Something Borrowed, Something 90% Dark
(A Bean to Bar Mystery)
by Amber Royer
I am delighted to welcome Amber Royer
to Escape With Dollycas today!
Writing to Live Vicariously
by Amber Royer
I’m coming up on my 27th wedding anniversary. (By the time you are reading this, it will probably have passed.) When Jake and I got married, we were basically still kids, all of 19 years old, totally broke, and not prepared for life. The last thing we were thinking about was a fancy wedding. Not that weddings in the 90s were anything like weddings are today.
I’ve been teasing a wedding in my Bean to Bar Mysteries, and it’s finally time for it to happen in the sixth book, Something Borrowed, Something 90% Dark. My protagonist, Felicity, is matron of honor for her BFF Autumn, who is getting married in a historic mansion on Galveston Island. Autumn is independently wealthy, so obviously her budget allows for her to pull out all the stops. And since I never had a giant seven-tiered wedding cake, planning the details of the scenes meant I got to live vicariously through her. And since I am a bit extra, I intentionally planned to release the wedding-themed installment in my series the week after my anniversary, to spend a little more time in the glow of all the romance. While the book is a cozy mystery, so obviously bad things do happen, this is the book that brings together so much of the character-building Felicity has done so far over the series. And now that she has moved on from grief, and figured out who she is, she’s given herself until the day of Autumn’s wedding to choose between her two love interests. Which means I finally got to write the scene that has been books in the making, where she confesses her love.
I know love triangles are hard to write without leaving someone bitter and broken, but I think I managed to keep everything upbeat and leave both guys with the future they really needed. Both characters will appear in future books in the series, as they are both a big part of Felicity’s community and friend circle – and folks she’d likely run into the next time she finds herself embroiled in solving an unexpected murder.
But as for researching the logistics of Autumn’s wedding itself – I had a bit of fun with it. Jake and I went to a bridal expo to get ideas, and at every table we approached, someone asked us if we’d chosen a date yet. I’d explain that we’d been married for many years – but that the characters in my book were getting married. This proved to be a good conversation starter. Wedding planners started to open up and tell us about the craziest things that had happened to them or their clients at weddings. We talked to a DJ who made me promise that the bad guy in my book wouldn’t be a DJ. I even met another writer, who gave me a bookmark for her historical fiction. But more importantly, I learned a few things about logistics that wound up going into the book. For instance, I found out that in Texas, if alcohol is going to be served at a venue, there has to be on-site security, which changed a number of things about the way I had to write the climactic scene. Because those guys weren’t going to just stand around and let heroes and villains play things out in front of them. Honestly, I think the way I wound up writing it was more interesting than what I had originally planned.
And the ideas that were sparked from visiting with vendors included the idea of the outdoor coffee and cocktail carts, which started out as just fun set dressing when Felicity was exploring the venue, but likewise came in handy for getting characters in the right place at the right time.
I love getting to do the kind of research where you get to see and taste and ask questions you might otherwise not have thought to ask. That’s one of the things I love about being a writer. You have a reason to travel and to go to events, and people talk to you about their passions and careers because you are asking specific questions. (Sometimes I’m even proposing scenarios – such as when I was doing research for one of the earlier books in the series and needed to know what artifact from a pirate ship my characters could potentially find.) Because of that, living through your characters, while true, can sometimes turn into just living and writing a version of that. And your lived experience helps feed the emotions on the page, whether the experience and the fiction line up 1 to 1 or not. I know what it’s like to be in love, though not in a love triangle. So I can write Felicity being nervous to share how she really feels. At the same time, I get the whole wish-fulfilment thing of having her throw a fancy party with all the things I would love to do if I could go back in time, because that’s where the conversation with the big emotional payoff is set. There’s that synergy sometimes in making art, where you get to feel braver than you really are because that’s what the character you are writing feels, or you’re able to come up with the witty comeback at just the right time because the scene pauses until you get it perfect. It’s a fine line between that and indulging in vicariously living through the characters in a way that brings the plot to a halt, gives the characters impenetrable plot armor, or bores readers as you meander. But I think honest art does require you to put something of yourself into the book, to some slight degree, in most of the characters, concerns and themes.
About Something Borrowed,
Something 90% Dark
Something Borrowed, Something 90% Dark (A Bean to Bar Mystery)
6th in Series
Setting – Texas
Golden Tip Press (September 12, 2023)
Print length : 301 pages
Digital ASIN : B0C9YXTC78
Felicity Koerber’s bean to bar chocolate shop on Galveston’s historic Strand is hosting the friends and family coming into town for her best friend Autumn’s wedding. As matron of honor, Felicity has a ton of tasks to complete – including making chocolates for the gift bags. She doesn’t have time to solve another murder. But when one of the bridesmaids becomes a prime suspect in the death of a visiting real estate agent, Felicity has to put her detecting skills to use again to keep the wedding plans from getting derailed.
She’s already nervous about the impeding deadline she’s given herself to finally choose between her two love interests – and figuring where life goes once she makes her choice. But add in a missing pigmy goat and a new coffee shop that wants to partner with her, and she’s frazzled.
She begins to discover that not everything is as it seems among the wedding guests. Can she handle the wedding preparations, pull off turning her shop into a concert venue, and unmask the killer – before anyone else dies?
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.
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