Guest Chick—Lorrie Holmgren

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.

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35 thoughts on “Guest Chick—Lorrie Holmgren

  1. Dear Lorrie, I love your series premise and all the adventure opportunities for Emily. I’m definitely in the ‘tell the experience’ group on this particular question (I don’t wish actual murders on anyone!). Your experience allowed you to write a fun & unique tale that’s nicely different from you the bucolic English setting usually presented.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Lorrie,
    I am a globetrotter in real life, so being stuck at home for the past 9 months has been weird and frustrating. At least I can do some armchair traveling via your Emily Swift travel mysteries.

    I have visited the Cotswolds twice in the summertime. I was luckier than you re: weather conditions. It was actually unseasonably sunny and HOT both times. The setting was as idyllic as shown in travel brochures and BBC TV.

    Should you have stuck to the truth about the weather during the spring trip? I would not have portrayed it as miserable as it truly was … maybe you could have toned down the rotten weather conditions and had a mixture of nice and not so nice weather.

    Liked by 5 people

      1. Lorrie, I hope to check out your books soon. I see that one of your books is set in Hawaii. Our winters in Ottawa ON are long, cold, snowy/icy for too long. Probably you have sinilar winters in MN. I have been on winter vacation to O’ahu twice and once to the Big Island. Maybe I will do some armchair travelling via your book since I don’t think I can travel to O’ahu this winter with the COVID-19 travel restrictions.

        Liked by 3 people

    1. Grace, You’re right about Minnesota winters. They can be brutal. It was December when I was in Oahu and the weather was gorgeous. I hope you’ll find Homicide in Hawaii is a great wintertime escape.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Hi Lorrie–thanks for being our guest on Chicks today! And I think whatever you decided for the book, whatever best served your story, is the right choice. 🙂

    It sounds like a wonderful place… would love to visit.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Having lived in England for two years, I can attest that–although snow is not common in the south, where the Cotswolds are, it can be frightfully cold, especially given the miserable central heating many of the centuries-old buildings have. And March in England truly is still the end of winter, so cold seems right to me for the story.

    Thanks so much for visiting the Chicks today, Lorrie–your new books sounds terrific!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Leslie. I guess I was just lucky on my first two trips to England. If you are interested in the series and want to start with the first one, Murder on Madeline Island, it is on a Kindle Countdown deal for 99 cents today.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I use all sorts of aids to write my Natalie McMasters stories. For weather, I go to a historical weather website near the location I’m writing about, so the weather is authentic geographically and seasonally. However, plot ultimately rules. If I need a cold snap, a heat wave or a rainstorm, that’s what I write. I suspect you’ve written a better book featuring the bad weather, because it adds tension, and that something that always improves a story.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Well, gosh. I may be the only vote for cold and dreary here. I like the coziness when pubs and fog and rain (mud, not so much) are involved. I’ve been in England, Wales (winter only) and Ireland in all kinds of weather (a couple of Christmases in Dublin and New Year’s Eves in Dingle. Strongest, fiercest winds I’ve ever experienced–they almost took our rental car doors off). But I think that kind of weather adds to the mystery mood. Murder in the daffodils isn’t quite the same. Bring on the tweed and Wellies! Congrats on our latest Lorrie, and it’s nice to meet you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. PS I loved Iris’s cottage in The Holiday, which was supposed to be set in the Cotswolds. That pub and little town and Cameron Diaz’s sweaters? Perfect.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Lorri, welcome!! OMG, your cover. Your topic. You had me at Cotswolds. I think you made the right choice. It’s a twist on the expected and gave your protagonist unexpected obstacles. Can’t wait to read it!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Welcome, Lorrie, and congrats!

    I think the less-than-ideal weather is a great way to go. It adds ambiance and an environment for more things to turn out differently than planned.

    I’ve never been to Cotswolds, but very much want to visit, no matter what the weather!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I just finished a Killing in the Cotswolds and have read your other two books. I think they are great and I think that you should tell the truth. It will not always be that way but that is what makes them interesting. I have never been to the three locations. I bought the first book because my name is Madeleine (spelled differently) and have enjoyed them all. I love the truthfulness and places you discuss. Keep it up. Now I have been to many places in America, Mexico and Peru, so think about writing from those places. I love the history you discuss and someday will use them to help me in my travels to those places.

    Like

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