Wavin’ atchya, RG2E Peeps!
Oh, the places we go…in real life and in fiction too! And here’s RG2E First-Time Featured Author Elise Stone to take you along on her story world journeys…
One of the things I love about reading is discovering new places. I can travel all over the world, even travel in time, without leaving my recliner. There are some books which wouldn’t be the same stories if they took place somewhere else.
I fell in love with Nevada Barr’s Anna Pigeon mystery series because each book takes place in a different National Park. Since Anna is a park ranger, she spends a lot of time outdoors. Because she’s always new to the park at the beginning, she has to learn about it, explore it, and ask questions of those who have been there longer. In the process, the reader is immersed in these places. I’ve never been to the Natchez Trace, but I certainly feel like I’ve visited.
I’ve been to Washington, DC with Margaret Truman in her Capital Crimes mysteries and to Mississippi with John Grisham. I’ve been on the Navajo Reservation with Tony Hillerman and to Medieval Europe with Jeri Westerson.
On the other hand, it’s lots of fun to travel around a place you know with one of your favorite characters. I lived in Boston for eight years, so it’s like a visit home when I read one of Robert B. Parker’s Spenser mysteries. I love when Spenser travels on Storrow Drive and I can say, “I’ve been there!”
Naturally, when I started writing my own mysteries, the setting was very important to me. I began Faith, Hope, and Murder shortly after moving to Tucson, Arizona. Having spent most of my life in the Northeast close to the ocean, where you’re likely to have a sump pump to keep your basement dry, the desert was a very different place. I’m sure I was a major traffic hazard for the first few months. Every time I glanced in the rear view mirror, I’d catch sight of the mountains and stare, thinking, “Look at that! Mountains!”
Sometimes I’d even say it out loud.
The Sonoran Desert is a beautiful place. It’s not at all like the Sahara. The variety of plant and animal life is amazing. When the cacti bloom in late spring, the desert is filled with color. Tucson is on a major flyway, so there are a large number of bird species to see. Hummingbirds regularly visit my yard. The sky is huge and open and filled with stars at night. And there is nothing like the scent of the creosote bush after a monsoon rain.
Faith, Hope, and Murder could only have taken place in the desert Southwest. The climate and culture are essential to the story. If you read it, I hope it comes alive for you so that one day you’ll come and visit Tucson. You won’t be sorry.
When Faith Andersen’s best friend asks her to help a stranger with a legal issue, she has no idea that Ursula’s problem is a fiancé convicted of murder. As a web designer, Faith’s knowledge of law is sketchy at best, but, having just lost her job, she has plenty of hours to fill.
The victim, a smuggler who brought both drugs and human beings over the Mexican border, had plenty of enemies. And even more dangerous friends.
Pastor John Menard has problems of his own. His ministry rocked by scandal, he’s already lost his wife and may just lose his congregation. It’s too soon after his divorce to think about another relationship; but there’s something about the pretty skeptic that draws him to her.
As Faith investigates the murder, she finds herself with more questions than answers. Who killed the coyote? Is Ursula really who she seems? And has Faith gotten herself into more peril than she’s ever imagined possible?
I’ll Ebook Gift 5 Copies today! So, let us know below if you’d like one, and you just might win it! Please leave your email address in your comment too so we can get your Gift Copy to you quicker!
I was born and raised in New York, but I was never really a New Yorker. In New York, you’re one of many. There were 1,000 in my high school graduating class. I probably knew fifty of those people. The rest were a crush of students in the hallways. Commuting to work means joining the throngs on the Long Island Expressway and sitting in traffic. Manhattan always gave me a headache. It’s loud, it’s dirty, it’s intense. You can feel the air vibrate with the intensity. Yes, it has terrific museums and Broadway shows and Rockefeller Center at Christmas, but for the most part I can live without those things.
The one thing I did like about living in New York, and on Long Island in particular, was being close to the beach. I love the ocean. I can walk along the shore or sit on a driftwood log and watch the waves roll in for hours. I love the smell of the salt air and the cry of seagulls soaring overhead.
I wanted to go to Amherst for college, but in those days Amherst was still an all-male school, so I looked at Mount Holyoke instead. My most vivid memory of that visit was when the woman showing me and my mother around the campus brought us into this lovely, quaint room and announced, “This is where our writers meet.” I longed to be there with other women who wanted to write. I imagined myself in that room, writing and reading my work with the girls of Mount Holyoke. But after that visit my mother convinced me I wouldn’t fit in with those girls. We, after all, were barely middle class and lived in a blue collar neighborhood. There was also the matter of cost. Even with the scholarship they were willing to offer me, Mount Holyoke was much too expensive for my parents to afford.
I went to Michigan State because it was far away from home, they had a Big Ten football team, and they offered me a full scholarship. Since my dream of being a writer had been pretty well quashed by this point, I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. I majored in psychology because it was about as close to not having to declare a major as I could get. I found out I wasn’t a Mid-Westerner either.
Time passed. I graduated, got a job as a social worker, got married, had a child, went back to school (degrees in psychology not being conducive to doing much practical work), got a job as a bookkeeper, kept going to school at night, and discovered computers. I became a computer programmer, then a manager, then the director of a small IT department. In between, I got divorced, bought a condo, and raised my son.
In time, my son went to college and I lost my job due to the merger of my company with another, larger one. I had a boyfriend in Boston, so I sold my condo, packed up my things, and found a job in Massachusetts. I loved Boston. I loved all the history in it. I loved walking through Paul Revere’s house and the little house where Abigail Adams grew up and seeing the site of the Boston Massacre and having all those places we’d learned about in American history class come alive. There was a burgeoning folk music community in Boston and my boyfriend and I spent weekends going to see Cheryl Wheeler and Dar Williams and John Gorka and Garnet Rogers and so many other talented musicians. I was also close to the beach again.
And then 9-11 happened and the whole world changed.
What it did for me was make me take a close look at my life. I kept thinking about how those thousands of people had gone to work like any other day or gotten on an airplane for a routine trip and suddenly were dead. It made me think about how I would feel if my life had ended that day. Death was no longer something in the distant future, but an immediate possibility. What had I left undone? What did I want to do before I died?
It turned out there were two things. One was to find my faith. I’d given up on religion back in college, but had always had this nagging in the back of my mind that I should reexamine it. After 9-11 I felt the need for God in my life again. It was just too big to deal with on my own. I spent a year going to various churches until I found House of Prayer in Hingham. My faith journey brought me full circle back to the Lutheran church I’d been raised in. Not quite the same church, but with similar core beliefs.
My second unfulfilled desire was to be a writer. I hadn’t written anything other than computer programs in decades. I didn’t even know where to begin. But I remembered the joy I’d had in creating stories when I was young and I wanted that joy again. So I started, slowly. Writing is like playing tennis or playing the piano. You get rusty when you don’t practice. I had a lot of rust in there.
Another merger, another job loss, and I relocated to Arizona for work. I love Tucson, even though it’s so different from Boston. Maybe because it is so different. I love the mountains surrounding the city, cradling it, guarding it. I love the smell of the creosote bushes after it rains. I love the harsh beauty of cactus and mesquite. I love the echos of the Old West that are part of the culture, Mexican food and mariachi bands. I love the big, blue sky that’s filled with stars when night comes.
And I’ve kept writing. I feel like I’m getting close to having a novel worthy of publication. It’s probably the fifth novel I’ve written and it’s still not totally there yet. But I have rediscovered the joy of writing, of making stuff up. It’s like magic and you get to do it all by yourself, you and your muse whispering ideas into your head. Hopefully I’ll be sharing some of that magic with readers soon.
Connect with Elise here:
Web site: www.elisemstone.com
I’m with you, Elise, in that I look forward to visiting and re-visiting great towns, cities and countries with my fave authors and their wonderful characters! I also look forward to returning to the fabulous fictional places and worlds they create too!
Thanks so much for sharing with us today and for the Ebook Gift Copies too!
The Best of RG2E Reading Wishes — D. D. Scott, RG2E Founder