Drop from trees like overripe mangos, I should say! A couple of years ago, I
began to plan my Key West mystery series. I had the idea for a food critic
wannabe named Hayley Snow, but I needed other characters. As I wandered through
the crowds at the Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square in Key West, I spotted a
tarot card reader set up at a card table, wearing a deep blue turban with an
enormous teardrop rhinestone bisecting his forehead. What if my protagonist,
Hayley Snow, was addicted to having her cards read because she was insecure
about her own decisions? And what if her tarot reader saw a card scary enough
that even he got rattled? And what if she his reactions to dig herself into
deeper trouble? And so Lorenzo the card reader was born as a character.
Then, as I walked around the city, I noticed that homeless people were
everywhere, including perched on the stone walls around Mallory Square watching
the performers and the tourists. Though they blended into the scenery, they
probably noticed all kinds of things that visitors wouldn't see. And so Turtle
and Tony became characters.
And then I attended the Key West Police Departmentâ€™s Citizensâ€™ Police Academy.
And the cops showed us how to search abandoned buildings and look at a crime
scene and even how a SWAT team would operate. Officer Steve Torrence answered my
questions, so he entered the cast of characters too.
And there were names and characters given to me that I couldn't refuse. I
offered an auction item to benefit the Waterfront Playhouse--naming rights to a
character in TOPPED CHEF. The auction winner sent me a photo and bio of
the character he wanted me to include--Randy Thompson, an actual drag queen who
performs at the Aqua bar as Victoria. So I took the real Randy to lunch to chat
about the psychology of drag queens and watched him (her) perform a few times,
and then, what the heck, threw Peter Shapiro, the man whoâ€™d bought the
character, into the mix too.
And letâ€™s face it, where else but Key West would a bench in front of a
convenience store have a Facebook page that could provide a mystery clue? And
where else could my Australian shepherd and I march--dressed in hot dog
costumes--in a parade of Dachshunds? And where else would that scene work in a book?
I could go on and on--chickens, cats, sunsets, drag queens, and so much glorious
food--but I think you get the idea. People like to say, turn the state of
Florida on its end and shake it--the loose bits end up in Key West. And thank
goodness, all those bits make perfect fodder for a mystery writer. And
especially, a mystery set at Christmas! DEATH WITH ALL THE
TRIMMINGS is available in stores as of December 2.
About DEATH WITH ALL THE
TRIMMINGS: It may be Christmastime, but thoughts of peace on earth, good
will toward men, donâ€™t seem to extend to the restaurant business. Food critic
Hayley Snow has been assigned to interview Edel Waugh, chef/owner of Key Westâ€™s
hottest new restaurant. But off the record, Edel reveals that thereâ€™s been
sabotage in the kitchen and asks Hayley to investigate. Things heat up fast when
the restaurant is set on fireâ€”and a body is discovered in the charred wreckage.
Is someone out to destroy the chefâ€™s businessâ€”or actually kill her? Amid holiday
festivities like the lighted boat parade, and visiting relatives who stir up
mixed emotions, Hayley needs to smoke out an arsonist and a killer before they
turn up the heat againâ€¦on her!
About the Author
(aka Roberta Isleib) is the author of 13 mysteries, including the
latest in the Key West series featuring food critic Hayley Snow. Her books and
stories have been short-listed for Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards. She's a
past president of Sisters in Crime.
Buy the Book here.
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3 comments posted.
This is such a fabulous series--wonderful characters in such an idyllic location. Happy to see there is a new release. No need to enter me in the drawing, I am happy to buy a copy!
(Mary Kennedy 7:02pm December 8, 2014)