Each new mystery I write is an adventure. Some books start with the germ of an idea planted by something I read about or see on TV. Other books come to life thanks to an interesting person I meet, a snatch of conversation I overhear, or some nugget of history or legend that niggles at my brain, demanding its own story.
But when it comes to my League of Literary Ladies mysteries, the creative process works a little differently. That’s because of the basic concept of the series–four warring neighbors on an island in Lake Erie keep taking each other to court and the magistrate gets tired of dealing with their petty problems. He tells them that if only they’d talk to each other, maybe they’d learn to get along, and to get them to do that, he sentences them to be a book discussion group. That was Square One when it came to the Literary Ladies. Square Two? I decided each of their adventures would be based on the classic book they’re reading.
What that means, of course, is that I can’t depend on things like an overheard conversation or an interesting news article to start the creative juices flowing. For each book, I have to start with classic books, and I have to find books with plots that I can twist and turn to turn into the elements of each mystery.
The next step in the process, though is seems easier, is really the kicker–not only do I need classic plots, I need recognizable titles that can be tweaked–just a tad–to make them appropriate for the mystery genre.
So far, the two elements have meshed pretty well. Book #1 was “Mayhem at the Orient Express.” It was followed by “A Tale of Two Biddies,” “The Legend of Sleepy Harlow,” and “And Then There Were Nuns.” When I had a chance to write a fifth book in series, I had to get back to work with a snappy title in mind.
I can’t remember the titles I thought of an rejected. I do know that when I came up with “Gone With the Twins,” I knew I’d hit paydirt. The title is instantly familiar, and there’s enough fodder in the Margaret Mitchell classic that it allowed me to let my imagination go wild.
I kept my South Bass Island setting, of course, because the Ladies of the League wouldn’t be the same if they weren’t dealing with the joys and frustrations of island life. Then I allowed myself to play with Mitchell’s elements:
We’ve got two warring bed and breakfast inns, one on the north side of the island and one on the south.
We’ve got a Civil War gala, a Lady of the League who’s gone ga-ga over the antebellum south, and of course, the Twins, children of a Hollywood superstar who were once kidnapped and became household names because of their miraculous escape and are now turning the island on its head.
Add to that local vixen Vivien Frisk, the object of every guys’ affection who can fiddle-dee-dee and bat her eyelashes with the best of them, and you can see where this is going.
For the League’s leading Lady, Bea Cartwright, it’s headed straight for trouble. Especially when Vivien is found dead and Bea discovers that everybody’s favorite island belle had more enemies than you can shake a stick at.
Frankly, my dear, I hope you join me on South Bass Island for the latest adventure of the League of Literary Ladies!
Author’s website: http://www.kylielogan.com