I love Wednesdays. It's like having a group of friends, old and new, over for some cool beverages during this hot summer and talking about the good books we've read. In this case Cozy Mysteries. I have just recently "met" Mary Moody when I heard about her new book A Killing In Antiques and was so happy when she agreed to stop by and spend Cozy Wednesday with us.
Characters get in the Way
Thank you for having me here today Lori. I've been reading your blog for some time and enjoy the wide range of mysteries that are recommended. I've always loved reading mysteries, but A Killing in Antiques is the first one I've written, and I'm old for a beginner – a late bloomer.
Before I began the actual writing of A Killing in Antiques I made some rough notes. I believed that I had thought it through, and had the plot, characters, and crime well in hand. I was ready, so I sat down and wrote. Wow! What happened with the characters astonished me.
Everyone was there, my characters were on the pages where they belonged, but they started doing things I hadn't planned. Two characters that I only meant to walk through the pages and impart some news to Lucy St. Elmo (my protagonist) took over larger parts of the story than I ever intended.
Which, of course, created problems. Since I liked what the characters were doing, I decided to change the plot to fit their growing personalities, rather than change their personalities to fit the plot. One of them has become a solid favorite among readers! Then, a character who I thought would be fun, turned out to be a dud. I had to dump him.
My killer was another one who caused grief for me, as well as for his victim. When I think about killers at all, I think of them as bad guys. Just plain bad. My killer was such a bad person that he/she didn't fit in with the rest of the characters. It was as if the characters in, say, Sleepless in Seattle, had one friend among them who was Caligula. Wrong, all wrong.
So I had to work the murder motive around in my mind until it better fit someone who belongs within my setting. When you think about it, there are no good motives for murder, and that's why most real murderers are caught so quickly. Every issue surrounding a real murder usually points to the culprit.
I don't mind if readers guess WHO did it, I usually do, but I'd like them to stay because they enjoy my characters and want to see how the denouement works out for them. To my mind, the murderer should seem reasonable, given the story that's been built. It shouldn't come as shocking surprise. In looking back, the reader should feel that, - yes, now that I think of it, that does seem right.
In order to make the writing of my current book, Under the Hammer, come along smoothly, I made an extensive outline. I wrote out fully developed characters, including their backgrounds, - particularly about my killer. These will not end up in the book, but they will let me know how each character should act in certain situations, what emotions they'll feel, and who they really are.
But it's happening again. Jill is a character who was supposed to walk through the action, tell Lucy something about an auction, then leave. But it turns out that Jill is very angry at a pivotal character who Lucy loves. So, I'd better get back to my computer and straighten this out before it starts trouble. Or maybe I'll let her do her thing. I'd better do something, I have a deadline for this book!
I love reading about the processes writers go through to get to the end product, the book we hold in our hands. Some authors just sit down and write, others like Mary make a mini outline and let the characters evolve. Every author has their own style that happens behind the scenes to give us a few hours of reading entertainment. I am so glad they do what they do and give us all wonderful stories to enjoy.
Mary is a Massachusetts native, and grew up in a collecting family where she learned the pleasures of the treasure hunt. She loves writing stories about the ingenious ways people find to participate in the antiques marketplace. Mary went to school in Worcester, and has an MBA from Clark University.
An Obsidian Mystery
Published by The New American Library
A Division of The Penguin Group
A Brand New Series
A Lucy St. Elmo Antiques Mystery
Lucy St. Elmo owns St. Elmo's Fine Antiques in Cape Cod. Treasure hunting is the mainstay of any antiques business and Lucy excels beyond many when it comes to finding just the perfect piece.
This week the hunt takes Lucy to Brimfield, the largest outdoor antique show in all of New England. She has her strategy all worked out, her custom made cart and money at the ready. She is ready to make a killing at this show and bring back treasures she has been dreaming about.
Lucy was not the only one with making a killing on their mind. Someone else did but they actually killed someone! Right there at Brimfield!! Worse Lucy knows the deceased. He was her long time friend, Monty Rondo. He was well known in the antique circuit as a supreme picker.
All leads pointed at his partner but there is no way Silent Billy would have hurt Monty. So Lucy has no choice, in addition to hunting for treasures, she also has to hunt down a killer. With less than a week before Brimfield closes for the season and all the suspects pack up and move on to the next big show she has to move fast to close the sale on the real killer, knowing he is truly no treasure.
First I have to tell you Brimfield is a real place. Those of you not in the New England area may not realize this.
Knowing that makes the story even better because while Mary describes the place wonderfully with her words, seeing it makes the story itself so believable.
I was drawn into this story not only by the mystery but the education about the treasure hunting in the antique world. The characters were real, eccentric and interesting. You wanted to follow them through the maze of Brimfield, weighing each as a suspect, crossing them off the list, then thinking some more and returning them to the possible suspect category. The story was like a mini treasure hunt for the reader making it very entertaining.
This is a perfect summer read. I am looking forward to learning more about antiques and Lucy and her wonderful friends and family. I can't wait to return to Cape Cod with Lucy!
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Now thanks to the wonderful people at Penguin,
I am able to give away 2 copies of this wonderful book!!
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Contest will end at 11:59 p.m. CST on August 10
Winners will be chosen using Random.org
Followers will receive an extra 2 entries!!
Leave a comment for Mary for an additional 5 entries!!
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