Hi there, Becky here, with one last gift for you to close out our year here at Chicks on the Case … our guest, Lorrie Holmgren!
Thank you to Chicks on the Case for inviting me to be a guest blogger!
My series of lighthearted mysteries feature Emily Swift, who writes travel articles about delightful places to go on vacation and ends up being drawn into murder investigations. The great advantage of the travel theme is that I have to do the research, which is super fun. My most recent book, A Killing in the Cotswolds, An Emily Swift Travel Mystery took me to England. My plan was for Emily to write about Springtime in the British countryside, so I scheduled my trip in March. On a previous visit, I had been delighted by the warm March weather and spring flowers.
But on this trip, it was colder in England than it was in Minnesota. Snow forced trains to stop service and shops to close. Daffodils were flattened on the ground and rose blossoms froze. This was very unusual weather and the Brits were not prepared. I suspect they don’t even own snow shovels.
So, I had a decision to make. Should I describe the weather in A Killing in the Cotswolds the way it really was –cold and dreary? Or the way I expected it to be – glorious springtime? Finally, I decided to stick to the truth and have Emily as dismayed as I was to find snow on the ground and cruel winds blowing. “To her horrible surprise, she awoke to a winter wonderland,” I wrote. Emily tells her boyfriend Jack, “My readers do not want to learn about hiking in the snow. They expect crocuses, daffodils and birdsong.” Did I make the right decision? Would you rather read about the ideal springtime in England than my grim reality? I still wonder.
My experiences often affect the plot in unexpected ways. A chance meeting in the Garrick, the oldest pub in Stratford upon Avon, gave me an idea. It was chilly. (Did I mention we had very unusual weather?) So, my husband Jon and I stopped at the Garrick for a hot toddy to warm us up. We began chatting with several Irishmen at the pub who were talking about horse racing and discovered they were in town for the Cheltenham racing festival, which pits Irish horses against the British. Apparently, it’s a tradition for young Irishmen to come to England for the race and a very big deal. So, in the book I had Emily’s fiancé Jack meet his Irish cousin Brendan and go to the races.
Our new-found friends in the pub liked my husband because he joked with them. Also, Jon wore a flat cap just like theirs. His came from The Country Gentleman, an old fashioned, very posh men’s clothing store across the street from our hotel. I naturally decided Emily’s fiancé Jack would need new togs for the races and this was just the place to buy them. I had a great time choosing his sports coat. Browsing through the store made description easy.
I give Emily my own interests in travel, English literature, history, and teatime with all its treats. So, my trip gave me lots of ideas for the book and made writing it a pleasure as it reminded me of places I’d visited. I hope you will enjoy following Emily’s travels and her efforts to unravel mysteries. You’ll find a touch of romance, lots of interesting information about the places Emily visits, humor and, of course, an intriguing mystery.
But readers, I’m still wondering … should I have stuck to the truth?
Lorrie Holmgren is the author of three Emily Swift Travel Mysteries: Murder on Madeline Island, Homicide in Hawaii and A Killing in the Cotswolds, available in print or Kindle. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, busily penning her novels. Lorrie grew up in Wilmette, a suburb of Chicago, graduated from Wells College in New York State, and received her MA from the University of Minnesota. For many years, she was the director of communications of the Minnesota Medical Association. In addition to travel, she enjoys Latin dance, Zumba, aqua aerobics, gardening, knitting, book group discussions and playing board games with her grandson. She fervently hopes the Covid pandemic will be over soon and we can all safely resume our normal lives and travels.