Please welcome today's honored guest poster, mystery author Vicki Delany. This month, Vicki has two new books published: Under Cold Stone, (Poisoned Pen Press), the seventh book in the Smith & Winters police procedural series, and Juba Good, a Rapid Reads Novella from Orca Books set in South Sudan. Her first Rapid Reads book, A Winter Kill, was shortlisted for the 2012 Arthur Ellis Award for best novella. In a total change of pace, she is now writing the Lighthouse Library series for Penguin Obsidian, a cozy series set on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, under the pen name Eva Gates. Look for By Book or By Crook in February, 2015. Vicki is proud to have been chosen as Canadian guest of honour for Bloody Words, the Canadian mystery conference, in June 2014.
Having taken early retirement from her job as a systems analyst in the high-pressure financial world, Vicki enjoys the rural life in bucolic, Prince Edward County, Ontario. Visit Vicki at www.vickidelany.com, on Twitter @vickidelany and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Vicki.Delany. She blogs about the writing life at One Woman Crime Wave (http://klondikeandtrafalgar.blogspot.com)
The topic of the week, Writing Regional, fits me very nicely. Because, in my very regional series, I decided it was time to take the characters out of town.
I write the Constable Molly Smith series from Poisoned Pen Press. The books are about a young policewoman, her co-workers, family, and friends in a small town in the British Columba Interior. The books are very much focused on the town, Trafalgar. Trafalgar is based on the real town of Nelson, B.C., about 20 minutes as the crow flies from the US border and about a two-hour drive to Spokane, Washington. Trafalgar is as much a character as the people. It’s a small town, remote, isolated, the sort of place no one drives through on the way to someplace else. Full of aging hippies and remnants of Vietnam war draft dodgers; new-agers in search of ‘ley lines’; artists wanting inspiration; the comfortably retired; wilderness vacationers; and plenty of transients.
The perfect place for a police procedural series. But, after six successful books, I felt we needed a change of scene. I considered sending Molly on vacation. To the Caribbean perhaps, or a canoe trip to Algonquin Park in Ontario. But that would leave out not only all those fellow-officers, family, and friends, but Trafalgar itself. Because, realistically, if Molly was vacationing in the Caribbean there wouldn’t be all that much for Sergeant John Winters or Lucy Smith (Molly’s mom) to do back in Trafalgar.
Veracity in the books is important to me. I think in fiction, you can have coincidences popping up now and again (heck, it happens in real life) but you have to take care it isn’t stretching credibility tooo much. The further away Molly was from Trafalgar, the harder it would be to have something related happening back in town.
I then went to Arizona on tour for my standalone novel More than Sorrow. I talked my dilemma over with Barbara Peters, the PPP editor. We agreed that if Molly ran into trouble on her vacation, there wouldn’t be much her mother could do. But if it was Lucky? Surely her cop-daughter would try to fix things.
And, if they weren’t too far away, then stuff could still be happening back in Trafalgar.
And so, in the new book Under Cold Stone, Lucky Smith is spending Thanksgiving weekend in Banff National Park, at the luxurious (and real!) Banff Springs Hotel. An unpleasant encounter, an altercation, a late night call for help. A dead body and a missing man.
Meanwhile, back in Trafalgar, Molly, who can’t cook, has decided to do the full Thanksgiving turkey dinner with all the trimmings. It is not going well. When her mom calls to tell her what’s going on, she leaps at the chance to abandon her chaotic kitchen and head for Banff.
Banff is a small town surrounded by the wilderness. A town set smack dab in the middle of Canada’s largest national park. The conflict between the town and the environs is intense. As it is in Trafalgar, where plans to turn a piece of prime Grizzly bear territory into a resort community are coming to a head.
If I do say so myself, I think I did a rather neat job of taking my regional series into new territory, while still maintaining strong links to back home.