her family’s chocolate shop, along with her cousin Angie and other relatives, so their daily lives are intertwined. While Becca’s parents don’t currently live in Larch Haven, her grandparents, Lolly and Pops, are very much a part of her life.
What was the genesis for the True Confections series and Six Sweets Under? How did the character of Becca Ransom, the actor-turned-chocolatier, develop? What are your favorite things about her?
The idea for this series started with the setting. Ever since seeing Giethoorn, a town in the Netherlands, featured on a TV show, I wanted to write a cozy mystery series set in a town with canals instead of roads and boats instead of cars. My agent was the one to suggest the chocolate shop and that’s how Becca became a chocolatier. It took a while for me to decide on her former career, but the fact that she was a successful actress opens the door to some story ideas different from what I’ve had to play with in my previous books. I really enjoy Becca’s relationships with the other characters, especially her friends Dizzy and Sawyer. Her scenes with those characters are particularly fun to write.
Your books always seem to have a pet (based on one of your own) and a love interest. Who are Becca’s in the new series?
Becca has two cats named Binx and Truffles. Binx’s personality is inspired by that of my own black cat, Orion. Truffles, who is a bit less of a troublemaker, is a gray tabby like my late cat Zebbie. There is a love interest for Becca in this series, but I’d better leave it at that to avoid potential spoilers!
Like your Literary Pub Series, True Confections is set in Vermont, in the (fictional?) tourist town of Larch Haven—but rumor has it you’ve never been to Vermont! How do you create your worlds without more firsthand knowledge? Do readers ever tell you what you get right or wrong?
Larch Haven, the Venice of North America, is a product of my imagination. Canadian cozy mystery writers are generally encouraged to set our stories in the United States. Since I haven’t spent a whole lot of time in any particular part of the United States, I create fictional towns to make my life easier. Before writing my Literary Pub Mysteries, I read several books set in Vermont to get a feel for the location, and I did a fair amount of research. I’ve been told I’ve done a good job of capturing the picturesque nature of small towns in Vermont and in depicting New England winters, so that makes me happy!
Speaking of the Literary Pub Mysteries featuring biblio pub owner Sadie Coleman, your 5-book deal for it was completed with last year’s Through the Liquor Glass (November 2022). Readers want to know if/when we might hear more from Sadie (and her brewer boyfriend Grayson Blake).
This is a difficult question to answer. I’d like to write one or two more books in the series, but as for when I would have a chance to write them and when I’d be able to publish them, that’s all up in the air. So, I can’t make any promises, but I do have a concept and notes for a potential book six and I would love to share more of Sadie’s and Grayson’s lives with my readers.
You’ve also mentioned bringing back Marley McKinney-Collins, proprietor of The Flip Side pancake house from your popular Pancake House Mysteries, in self-published novella form. Is that something you are still considering? The “end” of that series felt fairly resolved. If you did bring Marley back for more adventures, have you considered where would she be in her life and where you would you go with it?
I did toy with the idea of writing one or two Pancake House Mystery novellas because I love the characters so much, but the more time that passes the more I think I’ll leave the series as it ended in book eight. I felt like I left the characters in a good place, without much in the way of loose ends. I do know that Marley and Brett go on to have children, and I might share details about that with my readers at some point, possibly via my newsletter or social media. Marley will probably never stop getting mixed up in mysteries, but hopefully they won’t all be murder mysteries so the dead body count in Wildwood Cove doesn’t go through the roof!
Just one of the many marvelous things about your series are the books’ clever and punny titles. Where are you when these come to you? Are you thinking about puns nonstop? And are there any great ones that you’ve loved, but that just didn’t make it to market?
I have pun/title brainstorming sessions whenever I start a new series, so I end up with a list of possible titles for several books. Sometimes they come to me at random times too, so then I just add to my existing list. I’ve had a couple of favorites that didn’t make it to market, including Tequila Mockingbird (the original title of Wine and Punishment).
Are you still working your other job as a legal writer in addition to writing multiple books a year? How do you manage? Have you ever considered writing a legal mystery series? Are you working on anything else that we haven’t heard of yet?
My legal writing has always been part-time, so I do that work in the morning and write in the afternoons. I don’t think I’d ever write a legal mystery series. I don’t really read them either. Too much like work!
Our readers are always interested in hearing about other books and authors. Who are some of the authors or books you love and who you think we should be reading right now?
Jody Holford and Sofie Kelly are two of my favorite cozy mystery authors. Lately, I’ve become hooked on Dorothy St. James’ Beloved Book Room Mysteries and Sherry Harris’ Chloe Jackson Sea Glass Saloon Mysteries. Both are fantastic!
Finally, pancakes vs. cocktails vs. chocolate. Who wins?
In terms of eating, chocolate! In terms of my series, I can’t pick a favorite. I love them all!
Sarah Fox, writer of cozy mysteries, was born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, where she developed a love for mysteries at a young age. When not writing novels or working as a legal writer she is often reading her way through a stack of books or spending time outdoors with her English Springer Spaniel.