I am really excited to welcome Connie Archer,
author of Soup Lover’s Mysteries,
to Escape With Dollycas.
The creative process – Everyone talks about it. Everyone seems to have an idea about what it is, how it works and how best to make it happen — how to capture it and ride that wave. Is it a matter of shutting off our conscious mind – the part of us that pays attention to whether the gas bill was paid or if we have enough coffee in the cupboard to last the week? A matter of allowing our imaginations free rein to connect with all those alternate souls who inhabit the theater gallery of our mind? And for mystery or crime writers what is it that compels us to move into the darkness, the pathology of a killer’s mind, to dwell on the unimaginable?
Maybe we’re all just a little bit weirder than most people.
I admit – I have a suspicious mind. And maybe that’s an essential thing for a mystery writer. I’ve never been able to take things or people at face value. I want to know all about the man who jumped off the bridge. I want to know what made him tick. What did he do for a living? Was he married? Children? What forces led him to that act?
I used to be very good at ignoring my instincts, my first impressions, but as time went by, I learned to pay attention – to listen to the atmospheres around me, the crackling of ionization in the air. Eventually I accepted and trusted my gut reactions. Our society admonishes us to be polite, politically correct, do the right thing, not think badly of others, and slowly but surely we’re trained to dismiss our first instinctive reaction. That person I just met – why did I have that instantaneous feeling? Did I sense an immediate bond? Or did he (or she) make my skin crawl? And why? Could that lovely polite man who runs a shop in my neighborhood have a secret practice? Is he hiding something from his past? Suspicions about a neighbor who comes and goes at odd times of the night — why was he digging for hours in his back yard? I haven’t noticed any new bushes or petunias lately. And who knows if his wife really did leave on that trip?
But for a writer, how does a story take shape? Do we sit at the keyboard and await inspiration? Hoping to be bonked on the head by the fairy wand of our muse? Waiting to be hit by the lightning bolt of brilliance? Or do we ferret out some tiny little thing that’s been haunting us for a while – a snippet of a story read on the web? Some small event that eats away at us until it emerges full blown into a story idea? The “what if” of a neighbor whose daily routine suddenly changes, the “what if” the witness to a crime was really the perpetrator?
What is that alchemy that takes place when thoughts, feelings, or free-floating ideas converge into a plot? As I was finishing the last revisions of A Spoonful of Murder, the first book in the soup shop series, I was terribly anxious to complete the project. I was convinced that somehow, some way, huge hunks of the story line of the next book in the series, A Broth of Betrayal, were plunking themselves down in my overworked gray cells. The plot and story were forming in my head. I was fearful I might lose what was coming through, like a dream that evaporates like a whiff of smoke upon wakening.
And, like an idiot, I was sure that when I started to plan and plot the third book the same thing would happen. It didn’t. I waited. Nothing. No fairy sparkles were meshed in my hair. What was I going to do? How could I come up with a story? I had a deadline for heaven’s sake! And nothing, absolutely nothing was running around in my brain.
Then it happened. A couple of things popped into my consciousness. Well, actually one thing. It was a story that caught my eye when I clicked open my email. A news article about eleven Romanian gypsies arrested at the Canadian border. That was the lead in. I double-clicked on the story, fascinated at the juxtaposition of a Canadian Mountie (not sure if the Canada Border Patrol is manned by Mounties) clashing with a brightly painted caravan of fortune tellers in long skirts and scarves toting crystal balls. I’m sure the reality looked nothing like that. The eleven Romanians were probably traveling in four muscle cars and creeping along a fire road that would take them eventually to the U.S. But I was still fascinated. What were Romanian gypsies doing in Canada, attempting to illegally enter the U.S.?
The second thing that had been hanging around in my consciousness even though I was only dimly aware of it was the sound of a song sung in Gaelic and played by a woman with a stand up bass and a bow. It followed me around. It was haunting and beautiful and in its strange language, the melody of the music sent shivers up my spine. It would not leave me alone.
And that was the kernel of the beginning of the third book in the soup shop series, now entitled A Roux of Revenge.
Do I have any answers about the creative process? No, I don’t think so. I have absolutely no idea what it is or how it happens. Maybe the secret is to just listen to the unspoken sounds around you, to listen to the spaces between the notes.
About This Author
Connie Archer is the national bestselling author of A Spoonful of Murder, the first in the soup lover’s mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime. A Broth of Betrayal was released on April 2, 2013. Connie was born and raised in New England. She now lives on the other coast.
Visit her website and blog at http://www.conniearchermysteries.com
A Broth of Betrayal
(A Soup Lover’s Mystery)
2nd in Series
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
The Berkley Publishing Group (April 2, 2013)
Published by The Penguin Group
Cover Illustration by Cathy Gendron
Cover Design by Diana Kolsky
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
E-Book File Size: 999 KB
Even a town called Snowflake, Vermont, has a summer season. In August, Lucky Jamieson’s By the Spoonful serves chilled soups—celery and green onion, cream of asparagus—and salads. The shop also serves as a gathering place to talk about cold-blooded murder…
Snowflake, Vermont is picturesque town frequented by tourists from the nearby Snowflake Ski Resort during the winter season. Off season it is home to year round residents, many who own businesses supported by the tourists. But there is a new business trying to open and none of the residents are happy. An ugly car wash has been approved by the town council and the people are protesting with a march in front of the site. Then all of the sudden the digging stops, it seems they have uncovered a skeleton that may date back to the Revolutionary War.
The town is then shaken by two more discoveries. Local mechanic, Harry Hodges, has been found dead in his shop and the mayor of the town, Lucky’s friend, Elizabeth has gone missing. Lucky plans to use her noodle to find her friend and the killer no matter how much trouble she stirs up.
This book is full of wonderful mysteries, a skeleton discovered, a missing person, and a murder. The pages flew by.
Archer has created such lively characters. Lucky is a strong protagonist who doesn’t mind finding herself “in the soup” as she tries to save her friend or catch a killer. Her romance with her middle school crush, Dr. Elias Scott is progressing nicely. My favorite character is Lucky’s grandfather Jack, a retired Navy man who still tells time according to bells. He is devoted to his granddaughter and truly her right arm as she runs the business left to her by her parents.
I found the historical element in this story very interesting. Bodies hastily buried during the Revolutionary War being found today like this one can have a very eventful story when researched. The reenactment of The Battle of Bennington was a great way to tie this element together in this town to with a sultry summer activity.
I was also intrigued by the story that evolves as historic towns try to stay true to the historic quality and feeling as modern needs try to fit in. The car wash may have not been so bad with a few architectural elements to help in blend in with the surrounding businesses.
After reading the first book in this series, A Spoonful of Murder, I knew the author had a “souper” idea for her cozy series and that her stories would be filled with drama. She exceeded my expectations with this installment. I liked it even better than the last. She gives us a taste of the next story, A Roux of Revenge, and she has definitely whetted by appetite for more. My next visit to Snowflake cannot come soon enough!
Thanks to the people at Penguin
I have 2 copies 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.”