How cozy mysteries saved my life (from breast cancer)

Posted by Lynn Cahoon October  26, 2017
Clothesline of bras

Okay, so maybe it’s not that dramatic, but it does make an Enquire-ish type of headline – AUTHOR WRITES THE MYSTERIES THAT SAVED HER LIFE…

Let’s back up a little.

I’m Lynn Cahoon, author of the Tourist Trap, Cat Latimer, and coming soon, Farm to Fork mystery series. And full disclosure, I’m a true cozy mystery lover.

Back in 2006, I was a normal girl. I’d moved 1600 miles away from Idaho (where I’d lived all my life) to Illinois in true romance fashion, to follow a man. I’d always dreamed about writing a novel someday, but at the time my life was filled with finding work, learning how to get around in a new community, and darts.


Yep, that’s right, darts – a soft tip bar game that has leagues and national competitions. I was pretty good at it too. Mostly because I played a lot. Anyway, back to the story.

I got a job with a large leasing company, which included great health insurance. Around the same time, I set up appointments with doctors and got my routine tests done. Shortly after I’d went in for a mammogram, I received a letter. They always send a letter saying everything’s fine, come back in so many years. It was so routine I almost didn’t open the envelope, but I have a touch of OCD and needed to check off that box.  

The letter didn’t say everything’s fine. It said I needed to call in and get another screening. I got the letter after work on a Friday so all I could do that weekend was worry.  And when I did go back in, I got a lot of tests. I tend to think it was the universe’s way of giving me a lot of writing fodder. I had another mammogram, then came back for three different types of biopsies.  Finally, the following Friday, I got a call at work.

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2007 turned into the year of cancer with surgery, chemo, and finally, radiation. The one constant during that time was the hospital waiting room where I spent a lot of my time. A lot. So much that I started carrying a book with me. Every Saturday, I poured over the shelves of my local library trying to find something that would keep my mind off what was happening to me.


I fell in love with series. Finding a world I could dive into and keep my attention was crucial. Then I found mysteries. I loved them. Or some of them. I needed something light on the gore and details.  I had enough of that in my daily life. Then I found cozies. These fun books kept me entertained, letting me visit new places, and fall in love with the quirky characters. I also got to solve a mystery.

By the end of that year of cancer, I knew what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to tell funny, heartfelt stories. I wanted to build communities of people that I’d want to hang out with.  

I started writing essays, then short stories, and finally dove into a novel length book that would eventually become Guidebook to Murder, Book 1 of the Tourist Trap series.

I wrote, and learned, and joined a writers group, and got rejected. Many, many times. But that was okay, because I’d gotten past the year of cancer and realized, I could do anything.


Now, ten years later, I’m still in remission and cancer free. I still see an oncologist because I take an anti-cancer pill every morning.

But that label doesn’t define me. I’m excited about my new life as a cozy mystery author. A life I might not have except for the wakeup call I got in 2007. I know it seems weird to be grateful for such a traumatic time, but surviving changed my life.

Last week, I got a message from one of my readers saying the Tourist Trap series kept him sane while he was taking care of his father in hospice. I understand where he’s coming from and it makes me happy I was able to be there like so many authors before, were there for me.

Bio -  Lynn Cahoon is the author of The New York Times and USA Today best-selling Tourist Trap cozy mystery series. Guidebook to Murder, book 1 of the series, won the Reader's Crown for Mystery Fiction in 2015. She also pens the Cat Latimer series. A Story to Kill, and Fatality by Firelight are available in mass market paperback. Farm-to-Fork, her new series, will release in 2018 with Who Moved My Goat Cheese? She lives in a small town like the ones she loves to write about with her husband and two fur babies. More info at

Comment (15)

Wow, what a lovely outpouring of love. Thank you all for loving my South Cove and Aspen Hills crews. I hope you'll enjoy the new Farm to Fork series coming next year. They're my imaginary friends come to life. In a way. Becky, I don't know how long I'll have to take the pill, but it's a small price to pay. :)
Lynn Cahoon November 02, 2017
If you have not read Lynn's books you have to started now, they are just what she said she wanted, communities of characters you have a hard time waiting for their next installment. Love both of her series, and pre-order all of her books as soon as possible, can't wait for her new series!!!!!&
Debbie Almada October 28, 2017
What a wonderful, inspiring post, Lynn. You are one of my favorite authors and I admire you even more, after hearing your story. Keep on writing those terrific books, looking forward to the new series.
Mary Kennedy October 28, 2017
I also am a breast cancer survivor and love books. Light mysteries are my thing as I want to be able to put the book down when I need to sleep or follow-up doctor appointments. Look forward to finding your books. Cathie
Cathie Lang October 27, 2017
God bless, Lynn. What an amazing story. I'm so happy you found cozies, and that you started writing them!
Lisa Kelley October 27, 2017
I'm so happy to hear you've been in remission for 10 years! And the bonus side effect of joining the wonderful world of cozies. I love your Cat Latimer series and have the Tourist Trap series in my TBR list. Happy Halloween!
Amanda October 27, 2017
Thank you
Lois Brewer October 27, 2017
When I read your line, "A life I might not have except for the wakeup call I got in 2007," it made me realize that, had you not received that wakeup call, I would never have been able to read any of your books - two series that I love, because I love the people in them. They are my friends in my escape world, where I need to go when I can't handle a full-time job plus being the primary caretaker for two octogenarian parents. Thank you, Lynn!
Nina Houghton October 27, 2017
Thank you for sharing your story with us. It's inspiring to read of your victory over this evil disease. Your novels are vivid and entertaining . We all eagerly await the next book in each series. I'm sorry you had to go through this illness, but so glad to see such positive results emerge on the other side. .
Priscilla Wild October 27, 2017
When my Husband first became ill 2 years ago, found your Tourist Trap book. It was a godsend. Interesting, excellent pace, I could set it down when I had to but pick right back up. Cozies have helped me cope with the never ending routine of doctor to doctor to doctor to doctor. Thank you!
Heidi Henry October 26, 2017
So glad to hear your still cancer free reading gets me through the bad things in life started when my dad passed I have read all your books and look forward to more thank you keep writing and God bless
kat October 26, 2017
Wow, I didn't know that about you. Another reason that makes you truly amazing! Will you always have to take that pill? I'm so glad you're much better now.
Becky Wilhoite October 26, 2017
I love the Tourist Trap Mysteries. Have enjoyed them all for what seems like years. The backstory of uprooting and then cancer makes these books even more interesting. Glad the career change has been such a success and the cancer is gone.
Brenda G October 26, 2017
What a wonderful inspirational story.
Donna Clancy October 26, 2017
Lynn, This is beautiful!
Kathy Krevat October 26, 2017

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