Dream Jobs: A Conversation with 4 Cozy Mystery Pros

What do authors Meri Allen, Diane Kelly, Elizabeth Penney, and Jess Dylan all have in common? They started new cozy mystery series in 2021—and their protagonists have dream jobs. Join them for a conversation about their characters and their work!

Tell us your dream job in the comments below for your chance to win a copy of all four series debuts:

  • The Rocky Road to Ruin – #1 in the Ice Cream Shop Mysteries by Meri Allen
  • Getaway with Murder – #1 in the Mountain Lodge Mysteries by Diane Kelly
  • Chapter and Curse – #1 in the Cambridge Bookshop Mysteries by Elizabeth Penney
  • Death in Bloom – #1 in the Flower House Mysteries by Jess Dylan

How did you decide on your protagonist’s occupation?

Meri Allen: I love characters who aren’t exactly what they seem so the contrast between Riley Rhodes’ present running an ice cream shop on an organic farm—complete with mischievous baby goats—and her past as a librarian at the CIA has been fun to write. Having been a CIA librarian who did occasional undercover missions also added another layer to Riley’s character and gave her some advantages when it comes to sleuthing.

Diane Kelly: I came up with the idea of running a mountain lodge when my husband and I recently fulfilled a long-time dream of buying a vacation home in the mountains. On our way to our cozy little cabin, we pass a couple of long-neglected, defunct mountain lodges. I thought it was a shame the inns weren’t being rehabbed and put to use, especially the one that has a gorgeous view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Not long after I began to write Getaway with Murder, the one with the view finally sold to new owners and contractors are fixing it up now. I can’t wait to see how it turns out!


What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer (and didn’t work your day job either)?

Elizabeth Penney: I can’t imagine not writing, no matter what I’m doing. Before my first novel was published, I was a small business consultant, banker, and nonprofit executive. All those positions required writing. An area of passion, though, and one I might explore again, is local food and small farm advocacy. I love food (my readers comment on this focus in my books) and helping small farms thrive is a way to support families while improving local menus and health.

Jess Dylan: I’d probably be doing something else with books, perhaps working in a library or bookstore. Or maybe I’d work in publishing. One way or another, I’d put my English major to use and try to make a living doing something I love: reading!


What’s your main character’s biggest job challenge?

Diane Kelly: The biggest challenge for innkeeper Misty Murphy is running an old-fashioned mountain lodge at a profit. With the advent of Airbnb and other online vacation rental sites, the nature of travel accommodations has changed a lot since the lodge was built decades ago. When people can rent an entire cabin or condo for a relatively affordable price, why would they choose a traditional lodge? Misty uses her business acumen to show them why. She markets to small groups who want to stay together in close proximity and could benefit from a sizable central meeting space. Her first guests are a group of yoga students on a retreat. The lodge’s great room and deck provide a place for yoga and meditation classes, as well as a space where they can all hang out together in the evenings. No condo or cabin can beat that!

 Elizabeth Penney: Housed in a quaint Tudor building, Thomas Marlowe Manuscripts and Folios has been around since the 1600s. The bookshop has an impeccable reputation, but, in these days of online sales, desperately needs to enter the digital age. Molly decides to create a social media strategy that includes books photographed around Cambridge, taking advantage of the gorgeous architecture and setting. She also frequently posts pictures of beloved shop cats, Clarence and Puck, customer favorites.


What are three things you love about the fall?

Meri Allen: Number one, wearing sweaters. Like any good librarian, I have many cardigans—way too many cardigans.

Number two, fall colors. Living in New England, I love how the trees change color and the leaves blaze gold, orange, and scarlet against the deep blue October sky. It’s a marvel I look forward to every year.

Number three is a little different, but I love back to school time. True confession: Office supplies are my weakness! Even though it’s been years since I was a student, every September I treat myself to new notebooks, markers, and post-it notes. I use post-its for plotting, so I go through a lot of them.

 Jess Dylan: There are so many things to love about fall! Here are three: the smell of dried leaves and damp earth, annual trips to the pumpkin patch, and cuddling on the couch to watch old favorite Halloween specials on TV.

Enter the Sweepstakes!

Sign in and comment on this post for a chance to win a copy of each of the author’s series debuts!

To enter, make sure you’re a registered member of the site and simply leave a comment below.

The Cozy Conversation Comment Sweepstakes: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.  A purchase does not improve your chances of winning.  Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States, D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec), who are 18 years or older as of the date of entry.  To enter, complete the “Post a Comment” entry at https://www.criminalelement.com/dream-jobs-a-conversation-with-4-cozy-mystery-pros/ beginning at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) October 25, 2021. Sweepstakes ends at 4:59 p.m. ET November 8, 2021. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Macmillan, 120 Broadway, New York, NY 10271.


  1. MaryC

    Bookstore owner

  2. book-chick-annie

    I would love to own a bookstore in a small mountain town. I would carry books and items from local artists.
    Thanks for the chance.

    • Sue

      My dream job is to be a travel reviewer // writer and go around the world …..

  3. 3labsmom

    I would work in a library

  4. Susan Moxley

    To work at a bookstore or own one.

  5. Sara

    I’ve worked in libraries a lot. It’s a lot of fun! I would love to own my own bookstore cafe someday.

  6. Carolyn Kitrinos

    I’d like to be an architectural historian. I just can’t get enough of those old buildings!

  7. Krista

    I think I’d like to work in a library.

    • Emily Catan

      I would love to own a cat cafe that has a reading nook fills with cozy mystery – it has everything that I love :- cat, coffee and books! Thank you for the giveaway.

  8. Cherie J

    If money were not an issue I would own a small bookstore with a small cafe in it that serves some treats and drinks where people could sit comfortably and enjoy the books they purchased while having a snack.

  9. Jeanie Dannheim

    Librarian or cat rescue. Thank you for the opportunity to win!

  10. Anne

    A travel writer would be fascinating and a real adventure.

  11. Allison McMillan-Lee

    To write books that readers love!

  12. Laini

    A children’s art teacher.

  13. Katrina Dehart


  14. Sheila

    wonderful set of books.

  15. Judy

    I’m sure it’s hard to believe but my dream job is having a “cozy” used bookstore.

  16. Debra J Pruss

    I would love to be a book store owner. Thank you for the opportunity. I love cozy mysteries.

  17. Jennette Sigler

    In for the win…

  18. Liz Beyer

    Thanks for the opportunity!!

  19. Shirley Evans

    I worked in a library when I had a massive heart attack and subsequent other health issues so I am not unable to work. But if I could, I would go back to the library. I loved finding books for people that they might not otherwise know about and seeing the faces of little kids when they find a book that they truly want to read.

  20. Adam

    I know it’s hardly original, but yeah, bookstore owner’s my dream life.

  21. Elaine Needelman

    Cozy mysteries are very popular at my library!!

  22. Shelley Beachy

    I love a good mystery!

  23. Diana

    Cemetery restorer or small town bookstore owner. Thanks for the chance to win these books!

  24. Joel Timmons

    Cajun chef

  25. Judith Kirchner

    I want to read all of these!

  26. raisinpie

    love mystery books thanks

  27. John Smith

    These four books look delightful!

  28. Cindi Hoppes

    Hello, I wanted to be an actor/singer on Broadway or Off Broadway!
    Thank you,

  29. Patricia Craft

    Looking forward to the new series’.

  30. Cynthia Whipple

    I love books mysteries with pets

  31. ellie

    A book buyer.

  32. Caren Luckie

    I’m adding these to my “to read” list. I really enjoy cozy mysteries with animals!

  33. Rebecca Swanson

    Still waiting for professional reader to become a legitimate job possiblity!

  34. Alicia

    Bookstore owner or author. Love these authors, excited to see new series from them.

  35. Jeana

    My dream job would be to travel and review restaurants and attractions.

  36. Shannon K. Loar

    PR Rep for a rock star

  37. Victoria Raustad

    These look like great series! Win or not, I may have to venture to the bookstore…

  38. Joy Isley

    I would love to use my artistic ability and design the interiors of private jets.

  39. Susan Coster

    I am the steward of Little Free Library #66281 in Skokie, IL

  40. Jodi Scott

    Waffle House waitress so I could joke around all day with nice customers

  41. Margie Shaw

    I’d be happy just working in a bookstore or a library.

  42. janicetcite@verizon.net

    Have already been bookstore manager (lots of work; not enough time to read). So, now want to retire (to sit home and read).

  43. Theresa Eberhardt

    I would own a genre based bookstore and gamestore.

  44. Richard Derus

    What’s not to love about fall? It means summer’s still far enough away that you don’t have to stress about sweat!

  45. Wendy

    bookstore worker

  46. Linda Goff

    Since I’m retired, I would love to volunteer at my local library. I always loved to spend time at the library, with a minimum of 30 minutes or more on each visit.

  47. Linda Cosby

    I would like to be a librarian and would love to explore the library.

  48. Ruthie Bloszinsky

    I was a K-1 teacher for 30 years and would do it all over again!

  49. Judy Kahn

    In my dreams, opera or symphony archivist at arts organization

  50. Karen Terry

    Look like some great reads

  51. Lori P

    Production assistant for Rebecca Eaton, when she was still working with Masterpiece on PBS.

  52. lasvegasnv

    mysterious books

  53. Linda Ortiz

    I have always wanted to own a bookstore.

  54. Sherry

    I would love a chance to to win!

  55. Amy Salerno

    There are so many things I would love to do. I would love to own a bookstore with cafe, arts and crafts section and sell yarn for the knitters!

  56. teresa sopher

    Work in a small bookstore/cafe

  57. C.S.

    I would have liked to be a veterinarian.

  58. Amelia Salerno

    Bookstore with a cafe and a large community room. I would love to win. Thank you!

  59. emoe

    I work 9n a library but would love to own a bookstore.

  60. thomp037@umn.edu

    Cozy mysteries are the best. The reader gets a great variety of characters with the story.

  61. Amelia Salerno

    Bookstore and cafe with a large community room. I would love to win. Thank you!

  62. Kathy Clugston

    When I was young, I wanted to be a singer. Now my dream job would be either a bookstore owner or a librarian in a really good library.

  63. Teresa Plunkett

    Looks like a great book to read.

  64. J. Spaulding

    Rom-com author

  65. nikkiphilton

    When I was young, working in a bookstore would have been a dream come true. Instead, I taught for 34 years and loved that, too.

  66. abretske@yahoo.com

    Running a bookstore in Yellowstone!

  67. Mary Mahaney

    I actually feel like I am living the dream. My husband and I run a small business, we home school our kids and we get to take time off to go to Disney about twice a week.

  68. theresa norris

    The New York Public Library would be my first choice.

  69. Valerie Blankenship

    My dream job would consist of something with books. I wouldn’t care if it was working in a library or book store. Books make me happy, and I’ve imagined myself getting blissfully lost in book shelves. I’ve even considered maybe writing to see if I would be any good at it.

  70. Julia Shkolnik

    It sounds amazing! I would love to read these books!

  71. Pam Walrath

    I would read all day, starting with these books!!

  72. Desmond Warzel


  73. Portia Asher

    My dream job would to be a teacher.

  74. Kathy Levernier

    Dream job – I do it. Caring for my family. We have an autistic grandson we are raising, an Australian Blue 🐾heeler🐾husband retired early due to prostate ca. I read📖, knit, read…

    • Kathy levernier


  75. patricia sopel

    I love these question and answer posts!

  76. Karen Hale

    I need some new cozies in my life!

  77. Tracy Hartman

    I’d be a published author, but if I couldn’t have that, I’d somehow work with animals.

  78. Angela Sanford

    My dream job would be owning my own bookstore and selling classic books

  79. Betty Houser

    love the recipes based on mystery novels

  80. Linda Semler

    My dream job would be to live in a library and someone would bring me my meals and I could read all day and night a mountain of books a day!!

  81. Amy Kubal

    My dream job would be to own a Bread Bakery!

  82. Karen de Gennaro

    Would love to read all of these books!

  83. Anita Sue Hamilton

    I would like to own a bed and breakfast that inspires writers.

  84. Alandrea Anderson

    My dream job would be decorating cakes and cupcakes!

  85. Deb Philippon

    My dream job would be working in a library, preferably in an archive with old, classic books.

  86. Florence Fales

    My dream job would be to own a book with a bakery inside it!!!!!

  87. Erin Tapken

    As a child I wanted to own a bakery, but I grew up to own a comic book store instead! 🤗

  88. Brandy Ybarra

    My dream job is full time sugar pet and writer.

    What? I can do both so long as I’m amusing. 😀

  89. amy marantino

    I’d like to work in a library.

  90. Autumn Trapani

    I would want to own a small bookstore with a cafe. I would make the pastries for the cafe. So I guess that’s two dream jobs.

  91. paul Klumbach

    i worked in our local library when i was younger. was fantastic.

  92. lvdark

    Bookstore /coffee shop/art gathering place

  93. ailutterman

    I would love to be a dog walker!

  94. LeMinou

    Actress, singer, photographer, sculptor…so many dreams. 🙂 Thanks for the chance.

  95. Elizabeth

    I always envy movie soundtrack coordinators!

  96. Emily Catan

    I would love to own a cat cafe that has a reading nook fills with cozy mystery – it has everything that I love :- cat, coffee and books! Thank you for the giveaway.

  97. Rosalee Perez

    I’d love to own a bookstore, just like Molly in “Chapter and Curse”, which I’m reading now and loving it!

  98. Kristen Cox

    Thank y’all for taking the time to do a mini interview! I am always facinated by the reasoning, motives, inspiration & process of mystery writers & their books! All 4 of these sound like amazing stories, right up my alley! Thank you for hosting the interview & the awesome giveaway!

  99. OracleOfCrows

    Forensic anthropologist!

  100. Tina Matthews

    I just Luv Cozy Mystery books, sit in your favorite compy chair let your mind go on journey.

  101. Michele L

    I love everything about cozy mysteries – the usually quirky characters, interesting and fun plots, and the beautiful covers!

  102. Maria Proctor

    My dream job would be to own & work in a quaint little store that sells books & candles, two of my favorite things!!!

  103. Nicole Leilani Kamai

    These are so fun!

  104. Marisa

    All four sound interesting. Look forward to reading them.

  105. Nancy Wolfe

    Own a bookstore.

  106. Susan Morris

    My dream job is to be a records keeper. I love working with numbers and files.

  107. TCasteel

    Dream job? Retirement 🙂

  108. Tiffany

    I’d love to own a bookstore

  109. Mary Woods

    I volunteer in a library now that I have retired. Owning a bookstore would be lovely!

  110. Michael Carter

    I have worked in university libraries and in a bookstore.
    Please enter me in this sweepstakes.

  111. Karyn M. Newton

    If I could find a way to make a living taking high school kids for college visits, that would be fantastic.

  112. Joe Titone

    very interesting information!

  113. CookingWithMyCozies

    I love how an author can be on a trip to the vacation home and while glancing out the car window at dilapidated lodges, come up with a new book idea. Or how cozy authors give their main characters such interesting backgrounds that always seem to help with their sleuthing. I look forward to checking these new stories out.

  114. jennifer galindo

    I love crime books! The mystery and thrill of the hunt. Both for the criminal and the law enforcer.

  115. Allison wayment

    I always wanted a three story business: a bookstore, yoga studio, crafting area!

  116. Missy Schwebach

    My dream job would be a Teashop/bookshop…where I’d pair a particular tea with a mystery and senior rescued dogs roam around inside waiting to be read to. 🫖📖🐕

  117. Twila Mason

    I would love to own an animal sanctuary and be an author.

  118. Marlyn Beebe

    My dream job? Famous author.

  119. April

    I’d like to be a librarian or work in a bookstore

  120. Darcia

    My dream job is to get paid to read, so maybe an acquisitions editor.

  121. Toni Tuve

    Would love to win this, I love reading and stories like these.

  122. Diane Furst

    I am working my dream job — a bookstore manager. The only thing better would be owning my own bookstore.

  123. theresa norris

    I love cozy mysteries.

  124. kathylegold

    I obsessively love reading📚 it expands my heart & mind, has helped me since I was a shy child.💕

  125. Angela Gillooley

    I would love to work with my kids. My son is autistic and loves reading and watching movies. I would love to open a movie shop and book store with him. Or a bed and breakfast that has a theater room he can run. My daughter could have a small farm and petting zoo at our b and b.

  126. Sharon Forrest

    I’m a retired teacher/librarian. If I had a 2nd career, I would like to do something with forensics.

  127. Robin L. Coxon

    My dream job would be to run a farm with workers who have special needs. It would supply flowers and vegetables for public purchase. This would provide a much needed service for those who are not able to find work in a regular job and still feel they have a purpose.

  128. Linda Leonard

    To be a Criminal Profiler would have been my dream job.

  129. Heather Harrisson

    Bookstore cafe owner

  130. Marilyn McLeod

    Wow! I already love Meri’s (Shari’s) books, and would love to try the other authors as I’ve read great reviews of their works. Thanks so much for the chance!

  131. Lily-Ann Gill

    My dream job would have been a sign language teacher. That is what I wanted to do. But that didn’t work out like I planned. Now I would have loved to be a crime scene investigator.
    Thank you for the chance.

  132. Linda Ortiz

    Bookstore owner with a cozy cottage feel. A place where people can feel like they are at home with a beverage of their choice and a comfortable area to read.

  133. Patty Rosellini

    A cozy book store owner

  134. susan beamon

    My private library could use these new mysteries. Hope I win.

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    Nice post

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  137. Tvangssalg bolig

    Working at the New York Public Library would sure be interesting. However i’m pretty satisfied with my job at Tvangssalg bolig in Norway. 🙂

  138. cookie clicker

    My ideal job would be to get compensated for reading, so perhaps an acquisitions editor.

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