Across the books and in person.

Welcome! Since I write two English mystery series, I thought it would be fun to chat about that. And about England. Specifically, Derbyshire, since that is the county I know the best. If you have questions about my books, about mysteries or your own writing, or want to know something about England -- perhaps you're planning a visit -- I'd love to talk with you. Let's start chatting, shall we?

Derbyshire VIllage

Derbyshire VIllage

Monday, May 9, 2011

Nice Signing

I had a nice book signing this past Saturday.  I was at Big Sleep Books, probably my favorite book store -- and not because it is exclusively mystery books.  Ed, the owner, makes each signing a pleasure.  Now, I must admit that I am usually reluctant to do a book signing.  I get very nervous, wondering if anyone will show up or if I will be sitting there alone for two hours, smiling at the store patrons as they walk past me.  I don't feel that way at Big Sleep Books.  Ed is so gracious and the store is so cozy feeling that I never get that feeling.  And I've never been alone for two hours.  Usually it's pretty much non-stop friends filing in to sit and talk for a while.

My first sale this past Saturday was to a young woman named Bethany.  She bought a copy of A Well Dressed Corpse after reading the synopsis on the back of the book and debating about it or Swan Song.  She said she'd never got a book from an author before and she was a bit amazed that she could do that.  I tried to make it painless for her and slipped in a Derbyshire map, book mark and info card about the series.  She seemed pleased. 

When Ed was straightening books a while later he saw the Derbyshire maps and was interested in them.  I have two types: one shows villages and points of interest mentioned in the McLaren books and the other map shows villages, towns and points of interest mentioned in the Taylor & Graham books.  On the back of each map I have a short list of British words and the American meanings.  Ed took a bunch of both maps to slip into the books he will sell after the signing.  Frankly, I was astonished.  Not at his thoughtfulness but at his confidence.  He said he sells a number of my books -- people come in looking for English village mysteries and he sells my books.  He has only one Siren Song left and must order some more, so that made me happy!

Two friends who mentioned they would come didn't show up, but three friends who hadn't said they would come came.  So it all came out in the wash, I guess.  I was touched that my friend and fellow Muddy River Crime Writer Paul Schmit came.  He lives about a 45 minute drive away and he could have easily got a book from me in June when we have our panel discussion at a library closer to him.  But he supported me by driving to Big Sleep Books.  Did I mention he's included in my will?

All in all, a nice book signing.  Ed had some fabulous looking cupcakes up by the cash register.  I was going to ask where he got them but forgot.  Maybe it's best that I don't know....

Monday, May 2, 2011

Is this a dagger I see before me?

It may be easier to use a dagger as the murder weapon of book nine of Taylor & Graham.  I am having a heck of a time with my tool of choice.  I thought it would be "fun" to use poison for a change because I've not used that in my books.  So I researched and found what I wanted.  My book of poisons listed it as a toxicity level 5, which is pretty darn potent.  The highest rating is level 6.  Well, the book's fairly old and something whispered in my ear that I better do some further research, as things change.  So I bought a new edition of the same book.  Well, lo and behold!  The toxicity level is now 3 for the same poison!  Which means it's gonna take a lot more of it to do the intended harm.  And I doubt if any sane person who's in the position of my poor victim would come into contact with the needed dose without thinking something's fishy...and not just in Denmark.  I asked my pathologist friend, who supplies me all the medical info in my other books, and she replied that she knows nothing of this element.  So I'm back to wondering if I need to change poisons.  Or change murder method.

I'm rather partial to my original murder method.  I thought it all out and figured out how the poison is to be administered.  Rather cleverly, if I do say so.  If I switch methods to the dagger, let's say, I will have to come up with a whole new scenario for the murder scene.  How will the victim be dispatched now?  What will be his alibi?

It's very hard to commit murder without it being obvious as to whodunit.  At least I think it's hard.  Maybe I can still figure out how to bump off my fellow using the original idea, but I don't want it to wind up being unbelievable.  I could call the poison control center's 800 phone number, but I'm afraid the person answering the phone would think I'm trying to poison someone and this is a nice, easy piece of research.  I do like research, as you may know.  I'm partial to doing things to see how it feels or what my character would do.  But I draw the line at finding police breaking in my door and arresting me for hatching a murder.  A night in jail is just about too realistic for my writing.  I think I'll consider that dagger very seriously....