Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!
I am so happy that Juliet could be here today. Her new book Murder on the House: A Haunted Home Renovation Mystery was just released. She gives us the story behind the story today.
I love doing research. Maybe it’s because of my background as a graduate student in Anthropology, but I can get lost in the research for my books: spending hours on the internet, reading entire swaths of the library, and passing whole days walking the streets of the neighborhoods where I set my stories (notepad in hand, of course!).
In fact, one of my very favorite things about being an author is getting to hang out “researching” for days on end –and getting to call it “work”! One of the hardest things, of course, is later making the tough decisions about what to include in one’s book — and what to leave out. I might find home renovation fascinating , but not everyone is up for me waxing poetic about the art of floor sanding, however intriguing it might seem to me when I witness a really good floor guy at work. (Seriously – these guys are impressive!)
But researching for my Haunted Home Renovation series also includes looking up ghost stories – and those are SO much fun. The seed for my latest novel, Murder on the House, was planted one day when I met a friend for lunch in the Castro District, a quirky, wonderful San Francisco neighborhood.
He told me about a nearby building called Nobby Clark’s Folly, a mansion built on 17 acres in “Eureka Valley” (now know as the Castro) in 1892. This was back before cars, when the area was considered to be out in the boonies for those living in downtown San Francisco. In fact, Clark’s wife decided it was too remote from Nob Hill, so she never moved in. You can see pictures and read the whole story here:
For the purposes of the story in Murder on the House, I changed the architecture from a Victorian extravaganza to an eclectic Greek revival with Italianate flourishes because the Victorian was too close to the home I described in my last book in the series, Dead Bolt. Nobby’s Folly became SF General hospital –it was that large!—which led me to make my fictional house a maternity hospital.
And, like just about any decent historic building in San Francisco, Nobby’s Folly, abandoned as it was, was rumored to be haunted. As one account read:
On nights when the coastal fog creeps down over Twin Peaks and the nearby hills with long white fingers, the huge house looms darkly out of the weblike mist. The hollow “clops” of horses’ hoofs on cobblestone streets and the rickety clink of carriages and harnesses can sometimes be heard passing by, unseen, on wet, cold streets outside the mansion… some of the tenants have heard heavy measured footsteps in the hallways, passing by on their way to some ghostly business. Could these sounds be the ghost of Mr. Clarke returning to survey the old estate that he loved so well?
I ask you, how can a mystery author read something like that and not think up a plot or two? Guess that’s why I love research!
Thank you so much Juliet for sharing your inspiration for this story! I hope you will come back again soon!
About This Author
Juliet Blackwell is the NYT bestselling author of the Haunted Home Renovation mystery series (If Walls Could Talk, Dead Bolt, Murder on the House) and the Witchcraft mystery series (Secondhand Spirits, A Cast-off Coven, Hexes and Hemlines, In a Witch’s Wardrobe, and the upcoming Tarnished and Torn). As Hailey Lind, Juliet penned the Art Lover’s Mystery series, including Agatha-nominated Feint of Art. A former anthropologist and social worker, Juliet has worked and studied in Mexico, Spain, Cuba, Italy, the Philippines, and France. She now lives in a happily haunted house in Oakland, California, where she is a muralist and portrait painter. She was a two-term president of Northern California Sisters in Crime.
Murder on the House:
A Haunted Home Renovation Mystery
3rd in Series
An Obsidian Mystery (December 4, 2012)
Published by New American Library
A Division of The Penguin Group
Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
Bed-and-breakfast—with a side of ghosts.
Mel Turner has a way with ghosts and people are starting to talk. So much so that the new owners of a historic house have contacted her not only to restore the house but to use her abilities to encourage the ghosts thought to be there to roam about. They want to open a haunted Bed & Breakfast.
In order to win the contact she must stay overnight in the house with another prospective contractor and the elderly caretaker, who also is the previous owner. The sleepover comes to an abrupt halt when the estate gains another supernatural occupant. Someone didn’t make it through the night. Mel hopes that she can get the resident spirits help her find the killer before she becomes another victim and joins them in their ghostly world .
These stories first drew me in because of my house construction background but now in addition to that it is the history woven into the story. Juliet Blackwell blends the history with the mystery to give us readers an excellent read. That the house the story is based on could actually have been haunted just added to the story. I could hear the creaks and the groans and the marbles bouncing down the stairs – sent shivers up my spine.
Mel is a spunky protagonist and seems to have no fear most of the time but even this set of ghosts took their toll on her. Her life is not turning out the way she planned. She wanted to take off for Paris but her dad needed her so she came home. She enjoys restoring homes but there are days she wishes for Paris, but I think the trouble who just follow her there. Her gift now realizes would sneak up on her wherever she goes. I am glad she is sticking around San Francisco and the construction biz. Who knows who she will have haunting her during her next renovation?
Murder on the House is a smart and clever mystery all cozy lovers will enjoy!!
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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.”