Kaitlyn Dunnett/Kathy Lynn Emerson here, today ruminating about a very peculiar thing that’s happened at our house. As regular readers of this blog know, I haven’t been writing anything new lately, both because I am not currently under contract anywhere and because I’ve been busy editing a three-volume collection of all the novels and short stories in my historical Face Down series. As a result, my muse was also taking a break.
Apparently, she got bored. She abandoned my first floor office for a more congenial location one flight up.
It took me a while to notice. When I first conceived the idea of publishing The Valentine Veilleux Mysteries, three short stories and a novella, as an original e-book and a print-on-demand trade paperback, I wasn’t sure I wanted to bring out such a short book. One possible solution was combine that short fiction with the stories my husband had written about Bobby Wing, an eccentric Mainer who encounters mystery and murder in Dallas Plantation, a real place in the county where we live. There were five stories extant at that time. Two of them (“Devious Doings in Dallas” and “Daybreak Dismay in Dallas”) had been published in collections of Best New England Crime Stories (Red Dawn, 2015 and Windward, 2016).
After we talked, Sandy decided he’d like to make some changes before publishing anything else. For one thing, he wanted to switch the stories to a fictional setting, which would necessitate changing all the titles. He also had an idea for a new story. I moved on with what I was doing. It wasn’t until a few weeks later that I noticed that he was spending a lot more time than usual in his second-floor office. Turned out he was busily revising and rearranging the order of the stories he’d already written and had started to write more.
He has a new goal in mind—a novel-length book made up of connected short mysteries. The next thing I knew, he was spending hours at a time doing new writing. Even before he finished the story he’d been working on, he had an idea for an entirely new one. All in one day, he wrote the rough draft, revised it by hand that evening in front of the TV, and went back into his office for another three-hour session at the computer to input changes and make new ones. The other day he asked me if there was any way to make the muse shut up. Seems she woke him several times during the night, forcing him to get up and write down ideas before he forgot them. I sympathized, but had to tell him that there is no known way to silence a determined muse. He’s accepted that now. On Monday of this week, when he went skiing at Saddleback, he spent his lunch break sending e-mails to himself so he’d remember ideas that came to him while he was on the slopes.
There is no escape. The muse has well and truly attached herself to him. Since I’m happily occupied with my own projects, neither of us really has any complaints, although I do find it a bit disconcerting that he’s named the muse. He calls her “Kaitlyn.”
Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett has had sixty-four books traditionally published and h self published others, including several children’s books. She won the Agatha Award and was an Anthony and Macavity finalist 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. She was the Malice Domestic Guest of Honor in 2014. Her most recent publications are The Valentine Veilleux Mysteries (a collection of three short stories and a novella, written as Kaitlyn) and I Kill People for a Living: A Collection of Essays by a Writer of Cozy Mysteries (written as Kathy). She maintains websites at www.KaitlynDunnett.com and www.KathyLynnEmerson.com. A third, at A Who’s Who of Tudor Women, is the gateway to over 2300 mini-biographies of sixteenth-century Englishwomen.
Hence this question: Does this leave you amused, bemused, or demused?
This is actually all your GD fault. On these pages somewhere around 2016, you proposed a contest to come up with mystery titles which included real Maine place names. I have always liked the rural nature and spectacular views of Dallas Plantation, which is next door to Rangeley and Sandy River Plantation, the home of Saddleback Ski Area. I came up with the title Devious Doings in Dallas and submitted it for consideration.
I remember that there were few other entries, so a winner was never announced. The title intrigued me, however, and I came up with a plot, a suspicious death based on a case I was involved in when I was working for the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department in the 1980’s and a character, a retired Coast Guardsman named Bobby Wing who moves to town and becomes its Constable, an archaic post with no real powers except posting the warrant for the annual town meeting. The Level Best Publishing editors of the time bought it for $25.and I became a writer.
I have changed the name of the town to Skedaddle Gore and renamed several of the characters to avoid lawsuits. Sometime next spring I’ll have to make a decision on what to do with al this junk.
Hello. My name is Sanford Emerson and I’m a writer.
Now it’s time to do something with South Arm. Glad I stirred something up back then.
I only wish Sandy could send that muse here for a bit. She’s been annoyingly absent and I need to get a book finished. Still, one must celebrate any occasion when stories are flowing, even if not for me, so Hooray, Sandy! Write on.
Thanks, Kate. I’ll see what I can do but I may have to have her surgically detached! 😜