Release date - 10th May 2017
Book length - 384 pages
Publisher - www.harpercollins.co.uk
Amazon UK - www.amazon.co.uk
Amazon US - www.amazon.com
Can fiction kill?
Vicky Simmons’s life was supposed to be relaxing after she moved back home to the coast of Maine, but instead of baking bread and gardening she’s been chasing down killers and it’s time to stop. Vicky is ready to slow down again and vows to start focusing more on her roses than solving crime.
That is until she reads the new serial in the paper over breakfast, describing a brutal murder that takes place on a cliff top road just above a beach. Only to find herself moments later, walking Coco and Mr. Pug, face to face with a dead body on the sand. The murder victim described exactly as he was in the story…
Once again death has come to Glen Cove and this time Vicky and her friends won’t stop until they find the killer before they get away with murder.
Don’t miss any title in the Country Gift Shop Cozy Mystery series:
Book 1 - Dead to Begin With
Book 2 - Grand Prize: Murder!
Book 3 - Written into the Grave
I am delighted to welcome the wonderfully talented Vivian Conroy to my blog today. Vivian has kindly given us a delightful insight into the thought process and work involved in writing a series. Enjoy!
Writing a series - Guest post by cozy mystery author Vivian Conroy
I love to do polls on Twitter, about anything from 'are you a tea or a coffee person?' to 'which do you like better: writing the first draft or editing?' So I also did a poll to ask what this guest post should be about. There were four choices, and 39% of the votes went to: writing a series.
Now I'm writing several series for HarperCollins so I should have something to say about this. While my Lady Alkmene 1920s' series plays out at different locations in each installment - London, Dartmoor, Cornwall - my contemporary Country Gift Shop series takes place in the small coastal town of Glen Cove in Maine. The mystery is wrapped up within each installment, so books can be read as standalone. No spoilers of earlier books! But as the series progresses, the readers discover more about the town, the inhabitants and of course the lead characters, Vicky Simmons and her friends Marge and Ms. Tennings. I also introduced a recurring element. If you read all books, you might guess what it is...
Let's have a closer look at the way I developed the series:
1) The town.
Glen Cove is your typical small town, where people all know each other, care for each other and gossip about each other, only a little of course... Like Vicky's mother Claire says: 'I'm not nosy, I just like to know things.' As a coastal town with a big draw for tourists, at least in the summer season, a lot of the shops sell coastal-themed products, the diner has clam chowder and the beach is never far away. Vicky's shop with British products stands out, and her ideas to draw more tourists to the town during the slow winter season aren't well received by all. Especially the Joneses of Jones General Store right opposite to Vicky's shop keep a wary eye on her. In each book I take the reader to different places around town: the villa of a posh inhabitant, the community center, restaurants in different shapes and sizes (good food is important!) and in WRITTEN INTO THE GRAVE the cliff side where the murder takes place exactly as described in an installment of the newspaper serial Seaside Secrets, written up by the local writing group.
2) The inhabitants.
Several inhabitants have a recurring role in the books, such as the aforementioned Joneses, newspaper editor and secret crush Michael Danning, Sheriff Cash Rowland, his deputies and rather talkative dispatcher. Other inhabitants appear only in one installment where they play the part of witness, suspect, curious bystander etc. Even the characters who make a quick appearance to disappear again I try to give personality, like bankrupt beautician and dog groomer Gwenda in book 1. In fact, it can be quite fun to write the minor characters who can muddy the waters with their story, often driven by personal motives. Once a murder has happened, everybody has a reason to tell what they know, and tell it in a certain way. Lies may not indicate guilt but they are always a clue: they do point at some kind of deeper cause, in the life of the liar, his or her relationship with the victim or the suspect(s).
3) The lead characters.
Vicky and her two friends who help out at the store - Marge and Ms. Tennings - are ideally suited to make the gift shop a success: Marge is the optimistic organizer who can get people involved without pushing them, while former nanny and royalty expert Ms Tennings has many contacts to draw to the store. Their talents also help with sleuthing: there is always a local to ask about a bit of missing information. To keep it fresh, Vicky also gets sleuthing assistance from other people like Michael who as newspaper editor is often in the know, and even Cash, the sheriff, who is an old college friend of hers. Their former bond gives Vicky some leeway to plead with Cash and get involved in the cases. In WRITTEN INTO THE GRAVE though it's Cash asking Vicky for help, to break the bad news of the murder to the victim's widow whom Vicky knows a little. Once intrigued by the people involved, the accusations flying around, also blaming Marge who organized the serial in which the murder was described, Vicky has no choice but to figure out what really happened at the cliffs. But of course that's not without danger...
4) The dogs.
Vicky's mother Claire has two dogs: a bichon frise and a pug, and they are recurring characters in the books. Whether present when important evidence is discovered (in book 1) or leading Vicky to the crime scene on a walk (in book 3) or just providing dog cuddles and support in hard times, the dogs are as much a part of the cast as any human. Mr. Pug is the beggar for treats, the charmer, too dignified to play fetch, while playful Coco likes to tear up the newspaper, run on the beach and get in trouble with bigger dogs, at which point Mr. Pug is not afraid to step in. True friends, to each other and to the people they love. They also make perfect cover models!
5) The recurring element.
In book 1 I gave Vicky a nightmare where she was being chased by purple beams (she was changing a rather flashy beauty parlor into a classic British gift shop) and I thought it would be fun to have the dream element return in books 2 and 3. Vicky's dreams are muddled representations of what's happening in her personal life and the murder case, just like real-life dreams often are full of what we are busy with, in an oddly twisted way. Of course the dreams just might contain some sort of a clue element (Vicky's unconscious mind is working on the crime even when she's in bed!), and it's for you, the reader, to fill in what it might be.
To sum it all up: in writing a series I can return, again and again, to a place I love, to spend time with people I care for and dogs I want to pat through the pages. I hope you will also find warmth, friendship and twisty mystery in Glen Cove! Please drop by on Twitter via @VivWrites to tell me what you as a reader love about series!
Vivian Conroy writes the Country Gift Shop Mysteries and the Lady Alkmene 1920s' mysteries for HQDigitalUK, a division of HarperCollins. When she's not writing, Vivian enjoys hiking, crafting and trying new dessert recipes. For all things books, with a dash of dogs and chocolate, give her a follow on Twitter via @VivWrites. You can also add and review all her books on Goodreads and LibraryThing.
Thank you so much to Vivian Conroy for taking the time to write such an interesting piece and giving us an insight into her world.
Hi fellow bookworms. My name is Linda and I'm a reviewer & blogger from Ireland. Oh and also a wife and mother!
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