Indie Author: Yes
Kindle Unlimited: No
Publication Date: 11.28.23

Holiday Fiction
Cozy Mystery

Page Count: 240 Pages

Make room for some old-fashioned traditions and sleuthing as Sophie and Esther race to solve the mystery before this Christmas becomes someone’s last chapter.

This year, Christmas in Esther and Sophie’s beach town is anything but jolly.

Despite enjoying the Parade of Lights, cutting fresh Christmas trees, and eating delicious treats, murder has darkened the Christmas spirit in Necanicum.

With all the strange goings on, Sophie and Esther take seasonal jobs at the newest business in town: a books and bakery shop. But when someone starts killing the competition at another bookstore, the girls know they must find answers before Santa comes to town.

Was it the bad boy baker with the wrench in the library? Or was it the new school principal with the Christmas cookies by the fire?

Behind the Writing of The Seaside Murder Before Christmas

Tell us about the background for the theme, what inspired it or why you wanted to write in this setting, or with play with these tropes?

The cool thing about writing a book is you can create the world you wished you lived in. In my perfect world, I’d own a bookshop and bakery with a fireplace and cozy chairs. I love finding vintage or antiquarian books in thrift stores or at yard sales, so I included them in my dream world. I live near the oldest city on the west coast, filled with Victorians, my fav. So, of course, the girls get a job at a bookshop and bakery in an old Victorian. Every Christmas tradition in the book really happens in my small beach town or home. They say write about what you know. I write about what I know and love, the wild, stormy Pacific Northwest. Put on your sweater, light your fire, and drink your favorite tea or hot chocolate if you plan to go to the beach with me.

Are any of your characters based on real people you know?

Grandma Mable is based on my great aunt Mable. Sophie, the main character’s brutally honest best friend, is based on two of my tween friends. The mother with the out-of-control curly hair and her history are based on my life. However, she is much thinner and younger! She also marries a handsome police officer and I am single. Spam, Sophie’s dog, is based on a family members dog. The murderer is… a spoiler!

Tell us about character traits that were fun or hard for you to include in the book.

I always love getting inside Sophie’s head and saying it like it is, even if it comes off as a little snarky. Esther, the main character, is a super sleuth, observer, and a true library nerd. She only says what she is thinking to Sophie and her cat. Sophie says everything Esther’s afraid to, right out loud! As an introverted writer who is a super sleuth, observer, and true bookish nerd, I wish I was a little bit more Sophie. She was not only easy to write about, she’s fun!

What playlist did you listen to while creating this book?

I made my own playlist of Christmas songs on Spotify! It included songs from the “Celtic Woman’s Christmas Albums” playlist, the “Christmas with the Chosen” playlist, For King and Country’s version of “the Little Drummer Boy,” John Lenon’s “Happy Xmas (War is over),” and songs from the “You Sleigh Me Hipster Holidayz” playlist.

Were there any alternate endings you considered?

No, but as I wrote the end the spirit of Christmas took over and somehow it became one of my favorite all time endings to anything I’ve ever written.

Which of the side characters would you love to explore more, or turn into a main character in another series?

I think Sophie, the main character’s bestie, needs her own book.

What special knowledge or research was required to write this book?

The murder method. I wish I could tell you all about it, but that’s a spoiler. When you read the book, remember that every little detail is real and came from interviewing the experts!

What’s the strangest thing you had to do to create this story?

The strangest thing I had to do while writing the story is stop myself from overdosing on Christmas cookies and Christmas Cookie Vegan dough. When I write, it feels more like watching a movie. I don’t remember typing a word, which is why I desperately need editors. I love popcorn and diet coke with my movies. For some reason, I craved Christmas food in August!

Shannon Symonds writes in an old house by the sea, where her 6 children, their children, 30 or 40 of her closest relatives, and dogs come and go constantly. She loves laughter, a good mystery, running on the beach, deep sea fishing, and bonfires.

In 2021 she was awarded the Author Ready Author to Watch Award for her By the Sea Cozy Mystery YA series. Her books can be found at Deseret Book, Barnes & Noble, Costco, and Amazon.

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