Thursday, January 7, 2010
Gluest Blogger - Kathy Lynn Emerson
“The Magic of Being an Author”
“The Magic of Being an Author” comes in many forms but my favorite just now is the magic of serendipity—when strange and wonderful things happen at just the right time. Let me tell you a little story.
I’ve been writing professionally for the last twenty-five years, using several names. Way back when Beanie Babies were all the rage, I started brainstorming a story about the lengths to which people would go to find the “hot” new toy of the Christmas season. There were stories in the local newspapers here in Maine about customs officers stopping cars at the Canadian border and confiscating trunk loads of illegal Beanie Babies. I wondered at the time how else such small treasures might be smuggled into the country. Not that I’d ever encourage anyone to break the law, you understand, but I am a mystery writer. Figuring out how criminals might get away with murder and other crimes is part of what I do.
Sometimes it takes a while for all the pieces to fit together. This idea had to go on the back burner while I concentrated on writing historical mysteries under my real name, Kathy Lynn Emerson. Then, a couple of years ago, using the pseudonym Kaitlyn Dunnett, I started writing a contemporary mystery series about a former professional Scottish dancer named Liss MacCrimmon. The first two are KILT DEAD and SCONE COLD DEAD and both are set in the tiny Maine village of Moosetookalook. Which just happens to be quite close to the Canadian border. When I decided that the third novel would be set in winter (the first two were fall and spring) and needed a mystery for Liss to solve, I remembered the Beanie Babies.
By the magic of fiction, in A WEE CHRISTMAS HOMICIDE the Beanie Babies became Tiny Teddies and a toyshop opened in downtown Moosetookalook, just a few doors down from Liss’s Scottish Emporium. It turns out that Moosetookalook merchants have the only supply left in all of New England of the hottest toy of the season. Hoping to make a killing on sales of Tiny Teddies—the ones Liss has in her shop are wearing kilts—our intrepid heroine organizes the Twelve Shopping Days of Christmas.
I won’t tell you the whole story. Obviously, since this is a murder mystery, someone gets bumped off. And since my series features an amateur sleuth, Liss is the one who solves the crime, reluctantly assisted by State Police Detective Gordon Tandy, her sometime suitor.
By now you may be wondering what happened to that serendipity I mentioned. When I finished writing A WEE CHRISTMAS HOMICIDE, I was a wee bit worried. My stories are light-hearted. I hope they amuse. But I can’t stretch credulity too far without losing readers. The Beanie Baby craze was over a long time ago. I wondered if anyone in 2009 would believe that otherwise rational people would go to such lengths to buy a toy.
I needn’t have been concerned. This Christmas has its own version of Beanie Babies. What could have been more serendipitous than the phenomenon of the Zhu Zhu pets? Anyone who accepts that the “hot” toy this year is a battery-operated hamster should have no trouble at all accepting what happens when the Tiny Teddies invade Moosetookalook, Maine.
There’s definitely magic at work.
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