Today I get to finally do something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time: introduce you to a powerhouse of a mystery lover, a lady every cozy reader should know.
Billie Jenrette is the founder of Murder, She Sent, a delivery service for the latest and best cozy mysteries. If you need your regular mystery “fix,” Billie is the lady to hook you up. She uses her connections with authors and publishers to stay on top of new releases and get them to you, hot off the press. Not only that, but each Murder She Sent shipment is a deluxe crate of goodies for cozy mystery lovers, packed with mementos of the characters and situations in the books you’ll be reading.
Last year, in preparation for the launch of Mr Mottley & the Dying Fall, I was looking for some swag to give away on my blog tour. I had “met” Billie on Instagram as @murdershesent and thought one of her boxes would make a perfect Grand Prize. I got in touch and asked if she could send me some pricing options for a one-off special-edition box.
She offered to just give me one. She didn’t want my money, she just wanted to help my book get off to a good start.
She wouldn’t take my money. Ya’ll, let me repeat that: She. Wouldn’t. Take. My. Money.
Do you have any concept how rare that is? When you start writing and publishing, every shmuck on the wild wooly interwebs rubs their hands together and lines up to try con you in one way or another.
Billie is the opposite of that. She loves mysteries, and mystery authors, and mystery readers, and she makes nice things for you to enjoy.
I don’t even know how she found all the lovely things to go in the Dying Fall box, but it was perfect: Gourmet coffee to evoke Baker’s special talent at the morning brew. A live plant in a crystal, to represent the cliffs of Brackmor Island. A raven-shaped cookie cutter, playing off Mr. Wickie’s enigmatic clues about the ravens in the wind. And since we were closing in on Christmas, an ornament of Scrabble tiles suitable for any amateur sleuth.
Billie was also kind enough to do an interview for me, so I’m going to shut up now and let her speak for herself.
Hi, Billie! Welcome to the blog!
Tell me more about the Murder She Sent boxes! When a reader opens their box, what do they find?
They find a brand new paperback cozy mystery. It’s a new release from the current month. I usually will get a bookmark or something directly from the author with their autograph. They will also receive 4 artisan handmade/homemade items, usually from small US based businesses on Etsy.com. The items are always themed to the book.
How did you get the idea for the business? How did you get started?
I had heard of Owlcrate and loved the concept of a monthly book box. I searched the web for a cozy mystery subscription box since that’s my genre of choice. I was surprised to find that there was no such box. I saw a void that needed to be filled. I started by telling people on different social media sites about my plans for a cozy mystery box. That allowed me to better see my demographic and see if there was any real interest. Then I did extensive research on other boxes to compare prices, items, etc…
How do you choose the books for each month’s box?
I’m asked this a lot. There’s no real technique for my picking books. I see what upcoming new releases will be, then I choose the one that will allow a fun themed box. Some books are easier to theme then others.
When did you discover your love for cozy mysteries? Do you remember the first mystery you ever read?
I discovered my love of cozy mysteries right after we moved to Tucson, Arizona. I was 30 and we didn’t have a lot of money. I was at the library a lot and this particular library had shelves and shelves of cozies. I had never heard of the genre till then. The first book I read was “Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder” by Joanne Fluke. I’ve been addicted ever since.
What’s your own favorite flavor of cozy right now? What do like best in a story or a series?
I like a cozy that makes me forget where I’m at and makes me feel like I’m part of the story. One where the characters feel like friends, the towns make me want to move there and the places described feel like home. Most cozies do make me feel that way. I’ve always been partial to cozies about food and that have recipes.
Do you have an all-time favorite author?
I do have a favorite cozy author and that is Laura Levine. I think she’s hilarious and light hearted. That being said though, within the cozy genre it’s pretty hard to find a bad author. They are all pretty great.
What are you reading right now?
I just started reading “Midnight Snacks are Murder” by Libby Klein last night.
How do you curate the gifts to go with the books each month?
Good question. I look at the premise of the book and see what type of theme would be the best fit. Once that’s decided, I go on Etsy and look up everything that could possibly relate to that theme. It takes hours (sometimes days) for me to find four items that I love every month. I try not to have repeats in the boxes. That also takes a lot of effort to find unique items each month. I love it! That’s probably the most fun I have when putting boxes together.
What was the trickiest book you ever tried to match gifts with? Is there an “epic” match that stands out to you, where you feel like you really nailed it?
The trickiest book is the one I’m doing for September 2018. Since the box hasn’t gone out yet I can’t reveal the book. The theme is “Small Town Girl” which is a bit of a stretch. I just could not find a theme that fit this particular book.
I did a coffee themed box with one of Cleo Coyles coffee mystery books. I was getting emails from happy subscribers about how great that one was. I got several 5 star reviews based on that box. I personally loved it. That one stands out as being one of the best boxes I’ve done.
Do you have relationships with some artisans you work with regularly?
I work with Creepy the Cat often for my postcard artwork. He is also the one who created my logo with Fletcher the cat. I’ve worked with Natalie Shau often for artwork also.
The only artisan I’ve used more then once so far is Loreworks. I like her unique products a lot.
What’s your favorite drink or treat when you’re reading a great book?
Iced coffee is a must. I also really enjoy dark chocolate covered almonds.
Can you give us a sneak peek at what books might be featured in the next box?
Septembers box will feature Denise Swanson’s newest Scumble River mystery. I chose this particular book because September is Murder, She Sent’s one year anniversary. The first book for my premier box was Denise Swanson. I thought it’d be fun to have her for my anniversary box.
Where can people learn more and sign up for a monthly subscription?
Thanks so much to Billie! Please look her up and let’s let the good karma flow back to her. She deserves it!