Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Primm and Proper: A Place Called Home

by special guest Diane Vallere. 

Photo: Josh Hickman

After two decades working for a top luxury retailer, Diane Vallere traded fashion accessories for accessories to murder. 

Diane is the current vice president of Sisters in Crime, immediate past president of the Los Angeles chapter, and was co-chair of the 2015 California Crime Writers Conference. She also writes the bestselling Material Witness, Madison Night, and Style & Error Mysteries. She started her own detective agency at age ten and has maintained a passion for shoes, clues, and clothes ever since. (http://www.dianevallere.com/)

When I first started thinking about the costume shop mysteries, the most important question became where would they be set? I already had series set in Pennsylvania, Texas, and California, the three states that I knew the best. I wasn’t in the mood to pick up and move someplace new, so that meant I had to get creative.

Requirements: a different state from one I’d already written about. One that was close enough that I could go to for inspiration and local flavor. And an area that I could re-imagine with a fictional town. It was with those requirements in mind that I looked at a map. Of the California-adjacent states, I chose Nevada. Back when I’d worked for the clearance division of a major retailer, the store manager of our Primm, Nevada store told me that you could walk to the end of their parking lot and stand with one foot in California and one foot in Nevada.

I’d never lived close to a state border, but that idea stuck in my mind. A little bit of research netted me another interesting fact: scofflaws from California often head for the Nevada border in order to avoid California jurisdiction. What a perfect place for a mystery series! And even better, once you cross the California state border, it’s forty miles to Vegas. That’s forty miles of desert and small town sandwiched between the golden state and sin city—the perfect spot for me to plunk down my community of costume-wearing residents.

I spent four days in and around Primm, exploring desert roads, local taverns, and mom-and-pop shops. I met a woman who claimed to communicate with the dead and sat in the chair Clark Gable sat in while waiting for Carole Lombard to return from a war tour (she didn’t return; her plane crashed close by where I’ve been told you can still find pieces of the wreckage). 

Away from the glitz and lure of gambling, I found people who didn’t care much that Las Vegas was only forty miles away. And that was the basis for Proper City, Nevada—not a replacement for Primm, but an additional town on the California/Nevada border, one that was named for a fictional prospector who gave up all of his vices when he struck gold. Find out more about Proper City, Nevada in A Disguise to Die For!

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