Kaitlyn Dunnett/Kathy Lynn Emerson here, living proof that a long writing career includes both feast and famine. I’ve been through several famines. Just now, I’m lucky enough to be in a feast stage. The next few years are going to be very busy.
In an earlier blog I talked about using the plot device of going back to the old home town. In that post, I wrote the following:
“When I started work on an idea for a new series, it never occurred to me that I was repeating myself by having the new sleuth return to her old home town. In fact, going back is kind of the point of the book. Mikki Lincoln is a woman my age (sixty-eight) who moved away right after high school. It’s an invitation to her fiftieth high school reunion that gets her thinking about her old stomping ground. A recent widow, she sells her home in Maine and heads for the rural New York state community where she grew up. In fifty years, there have definitely been changes. She’s in familiar territory . . . and yet she’s not. For an amateur sleuth, that seems to me to be the best of all possible worlds.”
At the time I wrote that, I couldn’t yet reveal where negotiations stood for the sale of this new series, or what would happen to the Liss MacCrimmon Mysteries if I started writing about Mikki. Finally, I can tell all. I have not one, but two new contracts. One is for three more books in the Liss MacCrimmon series (#11,12, and 13). The second is for the first two Mikki Lincoln books.
The tenth Liss MacCrimmon story, Kilt at the Highland Games, will be in stores in hardcover next Tuesday, July 26, but I’m already hard at work on number eleven, X Marks the Scot, to be published in the fall of 2017. Credit for coming up with that title, by the way, goes to my editor, Peter Senftleben.
I don’t want to give too much away (actually, I can’t, because I’m making it up as I go along), but the action starts when Liss finds a mysterious map hidden in the back of a portrait she bought at auction. The portrait is a copy of a real eighteenth-century painting of the official piper of Clan Grant, shown here. As you might expect, Liss can’t resist trying to find the spot on the map that’s marked with a big old X.
The first book in the new series won’t be out until the spring of 2018, but I’ve been working on it, on and off, for some time now. My trip back to my old home town last fall for my own 50th high school reunion was also a research trip. I met with a classmate’s son who is a deputy sheriff to pepper him with questions about the investigation of homicides in New York State. As I expected, there are differences between Maine and New York. Since Mikki is an amateur, she isn’t going to be deeply involved in forensics, but I still had to know some basics, such as whether it would be the state, county, town, or village police in charge.
I won’t be using a real place as my setting, but Mikki’s hometown will have a lot in common with the village where I grew up. It’s in the heart of what, fifty years ago, was known as the Borsht Belt, a popular summer vacation spot for folks from New York City in the days before air travel became common. These days, the area has fallen on hard times. In my fictional village, there is a plan afoot to revive tourism by building a theme park. Not everyone is in favor of the idea.
Why, you may be asking, would a sixty-eight-year-old woman want to uproot herself and, essentially, take a step backward. I pondered that long and hard and tried to put myself in her shoes. What if her husband of forty-plus years, who is also her best friend, up and dies on her? With apologies to my own husband, who is (knock wood) in good health and seems likely to remain so, I realized that if I were suddenly widowed, I might find it hard to go on living alone in the place we’d shared for so long. An invitation to my fiftieth reunion got me thinking about the “good old days.” Nostalgia is a powerful force. If widowhood and the reunion coincided with the house I grew up in coming on the market, I would be tempted. I loved that house as a kid. As an adult, I can see it has some big disadvantages. It has near neighbors on both sides, for one thing, and I’m used to living out in the country on fifteen wooded acres. But for fictional purposes . . .
So, on impulse, in need of a change, Mikki buys back her childhood home. When she finds out how much work needs to be done on it before winter, she realizes that she needs to supplement her retirement income and sets up shop as a book doctor. Although Mikki expects to deal with most of her clients by email and phone, one of the first people to contact her is a local woman who has written a book about Murder, Inc., a criminal organization that dumped the bodies of their victims in that area of New York State (true story) during the 1930s. The body of the author turns up a few days later. Is there a clue to her murder in the manuscript? Of course there is, and Mikki is the only one who’s in a position to find it.
Needless to say, although I am enjoying plotting the ins and outs of Liss MacCrimmon’s current adventure, I am also tremendously excited about this new project.
But wait, some of you may be saying. What about the Mistress Jaffrey Mysteries? Never fear, the third entry, Death in a Cornish Alehouse, will be out in the UK in December and in the U.S. in April 2017.
Frankly, the prospect of writing five new novels in the course of the next two and a half years fills me with both great joy and sheer terror, but given a choice between feast and famine, I’ll take the feast every time.
Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett is the author of over fifty books written under several names. She won the Agatha Award for best mystery nonfiction of 2008 for How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries and was an Agatha Award finalist in 2015 in the best mystery short story category for “The Blessing Witch.” Currently she writes the contemporary Liss MacCrimmon Mysteries (Kilt at the Highland Games) as Kaitlyn and the historical Mistress Jaffrey Mysteries (Murder in a Cornish Alehouse ~ UK in December 2016; US in April 2017) as Kathy. The latter series is a spin-off from her earlier “Face Down” series and is set in Elizabethan England. Her websites are www.KaitlynDunnett.com and www.KathyLynnEmerson.com
I am delighted for you, Kathy, and look forward to this new series as well as the upcoming Liss MacCrimmon and Mistress Jaffrey books. You are rocking, girl!
Can’t wait for the books about the older lady!!!
It’s going to be fun to write about someone my own age for once. Much easier, or so I hope!
Congratulations! You are going to be very busy!
Thanks, Bruce. Busy is good
Wonderful news! Look forward to reading all of them!
I was fortunate to win one of the advance copies of “Kilt at the Highland Games”. I’m a first-time reader of your books and have only read the first 30 pages. But “Kilt at the Highland Games” is holding my interest with your dramatic precipitating event and my wanting to find out what happened to the three characters apparently most affected by that event. Your other characters, including Liss MacCrimmon, have been drawn in enough bold relief right off the bat that a picture forms in my head which I can watch as they move through the story.
I don’t think veteran readers of your Liss MacCrimmon series or new readers will be disappointed.
Good luck with the new projects, which ought to keep you out of trouble for a while or if there’s trouble, it should be the good kind.
Thanks, David. Glad you’re enjoying the book.
Congratulations on the new book coming out, and I loved reading about your new endeavor, as well. You managed to create an image in my mind that will help when I sit down and write. I adored the photos, and I also read the blog link and your web site. Now I know where I can order your series. This post was great.
Thanks, Skye. I didn’t realize it until I looked closely at it, but that picture with me in front of the porch with my mother standing in the background, supervising, says a lot about my relationship with her, AND about Liss MacCrimmon’s relationship with her mother, which is coming into play again in the book I’m working on now.
We grew up during the same time frame and I need to look at the picture again. How enchanting this book sounds and I love the premise behind your motif. I think you once wrote a post about how a theme revolves around the writer. I made sense then and makes more sense now.
Echoing Gram’s sentiment above, I’m very excited about a series with an older sleuth. There’s been a bias against that for the last decade and a half or so, and I hope your contract marks an end to it!
Thanks, Barb. There have been a few, but the trend has definitely been toward twenty-somethings. I’ve aged Liss into her thirties, but I still feel sometimes that I’m a bit out of touch with how she’d react to things. I’m more of an age with her Aunt Margaret. I have to stop and think what my niece and other young friends might do, not what I would!
that new book looks really interesting. i am looking forward to it. i also like both ms. maccrimmons and madame jaffrey
Thanks, Charlie. And you’ll be one of the ones who can recognize places in the new series. Glad you stopped by and left a comment.
Congratulations on the new contracts for new Liss MacCrimmon books and the new series. The pictures of your home town look a lot like the small town where I grew up in Western New York State. I love the Liss MacCrimmon stories but I have to say that I am really disappointed that you have decided to go with hardback releases and waiting a year for the paperbacks to be released. Some of us just cannot afford to pay the price of a hardback. I just recently retired and now live on Social Security. Paying $20 plus for a book is just not in my budget. I’ll just have to wait for a while and hope that my library gets the book.
Yes, Libby, I don’t read e-books, but wait until they come out in paperback; however, I have to begin the series, so I am ok, for now. They look wonderful.
I’m glad you enjoy the series. As for the format, as well as the price in various editions, including ebook, that’s the publisher’s decision and I have no say in it. On the bright side, most libraries will borrow a copy of any book for you from another library even if they don’t buy it for their own collection. All you have to do is ask. Happy Reading.