We’re delighted to welcome three guests this week. Mystery novelists Diane Vallere (http://www.dianevallere.com/), Kendel Lynn (http://kendellynn.com/), and Gigi Pandian (http://gigipandian.com/)are the three authors of OTHER PEOPLE’S BAGGAGE (http://henerypress.com/books/other-peoples-baggage/), a new collection of three interconnected mystery novellas (Henery Press, December 2012).
Diane is the author of PILLOW STALK: A Mad for Mod Mystery, which Library Journal called “a tremendously fun homage.” Kendel is the author of BOARD STIFF, an Elliott Lisbon mystery, which won the Zola Award for Mystery/Suspense, coming April 2013. Gigi is the author of ARTIFACT: A Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery, named one of the Best Books of 2012 by Suspense Magazine.
Thanks for having us! It’s very fun to be here at Novel Adventurers, because the thing that connects our mystery novellas is travel. The three main characters of our mystery series are on their way out of town when a storm and resulting computer glitch swaps their luggage. We thought we’d each share an interesting tidbit about the settings in our travel-themed collection that planted the seed for our individual stories.
DIANE: Carmel-by-the-Sea, California
Because my Mad for Mod series features a character who has modeled her life, style, and business after Doris Day movies, when it came time to send her out of town, it was natural to send her to Carmel-by-the-Sea, the town where Doris Day resides. (Sorry the photo isn’t from the interior of her hotel; I was too afraid of looking like a tourist had she popped around a corner!) I’ve always thought a tourist town would make a good backdrop for a mystery, because it would be easy for criminals to go unnoticed. Once I decided to make this a prequel, I knew I could play around with the breakup that’s hinted at in Pillow Stalk, and lay the groundwork for the life Madison is about to begin in Dallas, Texas.
KENDEL: Little Oak, Texas
As a recent Texas transplant, the volume of shopping and restaurants in Dallas truly astounded me. It’s a dazzling mecca of glitzy shops, posh boutiques, and mega gallerias, plus a zillion eateries, from saucy BBQ joints and smoky steakhouses to buttery bistros and creamy guacamole on every patio. I’ve never seen anything like it, and I’m from LA, so that’s saying something. But drive just outside the metro area, in any direction, and flat lands stretch out for miles. Ranch fencing follows the landscape and round hay bales line up in rows. Always in the distance, a cluster of small houses sits tucked behind a copse of lonely trees. It’s calm and glorious and I always wondered what life might be like for those folks, living in the big state of Texas, yet in a land all their own. And naturally, I just assumed someone would end up dead.
GIGI: Edinburgh, Scotland
I spent some time in Scotland as a kid, and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival made a big impression on me. The event is the largest performing arts festival in the world, because everyone is welcome to perform (as long as you can afford the venue and registration fees). Most of the shows are theater and comedy acts, but other performing arts are featured as well. Because the shows don’t go through a selection committee, the quality may vary; but lots of them are fantastic, and many famous actors have performed there in the past, including Hugh Laurie, Emma Thompson, Stephen Fry, and members of Monty Python. Edinburgh is such a mysterious city to begin with—it has an old castle looming above the center of the city and small medieval alleyways branching off the most modern of streets. With all the added crowds and commotion during the festival, I thought it would be a great backdrop for a locked-room mystery.
We came up with the idea for this collection of novellas after we’d been critique partners, reading each other’s draft mystery novels and learning that we liked each other’s work. It occurred to us that our characters would get along, and also that if a reader liked one of our mysteries, they’d probably like the other two. But since our characters are based in different cities, how could their lives intersect? When we realized they all had good reasons to have the same vintage suitcase, the rest fell into place. It was a lot of fun to weave the contents of their mixed-up suitcases into each of our stories.