Michigan Author Sarah Zettel brings A Fussy Talking Corgi to Life

Michigan author Sarah Zettel has always known what she wants to be. She set her mind to becoming an author in college and has never veered from that path. Her determination has paid off big time, as she currently writes under six pseudonyms and has seen the publication of numerous books in multiple genres.

Zettel, now age 55, moved to Michigan over 40 years ago. She grew up in Trenton, went to the University of Michigan, and now lives in the Ann Arbor area. Zettle is married with one child.

Her most recent book – A Cold Nose for Murder – is one of her cozy mysteries and features lots of tea and a talking corgi.

Michigan Author Sarah Zettle
Zettel’s newest book, written under the pen name “Jennifer Hawkins” is the next in a series of cozy mysteries featuring an amateur sleuth living in Britain with her talking corgi named Oliver.
Image courtesy Sarah Zettel

Bit by the Writing Bug

“I got bit by the writing bug very early and never wanted to do anything else. When I went college (at U of M), I ended up putting together my own program and taking any kind of writing I could find. When I hit my junior year, I sat down with my advisor, and we came up with a communications degree.”

– Sarah Zettel

Zettel has made a living as a full-time novelist since the late 1990s. She currently writes under six pen names and across multiple genres, including sci-fi, young adult, fantasy, historical mysteries, and romance. One of her pseudonyms, Darcie Wilde, has produced ten novels. Her newest book, A Cold Nose for Murder, is the third book by alter-ego Jennifer Hawkins.

She said using pen names is not uncommon in the world of fiction writing. Much of it is marketing. But Zettel said it also helps keep things separated. She’s written some “steamy” romances, but under a name, readers would never associate with her much-tamer cozy mysteries.

I can usually keep all the different names straight. But every now and then, when I am at a book signing, I have to pause and remember who I am at the moment.

– Zettel on her multiple pen names

Cozy Mysteries – Tea and a Talking Corgi

“Cozy Mysteries” are a sub-genre of mysteries. Zettel explained cozy mysteries are light-hearted and typically include common themes like crafts, food and pets.

There is typically a murder to be solved, but not a lot of violence. It will be more of a puzzle story. Most readers will have a fair chance of figuring out “who done it.”

– Zettel
Horror Tree Interview w/Meg Smith

Zettel’s Chatty Corgi Mystery series is set in a small town in Cornwall in the United Kingdom. They feature a tea shop owner named Emma Reed and her corgi named Oliver. Oliver can talk. He loves to eat and routinely helps Emma with her side-gig as an amateur sleuth. The following excerpt is taken from the pair’s newest adventure, “Cold Nose For Murder.”

“”He smells fake,” grumbled Oliver. “He puts all that fake flower and dead otter smell stuff on him and I can’t tell what’s really there.”

– Oliver the corgi’s take on a potential suspect

Anglophile – Michigan Author Sarah Zettel

Unlike her amateur sleuth Emma Reed, Zettel has never lived in England. But she has always loved the thought of it.

I’ve been a fan of all things British since reading the Narnia series as a kid. I spent a summer in London when I was in college and that sealed the deal. So when my publisher came to me and said ‘we want a cozy mystery set in England,’ I was all over it.

– Zettel

Michigan Author Creates a Talking Corgi

Also, Zettel doesn’t own a corgi, unlike her heroine Emma. But she does admit to loving the breed. She said she did a lot of research on dogs in general, particularly corgis, before writing her first book featuring Oliver.

Corgi is one of the most popular breeds in the world these days. They originated in Wales and are considered herding dogs. The word “corgi” is Welsh for “dwarf dog.” This article’s author can attest they do, indeed, love biscuits.
Photo by Carla Bumstead

Zettel said developing the character of Oliver the talking corgi took a while. She was adamant in wanting to portray him as a dog, not a human in a fur suit. She started reading about dog behavior and tried putting her mind inside a dog when describing Oliver’s actions and thoughts.

I try to show the ways a dog actually experiences the world – through their sense of smell and hearing. Weird, I brought in some of my experience as a science fiction writer to help me. Oliver is much more like an alien, rather than just a human in the body of a dog. I write Oliver as a very cute, very fussy, very short-legged alien.

– Zettel on creating Oliver the talking corgi

Working as a Michigan Author And Writer

Zettel is not one of those novelists who sits at home in their pajamas, sitting down to write whenever the moment strikes. She goes into an office every day via a co-working community. It’s called Workantile Ann Arbor and gives her the structure she needs and wants. It is a shared workspace in downtown Ann Arbor designed for freelance and remote workers.

I am an extrovert. I need adult company. It gets me out of the house and away from distractions like the refrigerator and laundry. I keep office hours and put in a full day, 9 to 4.

– Zettel on utilizing a co-working community

Zettel does not spend all her “work” hours in the office. She attends book signings, including both in-person and virtual. She said an increasingly important part of being a novelist these days includes the need to engage with social media. For example, she has a Facebook account that draws a lot of traffic. Considering the fact she has six “people” (pen names) to promote, social media keeps her pretty busy.

The state of reading in 2022

When asked about the overall climate for novelists in this digital world, Zettel said it looks great!

The state of reading is expanding. Reading shot way up during the pandemic, along with book purchases, and they are staying high. Cozy mysteries did especially well, as readers these days are looking for something comfortable and familiar and something they know will have a happy ending.

Everything is so turned around and difficult right now. Reading is an escape. We have a wonderful host of new, diverse and very talented young authors right now. It is an exciting time.

– Zettel on the state of reading in 2022

Grab a Copy From this Author From Michigan

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Michigan author Sarah Zettel has several websites under her different pen names. For information on her cozy mysteries featuring Emma and Oliver, visit her Jennifer Hawkins website. For Zettel’s historical romances and mysteries, visit her Darcie Wilde site.

Her books are also available on Amazon as electronic “Kindle” books and printed paperbacks. Just search by author name (pen name), just like the name on a friendship necklace.






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