Reunions Can Be Murder
Some book ideas start with the crime, some with the characters—this one started with the title. We were at my family reunion that summer and my cousins began teasing me about my book titles, each being something-can-be-murder. When, in the middle of a red-hot beanbag-toss game, someone joked about calling a book Reunions Can Be Murder, my little writer brain went “Ah-ha!”
On the way home Dan and I were driving along a narrow back road when we spotted the turnoff to a ghost town called White Oaks. We followed the trail and came to the town that I later described in the book. A nice man there—despite his being quite hard of hearing and asking us to repeat all our questions—gave us a tour of the old schoolhouse and told some very interesting stories. Some of those also made it into the book, others were fictionalized.
Anyway … back at home I began looking for ways to put my chosen title together with the ghost town and its Old West mining history. In came the fictional lady lawyer who insisted upon a family reunion, along with her cantankerous father who would do nearly anything to avoid attending. The character I had most fun with was the café owner who was based upon an in-law who, yes, did own a café, and yes, did dress and talk the way Keith Randel did in the book. He actually asked to be given a role in the story and was pleased with the result. I hope my readers are pleased, as well.
A. Sam really is her own person, although I borrowed things from various people to flesh out her life. I learned to bake and decorate cakes way back when I was in high school, so I actually dug out some of my old books and catalogs to describe the way things go in the bakery. I also frequently visit the baking boards on Pinterest for ideas and inspiration for the very cool cakes Sam makes.
For her side job where she breaks into houses, I must admit one of my former writing students fed me the idea. He held this job, performing the tasks required for a USDA property caretaker and he gave me some background and ideas for a few of the weird things that had happened to him. My imagination began to run wild and I came up with things for Sam to deal with, especially in the early books.
Otherwise, Samantha is pretty much every woman of her age group. She’s had to deal with a grown daughter who moved back home, starting a new business after years of money struggles, and then in the midst of menopause she’s got a new love in her life. Oh, and the occasional murders which cross her path—you know, just the usual everyday stuff.