Chatting with Helen Grochmal

I sat down with our author of the month, Helen Grochmal, to learn more about her writing influences, inspiration, and process. Helen has written two books for Cozy Cat: Manners and Murder and Dinner and Death.  Helen is a retired periodicals librarian who began writing in her 60s.


Q: What inspired you to start writing cozy mystery novels?

A: I’d read mystery novels all my life. I’d moved to a retirement home all by myself and I needed something to do so I started writing mysteries. 


Q: What books and other authors inspire you? Have you taken any inspiration from other cozy mystery authors or other kinds of writing?

A: Agatha Christie, Dorothy L Sayers. Most of the classic ones. I find that Washington Irving, Nathaniel Hawthorne also inspire me. I try to tell a tale like they did. And of course, Jane Austen. Her writing inspires everybody who reads her.


Q: How do your writing ideas come to you? Do you get an idea for a character first, then the plot, or visa versa?

A: The first two books, I thought of them, and I was in a whole new environment, so I got inspired by the environment. I got the influence of the place, and that helped me. The mysteries have to be crafted and plotted.  I thought of characters, because a name just comes, and then the plotting and all the elements that you need. But when I was writing short stories, the ideas just came. I couldn't get them down fast enough. They flowed. 


Q: How has your experience of writing and publishing changed between the publication of your first book, Manners and Murder and your second book, Dinner and Death?

A: I tried writing horror, fantasy, anything I could think of just to see what I could do. The ones that I didn’t expect got accepted right away. The experience is something I didn’t expect and it’s been a wild ride for me. I love being part of Cozy Cat Press. 


Q: How has your career in librarianship affected your writing?

A: I had access to whatever I wanted, anything I wanted to read! 


Q: What is your writing process? Do you have a schedule?

A: When I was writing the short stories, I wrote every day, but mostly I write in spurts.