Kaitlyn Dunnett/Kathy Lynn Emerson here. As readers of this blog know, I’ve been working on the first in a new series (Crime and Punctuation, a Deadly Edits Mystery) to be published in June 2018, in which the widowed retiree sleuth returns to her old hometown after fifty years away. Since I’m a firm believer in making things easy on myself, I’m using a lot of bits and pieces of my own life as fictional fodder. In particular, the house Mikki Lincoln grew up in, and which she has now bought back, is the house I lived in from 1951 until I went off to college in 1965. Although I have no obligation, since I’m writing a novel, to stick to the reality, it’s kind of neat to have that floorplan in my head, along with the memory of some of the changes my folks made to the place while they owned it.
Part of my “research” for this project, in addition to a trip back to the old hometown for my own fiftieth high school reunion, has consisted of digging out old memorabilia and the many, many photographs and home movies my father took when I was a kid. They include interior shots of several rooms in our house.
Without giving away too much of the plot, several crucial scenes take place in the dining room Mikki is using as a temporary office for her free lance book editing business. There are confrontations, discoveries, quiet chats between Mikki and her calico cat, and one scene where a clear concept of the size of that room is crucial. Yes, I could make the room as big as I like, but it just so happens that I have lots of photos of the dining room.
It’s fun to reminisce, both as myself and when I’m in Mikki’s head. Naturally, since we are the same age and with similar backgrounds, she has many of the same memories I do, as does her friend Darlene. And, like me, they occasionally have trouble remembering elusive details. Looking at old photographs helps fill in the blanks, but there has been another benefit too.
I’ve been sharing some of my favorite finds on Facebook for “Throwback Thursdays” and also posting them on a Facebook group founded to exchange news and reminisce about the old hometown. That connection has led to even more sharing of nostalgic memories and then, to make the circle complete, several of those exchanges have called up a ton of descriptive details I’m using to make my writing more vivid.
All characters in Crime and Punctuation, naturally, are entirely figments of my imagination. The girl or boy who grew up to be a (insert profession here) would never have committed murder!!! And that kid who appears in every single photograph? The one her sixth grade yearbook predicted would become a muscle woman in the circus? She’s still living in rural Maine with her husband and her cats and has no intention of moving back to New York State, not even if her old house does come up for sale.
P.S. As I’m scheduling this, the weather forecast for Monday includes over twenty inches of snow and high winds for this part of Maine. If you leave a comment (and I hope you will) I may not be able to respond right away.