Sally was born in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, and now lives in Prairie Village, Kansas, with her husband, Don and a terrific Aussie, Sophie.
In addition to writing mysteries, Sally has taught philosophy, Latin, and creative writing, edited bioethics and veterinary healthcare journals, and worked in public television.
Thanks so much for inviting me to stop by today. I’m bringing some friends along—Nell, Birdie, Cass, and Izzy—women whom I didn’t know diddlysquat about a few years ago. And yet today, as Murder in Merino makes its debut alongside the other Seaside Knitters Mysteries, these women have become soul sisters and an integral part of my life.
And with each book, we become better friends.
Nell, Birdie, Izzy, and Cass—my friends, my characters, my alter egos. I know how these Sea Harbor women walk, what they eat, how much they weigh, where they went to school, and the first time they had sex. I even know what number they are on the Enneagram chart. They are my ‘stars’ and my muses, my friends.
But often, way too often, I haven’t a clue what they are going to do next—probably just like your own best friend.
And that’s good….and difficult.
Before I sit down to write a new seaside knitters mystery, I spend time talking to each of them, sharing a ‘seed’ of an idea with them—that tiny nuggest that hopefully will grow into a book. And then I beg them to take me by the hand and lead me along to what comes next, toughen me up as we face the blank computer screen.
Sometimes they jump right in, like Izzy did in Angora Alibi, (the 7th seaside mystery—the one that just came out in paperback). It took little time for her to share her feelings about pregnancy with me, feelings that moved her to take the actions she did—and that propelled all of her friends (and me, too) into a mystery, a murder, and gradually the steps needed to solve it.
Or Cass Halloran in A Fatal Fleece, who showed me she was vulnerable, and not just a crusty lobster fisherman. And Birdie—the 80-year-old matriarch who pulled a skeleton out of her closet in that book, one that changed her life forever. And one that none of us (especially me!) was expecting.
When I began writing the newest Seaside Mystery, MURDER IN MERINO, I was struck by the fact that I’ve known these fine women for over eight years now. They truly are BFFs. To each other. To me. And I hope to you, too.
But sometimes, just like happens in real life, they don’t seem to be around when I need them.
It happened when I began writing Murder in Merino. They disappeared. It was as if they had taken a vacation without me and didn’t tell me where they were going.
But then one day, suddenly, they were back. Just in the nick of time to lead me around Sea Harbor, into the homes of their friends nad neighbors. They introduced me to a new woman in town—a mysterious woman named Jules Ainsley. A woman they took under their wing, even though they weren’t too sure it was a wise thing to do.
No one knew, not for sure. But my friends just kept leading me along, and at the end of the journey, they surprised me with what they found. The seed had grown into a plant. A book. Into Murder in Merino.
Yes, after all these years, these women still surprise me. And that’s a good thing. Surprising means they stay fresh, but not completely comfortable. New, but still old friends.
I hope that these friendships deepen with each book, and that their friendship with you deepens, too, so that you’ll keep coming back to sit with them on the deck on in the yarn shop, sharing a glass of wine, a bit of gossip, and secrets of Sea Harbor. I hope they stay fresh for you and for me, unique, but cherished and familiar.
Kind of like a good marriage or partnership.
Berkley Prime Crime has generously offered a copy of Murder in Merino to one of my readers. Please comment below before midnight on May 16, 2014. Entries from the US only, please.
Please don't forget to include an email address where I can contact you if you win.