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Mystery Lover’s Gift Guide (with Mystery Manon)

This week’s episode is a little different: If you are doing some holiday shopping, we have a treat for you. Manon Wogahn (also known as Mystery Manon) talks about mystery with Brook and Sarah and shares some of the gifts on her annual Cluesletter Holiday Gift List, including a Clued in Mystery exclusive!

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Instagram: @cluedinmystery

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Music: Signs To Nowhere by Shane Ivers – www.silvermansound.com


SarahWelcome to Clued in Mystery. I’m Sarah.
BrookAnd I’m Brook. And we both love mystery. Well, Clued in Mystery listeners, we have a special treat today because I’m sure that whatever holiday events you have coming up, they’re sure to involve some gift exchanges. And shopping for your fellow bookish friends will never be easier because our special bookish friend, Mystery Manon, has you covered. Manon Wogahn is a mystery reader and lover who is lucky enough to work with books daily also known as Mystery Manon on Instagram, Manon is the editor of the Cluesletter a biweekly email newsletter for fellow mystery lovers. Each issue of the Cluesletter includes news and new releases, a featured podcast, ebook deals, and an author interview. When Manon isn’t reading books, she’s working with them. As the publishing operations manager at author imprints she helps self-published authors create and promote their books. Manon has a BA in art history from Chapman University, which she credits for her obsessions with beautiful books and the Chicago manual of style. Welcome back to the show Manon.
Manon WogahnThank you, Brook and Sarah. Thanks so much for having me back.
BrookYeah, this is going to be great. So, I discovered your holiday gift catalog last year and really fell in love with it automatically because I felt like it was this easy way I didn’t even have to make a list for my husband. I could just give him a link to this and tell him to go shopping to his heart’s content.
Manon WogahnI love that. Yeah, the holiday gift catalog I last year was the first year I did it and I decided to just put it together on a whim. I had seen a few bookish products that I really loved, and I thought well it’d be kind of fun to put something together specifically for mystery book lovers. I tried to make it genre specific and to be honest, this year I was a little worried about doing it because I thought maybe I set the bar a little too high last year because I was really happy with how that came out. But I’m happy to say that I found a few new products and really good ones this year. So I’m hoping this can be a sustainable annual tradition for me in the Cluesletter.
BrookThat’s awesome. Yeah, I was I would say that we can go on Pinterest or even Amazon and find some pretty good gifts for book lovers. I mean I even have a board on Pinterest where I recommend some products. But yours is so specific for the mystery fan that it’s just, it’s so much fun. Like every single item when I look at it “I’m like oh my gosh I want that! Oh, that’s so sweet. That’s amazing.” So, I love how well you curate it. That’s really important.
Manon WogahnThank you and I feel like I’m kind of just picking out gifts for myself in a way, which makes it really easy because I just think what would I like as a mystery lover and it’s surprisingly easy. And honestly, I also think putting non-genre specific gifts makes it a really applicable gift guide for just readers in general because I have just general bookish products on there and my goal is that people can look at that and either find the exact gift they want or get inspired and look around these other shops and find other things that would work for the person that they’re buying for. So hopefully it’s either a great resource or a springboard for more gift giving.
BrookYeah, and this brings up another point. You’re really great about including even small. You have small businesses. You have you know some other major brands on there and I really like that. And one of the items that you list from Etsy. Then it did it like when I went down the Etsy rabbit hole and found a lot of other kind of bookish items. So, I think that’s a great point. It’s going to be a springboard for sure for people so share with us I love your different categories. So could you share with us some of those categories so people can kind of get a feel for what the catalog includes.
Manon WogahnSure, so I separate the products into eight categories. I did eight last year, so I did eight this year and the themes of them are pretty varied. I have one called Best Dressed Detectives that are all just wearable things that are mystery themed. That includes like clothing and jewelry. I have one for Golden Age Lovers, which actually has some products for like classic mystery lovers as well as three different special editions. So. It’s the first time I’m putting actual books on the gift list. But I think a special edition is a really great gift. And I’m also excited about the Puzzlers and Gamers section it has a jigsaw puzzle and an escape book. Agatha Christie bingo, some murder mystery party games. So hopefully that’s a great option if you want to play party games or play games by yourself that are mystery themed.
BrookSo fun.
SarahLooking at the list I had a really hard time picking out just one thing from each of the categories. I think Brook, like you I’ll just point my husband, give him this link and say, “You know, anything off of here or multiple things if you so feel”. I would be happy with any of these things. It really is a great list that you’ve come up with, Manon.
Manon WogahnThank you.
BrookYeah, it’s fantastic. And another point that I really enjoy about it is that there’s lots of different price points. You know you can spend under $10 for some of these items and then then like you said there’s special editions and there’s some really cool bags and gear that are at the higher end. But no matter what your budget is, I think you can find something.
Manon WogahnYeah, that was actually a really conscious goal of mine is how do I put really accessible things on here. I want people to be able to find something. So I think one of the most expensive things is like a silk pillow case from Karen Mabon that has the Agatha Christie print on it. And I put their pajamas in my Cluesletter last year that was also kind of expensive. It’s over $100 for a pillowcase or a pair of pajamas. But the print is really cool, and I think a lot of people would like to have that kind of luxury pillow. But then I have a section, it’s called For Stockings to be Stuffed and it’s just small things. The most expensive thing on there is $18 and then the cheapest thing I think is $3. It’s a sticker so that’s a whole. Excuse me the most expensive thing is a pencil magnifying glass $37. But that is a little grouping of small objects that you can put into stockings if you want to do that so that’s kind of my lesser expensive section. But yeah, my goal was really to make it varied both in types of objects and price points.
BrookYeah, that’s a great that’s great. It’s great feature.
Manon WogahnThank you.
BrookHow do you go about constructing the list? You mentioned a little bit at the top that you were nervous that you might not be able to outdo yourself from last year but what’s the process because I think it seems like it would be a really fun experience to do that.
Manon WogahnIt is really fun. I don’t really have a process, maybe next year I’ll get into one but this year and last year it just shockingly fell together really easily. I had a few gift ideas just come to me naturally throughout like the past couple months when I’ve been thinking about it. So, I’ve put those on the on the list and then I use that as inspiration for what else I could search for. I knew once I had some of the sections down I could kind of say “ok I want to have like sticky notes or a notebook or candles” which are a big deal or types of tea like I had object ideas and then you can go and find themed objects to fit that. So, it’s honestly easier than I thought it was going to be because it’s like once you start doing it, you start getting other ideas as you’re going along. I have to say it can be a little bit tricky since most of the mystery themed stuff is either Agatha Christie or Sherlock Holmes which is totally fine, but it’s not the most diverse selection of gifts to pick from because you’re just you know looking at two worlds of mystery. So, if you’re wondering why there’s so much Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes, it’s because that’s the majority of the mystery themed products on the on the gift market right now. But yeah, it’s honestly a really fun process because it’s like I’m online shopping, which I love to do anyways and just collecting things as I go.
BrookThat’s fantastic, but you have found some other favorite characters that are sprinkled in the list too. So, I think that that I enjoyed seeing Trixie Belden for example that’s really that’s really fun.
Manon WogahnTrixie Belden is probably the main reason why I love mysteries in the first place. I grew up and I read all of her books and so last year I tried to put Trixie on the list I did I put like a Bob white sticker or something and so this year I thought, “well I have to have something with Trixie Belden, even if it’s a little bit harder to find”. But thankfully Etsy has some really great creators on it and I found I think a bookmark or something with Trixie Belden on it, which is just so much fun and there’s also a Cabot Cove sweatshirt. So if you like Jessica Fletcher from Murder She Wrote and I think oh and I have a James Bond Vinyl set as well. I thought James Bond kind of loosely fit into mystery. I know you guys did an episode on spy novels. So, I think that’s kind of in the genre and also just a really fun gift for people.
SarahAnd there were a couple Edgar Allan Poe
BrookI did not miss those.
Manon WogahnOh right I put a couple Edgar Allan Poe items on there. Yeah, he’s I think he.
BrookSarah is not surprised that I starred the Edgar Allan Poe gifts.
Manon WogahnI think he counts as mystery, you guys did an episode on him as well. So, I always I think I had him in last year’s as well. But in this year, I put a Nevermore ring, a raven ring, which I thought was really like classic looking and I think there’s a little mini planter where there’s a plant coming out of Edgar Allan Poe’s head. I just thought that was adorable.
BrookSarah and I have been really excited lately because there are a lot of mystery films coming out that are detective fiction, or mysteries. See How They Run as an example. The Invitation is another one. So do you think that there’s a resurgence in pop culture for detective fiction and entertainment?
Manon WogahnI definitely think so. I’m seeing a lot of movies and I mean just Agatha Christie alone has I think really spiked in popularity, partly because of the movies that are coming out, the new Agatha Christie movies. But the Agatha Christie company is just really good at keeping her name and her works relevant as well. But more broadly, I definitely think that mysteries are getting some more attention right now. I don’t know if it’s just the pandemic makes people want to have some escapism and mysteries are kind of an isolated story, like a really fun plot to get you know immersed in that could be part of it. But I mean obviously I just love mysteries in general. So maybe I’m a little bit biased, but I think they’re big right now. It’s a big genre.
BrookYeah, yeah, so I’m thinking that with this sort of boom that we’re seeing that that’s going to add even more objects perhaps for next year’s gift catalog if we if we keep seeing this.
Manon WogahnYeah, maybe some merch would come out for certain movies. It would be nice to have some things that are a little bit different to add some diversity to the list.
BrookWell, Manon, do you have any specific favorites on the list?
Manon WogahnI do. One of my favorites I think is the very first thing on the list. The Colette book purse. It’s a recreation of a vintage purse that’s designed to look like a like a stack of books with a book strap like a leather strap around them and it opens up and it’s like a novelty purse. I don’t know if I would ever use this in real life. But man, is it nice to look at. It is so cute, and I think the website that it’s on nicolettacarlone.com.  I featured her brand last year as well and I’ve purchased from this site quite a bit. And I have to say the quality is amazing. The products are really great for vintage lovers. So, if you have a vintage lover in your life, definitely check out this website. She has a lot of vintage recreations as well. And I didn’t put it on the list, she has a teacup a cup and saucer set that is called like an Agatha Teacup or something and it’s black with red roses and at the bottom of the teacup, you drink your drink and you see the words “you’ve been poisoned”. I thought that that was so cute, and I couldn’t fit into the list. So, if you want a cup and saucer set that’s Agatha inspired and maybe a little bit threatening, that’s the gift for you.
BrookWell thank you for sharing that Clued in Mystery exclusive gift idea. That’s fantastic and I love that. Agatha fans are just going to die over that.
SarahI think this is such a great such a such a great list that you’ve put together, Manon.
BrookI know. It’s so much fun.
Manon WogahnThank you. It’s honestly just a lot of fun. I’ll call out another section that is not reading specific that I did because I know that there’s a lot of audiobook lovers. I have a section called For Keen Listeners and it’s for anybody in your life who likes to listen to audiobooks or just likes to listen to music or something. I’ve got a vintage looking turntable from Pottery Barn that’s really cute. I haven’t settled on what color I’m going to feature yet. But it’s very cute. I found some retro style earbuds like Airpods but like they look retro and that’s where I have that James Bond vinyl set. And so that’s an example of a section that’s not very bookish and not very mystery oriented. But, I think it’s just a fun way to add variety into the list and introduce people to other kinds of gift ideas that aren’t book exclusive.
BrookYes, I have a teenager who is a musician and when I saw that I thought oh this is great. Because teenagers are sometimes hard to buy for. But definitely that audio section drew me in specifically for her so she might be getting something from your list in her Christmas this year.
Manon WogahnOh, I love to hear that.
BrookSo, Manon, how can people access this list and when will it be available?
Manon WogahnIt’s going to come out November fifteenth, which is a Tuesday. So it’ll come out in the Cluesletter as an announcement and then it’ll be live on my web site manonwogahn.com/gifts and then that will have all the links to the products as well as a little bit of a description to kind of get you inspired about everything. And then the fun part for me the little artistic part is going to go up on Instagram which is kind of a catalog. It’s going to look like a catalog with all the products like laid out really nicely with text. So, if you want to get a more visual view of the list, definitely follow me on Instagram. And so you can see that when that goes live because that’s definitely the most fun part for me and I think it looks the best.
BrookYeah, all of your visuals and graphics I love like the vintage spin you put on everything. So people definitely want to follow Mystery Manon on Instagram so that you don’t miss that because I bet it’s going to just be fantastic.
Manon WogahnI feel like I just have to live up to myself. I also had a Valentine’s gift list earlier this year, which was not mystery specific but that was another way for me to get creative with gift giving ideas. That’s just a little aside. But the Christmas one I think is the most popular anyways because this or the holiday one because people are always buying gifts around this time. The other Cluesletter catalogs, a lot of the items are still available and I’m going to try to pin them or feature them somehow on my Instagram so you don’t want to dig through to find them. But a lot of the items are still available. So that’s kind of like maybe every year the number of items will just keep growing that you can pick from so you can even you can shop for even more items.
SarahAs someone who has a hard time picking out gifts for people I appreciate when someone else has taken the time to put a list together.
Manon WogahnHappy to do it. It’s just so natural for me to just online shop and pick out things that I like so it’s fun.
BrookAnd people won’t want to miss all your other mystery fan goodies. So, tell people how they can join your clues letter that comes out every other week.
Manon WogahnSure. There’s a link in my Instagram bio that will have a direct link to it. You can also go to clueletter.com and that will redirect you to my website so you can sign up there and when you sign up, you get a free ebook of classic mystery short stories and that includes works by Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle and I think 2 to 3 other stories as well. So, if you want to get dip your toes into Golden Age mystery short stories which is a really big part of Golden Age mysteries, that’s your little freebie. And the Cluesletter of course comes with that so cluesletter.com I think is the easiest way.
BrookWell, Manon. Thank you so much for coming back on Clued in Mystery. I doubt this will be the last time we have you join the show because just like us you love everything mystery and we’re so pleased to have you.
Manon WogahnWell thank you to for having me as well. I love your podcast. I have to say it’s just really a joy to listen to people talk about a genre that I also really love and I love how in deep like in depth you get with different sub genres of mystery. It’s really great to be here and talking about just things that make us happy.
BrookThank you, thank you so much and thank you listeners for joining us on Clued in Mystery. I’m Brook.
SarahAnd I’m Sarah. And we both love mystery.