Cozy Cat Press
Featured Author: Elissa D. Grodin
NOVEMBER 3 · PUBLIC
Happy Friday, all! Elissa Grodin is an accomplished writer of both cozies and non-fiction children’s books. This week, we had the pleasure of catching up with her to talk about her novel Death By Hitchcock, An Edwina Goodman Mystery! Read on as we discuss the second installment of the series, her thoughts on writing and more.
CCP: What does writing mean to you? EG: First and foremost, writing for me is a way of making order out of chaos. Life is long and rambling and messy and unwieldy. Good mystery stories are neat and tidy and satisfying. The secondary reason for writing is that it is an exercise in self-knowledge, and more broadly, a way of understanding human nature. The entertainment factor for my readers is hugely important, and I consider it my mandate when I sit down to write
CCP: Who are your favorite authors and how did they influence your prose? EG: Favorite authors. Jane Austen, for her astonishing understanding of human nature and her genius for fitting it all onto a pretty small canvas; Wilkie Collins for his magnificent structuring of wildly entertaining stories; John D. MacDonald for his wryness; Agatha Christie for her clever plot lines.
CCP: Mysteries or children’s books? As a writer of both, what would you say was the most challenging part of writing each? EG: My children’s books, except for one (a retelling of Oscar Wilde’s The Happy Prince) are non-fiction, so the most challenging aspect of writing them was the research. With mysteries, the challenges are equally: forging characters who make the reader care about them; coming up with a plot that engages the reader and makes the reader want to turn the page; leaving enough clues that the reader can (theoretically) solve the case; not leaving so many clues that this becomes an easy task.
CCP: As a reader, what do you look for in a story? What are you currently reading? EG: All I ask as a reader of fiction is to be enticed to turn the page – not as easy as it sounds. At the moment I am reading a biography of Nora Johnson, who wrote the novel, The World of Henry Orient, which was adapted into my favorite childhood movie.
CCP: Tell us more about Edwina Goodman! How did you come up with her character? Is it coincidence you share the same initials? EG: Such is the power of the subconscious mind that it was a complete ‘accident’ that my protagonist and I have the same initials. A friend of mine recently pointed out that we also have the same number of syllables in our names. My main character, Edwina Goodman, is my alter ego – she is a brilliant, young theoretical physicist (I am neither brilliant, young, nor a physicist). I did want to be an astronomer when I was a child, but I was hopeless at math. Physics represents for me a very appealing way of ordering the universe. And it is the ultimate arbiter of the nature of reality. I have great admiration for theoretical physicists, who spend much of their lives contemplating the universe and coming up with new ways to look at it and think about it – and they’re very good at math.
CCP: Death By Hitchcock is your second Edwina Goodman Mystery. How did it feel to slip back into her world? EG: In slipping back into Edwina’s world for the second time with Death By Hitchcock, the challenge was to deepen the characters I had established in the first book in a way that was organic and believable and hopefully, engaging.
CCP: Had you already thought about writing Death By Hitchcock before you started? EG: I knew I wanted to write a book with a film background (Death By Hitchcock) -- the idea being, to write about what you know. I was an earnest film studies student in college, and a devoted movie buff all my life. Like many people, I fell in love with the movies as a child. It never left me.
CCP: Agree or disagree? Books are always better than movies. EG: Books always better than movies? Not necessarily so for me.
CCP: Having studied film, which book-to-movie adaptations do you appreciate most? EG: Some of my favorite adaptations from books to movies are: Remains of the Day; Howard’s End; Psycho; The Shining; The 39 Steps; The Godfather; The World of Henry Orient
CCP: Will we be seeing more Goodman mysteries soon? EG: I’ve been writing the third Edwina Goodman mystery for the last few years. It’s more ambitious than the first two, which is why it’s taking longer. It involves the theme of narcissism, and a home shopping network, as well as the usual physics stuff.
Death By Hitchcock
“Elissa Grodin has done something that most people might find impossible: she turned a physics professor into an amateur sleuth. And a good one, at that.”
- Prose ‘n Cons Mystery & Suspense Magazine
“Author Elissa D. Grodin brings to her mystery novel a very special expertise arising from her own life as the daughter of the founder of AMC Theaters (Stanley Durwood) and the wife of film actor Charles Grodin. She applies her insights into the world of film to create an entertaining realism as she deftly weaves a complex story and populates it with memorable characters. A solid entertainment from beginning to end, Death By Hitchcock is very highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library Mystery/Suspense collections."
~ Midwest Book Review
“Books feed the mind. Mysteries feed the soul. I have experienced real life mysteries, and Grodin has captured the essence of human nature when it becomes violent. A wonderfully well crafted mystery.
You will love this book.”
~ Lt. Joe Kenda,
“Homicide Hunter”, Investigation -Discovery Channel
"The mystery at the heart of every mystery story is death. We build our confidence by solving the imaginary mysteries laid out for us. I can only hope that I will recognize the ending of my own story with the deep satisfaction and bitter regret that I found on the last page of this book. Grodin has dreamt up a world so delightful that you will be as sad to leave it as you will be to leave the world her novel both mirrors and surpasses."
~ Benjamin Hale Cheever, author of SELLING BEN CHEEVER, FAMOUS AFTER DEATH, THE PARTISAN, THE PLAGIARIST
Physics Can Be Fatal
“I think of theoretical physics as detective work. Here’s an engaging mystery where the protagonist is a young physicist. When she’s not kayaking or trying to figure out the world around her, she helps Detective William Tenney solve a puzzling murder of a fellow physicist from Cambridge University.”
~ Prof. Max Tegmark, theoretical physicist, MIT
“In all my years of producing and exhibiting mysteries involving crime, this is one of the most satisfying plots I have ever untangled – perhaps because the story involves a winning, young physicist and a murdered colleague, interwoven with a cast of characters consumed by such heady ideas as string theory. Elissa Grodin ties it all together in a compelling yarn.”
~ Henry Schleiff, President, Investigation, Discovery Channel
Haunting...Grodin draws the reader into her emotionally complex story right from the beginning, with lush descriptions of this beautiful landscape, and vivid characters with whom we can readily empathize. Hers is a stunning and memorable debut. The characters are well developed and I found myself empathizing with all of them. Very human. I would certainly recommend this book and feel it would please a wide audience.
C Is For Ciao
“This brilliant and imaginative children’s book captures the extensive impact that Italian history has on our society, while making it accessible to a child’s mind. As an Italian-American, I can see the impact that Italy has on our culture every day, from our music and art to our fashion and foods. And I love it everywhere, all of the time – Buon Appetito!”
~ Mario Batali
“An excellent introduction to the richness of Italian history and culture.”
~ Midwest Book Review
D Is For Democracy
“Elissa Grodin’s beautiful new book will inspire and enlighten citizens of all ages about our precious democracy.
She has an extraordinary gift for making learning a joyful experience.”
~ Mario Cuomo, former governor of New York
“I have spoken with thousands of American children from Guam to Charleston about freedom and democracy. I find this book fun, accurate and very inviting to young and old. It simply describes why democracy is so valuable, what it took to make it this way, and what we need to do to preserve it.”
~ Gail S. Halvorsen, Col. USAF (Ret)
N Is For Nutmeg
“E is for Entertainment, Education, and Elissa. . . “
~ The Norwalk Hour
“Elissa Grodin has created a true family book that everyone will enjoy.”
~ Connecticut County Kids Magazine
“Grodin . . . has also written for the Times Literary Supplement and New Statesman. Here, she provides a thought-provoking action guide that suggests ways to feed the brain . . . Grodin also describes empowering examples of how youngsters have made a difference in their communities.”
~ ForeWord Review
The Happy Prince
“Such a beautiful story of sacrifice and giving. Read it to your kids NOW.”
A HANDFUL OF WORLDLINESS
“ Fanny Spendlove is one of the most popular hosts on GHN (Gotta Have It Now! home shopping network). So fans and co-workers are shocked when one day, after lying down for a rest in her dressing room, Fanny never wakes up. The death appears natural, but Detective Will Tenney has his doubts. Grodin’s recurring protagonist (Assistant Professor of Astronomy & Physics, Edwina Goodman) is instantly likable and endearing. While Edwina is indisputably intelligent, she’s humble and never condescending. She also unabashedly embraces her nerdiness. She, for example, has no qualms about telling Will about when she first saw the periodic table as a fifth grader and was in such awe she literally fainted. The story is brimming with memorable characters; several have their own narrative perspectives, including Fanny, Mary Lou, and even Tennessee GHN superfan Amaleen Stuckey, who’s part of a studio tour on the day of the murder. Many of these characters make believable suspects, and the red herrings aren’t immediately obvious. Short scenes and Will’s quick, direct interviews keep the pace brisk. There are insightful moments, like the detective’s noting certain suspects who “hide behind doublespeak and vagaries. They were language con men…people who blithely refashioned the meanings and usages of words as they went along, to suit their own purposes.” It’s delightful watching Edwina work the case, as ideas typically come to her in dreams. But her theories on the killer’s identity are primarily conjecture and no more convincing than those pointing to other suspects, leaving Will to drum up evidence to support her arguments: “That’s your department….I’m sure you’ll figure it out.” An indelible sleuth and colorful supporting characters enliven this whodunit."
~ Kirkus Reviews
"A HANDFUL OF WORLDLINESS is an armful of treats, and I liked it immensely. The shopping channel pitches are priceless. They are the sort of things that stop the reader and compel him to telephone a friend and read to him. The characters are a wondrous shopping basket -- colorful and scrumptious with alluring sweets and sours. The twisting plot held me to the page. I could not have imagined the twists, all of which surprised and made me laugh aloud with glee."
~ Professor Emeritus Samuel F. Pickering, University of Connecticut
"The reader is compelled to keep turning the pages of this well crafted and clever murder mystery."
~ Joe Kenda, "The Homicide Hunter"