HALLIE: Jungle Red is happy to congratulate Once Upon a Crime! Owners Pat Frovarp and Gary Shulze are being honored tonight(!) with the Raven Award by Mystery Writers of America at the Edgar Awards banquet .
We're so delighted to have Pat and Gary visiting today.
I had the great good fortune of visiting their delightful Minneapolis store when one of my first novels came out, and I was charmed Pat an Gary who, with their warmth a generosity, made me feel so welcome.
It's that same spirit that has been bringing readers back to the store, year after year, to buy more books.
Pat, Gary, do you two have different tastes in books? Do you think women readers prefer to read different kinds of books than men?
PAT & GARY: We like a lot of the same books. We have loads of regular customers, mostly women, who love cozies, and we have racks and end caps with the new cozies. Plus there are women whose tastes run, like ours, to the more hardboiled stuff, too. Lee Child's best audience is women; the same with John Sandford. Hunks as protagonists.
We do have a few customers who refuse to read women mystery writers. Sometimes we want to pass off someone with initials and see how they feel. Remember when J. A. Jance went as JA because she couldn't get published? Alex Kava sells really well to men and women - most everyone think she's a man.
And we have a ton of regular women readers who only want to read women writers. Guess it's because they want to support women because women had such a hard time breaking into the genre.
HALLIE: Sounds like you really know your customers.
PAT & GARY: We have so many loyal customers who keep coming back. Our formula seems to work. We recognize people by name. We try to be accommodating and and pay attention to the customers. People can come here and find an entire author's back list. People recommend us - every day we have people who show up and say, "I finally got here!"
We have a reading group and our local chapter of SinC. We've got a pretty good chapter her. We give discounts to encourage people to shop here.
HALLIE: What sells best at Once Upon a Crime?
PAT & GARY: Local authors in hard cover. Paperback cozies outsell anything.
HALLIE: Do you agree on the books you love?
PAT & GARY: Sometimes. When we do, we sell the crap out of them. The majority of our sales are hand sells.
Right now we're recommending Steve Hamilton's The Lock Artist which just got nominated for the Edgar. It kind of transcends typical crime thrillers. Part coming of age story, nice romance in it with a kid, really good characters, and some nice arcane information about safe cracking in it. The protagonist is mute, which is tough to pull off.
Another is a book just out from Poison Pen, Big Wheat, set in 1919 Dakotas during the threshing harvest, after the war and right before the dust bowl. It's got marvelous information about the mechanics of steam and threshing which I thought would be so boring. I probably sell two or three a day. It helps that he's local.
Pat really loved a thriller, Learning to Swim by Sara J. Henry. It's about a woman who lives near Vancouver on a ferry going to an island she sees someone throwing a child off the deck of the ferry and without thinking she jumps in and saves the child and keeps the child. And she starts snooping around and finds odd things going on.
HALLIE: Writing those down and putting them in my TBR list!
I know the store is a "labor of love," but you guys took that to extremes by getting married in the store.
PAT & GARY: We got married in the store. The oncology chaplain at Methodist Hospital where Gary spent months when he had leukemia came and married us. It was us and seven people who happened to find out that we were getting married. (On top of that, it was the day the bridge collapsed and people just couldn't get there.)
HALLIE: I know that was on the FIFTH anniversary of your buying the store. A 'cozy' wedding sounds just right for Once Upon a Crime.