Interview with Kelly Cozy

Drew Finley was a crime journalist, until his mind couldn't shut out the images of blood and bodies. Alcohol made the images go away, but also ruined Drew's career and innocents' lives.

Drew's eager to make amends and he's got a story that will help him: a profile of a local celebrity who may have been framed for murder. As he digs deeper, he'll uncover secrets and grudges that will put the people he loves in danger.

1. Please tell us a bit about Undertow.

Undertow is about a journalist, Drew Finley. Years ago he was a crime reporter at a major newspaper. Unfortunately, the things he saw when covering these stories got into his head, and he turned to alcohol to cope, which ended up ruining his career. He's now a copy editor at a college town's weekly paper, and wants to get back to some real reporting. He gets the chance when he's assigned to profile Jones Cavanaugh, who was the coach of the college's women's basketball team, and who is now on death row for the murder of one of the players. Cavanaugh maintains he's innocent, and after talking with him, Drew thinks this may be the case. So he starts digging deeper, and ends up finding out some things he hadn't bargained on.

2. Your main character, Drew Finley, is going through a hard time. Why is he so eager to make amends?

Back when Drew was a crime reporter, his drinking got so bad that he ended up turning in stories that were written well but sloppily reported. One story got him a local award, but it also resulted in two innocent teenagers getting arrested and tried by the public for a crime they didn't commit. Drew hopes that his profile of Cavanaugh and his subsequent investigation into Cavanaugh's guilt or innocence will not only restore his journalistic reputation but help make amends for that botched story.

3. Undertow is a mystery. What are some of your favorite genres? 

I have a pretty diverse set of books on my shelves. I like mysteries, and my favorite authors in that genre are James Ellroy and Jim Thompson; I'm also fond of Joe Lansdale's Hap and Leonard series. I also enjoy reading horror, literary fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, romance — it all depends what mood I'm in at the moment I decide to start a new book. That's my justification for buying so many books — I never know what I'll be in the mood to read! Sometimes I'll even read the books that my son's reading for school, so we can talk about them. And if I can't find any fiction that intrigues me, I'll read cookbooks (cooking is one of my favorite hobbies).

4. What are some of the pitfalls of writing a mystery?

Probably the biggest pitfall of writing a mystery is that it makes you very aware of and sensitive to the mechanics of storytelling. In a mystery, everything has to function toward the reveal of "who done it?" (or in the case of Undertow, "did he do it?"). This makes it a little more difficult to enjoy stories, as you're unconsciously looking at the mechanics of the story to see if you could solve things before the protagonist did, or if the author "cheated" anywhere.

Another concern with writing mysteries is making sure that it IS a mystery. You want to be sure that the reader doesn't guess the ending five chapters in. That's why it's crucial for writers to get their stories critiqued. I'm blessed in that I have a core group of friends and readers who are happy to read my drafts and tell me what I'm doing wrong. 

5. What's your favorite nerdy thing?

Do I have to pick just one? If I had to narrow it down, probably my favorite thing is going to nerdy shows and conventions. I just went to a vintage paperback collectors show in the Los Angeles area, where I had a fantastic time and came home with a big pile of vintage and out-of-print books. As a horror fan, I usually try to make it to a Monsterpalooza con each year. And in July I'll be joining thousands of other nerds at Comic-Con in San Diego; while I'm there I'll be promoting my book of movie reviews, A Nerd Girl's Guide to Cinema. I'm already counting down the days! I love events like these because I get to hang out with hundreds or even thousands of like-minded souls. It's a fantastic feeling of community.

Undertow is in stores now. To keep up with Kelly Cozy, be sure to visit her blog:  and follow her on Twitter: @Kelly_Cozy and Facebook: