Out of Temper (Bean to Bar Mysteries)
by Amber Royer
I am delighted to welcome Amber Royer to
Escape With Dollycas today!
I hope you enjoy my guest post.
Why are readers so drawn to pop culture references? I’ve thought a lot about that, both in what I enjoy watching and reading and as I pepper references through my own writing.
I think part of it is familiarity. And that’s the balancing act, right? If the references are too obscure, you’re making the reader feel like an outsider if they either don’t get it, or they have to go look it up. And yes, not every reader is going to get every reference, no matter how grounding or commonplace it may seem to you as a writer. But if you try to challenge readers, or to show off your knowledge of obscure trivia or rarely read books, you can easily alienate them instead.
What I like to do if I’m not sure readers are going to know a reference is to provide enough context that the reader can get a general idea of what I’m talking about, even if they haven’t read or seen the source material. For instance, in Out of Temper, the setting is a murder mystery cruise, and there are a couple of costumed events that take place. My protagonist, Felicity, and her friends have chosen not to dress up. Logan, who is usually a leather jacket and serious face guy, has opted for a Hawaiian shirt. Autumn, Felicity’s free-spirited best friend, has on a full set of vintage rhinestone jewelry. And there’s Felicity in slacks and a basic blouse. So when one of the partygoers assumes they are in costume, and identifies them as Thomas Magnum, Phryne Fisher and Jessica Fletcher, respectively, the in-the-know reader is immediately going to get the joke. But for other readers – and because getting a character’s reaction to events is the easiest way into making that character feel like a real person – I give Felicity’s internal narration. She’s a bit discombobulated and a little indignant that her two friends naturally look like “cool” detectives, whereas she’s been described as more ordinary. So even if you’ve never seen a single episode of Magnum, you have enough information to feel like you are now on the inside of the reference.
Jake and I participated in an event recently where you got clues that took you to different points in Downtown Dallas, and you used your phone to access interviews and information that would guide you to the next spot to get the next clue. We weren’t interacting with other players, but many of the participating teams were dressed in matching tee-shirts, or full on team costumes. I borrowed this idea for the LARP that takes place early on in the book, and these costumes not only provide more opportunity for references, but become an integral part of the plot.
I’m always looking for ways to make my fictional characters feel connected to the real world. Right from the first book in the Bean to Bar series, I painted Felicity as a voracious reader, who loves travel and experiencing different parts of the world, both in books and in person. She reads widely across genres. This gives me a lot of references to pull from.
I’ve also chosen a “grounding book” for each Bean to Bar book. This is a book that Felicity sees and has her hands on at some point in the story. The book either holds a clue, or sparks an epiphany, or otherwise helps Felicity to advance the story. It also serves as a source of parallels and metaphors. In Grand Openings Can Be Murder, the grounding book was Jane Austen’s Emma. In 70% Dark Intentions, the grounding book was The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells. Now, for Out of Temper, I’ve chosen Murder on the Orient Express. For a novel set on a murder-mystery-themed cruise, where Felicity is surrounded by mystery writers and far too many potential suspects, it had to be a Christie novel for her to effectively draw those parallels. I introduce the book as one of the big prizes in a ship-board raffle, and Felicity is impressed by the fact that so many of the writers she talks to were inspired by Christie – including Autumn, who was a former mystery writer herself.
I think introducing these books is a fun way to pay homage to other writers I’ve read and enjoyed. I’m in the middle of plotting book four in the series, A Shot in the 80% Dark. I haven’t chosen a grounding book for it yet, but I’m sure once I do, it will help guide some aspects of the plot. And give me ample fodder for jokes or insights.
So, how about it? If you had been invited to that party with Felicity, and decided to dress up, which fictional detective would you go as? And if someone there asked which book first influenced you to read mysteries, what would you say?
Thank you Amber for dropping by today!
About Out of Temper
Out of Temper (Bean to Bar Mysteries)
3rd in Series
Golden Tip Press (February 1, 2022)
Paperback : 264 pages
ISBN-10 : 1952854121
ISBN-13 : 978-1952854125
Digital ASIN : B09MBQ1186
Felicity Koerber’s bean to bar chocolate shop on Galveston’s historic Strand has been the scene of two murders – both of which she has been instrumental in helping solve. So when she gets invited to demo her chocolate skills aboard a cruise ship sailing out of the local port, she’s excited at the chance to get away from the shop long enough to regain her equilibrium. She even brings her best friend along, and makes plans for time at the spa. But when she gets on board, she finds out that she’s been booked for a mystery-themed cruise, and said best friend, Autumn, has to finally deal with the real reasons she quit writing mysteries. Only – if that wasn’t stressful enough – it doesn’t take long before there’s a real murder on the cruise, and someone Felicity knows becomes the prime suspect. When said suspect asks her for help, she can’t exactly say no, can she?
Felicity finds herself surrounded by cruise goers who all had connections to the victim – and finds that both Logan (her business partner, whom she recently kissed) and Arlo (the cop who was once Felicity’s first boyfriend, before she moved away from Galveston) are dealing with the case until more official help can arrive. How will Felicity survive the ensuing awkwardness?
One thing that helps: the retired police dog turned therapy dog she meets on board. Satchmo helps Felicity deal with being back on the water after tragedy in her past – and also helps her uncover a vital clue to the case. Can Felicity unmask the killer and keep a friend from being framed before all the suspects leave the ship?
More About Amber Royer
Amber Royer writes the CHOCOVERSE comic telenovela-style foodie-inspired space opera series, and the BEAN TO BAR MYSTERIES. She is also the author of STORY LIKE A JOURNALIST: A WORKBOOK FOR NOVELISTS, which boils down her writing knowledge into an actionable plan involving over 100 worksheets to build a comprehensive story plan for your novel. She blogs about creative writing techniques and all things chocolate at www.amberroyer.com. She also teaches creative writing and is an author coach. If you are very nice to her, she might make you cupcakes. Chocolate cupcakes, of course.
Great Escapes Praise for Out of Temper (Bean to Bar Mysteries)
by Amber Royer
5-STAR REVIEW: OUT OF TEMPER by Amber Royer. If a light-hearted mystery is what the reader is looking for, look no further and give “Out of Temper” a try.
Amber Royer’s OUT OF TEMPER is a mystery set in a place I love – a cruise ship. Temper is the delicate way chocolate is cooled and formed into shapes. Yum.
~Here’s How It Happened
I look forward to these bean-to-bar chocolate books as chocolate is my fave. This all combines into an enjoyable story that is sure to delight fans of cozies or chocolate. I totally loved it so I give it 5/5 stars.
~Books a Plenty Book Reviews
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