What Inspired Me to Write Cozies by Karen Shughart

100_0103Many years ago, when my husband and I were living in a suburb in central Pennsylvania near Harrisburg, we decided to explore the south shore of Lake Ontario. The Memorial Day weekend was approaching, a time when we typically headed to beach towns in Delaware or Maryland.  That year, not wanting to deal with gridlock traffic, expensive hotels and wall-to-wall throngs of people, we were determined to do something different.

We looked at a map. If we headed directly north, we’d come to Sodus Point, NY, located on two peninsulas that jutted out onto Lake Ontario and Sodus Bay. We made a reservation at a bed and breakfast with views of the water and within walking distance to restaurants and shops.  On a cool, May morning we drove into this tiny village, passing a golf course, simple cottages, marinas with a forest of sailboats moored in slips, and further out on the bay, a lazy one or two gliding through the water.  I turned to my husband and said, “This is my dream town.”

We spent the weekend exploring, taking short drives to wineries located in the nearby Finger Lakes, walking along the sandy beach, touring the lovely museum that stood on a bluff a block from the bed and breakfast, and eating at maritime-themed restaurants that lined the bay.  We met people who welcomed us, and with absolute sincerity told us that if we came back to visit to get in touch. They meant it and today many of them, along with others, remain our friends.

Two weeks later we placed an offer on a property built more than a century earlier for an assistant lighthouse keeper, and by fall we were spending weekends and holidays in our quaint home by the sea.  Years later, after retiring, we sold our house in Pennsylvania and moved here permanently.

The charm, the weather (yes, it snows in the winter, and we do get lots of wind), the cozy pubs and intimate gatherings of friends, the bountiful growing season where lush orchards, vineyards and farms provide all manner of produce, the holiday celebrations, these gratify and satisfy. Plus, within a short drive, there’s access to a myriad of cultural venues you find in a large city.

Now I’ll get back to the reason for the title of this blog. I always wanted to write Cozies, and I always wanted them to be set in a small village by the sea. I can’t think of a better place for master sleuth, Edmund DeCleryk, and his wife, Annie, to solve crimes. When the wind blows in from the north, the snow comes in droves, the mud washes through the gullies, and I can hear the waves crashing upon the shore, I’m in my glory. Sitting at my computer, snug and warm on a winter’s day, I’m inspired. For me, there’s simply no better place than this for my imagination to soar.

9 thoughts on “What Inspired Me to Write Cozies by Karen Shughart

  1. Karen, I love your post. I’m back in LA this week visiting our house. I adore our small cottage, it has a wonderful orange tree, chock full of oranges at the moment. The lemon tree, I planted as a baby, is all grown up and producing lemons. It has been an emotional visit. However, I know in the long run, the East Coast always wins out, that’s home. I haven’t found my “dream” retirement home but everything you talk about resonants. I’m so glad you found your ‘inspiration’ and Sodus Point is absolutely beautiful.

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  2. Karen, That’s how I feel about my Gabriel Hawke books. The county I grew up in, though low population, was a prime place for a game warden.

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  3. Sounds wonderful. I recently was on a 15-day cruise (first segment of a 111 day World Tour) and I thought to myself, what a perfect place to write a book – especially a cozy mystery. Yes there are excursions ashore, but also lots of sea days. You don’t have to worry about meals, housekeeping, laundry, and the view out your balcony is always inspiring. (Not to speak of all the tales of murder, death, and… ) in the shipboard gossip. All I’d need is a new laptop and $60K for the journey. (HAHA)
    Enjoyed your post.

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