C. Hope Clark lives on the banks of Lake Murray in central South Carolina, when she’s not visiting Edisto Beach. She’s the author of The Carolina Slade and the Edisto Island Mysteries. Aside from writing compelling fiction, Hope is the editor of FundsforWriters.com, a website chosen by Writer’s Digest for its 101 Best Websites for Writers for the past 14 years. Life is good.
Welcome to Book Blather, Hope.
Why Neil Diamond?
When my publisher thrust upon me the idea of writing a new series, an unnatural sense of loss came over me. Why couldn’t I be like Sue Grafton and write about the same characters for thirty years? I adored my Carolina Slade mystery series. Slade was me in a twisted way. But publishers have a way of influencing authors, so I accepted the task.
Dang it, I had to build a fresh world, with new characters, in a completely different environment. It was as if I’d moved to another state and didn’t know where to live, shop, or find a job. The editor said I could choose the setting, but the protagonist had to be law enforcement, not an amateur sleuth. And I must be sure to sprinkle in a heavy dose of family angst. Where to start?
Grasping for familiarity, I chose Edisto Beach, South Carolina, a secluded, obscure, non-neon beach I’ve frequented for years. It’s where I often escaped. Awesome. Murder on Edisto. What else?
The steps started coming, and soon I had a protagonist who was Southern bred, an ex-Boston detective, a widow, and emotionally fragile from some horrible events in her past. I piled on a diva mother with a grating personality, and of course, a murder or two. But what would make Callie Jean Morgan connect to me, her creator? We needed a conduit to put me in her head to speak to me each night as I sat at the keyboard.
Edisto is haunting and healing, an out of the way beach that doesn’t allow motels or franchises, but I wanted more than waves and breezes as the audible backdrop. I wanted music.
Jimmy Buffet was too cliché. Beach Boys represented the wrong coast. Then one evening it hit me . . .
His music began in the late sixties and carries through today, soothing several generations of women. Not only could Neil’s songs aid Callie through her pain and suffering, but we realize that her mother loves him, too. A common thread with her mother that Callie didn’t want, but couldn’t ignore, and ultimately had to confront.
Excerpt from Murder on Edisto:
"Callie’s mind raced as she returned to the living room, searching for some damn excuse to keep them. She’d never replace the antique sound of that LP player, the texture of its linen speaker cover, or the slight squeak of the top’s hinge. Until now she didn’t realize how much those details meant to her. But every argument for Callie was equally as justified for her mother.
Fact was, the records had never belonged to Callie. She rubbed her forehead. This was stupid, so stupid. She ought to just give the woman the damn albums. So why was it so challenging not to?"
I discovered Neil in high school, and I can sing almost every stanza of every one of his tunes. As I wrote this book, I listened to ten different Diamond albums, and they drew me deeper and deeper into character. Just like these songs lulled me to sleep or helped dry my tears, they did the same for Callie. Finally, I loved my protagonist. I loved my setting. I understood the story.
And it’s the best book I’ve ever written.
When her husband is murdered by the Russian mob, Boston detective Callie Jean Morgan suffers a mental break and relinquishes her badge to return home to South Carolina. She has no idea how to proceed with her life, but her son deserves to move on with his, so she relocates them to the family vacation home.
But the day they arrive on Edisto Beach, Callie finds her childhood mentor and elderly neighbor murdered. Her fragile sanity is threatened when the murderer taunts her, and the home that was to be her sanctuary is repeatedly violated. Callie loses her fight to walk away from law enforcement as she becomes the only person able to pursue the culprit who’s turned the coastal paradise into a paranoid patch of sand where nobody’s safe. But what will it cost her?
Murder on Edisto
Bell Bridge Books
Amazon Link: http://amzn.com/B00NT5YVWG