Elle Cosimano is a USA Today bestselling author, an International Thriller Award winner, a Bram Stoker Award finalist, and an Edgar® Award nominee. Her acclaimed young adult novels include Nearly Gone, Holding Smoke, The Suffering Tree, and Seasons of the Storm. Elle’s debut novel for adults, Finlay Donovan Is Killing It, kicked off a witty, fast-paced contemporary mystery series, which was a PEOPLE Magazine Pick and was named one of New York Public Library’s Best Books of 2021. In addition to writing novels for teens and adults, her essays have appeared in The Huffington Post and Time. Cosimano lives with her husband and two sons in Virginia.
Q. Our reviewers have called your books “screwball comedy mysteries” and Finlay Donovan “Reminiscent of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum.” How would you describe your writing? From where does it draw its power?
Elle: I’ve been a huge fan of Janet Evanovich (and Stephanie Plum) for many years, so anytime I hear Finlay mentioned in comparison it makes me a little giddy. There’s something so refreshing and fun about these “screwball comedy mysteries”, but I think where these books truly draw their power is in the way they resist genre boundaries. The Finlay Donovan books are mysteries at their heart, but they’re so many other things too. They’re nail-biting thrillers, dark comedies, and even romances. They’re inspiring stories of a woman getting back on her feet and the power of unconditional friendship. They glide between category lines without regard for genre expectations or rules, making them something all their own. The series draws its power from that irreverent and honest voice as much as its broad appeal. Somehow, by not worrying if the books would land on one particular shelf, Finlay and I have managed to find a welcoming home on all of them!
Q. Finlay Donovan Jumps the Gun has hot cops, mob bosses, spies, and all the hilarity readers have come to expect from this series. How did the story unfold for you?
Elle: I never get bored writing Finlay’s stories! One day, I might be writing an edge-of-your-seat high-speed chase or a tense, obstacle-riddled sleuthing mission. The next, I might be writing sexy, smart banter or a smoldering kiss. But I think the scenes I love most are the ones that reveal to me the heart of the story I’m telling—a brutally blunt argument between Finlay and her ex-husband, a deep conversation between Finlay and her mother, or a moment of clarity between Finlay her love interest, Nick. These are the moments that help me see the full potential of my character arcs as much as the potential in the plot of the story.
Q. Finlay is a singularly relatable character. How did she first appear to you?
Elle: Finlay’s voice first became clear to me during a hectic #momlife morning. I’d been up all night writing, chasing a looming deadline while we were on our family vacation, when my two children woke me up early because they were bickering over the bed they were forced to share in the too-cozy rustic cabin we were renting. My husband was snoring loudly beside me, blissfully unaware of all of it. As I lay in bed, staring at the ceiling, Finlay’s first thoughts came to me clearly and suddenly. They also became the opening lines of the series: It’s a widely known fact that most moms are ready to kill someone by eight-thirty AM on any given morning. On the particular morning of Tuesday, October 8th, I was ready by seven forty-five.
Finlay’s voice is very distinct but, as you’ve noted, also deeply relatable. She feels real, both as a mother and a woman struggling to regain her footing after a massive life upheaval. Her character is one we sympathize with, maybe because we see bits and pieces of our own selves and struggles within her. Because of this connection, we feel invested in her growth. Despite her flaws, we root for her. As the series progresses, we see Finlay rediscover herself as a woman, as a mother, as a friend, and as a writer. As her confidence grows, so do the stakes.
Q The friendship between Finlay and Vero has a lot of readers coming back. What does that friendship mean to you?
Elle: I consider Vero and Finlay’s relationship the mast of the series. Their friendship was inspired in part by my own relationship with my two beloved critique partners, Megan Miranda and Ashley Elston. The three of us have been writing side-by-side for a little over a decade. During that time, we’ve supported each other through the publication of nearly thirty books! We all started writing professionally around the same time, each of us struggling to juggle the demands of motherhood with our fragile, budding careers. I couldn’t imagine being where I am without their support, encouragement, and unconditional friendship. I guess I wanted Finlay to have someone like that, too.
Q. What are you working on now?
Elle: I’m hard at work on Finlay Donovan #4. I may not know the title yet, but I can promise readers it will be another hilarious, smart, and mysterious adventure!
Elle Cosimano's Latest
Finlay Donovan has been in messes before—after all, she’s an author and single mom who’s a pro at getting out bloodstains for rather unexpected reasons—but none quite like this. After she and her nanny/partner-in-crime Vero accidentally destroyed a luxury car that they may have “borrowed” in the process of saving the life of Finlay’s ex-husband, the Russian mob got her out of debt. But now Finlay owes them
Still running the show from behind bars, mob boss Feliks has a task for Finlay: find a contract killer before the cops do. Problem is, the killer might be an officer.
Luckily, hot cop Nick has started up a citizen’s police academy, and combined pressure from Finlay’s looming book deadline and Feliks is enough to convince Finlay and Vero to get involved. Through firearm training and forensic classes (and some hands-on research with the tempting detective), Finlay and Vero have the perfect cover-up to sleuth out the real criminal and free themselves from the mob’s clutches—all the while dodging spies, confronting Vero’s past, and juggling the daily trials of parenthood.