This episode we're chatting with Katherine Hall Page, author of the book The Body in the Wake, the 25th Faith Fairchild Mysteryfrom William Morrow/HarperCollins. As Hall Page talks about in the chat, The Body in the Wake, like the rest of its series, is a "cozy" mystery. "Cozy" is one of those labels that begins as an insult but soon enough is embraced by its fans and creators. A cozy mystery is one of those books where, as Raymond Chandler ungraciously put it, "more tea is spilled than blood." The sleuths tend to be amateurs—busy-body writers and teachers and the like—and they live in towns the reader can begin to know better than their own over the long course of many books. The thing is that readers love cozy mysteries. And as Hall Page talks about, the cozy moniker can be deceiving, because getting to know characters and a town over the course of twenty-five books can mean that the reader can feel real grief and compassion for these imaginary people.
Katherine Hall Page published her first Faith Fairchild mystery, The Body in the Belfry—about Faith, a New England minister's wife who sure seems to attract dead people—in 1989, writing the book on "a borrowed Underwood [typewriter]." That book received the Agatha Award for best first Mystery. The Massachusetts native has been nominated for the Edgar Award, the Mary Higgins Clark Award, and the Macavity Award, and she's won two more Agatha's along the way.
Hall Page chats about writing a popular series over thirty years means that she must work to keep the stories more or less unmoored in time—it's never quite now, never quite the 90s; nothing ties the stories to a particular era. The one major exception is that the current stories feature cell phones, which of course need to be unavailable when necessary.
Fair warning from the host: Katherine Hall Page is a delight to talk to, so we go long on this one, chatting about the book, plotting, the industry, aging, and "reading in the time of cholera."
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Jason Henderson is the host of the Castle of Horror and Castle Talk Podcasts, the editor of the Castle of Horror Anthology series, and the author of Quest for the Nautilus: Young Captain Nemo from Macmillan Children's Books.