WILTON, Conn. – When the air outside freezes your breath, as it often does mid-winter in New England, one option to consider is a good book set in warmer climes to help banish the winter blues.
Jennifer L. Schiff hopes you’ll give her first foray into fiction a chance to do just that.
The longtime Wilton resident has been a tech and finance writer for years, but those articles never satisfied the way writing and publishing a novel has.
Deciding if not now then when, Schiff gave herself three months to finish a first draft of a novel at the beginning of last summer, and she did it, publishing A Shell of a Problem: A Sanibel Island Mystery in November 2017.
“I’m a voracious reader, said Schiff, “And I was tired of reading really sad depressing or scary books. I wished that people would write books that would make me smile or giggle or help me escape.
"I wrote the kind of book that I want to read.”
The book she wanted to read: a cozy mystery. A popular subgenre of crime and mystery fiction, cozy mysteries distinguish themselves by downplaying the sex and violence found in other crime and mystery fiction and typically are set in a small community, include a dose of humor, and feature a female protagonist as an amateur detective. Think Dorothy L. Sayers and Agatha Christie.
“I love reading cozy mysteries,” said Schiff. “I’m so familiar with the genre and thought why not cut my teeth on something that is so natural to me?”
As luck would have it, Schiff even had the perfect community setting already at hand: Sanibel Island in Florida where she and her husband frequently visited (and recently bought a house).
“There are lots of quirky characters down there,” said Schiff of Sanibel. "It’s like it’s frozen in time.
“Most of the settings in the book are actual places. All the characters are fictional, but vaguely resemble somebody or are an amalgamation of several different people.
"I’ve had people on Sanibel ask me ‘Did you model this on me?’ One gentleman insists I modeled someone on him, but I’d never met him before!”
Schiff is already at work on a second book in the series, Something Fishy, and hopes to have it released later this year.
“Anyone who has ever wanted to write a book, I say go for it,” said Schiff. I’m an example that you can do it. It’s been an incredibly rewarding experience.”
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