Okay, so ‘super-star’ is a bit dramatic – especially when used in the context of a cosy mystery character. Apparently, it’s called clickbait – you’re supposed to make everything sound as exciting as possible on the internet! The ‘super-star’ in this case is Pippa Welbury, the main protagonist in my Coastal Coastpath Mysteries; a truly cosy mystery series.
I guess you’ve arrived here to find out what it takes to make a cosy mystery heroine or hero. Perhaps you’re thinking about creating one yourself, or adding some colour to your existing character, or are simply interested in cosy mysteries. For my Cornish Coastpath Mystery series, I have created a heroine called Pippa Welbury. I like to refer to Pippa as Cornwall’s #1 dog-walking sleuth, but realistically, she’s pretty average as things go. As far as the looks department are concerned, Pippa has shoulder length dark brown hair, is bespectacled, and is in her early thirties. A few years ago, she bravely moved from Catford in London to Polperro in Cornwall in search of the outdoor life. With dreams of walks along Polperro’s cliff tops, afternoon teas (with gin), baking local delicacies, moaning about the bus service, and tentatively feeling her way through life. This is Pippa Welbury. Probably not much different to yourself.
Pippa works part time as a receptionist/assistant in a veterinary clinic in Polruan. It’ll never make her rich, but she loves it there, and she regularly thanks her lucky stars for how her life has panned out. Working part time allows me, the writer, the luxury of allocating time for Pippa to get involved with the local community, and of course, for investigating local mysteries. Pippa has a nose for a mystery, and speaking of noses, I need to mention Benjamin. Benjamin is the one constant thing in Pippa’s life, her persistent companion, and her sounding board. He’s about as cute and as loyal as any dog could be.
So, as far as a typical day goes, Pippa has a fairly laid back approach to things. For a working day, she’ll find herself:
8:00 Rise, feed Benj, feed self, dream out of kitchen window. Get dressed.
- 9:00: Take Benj for a walk – the length of which is weather-dependent. Catch up with the gossip from a few locals. Possibly buy a few essentials, but let’s not mention the weekly shopping expedition into Liskeard just yet.
- 11:20: Pippa needs to take the bus into Polruan to the surgery where she meet lots of gorgeous pets and their concerned owners. She spends until 5PM running around like a BAF until hometime where she and surgery owner, Chris Martins, part ways.
- 17:11: Pippa catches the bus home, staring absentmindedly out at the passing landscape.
- 18:00: Welcomed home by a an exuberant Benjamin, Pippa cooks dinner, whatever it is she can scrape up, and then heads out for a walk with Benj; duration dependent on season. The evening is normally occupied by a movie, or book, or some baking research.
- 22:00: Bed – sharp.
Non-working days are of course different. As Pippa has no car, her and Benj’s mobility is restricted to the immediate area, and she definitely does not like asking people for lifts. They can walk both eastwards or westwards along the coastpath, or take one of the many public footpaths heading inland. I’ve allowed Pippa to be a little lacking in confidence; often she needs to turn to others for help and advice. This has been reflected in the local proximity of her walks. However, she is increasingly becoming confident with using the local public bus service to get to places further afield.
Living in a small community has its upsides too. Almost every time that Pippa steps outside the door, she meets with many of the colourful locals that have made her feel so welcome in the village. The small community has the wonderful St. Piran’s Church, a Post Office, a mobile library, the Crown and Anchor public house, a chip-shop called the Cod Father, the A Piece of Cake bakery, Munchies sweet shop, Brionies Bunches flower shop, and of course Porcupine Books which I will get to in a minute. There are also numerous cafes and gift-shops, although Pippa rarely enters the gift-shops which are almost exclusively aimed at tourists. So, Pippa has quite a raft of cosy neighbours from which to choose to interact with. There is also the local primary school, the caravan park, as well as a camp site, and also a number of larger hotels on the outskirts of the village.
Ultimately, we need to come to Pippa’s love-life. At the time of writing, things are warming up between Owen and our super-star. As you might be aware, Owen works in Porcupine Books with his grandfather. The pair are in the throes of transforming the sleepy, dated bookshop into a modern reading café. Pippa and Owen have been out on several successful dates and things are looking promising for the pair. However, in the background is the shadow of former significant other, Callum Reed; often absent, but seemingly omnipresent. This adds a hint of discord to Pippa’s life – who knows where it will lead?
Another important character in Pippa’s life is Kate Collins who she hit it off with from the day she arrived in Polperro, and who are now solid best friends. The law professional is often seen by Pippa as everything that she is not; tall, slim, blonde, confident and academic. Together they seem to just gel, and they make a great yin and yang combination. With Kate’s family, they form a massive support network in Pippa’s life, of which she may still be unaware of their importance.
This brings us comfortably, some would say cosily, to the topic of mysteries. One might think that a small sleepy village like Polperro would offer little in the way of drama. Not so. With a large tourist industry, bucket-loads of colourful local characters, and some volatile close-knit relationships, there are plenty of opportunities for mysteries.
So there it is, a run-down of our super star Pippa’s life. I’m sure that if she sat back and read this, she would feel quite content, in fact cosily content.