Back in the day (and I do mean back!) our local grocery store ran a promotion that these days, sounds pretty odd.
For every purchase you made, you could choose a framed print of an art masterpiece.
I don’t know how many of the pictures my mother ended up with, but I do clearly remember one of them, "A Young Girl Reading," painted by Jean-Honore Fragonard, a French artist, in 1776. Aside from the fact that it’s a pleasant picture, that the colors are warm and easy on the eyes and that the girl looks so content and so downright comfortable, there is a reason this particular pictures stays in my mind–my mother always said it reminded her of me.
Nose in book.
When I was a kid, I always had my nose in a book.
At the time, I wasn’t much for contemporary authors. Maybe that’s because back then (there’s that phrase again!) there weren’t many authors who catered to the YA market. That left me at my favorite place–the library–with a whole host of possibilities, most of them classics of literature.
I read Lorna Doone (I don’t recommend it), and Scaramouche (all because of the movie, of course, and the crush I had on Stewart Granger). I devoured Prisoner of Zenda (see the last comment) and The Scarlet Pimpernel and all of Jane Austen, and Conan Doyle and Dumas (pere and fils). When I went to college, I majored in English. How else could I justify my nose constantly being in one of those books?
All that being said, I guess it’s only natural that when I was looking for a hook for a new mystery series, the idea of classical literature popped into my head. Books . . . ah, there was something I was comfortable with, something I knew readers loved to learn more about, something that would surely get my creative juices flowing.
It worked! From that idea grew the concept for the League of Literary Ladies mysteries. The League is based on South Bass island off the Ohio mainland in Lake Erie, and consists of four members: Bea Cartwright is new to the island and owns a B&B. Chandra Morrisey is the island kook, a tarot and crystal reader. Kate Wilder is all business. Since she owns the island’s biggest winery, it’s no wonder. Elderly Luella Zak has taken over her late husband’s fishing charter business. She’s as tough as any Great Lakes skipper ever was.
Four different women, with four different tastes. Brought together by one thing–books.
Well, that and the fact that they’re always feuding and the judge gets so tired of them taking each other to court, he orders them to get to know each other better by sentencing them to become a book discussion group.
The results are anything but predictable, especially when in the first installment of the series, Mayhem at the Orient Express, the Ladies discover a body and must use the Christie classic they’re reading as a blueprint for finding the killer.
This month, the League of Literary Ladies is back in action with A Tale of Two Biddies. It’s summer, and the islanders are marking Bastille Day with a week-long celebration. What better choice for reading than Charles Dickens’s "A Tale of Two Cities" with its French Revolution background and its story of secrets, lies and people who might–or might not–be what they seem.
In the confusion, somebody’s bound to lose their head!
To indulge my inner book geek I also added a Charles Dickens look-alike and trivia contest. It’s only natural–this time, the League must turn to Dickens as a guide to solving the murder of the island nobody who might not be as much of a nobody as everyone thought.
I don’t know about where you are, but here in Ohio, it’s gray, gloomy and cold. I can’t promise summer weather to go along with my summer story, but I can say an adventure with the League of Literary Ladies is bound to be a Dickens of a good time!
Kylie Logan is a full-time writer who has loved mysteries since she was a kid.
She has a degree in English, experience as a journalist and writing teacher, and lots of ideas about interesting ways to kill people. This makes her an excellent guest as cocktail parties, but she's noticed that the hostess doesn't always trust her near the food.
She began her career writing historical romance and her book Devil's Diamond was nominated for a RITA award as historical of the year by Romance Writers of America.She has also written contemporary romance, young adult horror (as Zoe Daniels and Connie Laux), and one children's book, Fright Knight, in the RL Stine's Ghosts of Fear Street series.
Kylie also writes mysteries under the names Miranda Bliss and Casey Daniels. Visit her website at www.kylielogan.com.