Daily Archives: May 25, 2014

A Day in the Life of Author Karen MacInerney

Death Runs AdriftWhen I first started writing the Gray Whale Inn mysteries, it was summer in Texas; I was the mother of two small children, one of whom was a big fan of both projectile vomiting and tantrum throwing; and the most riveting part of my week was Gymboree class, where the topics included such things as — and I am not making this up — “What is your favorite baby accessory?” (Wipe warmers won by a landslide.)

It may not come as a surprise that I found myself doing a lot of escape reading during that period of my life. And, as I strapped belligerent children into car seats and endured yet another round of storytime at the library, I started to think seriously of dreams I’d not yet fulfilled. In particular, dreams of writing a book.

The problem was, what kind of book? I had always written vignettes, and some of them weren’t half bad. Whenever I tried to stretch them into something bigger, though, I found myself grinding to a halt. But I’d always liked mysteries. I’d cut my teeth on Nancy Drew mysteries, moving on to Miss Marple’s adventures (usually paired with butterscotch candy and M&Ms) in my junior-high-school years, and was a lifelong lover of cozy mysteries. And one afternoon, as I slid the minivan door shut, it occurred to me that mysteries had a built-in plot. Somebody died! And your protagonist had to figure it out!

It was a Eureka moment. I would write a mystery novel! My plot problems were soon to be a thing of the past! But that led to a new question: Who was my main character, and where on earth was I going to set it?

I was stumped again. But, as luck would have it, my parents took a vacation to a bed and breakfast in California called the Lost Whale Inn. They loved everything about it – the food, location, and above all, the cozy feel of the place. As I pored through the recipe book they returned with, salivating over the recipes, I found myself thinking that an innkeeper would be a great main character for a mystery. The problem was, I hadn’t been to Northern California, and my second setting choice (Newfoundland, where I’d spent summers with my grandmother) had so much dialect I wasn’t sure I could pull it off. Serendipity struck again a few months later, when friends invited us to visit them on Little Cranberry Island off the coast of Maine. As soon as we stepped onto the mail boat and felt the breeze as we cut through the cold blue water, I knew I’d found my book’s home.

I started writing the Gray Whale Inn mysteries 11 years ago, sitting in bed at ten o’clock at night and scrawling in a composition book. The first scene, which involved an islander coming to the inn with a basket of fresh wild blueberries, never made it into the book, but it succeeded in launching me into a new world.

Three afternoons a week, for five months, I fled… I mean, I left my children in the care of a babysitter and hurried to a Starbucks with the ambient temperature of a meat locker. I’d sit in my favorite green chair in the corner and pretend I was in Maine (not a challenge, given the chill in the air), imagining a different kind of day from the ones I usually led. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons were spent filling 20 notebook pages (double-spaced) with dreams of what life would be like on a Maine island, with no toddlers, loads of sinful cakes and muffins, and interesting guests. (With a few dead bodies tossed in, of course.)

Cranberry Island and the Gray Whale Inn were my haven for many years, and still are. Simply by picking up a pen (or a laptop), I could travel to an island where blueberries abounded, the cool sea breeze ruffled my hair, and I got to live in a gorgeous, gray-shingled Cape on the rocky shore of an island. There were no diapers. There were no clinging toddlers. Sure, there were murders and avaricious developers, but at least you didn’t have to feed them strained peas.

Now, more than a decade later, I’ve written lots more books, but the Gray Whale Inn is still special to me. Natalie, Charlene, Eli and Claudette are like old friends, and I love finding out what Natalie’s got cooking – and maybe whipping up something in my own kitchen to accompany a scene I’m working on.

So that’s how an imaginary “day in the life” turned into something much bigger.

But enough about me. What are your dreams?

You can read more about Natalie, Charlene, Eli and Claudette in Death Runs Adrift, the sixth book in the “Gray Whale Inn” mystery series, published by Midnight Ink. The first book in the series is Murder on the Rocks. Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

Comment on this post by 6 p.m. EST on May 29, and you will be entered for a chance to win a copy of DEATH RUNS ADRIFT. One winner will be chosen at random. Unless specified, U.S. entries only.

Meet the author
Critically acclaimed author Karen MacInerney teaches writers’ workshops and drives a mean carpool. Her book KarenMMurder on the Rocks was selected as an Agatha nominee for Best First Novel. When she’s not writing or chauffeuring children, she loves to read, drink coffee, attempt unusual recipes, and hit the local hike-and-bike trail. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband, two children, and a rabbit named Bunny, and escapes to Maine as often as possible. Visit her online at karenmacinerney.com.

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Bouchercon Moments

One of the main reasons why I love going to Bouchercon is the opportunity to visit other cities that I’ve always Bcon2011wanted to visit. In 2011, I attended my first Bouchercon in St. Louis and what I knew about St. Louis was the Cardinals, the Clydesdale horses and that Gateway Arch. Yes, my eyes were on going up that arch but when I got there and saw what I would have to sit in, the joy was just standing under the arch. Of course, it’s hanging out with the authors that bring me to this reader/fan convention. I love my author sightings when I see an author or two or three or four or hundreds. In addition, you know where to find us….at the bar.

My second Bouchercon was in Cleveland in 2012 and I was excited because one of the places we were going to see was Bcon2012the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. I arrived one day early and took the train in and lucky for me because that’s where I met Ingrid Willis, the organizer of this year’s Bouchercon in Long Beach. As my normal, my friend and I went to the aquarium and then took the 2-hour Lolly the Trolley tour where we saw the Flats, Downtown, The Warehouse District, Ohio City, The Gateway District, Playhouse Square, Millionaire’s Row, The Cleveland Play House, the Cleveland Clinic, the museums and institutions of University Circle, the Cleveland Cultural Gardens & City Greenhouse, the Lake Erie Shoreline and North Coast harbor. And as always, it is having an author sighting and hanging with the authors in the lounge or bar area.

My third Bouchercon was last year in Albany NY. Again, I arrived early and went on a tour of the State Trooper’s Bcon2013facility, which was fun, especially the DNA lab. I didn’t do much sightseeing there, but the architecture on several of the buildings was amazing. The convention was held in the EGG and some of my memorable moments were pre-B’con dinner with Susan Boyer, Matthew Clemens and Eleanor Jones waking up early to have breakfast with me and dining alfresco on truck food with Ovidia Yu. Of course, the bar and lounge area was the happening place.

I’m looking forward to my fourth Bouchercon held in Long Beach. I can’t wait to go on the Queen Mary tour and bcon14-logoperhaps explore some of Los Angeles tourist attractions. Anyway, it will be having that first author sighting of B’con that will put a smile on my face and the friendly screams and hugs that envelopes me as the authors begin to fill the hotel and convention hall.

What is your Bouchercon moment?

You can join all the Bouchercon 2014 fun this November 13-16 in Long Beach, California. The Guests of Honor are J.A. Jance, Edward Marston and Jeffery Deaver and the Toastmaster is Simon Woods.


Jailhouse Glock by Lizbeth Lipperman

Jailhouse GlockJailhouse Glock by Lizbeth Lipperman is the second book in the “Dead Sister Talking” mystery series. Publisher: Midnight Ink, May 2014

As a war widow and a single mother, rookie cop Maddy Castillo isn’t exactly flush with cash. But her money problems are nothing compared to the trouble that starts when she’s framed for murder.

Lucky for Maddy, her three sisters and the ghost of her fourth sister are on the scene to help. And help is exactly what Maddy needs—hardened criminals have descended on Vineyard, and Maddy’s all tangled up in their hunt for a prized possession worth millions.

Once again, Liz has delivered a well-written light drama featuring one of the Garcia sisters and this time Maddie is on the hook and the wonderfully sarcastic Tessa make her appearance known. I like how we know who did it but really don’t know who did it until the pieces fit together. Everyone is a suspect and the fun is watching how it all plays out. I like how the Garcia sisters band together in the face of adversary in support of one another. The beauty of this series is that there are three more Garcia sisters yet to “get help” from Tessa and I can’t wait to read their stories in this engagingly terrific series.

The Goodbye Witch by Heather Blake

The Goodbye WitchThe Goodbye Witch by Heather Blake is the fourth book in the “Wishcraft” mystery series. Publisher: Obsidian, May 2014

As Enchanted Village’s resident Wishcrafter, Darcy Merriweather has the power to make other people’s wishes come true, but what she really wishes is that she had the power to uncloak the invisible man who’s stalking her best friend.

Darcy’s closest friend and fellow witch, Starla Sullivan, hoped she’d never see her ex-husband, Kyle, again. Two years ago he tried to kill her, and he has been a fugitive ever since. Now Starla claims to have seen him back in Enchanted Village, but it seems she’s the only one who can see him. To everyone else, her ex is invisible.

Darcy only wishes his motives were as transparent as the rest of him. Since the police can’t arrest someone they can’t see, it’s up to Darcy to find the secret behind Kyle’s latest disappearing act—before he does something they can’t see coming.

I love, love, love this story. This was a good solid read that entertained me from the beginning to an ending filled with so much emotion that I didn’t want the story to end. We learned something during the reading of this book, but I’m not sure if I got it right. The mystery was good as it kept me in suspense for much of the book and all the beloved characters played a role in helping our heroine solve this case and move forward in her journey. Heather truly captured the essence of the characters that made me believe it’s all real. This is by far, the best darn book in this magically delightful series and I can’t wait to see where we are headed next. Bravo Heather!