Kathleen here. I’m so delighted to welcome author Susan McCormick to the coop. She recently launched THE FOG LADIES: IN THE SOUP, the third book in her Fog Ladies cozy mystery series. Fittingly, she’s here to talk about the sweet spot between mysteries and poultry: Easter eggs (the hidden message variety). Take it away, Susan!
I love Easter eggs. Light blue eggs with delicate shells, chocolate eggs, or spicy jelly Easter eggs. I especially love Easter eggs in the form of secret hidden tidbits of delight found in books and movies. Some are messages, some are inside jokes, some are foreshadows, some are homages to greats. Some are so cleverly hidden that only true fans find them. Some are hidden in plain sight for anyone to discover, if they are astute and looking.
My favorite is Alfred Hitchcock appearing in many of his films, as a bass-carrying train passenger in Strangers on a Train or a man with two dogs in The Birds—his own true real-life dogs, it turns out. A Starbucks cup appears in most scenes in Fight Club, my son’s favorite movie. Oranges appear in scenes where a character will soon die in The Godfather movies. Like many Disney movies, Moana has endless Easter eggs, including Genie’s lamp among Tamatoa’s golden treasures and pieces of Frozen’s Olaf in Moana’s basket as she leaves her home.
Stephen King loves Easter eggs and his books are full of overlapping characters, settings, and references. Children’s picture books love Easter eggs, like the cricket, mouse, and spider in Mercer Mayer’s books and the banana-toting mouse in Good Night, Gorilla.
I love Easter eggs in the form of medical messages, and I leave plenty for my readers, hidden gems like “Don’t cut a bagel in your hand” and “Don’t get a jailhouse tattoo.” Hand tendons are important and heal poorly if cut. Hepatitis C is rampant in self-made tattoos. These two public safety announcements lurk in my cozy murder mystery The Fog Ladies: Family Matters, Book 2 in the San Francisco Cozy Murder Mystery series. Book 1 features “Get your colonoscopy” and “Stairs are dangerous in the dark.” In Book 3, The Fog Ladies: In the Soup, secret messages mention keeping your dog lean for longevity and “Two car accidents in two weeks are too many” when one of the ladies has trouble with her eyes.
My middle grade and up medical/STEM fantasy, The Antidote, is chock full of darkness and overt disease but also includes subtler messages like how to do a Heimlich maneuver and how and when to use an AED, an automated external defibrillator.
The origin of the name Easter eggs is murky. Maybe it was real Easter eggs from a cast and crew Easter egg hunt that were unfound and therefore left to appear in the scenes of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Maybe it was the secret message left for players by a software director announcing that he had played a role in creating a famous game.
Whoever coined the phrase or whatever they are called, Easter eggs have been around forever, long before Alfred Hitchcock appeared in the “before” ad for weight loss in the movie Lifeboat in 1944, and have delighted readers and filmgoers for generations.
Readers, what are your favorite book or film Easter eggs?
Susan McCormick is an award-winning writer and doctor who lives in Seattle. She graduated from Smith College and George Washington University School of Medicine, with additional medical training in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco, where she lived in an elegant apartment building much like the one in The Fog Ladies books. Susan served as a doctor in the U.S. Army for nine years before moving to the Pacific Northwest and civilian practice. In addition to The Fog Ladies series, she also wrote Granny Can’t Remember Me, a lighthearted picture book about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, and The Antidote, a timely middle grade and up medical/STEM fantasy. She lives in Seattle with her husband and two sons. She loves giant dogs and has loved an English mastiff, Earl, and two Newfoundlands, Edward and Albert.
The Fog Ladies (Book 1)
Semi-finalist, Chanticleer’s Murder and Mayhem Award
Finalist, Killer Nashville Best Cozy Mystery Award
“A specially crafted ‘whodunnit’ style mystery [with] an impressive flair for originality.” Midwest Book Review
Spunky senior sleuths and an overworked, overstressed young doctor-in-training live in an elegant apartment building in San Francisco where old ladies start to die
The Fog Ladies: Family Matters (Book 2)
Finalist, RONE Award, Best Mystery
2nd Place, Pacific Book Awards, Best Mystery
“This is like having five Miss Marples or Jessica Fletchers poking their nose into other people’s business.” Barbara McMichaels, aka The Bookmonger
When a family man kills his wife with kitchen shears, the Fog Ladies’ probing finds the threat is perilously close to home, endangering another troubled family struggling to survive.
The Fog Ladies: In the Soup (Book 3)
“Humorous and compelling.” New York Journal of Books
The Fog Ladies volunteer at a soup kitchen and envision washing and chopping and serving. Instead, they find murder.