Edith here, happy to introduce two Maine authors who write as one person! Take it away, Lee Hollis.
I want to thank Edith Maxwell for inviting me to write a guest post this week. I thought the best thing for me to do first is introduce myself and tell you a little about Lee Hollis and how the Hayley Powell Food & Cocktail Mysteries came about.
Lee Hollis is a pen name. I’m Holly Simason and I co-author the books with my brother Rick Copp, who has been a writer for film and television for 27 years and has also written two separate series of mystery novels under his own name. But I’ll let him tell you all about that in a future post!
Our family goes back several generations in Bar Harbor, Maine. We were born and raised there, and even though we both moved away, Rick to New York and then to Los Angeles and me to Italy and then Northern California, our hearts and souls have always been in New England. I eventually moved back to our hometown in 1997 after a divorce to raise my three young kids, and was working as an office manager/food and cocktail columnist at the Mount Desert Islander Newspaper. It was actually going surprisingly well. Readers seemed to enjoy my columns and recipes and I even won a Maine Press Association award and a New England Press award.
Rick mentioned my burgeoning writing career to his publisher John Scognamiglio at Kensington Publishing and John immediately suggested we team up and create a story about a small town food columnist and send it to him. Rick has always loved mysteries and crime stories and I, of course, have always loved cocktail recipes. We thought there just might be something there.
So my brother (who knows me too well) flew to Maine and arrived at my house armed with two of my biggest weaknesses– a bottle of Merlot wine and another bottle of Merlot wine. As he filled our wine glasses, he casually broached the subject of writing a Cozy Mystery together. I immediately said, “No way!” I didn’t even know what a cozy was. But after the wine bottles were emptied, I found myself agreeing just as long as we wrote under a pen name and didn’t use our real names to save myself from embarrassment if the book was a disaster.
Lee is my middle name and Hollis is Rick’s middle name and, voila, Lee Hollis was born!
We brainstormed that evening and came up with a story about a single mother with two kids struggling to make ends meet while working in a newspaper office. She has two crazy best friends and is close to her bar owner brother, who just happens to be married to the Chief of Police. The first book in the series, Death of a Kitchen Diva, was released in 2012 two years after that first wine-soaked creative session.
Six books later we’re still having a ball. Combining our two favorite obsessions, and mixing in the names of our favorite hometown places, and creating characters that may or may not be based on people we knew growing up has turned out to be great entertainment for our friends and family. Especially because everyone takes great joy in trying to guess who’s who in the books. We always swear the characters in Hayley’s world are completely made up, but truth be told, sometimes there is a thin line between fact and fiction. Death of a Cupcake Queen came out this year.
Recently we completed our seventh book, Death of a Bacon Heiress, due out in March 2016 and we are now working on our eighth book, Death of a Pumpkin Carver, due out in the fall of 2016. Also as some of you may know, we are very excited to be collaborating on an upcoming Cozy Mystery Christmas Novella book with one of your own Wicked Cozy Authors, Barbara Ross, and also Leslie Meier. The book will be out in October 2016.
I still to this day can’t wrap my head around the phrase “published author”. It’s been one crazy, wonderful ride and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that readers keep following Hayley Powell’s adventures for years to come!
You can find Lee Hollis on Facebook and at www.leehollismysteries.com.
Readers: Questions for the team?