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home : arts & entertainment : arts & entertainment January 16, 2018

12/12/2017 1:11:00 PM
'Cozy mystery' novel set in Sisters
Vitaceae set “Murder at the Tumbleweed Tea B&B” in Sisters. photo provided
+ click to enlarge
Vitaceae set “Murder at the Tumbleweed Tea B&B” in Sisters. photo provided

By Jodi Schneider McNamee

Always up for a puzzle to solve, local author Lanagan Vitaceae is particularly engrossed in writing "cozy mysteries." And inspired by the real town of Sisters, one of her series, "Murder at the Tumbleweed Tea B&B," is a murder mystery that entertains.

Most cozy mysteries are set in small towns, like Sisters, and involve a sleuth who is not in a profession related to crime-solving.

"A cozy mystery needs to have that small-town feel," Vitaceae told The Nugget. "That kind of setting makes it believable that all the suspects know each other."

Vitaceae has been writing stories since she can remember, and wrote her first novel at 16, but tossed it aside.

She grew up reading cozy mysteries, and her creative inspiration was Agatha Christie. However, the key element that really pulled Vitaceae into writing mysteries was a series of unfortunate events that happened earlier in her life.

"When I was in middle school I found out that my friend's mother had been murdered years before," Vitaceae said. "With a mystery still surrounding the murder, my friend and I would go to the library and research, trying to investigate on our own."

Vitaceae attended college in Portland and received a paralegal degree, then continued with her passion for writing, but never published anything. Turning 40 last year inspired her to self-publish.

"After writing four cozy mysteries, and the shock of getting older, I figured it was time to find a publisher," Vitaceae said.

Cozy mysteries put an emphasis on plots and character development. The main character is usually an amateur sleuth with a likeable personality who can get the community members to talk freely - that is, gossip - about each other.

"When I was a kid I used to play the Old Maid card game, and that's where I picked up my main characters name in 'Murder at The Tumbleweed Tea B&B.' It just stuck with me. Tess (the main character) tries so hard to be a successful professional but she's young and klutsy. She's got this incredible drive and will work herself to a frazzle to be successful."

The narrative revolves around last summer's solar eclipse in Sisters: As Sisters is preparing for a ton of people coming through town for the event, no one was prepared for a fire on the mountain or a murdered tour guide.

Each of Vitaceae's mystery series all have a running theme of social economic injustice; it's what sets her apart from other cozy mystery writers.

"There is usually some financial struggle going on with the main character and some of characters may also have health issues, such as ADHD," said Vitaceae said. "I think a lot of health issues and people going through hardships are underrepresented and its my point to bring awareness to those issues, without being preachy about it.

"And since each of my main characters has a little bit of me in them, it actually helps me to work through different issues," she added.

Vitaceae has also written "A Friendly Murder," a cozy mystery series that takes place on the Oregon Coast, "Murder in the Palm of Your Hand," and "Murder Between the Lines," from her Palmistry Mystery Series.

Since Vitaceae has an idea of how each series is going to progress, you can look forward to a second book in the Tumbleweed Tea B&B series.

You can find copies of "Murder at the Tumbleweed Tea B&B" at Paulina Springs Books or on Amazon.

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