I’ve just completed writing the third book of my South County Mystery Series, Last Carol of the Season. Of course, writing’s the easy part. Now begins the editing, formatting, proofing, and myriad assorted tasks necessary in bringing a book to publication.
I’d never really intended to do a series. Last Train to Kingston was written to appease my Rhode Island friends who felt I should show some loyalty to my own state. I’d been writing children’s stories set in the Berkshires of Massachusetts and my RI audience wanted something local. I had no idea that first mystery would be so popular. But still, my RI fans were not appeased. They wanted another book with Detective Lieutenant Kara Langley investigating and solving crimes right here in our own back yard.
So, I wrote Last Rose on the Vine and set it right here in Kingston at the University of Rhode Island. It launched in April and sales are doing well. Now, I don’t need to be hit over the head (like poor Thea in Last Train) to know I’ve got a good thing going and there are three more towns here in South Kingstown, Detective Langley’s purview.
I think Last Carol is my favorite so far. It’s set at Christmas time in Wakefield, the village I first moved to when I decided to live in South Kingstown. Although the underlying theme of the book involves abuse, alcoholism, and the effects they have on families, there is much joy in the pages of this book. A wedding is being planned. Parties, gift shopping, decorating, baking, holiday traditions are all intertwined and every chapter title is taken from a line or two of a favorite Christmas Carol or Hymn. The words in the lyrics form a motif around which the scenes in each chapter revolve. And of course there is the local history and settings which thread through the plot as the mystery unfolds. I’m sorry to see this one end but I’ve already begun writing the fourth book, Last Sermon for a Sinner, set in the village of Peace Dale.
Tonight, I’ll be discussing the South County Series at our town library. It’s going to rain and I’m not sure how many people will attend, but I enjoy talking about the characters I’ve created and the familiar settings included in each book, so if one person shows up, I’ll be happy.
One more thing – last year I mentored an art student, Zachary Perry, from the University. Zach graduated this spring and is setting up his own business, ZPerryDesigns.com. We worked together for over a year on my latest children’s book, Carnivore Conundrum and now he’ll continue designing the covers for the South County Series. Here’s a look at one of his ideas for the Christmas cover: