by Barb, who’s finally admitting the days are getting shorter, the temperatures colder. Sigh.
This is official Kensington release week for Eggnog Murder in hardcover, ebook and audiobook. The large print edition is coming in early December. Eggnog Murder is getting some great reviews, including a starred review from Publishers Weekly!
The book is a collection of three holiday novellas all set in coastal Maine. The other stories are by well-known cozy authors Leslie Meier and Lee Hollis. We were all given the same assignment by Kensington– 25,000 to 35,000 words, and the words “eggnog murder.” It’s fascinating to see where each of us went from there. Since this is a Maine blog, I thought it might be interesting to find out where each of us found the holiday traditions for our towns.
Leslie Meier is the New York Times bestselling author of over twenty Lucy Stone mysteries and has also written for Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. She is currently at work on the next Lucy Stone mystery. Readers can visit her website at www.LeslieMeier.com. Leslie’s novella is titled “Eggnog Murder.”
Leslie: The Lucy Stone Mystery Series draws heavily on holidays, and I do rely on the holiday celebrations that take place in my town, Harwich, Mass. as well as ones in Maine, where I vacation every summer, and also my own family traditions. Candy Corn Murder was inspired by the Pumpkin Fest in Damariscotta, Maine, which is the next town from Bristol, where we always stay in a cabin owned by family members. I must confess I never actually attended the entire Pumpkin Fest in Damariscotta, as it takes place in the fall, but they have a nice website that was very helpful.
I also worked for some years as a small town reporter for local weekly newspapers on Cape Cod so I have covered and written about many local festivals, which have popped up in my books. One of my favorite characters, Corney Clark, is the executive director of the Tinker’s Cove Chamber of Commerce, and she is always working hard to promote business in Lucy’s fictional home town. Corney came up with the idea for a Christmas stroll, which was an important part of my novella, “Eggnog Murder,” and my husband and I always enjoy the annual holiday strolls in our town of Harwich and in nearby Chatham. I always hope for a little light snow to fall for the strolls, and some times it does. Fortunately for us, nobody has served poisoned eggnog — not yet, anyway!
Lee Hollis is the pen name for a brother and sister writing team. Rick Copp is a veteran film and television writer/producer and also the author of two other mystery novel series. He lives in Palm Springs, California. Holly Simason is an award-winning food and cocktails columnist living in North Carolina. Together they write the Hayley Powell Food and Cocktails Mystery series. You may visit their website at www.LeeHollisMysteries.com. their story is titled, “Death by Eggnog.”
Holly (one half of the team behind author Lee Hollis): “Death by Eggnog” in Eggnog Murder is set in our hometown of Bar Harbor, Maine. We love using real Bar Harbor traditions, events and places in our stories. In “Death By Eggnog” we used a little fact and fiction creating the event/venue where all of the excitement happens.
Bar Harbor has many, many restaurants but at the end of the season, as the last tourists leave, there is just a small handful left open for the winter months, so we created the Restaurant Association dinner at the Masonic Hall where our murder takes place.
There isn’t exactly a association dinner but there have been local restaurants getting together for a good cause and creating some of their favorite dishes that people can sample for an admission fee that helps out a good cause.
The Masonic Hall is a real venue used by locals for birthday parties, anniversaries, baby showers, dances (like our Hayseed Ball we used in another book) and I even had the privilege of judging a chocolate competition there when I was working for the local newspaper, The Mount Desert Islander.
We have school children singing Christmas carols at the Jesup Memorial Library which is true during the holiday season when the local pre-school stops by, but they are better received then how the children were in our story.
We have also used the town’s annual Christmas tree lighting in another one of our books that was set during the holidays.
We love taking fact and mixing it up with some fiction and our readers have let us know that they love it too. Some say they feel that they are in the story right along with our characters. This make us very happy to hear and we just love our hometown and the people in it.
One quick note, Rick and I have an agreement that if a murder takes place in a local establishment we won’t use the true name. We always make up a new name for it. We would hate for someone to think there was some truth in the story. Yikes!
Barb: My story is “Nogged Off.” I’ve never written a Christmas story about my fictional town of Busman’s Harbor before, and I was thrilled to do it.
I used a combination of real Boothbay holiday events, like the Saturday everyone shops in their pajamas (I’ve written about that here) and Men’s night. I’ve called it Gentlemen’s Night in the novella, because it evokes the feel of time when men only had to buy one present and their wives took care of the rest. (My father had a strict policy of only buying gifts at places that gift-wrapped. “I will shop, but I will not wrap,” he’d say.)
Boothbay does have a Festival of Trees, but the one I describe in “Nogged Off,” is much more like the one at the Navy base in Newport, Rhode Island, where my friend Vida and I used to take our kids when they were little. Other traditions, like the Snowden’s “cookie day” came from my own life.
Because the novella takes place over four days, the timeline for all the local events is compressed. In real life they start before Thanksgiving and continue through December. The biggest holiday attraction in Boothbay, Gardens Aglow, at the Boothbay Botanical Gardens, just started last year, and was too new to make it into the book. I guess that leaves me something to include if I ever get another chance to write about a Busman’s Harbor Christmas.
We hope you enjoy Eggnog Murder, and we hope you agree we’ve captured something of the holiday in Maine.