Saturday, January 16, 2010
Megan says: We both hashed out the plot together, and then we generally took turns writing chapters, though it wasn't a strict formula.
Susan says: Yes, for the first book we were stricter about the alternating of chapters, but for books two and three, it was more “free form,” especially as Megan’s wedding approached. Our deadline for Impostors at Blue Heron Lake (the third book) was the day before her wedding, so whoever had time would write the next scene! We did get the book in a week or two before the wedding.
Did you enjoy working together?
Megan says: Usually! I think it's safe to say that most mothers and daughters don't always enjoy working together.
Did it take a lot of interaction?
Megan says: Yes, especially in the plotting stages. I seem to remember we worked on a lot of car trips, one of us jotting things down if the other was driving.
Susan says: If I recall correctly, we first decided to write a book together in the car. I was telling about a plotline I was wrestling with and thinking of writing, and Megan suggested a wonderful twist. That book became Homicide at Blue Heron Lake.
Have you ever been to Maine?
Megan’s take: I was born in Maine, and lived there until I went to college in South Carolina. I have moved around a few different times, and now live in England, but I am still a Mainer and always will be.
Susan says: Me, too—born in Maine, that is. I’ve lived here most of my life, but spent four years in New York (College); part of a year in North Carolina (teaching) and lived in Oregon a little over a year after I married my Oregonian. Then we moved back to Maine. So Megan and I are both very familiar with the state our books are set in.
How was the setting chosen?
Megan says: I think that mom came up with the initial idea of a remote island in Maine. Our family loves the outdoors, camping, etc. so it's not surprising that we both liked the idea.
Susan here: Yes, I had already thought about writing a story set on a large lake with the owner of the marina being the hero. I grew up in Belgrade, Maine, which is a town touching about seven lakes. My father was a game warden, and as a child I spent a lot of time in and on the lakes—swimming, boating, skating, fishing…
My father was a game warden in Arkansas when I was young. What do you like most about this collection?
Megan says: The characters, especially Felicia and Jette, I guess. And the celery wagons. I think I got them in there somewhere, just because they are tasty and they remind me of Christmas and Thanksgiving with my mom's family. (Even though they didn’t call them "celery wagons.")
Susan says: I think they’re in the second book, Treasure at Blue Heron Lake, which is the one set in winter. My favorite part of the book was seeing Nate and Emily’s relationship develop as they matured and got to know each other as adults, since they hadn’t seen each other for seven years. Nate especially goes through a lot of growth as he changes his career and living situation, as well as taking on a new stepfather and falling in love.
What book are you currently writing?
Megan: A few different ones, in the mainstream literary realm. But most of the time lately I am crafting for my etsy shop. Please have a look: http://www.mossmountain.etsy.com/
Susan: I’m finishing up a historical suspense for Summerside, The Crimson Cipher, set in 1915 and coming out in July. Next up will be my third book in the Ladies’ Shooting Club series, a fun western series set in Idaho in the 1880s. The first one, The Sheriff’s Surrender, just came out in December.
Tell us a little about your family.
Megan says: My husband is English, and we live in England together on the Wirral Peninsula. But I grew up in Maine, as I said before, and I have two brothers and three sisters. My sisters and I are very close, and I miss them all a lot. I miss my whole family, and extended family, but I think I miss my sisters the most.
Susan says: Our family is scattered, as we have two children with us in Maine, Megan in England, a married daughter in Idaho (with two of our adorable grandchildren there as well), a married son (four grandchildren there) and also a daughter in South Carolina. It’s a bit disconcerting to have two thirds of our children more than a thousand miles away. I thank God often for modern technology that helps us keep in touch!
Homicide at Blue Heron Lake:
Emily Gray climbed out of her car and stood still for a moment, taking in the scene. Nothing had changed, and a warm sense of coming home spread through her. In this little town, her happiest memories were created, when her family lived in a log home on the shore of Blue Heron Lake. But some of her worst memories began here, too, and tangled up in both the best and the worst of her past was Nate Holman.
She leaned against her car door, scanning the marina sprawled on the lake shore. Beside the store she glimpsed the docks, where dozens of watercraft were tied. From canoes and small motorboats, up to a pontoon party boat, the customer could rent whatever vessel he wanted from the Holman family. The sign over the door told her the Baxter, Maine, post office was still tucked into a corner of the emporium.
Breathing almost hurt. How could she have forgotten the crisp, evergreen-tinged air of northern Maine?
Emily used to tell herself she’d outgrown Baxter. It was too small. An investigative journalist couldn’t make a living in a place like this—a tiny community buried in the woods. But now she realized how badly she’d wanted an excuse to come back.
As she pushed open the door, her heart began to race. Was Nate still here, or had he fled Baxter the way she did?
Treasure at Blue Heron Lake:
A bull moose stepped out of the woods a hundred feet ahead of Nate Holman’s SUV, stopping in the gravel road and staring at the vehicle. Emily caught her breath. Nate braked, throwing gravel up from beneath the tires of his eight-year-old vehicle and came to a halt five yards from the animal. The moose watched them with huge, placid eyes then ambled across the road and into the woods, tipping his head so that his antlers didn’t scrape the trees.
“You okay?” Nate asked.
“Yeah.” Emily brushed the hair out of her eyes. “That was a big one.”
“I wouldn’t want to see him any closer.”
Emily’s pulse slowed as they continued down the road and came in sight of the imposing, three-story Lakeview Lodge. She was ready for a quiet weekend with Nate and his friend.
The building wore its age well; roomy, but homelike with seasoned cedar shingle siding and holiday swags over each doorway. To Emily, the lodge’s late nineteenth-century architecture offered the promise of a fascinating history.
Still, it was hard to imagine well-heeled sportsmen coming to such a plain resort, and she’d been forewarned that the plumbing was so old it was almost primitive. She supposed that if someone wanted to hunt moose or launch a snowmobile trip into Canada, there was no better place than this rustic lodge in Baxter, Maine.
“Like it?” Nate asked.
“Love it. Thanks for bringing me here.”
He got out and came around to open her door for her then raised the rear door of his SUV to retrieve their overnight bags.
She was glad to be going anywhere with Nate Holman. She’d loved him for years, and she was confident their relationship would soon take a turn for the permanent. Thinking about it sent a zing of anticipation through her as she watched him. In his down parka and L.L. Bean boots, he was handsome enough to turn heads at the Bangor mall. Just wait until he started wearing the uniform of the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Department in a few months.
And one of my favorite scenes from Impostors at Blue Heron Lake (not the first page):
Nate looked from Jette, with her attention-demanding getup, to Jeanette, a natural-look girl from next door or the house next to that. “Uh, ladies, I guess I should introduce you. Jette Williams, this is Jeanette Williams. And Jeanette—”
“What?” Jette stared at Jeanette. “Who do you think you are, using my name?”
“Me?” Jeanette’s jaw dropped and she looked around at Rita and Nate, as though expecting them to leap to her defense. “Me using your name?”
“That’s right. Jeanette is my given name. Jette is a nickname.”
Jeanette’s mouth closed and her eyes narrowed as she took her opponent’s measure. “Well, Jeanette Williams is my legal name. I don’t know where you get off trying to use it, honey, but if you think you can get your freaky black claws on my grandmother’s estate, there’s a lawyer down the road who’ll set you straight.”
Jette slapped her own cheek in mock horror, with her black-polished fingernails like jewels against her white skin. “Oh! You must be talking about John Wolfe, the attorney who’s meeting with me at ten tomorrow morning about my grandmother’s estate. I’m really scared.”
Nate jumped between them, afraid Jeanette would launch herself against Jette any second. He felt like slapping them both. Instead, he held up his hands.
“Look, ladies, there’s obviously some mistake here. Uh, I don’t suppose you two have ever met? Cousins, maybe?”
Jette giggled. “Oh, right. Identical cousins, like The Patty Duke Show? Only we don’t look alike, genius.”
Rita spoke up hesitantly. “Well, it’s kind of hard to tell.” She pointed at Jeanette. “I mean, she could be the one who likes opera, but I don’t know about…”
What a fun scene!! Where can the readers find you on the Internet?
Susan’s Web site: http://www.susanpagedavis.com/
Megan’s Etsy shop: http://www.mossmountain.etsy.com/
Megan’s Blog: http://mossmountain.blogspot.com/
Thank you, Susan and Megan, for the fun interview.
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