Jen Blood here, to talk about an upcoming event I’m very excited about.
On the second Saturday of July for the past three years, I’ve been at Boothbay Railway Village for Books in Boothbay, an annual event sponsored by the Boothbay Public Library. Now in its twelfth year, Books in Boothbay features anywhere from forty to fifty-plus Maine authors housed under one roof, available to sign their books, chat with the public, and catch up with one another. Sherman’s Books and Stationery facilitates the whole shebang by providing the books, helping to organize the wayward authors, and ringing out customers. For the past three years, volunteer Sharon Pulkkinen has taken on the weighty task of contacting authors, organizing volunteers, making sure everyone’s information is current, and generally ensuring that Books in Boothbay continues to be a success. Not an easy feat, since organizing that many authors is very much like herding cats. Cats are more social, though.
This year, I’m very pleased to say that I’ve coordinated a partnership between Sisters in Crime New England and Books in Boothbay for the first time. For those unaware, Sisters in Crime is an international organization devoted to the professional development and advancement of women crime writers. They host events, provide instruction and networking opportunities, and are generally just a great organization to have in the world. This year, in partnership with Books in Boothbay, Sisters in Crime New England will have a table at the event. We will not just have a table, though… We will have a mystery to solve. The Murder at the Old Railway Chapel will take place across from the Railway Village’s town hall, and will include a staged crime scene, suspects to interview, and a couple of great prizes for lucky winners who successfully solve the crime.
It’s been a lot of fun putting together the details of the mystery for the event, and has definitely stretched my sleuthing muscles in some exciting new ways. The unfortunate victim is a (fictional) fellow author, one Eunice K. Stoneheart, author of a series of cozies featuring a talking donkey. In my premise, Eunice is found the night before Books in Boothbay is to begin, lying prone beside a bloodied copy of Kate Flora’s Death Dealer. Murder most foul indeed. Eunice, naturally, was not without her enemies. She had announced recently that she intended to sell her books only in digital format going forward in order to save trees, and it had just been learned that she planned to stage a protest on the day of the Books in Boothbay event. Knowing Eunice’s predilection for spectacle and her litigious nature, those hosting the event were not pleased.
Additionally, Eunice was lobbying to have the narrator of her series — her own pet donkey, Louise — admitted as a member of Sisters in Crime. While this might have been laughable, Eunice had already secured a lawyer fully invested in moving forward with a lawsuit that would no doubt prove troublesome for the organization, if they did not comply. She had engaged fellow cozy writer (and Sisters in Crime New England Vice President) Edith Maxwell in a war of words over an incident Maxwell insisted had never happened (“I never touched her damn donkey, and I never would — what possible reason could there be for kicking a donkey? If it kicked me back, I’d be out of commission for months.”) Eunice had charged author Dale T Phillips with food poisoning, and had just announced a lawsuit against Maine Crime Writers’ own Kate Flora, charging her with reckless endangerment after Kate unwittingly brushed against the elderly Stoneheart with her grocery cart at the local Hannaford.
Clearly, many had motive.
If you’d like to try your hand at solving the crime, we’d love to see you. This year, Books in Boothbay will take place on Saturday, July 9, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Boothbay Railway Village. Authors — including many here at Maine Crime Writers — will be onsite to sign books, and the Railway Village truly is a beautiful place to spend a summer day. I hope we’ll see you there!
Jen Blood is author of the bestselling Erin Solomon Mysteries, as well as the soon-to-be-released 5-Day Fiction Guide to Creating Complex Characters. To learn more, visit www.jenblood.com.