Welcome back to the #VaReads blog series from the Virginia Center for the Book, in which we highlight the work of one Virginia writer each week. This week’s spotlight is on Mollie Cox Bryan, author of the Cumberland Creek and Cora Crafts mystery series. She was honored with an Agatha Award nomination for her first novel, Scrapbook of Secrets, and several books in the Cumberland Creek series have received People’s Choice nominations from the Library of Virginia’s annual Literary Awards.
How did you get your start as a writer?
I’ve always been a storyteller, even as a child. I majored in journalism in college, but always wrote fiction as a creative outlet just for me. I’m not really certain I can trace a “start” as a writer. But I worked for years in nonfiction as a journalist and made the switch to fiction about seven years ago. It seemed like a very natural step for me to take and I wish I had taken it sooner. By that point, I had an agent who represented my cookbooks and she shepherded my fiction career.
Describe your work in three sentences or less.
I write cozy mysteries with an edge, meaning even though my characters are amateur sleuths, the issues surrounding the murders are often weighty, like human trafficking, drugs, cloning, and domestic abuse. My characters are everyday people faced with extraordinary circumstances. Crafting and scrapbooking serve as ways to bring a diverse group of women together.
My first series, Cumberland Creek, was set in the Shenandoah Valley in a fictional town. That series is very much written from an outsider’s perspective. My main character has just moved to C.C., was an investigative journalist, and is now a stay-at-home mom. Besides all that, she’s Jewish—the only Jewish woman in town. So my local community in the Shenandoah Valley definitely served as a lens for me as I wrote the books. I was sort of new here, too, and had come from the D.C. area, so it was more than a bit of culture shock.
What’s your favorite part of your most recent book?
In No Charm Intended, I have two favorite parts: The dark-net is a part of the book, which is very rare in cozy mysteries. I found that research to be so fascinating. And the other favorite part is the Wizard of Oz theme running through it.
What are you working on next?
I just turned in the fourth book of the Cora Crafts series, Assault and Beadery. The third book in the series comes out at the end of August—Macrame Murder.
To learn more about Mollie Cox Bryan, visit her website at molliecoxbryan.com.
Through this series, we hope to showcase the depth and breadth of our state-wide literary community while also encouraging readers in the Commonwealth and elsewhere to challenge themselves to read more books by Virginia writers. If you have an author you’d like to suggest for this series, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with details. Our focus is on writers with books that have been published in the past two years (self-published is welcome as long as the writer’s most recent book is held in at least one public library in the state).