The biggest thrill is reaching out to an author, asking them to stop by for a visit and having them say “yes”. When I was working on my Recommendations page a few months ago Molly’s book caught my eye. It could have been the cat on the cover or the crafter in my heart or my love of cozy mysteries. The one thing I knew for sure was that I wanted her to drop by here for a visit. I was chair dancing when she said YES! Please help me Welcome Molly MacRae! And help yourself to a glass of Rosemary Watermelon Lemonade. (The recipe can be found in the back of Last Wool and Testament).
Miniature World Building
I like small things. I’m not all that big myself. And ever since learning about microcosms in a long-ago high school English class, I’ve liked them, too. Hearing the definition – a larger world or society illustrated in the form of a small world – flipped a light bulb on for me. That world-made-small construction is exactly what I love about stories and it’s probably why I gravitate toward small-town mysteries. Small-town mysteries give us the world in a compact package. We learn our way around that world and confront it or stumble through it as the story unfolds. Small-town mysteries make the world navigable. They make it cozy.
There are lots of examples of microcosms in the bigger world of literature – Ahab’s ship, that wretched island in Lord of the Flies. Jane Marple would probably agree that St. Mary Mead is a microcosm. One of my favorite microcosms, though, is from childhood reading. It’s that house where “Sally and I” are sitting on that cold, cold, wet day when the Cat in the Hat comes calling. Talk about the excitement and danger of the big world knocking on our door! The Cat in the Hat, told in a story that uses only 236 distinct words, is a classic struggle between the forces of chaos and the strength of goodness and doing what’s right. Actually, that little house is more of a nano-cosm, but you get the idea.
Microcosms make great playgrounds for writers. It’s fun creating characters and putting them in uncomfortable shoes and even less comfortable situations, building shops and houses and furnishing them either well or outrageously, sampling everything in the bakery without gaining an ounce, publishing newspapers and building roads – and doing all of that with the magical taps of a keyboard. So cool!
Blue Plum, Tennessee, is my new play area. To build it, I grabbed my favorite bits and pieces – including people – from small towns I’ve known and lived in, and I trucked them to the northeastern corner of the state. There I assembled everything in a low valley nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It seems to be working out pretty well, too. Blue Plum is a swell little town. The characters are settling in nicely and making it their own.
You’ll find Blue Plum in my new Haunted Yarn Shop mysteries, starting with Last Wool and Testament (just out!) And if you’re on Pinterest, look me up. I put together some boards that might give you a photographic inkling of that small corner of the world. The boards are a work in progress, but the mountains are there and views of Main Street, the courthouse, Mel’s café, the Weaver’s Cat, the little house on Lavender Street that Kath inherited from Ivy, and the cemetery where Ivy is buried. Mel’s bakery case is there, too. Try not to drool.
About This Author
Molly MacRae spent twenty years in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Upper East Tennessee, where she managed The Book Place, an independent bookstore; may it rest in peace. Her short stories have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine for more than twenty years, and she has won the Sherwood Anderson Award for Short Fiction.
Before the lure of books hooked her, she was curator of the history museum in Jonesborough, Tennessee’s oldest town.
Last Wool and Testament:
(Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries)
Brand New Series
Obsidian (September 4, 2012)
Published by New American Library
A Division of The Penguin Group
Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
TGIF – Thank Goodness It’s Fiber! That’s the the name of a group of fiber and needlework artists founded by Kath Rutledge’s grandmother Ivy. Sadly Ivy just recently passed away and Kath has come home to Blue Plum, Tennessee to see to decide what to do with her grandmother’s shop, The Weaver’s Cat, and settle all her other affairs. Little did she know that her grandmother was the prime suspect in a recent murder. Kath needs to clear Ivy’s name and she has a help from a very surprising specter. Seems the ghost has just as much interest in solving the murder as Kath. So with her spirit sidekick and the members of TGIF Kath “sets out to unravel the clues and hook the real killer”.
The residents of Blue Plum are so much fun, even the ones everybody can’t see! In fact Geneva was my favorite character. Kath had quite a time with her and I loved every minute. She starts out very gloomy and depressed but by the end she is oh so happy. Well as happy as a ghost can be.
This was a complex mystery and I thought I had it all figured out but I was wrong.
From Kath’s speeding home as quickly as possible to get to the funeral until the final clue is unraveled the pages just keep turning. Molly MacRae has woven together a smart and witty whodunit for all of us to love.
I have 2 copies of the awesome book to giveaway!!
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”