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Kate Carlisle is the New York Times  bestselling author of two ongoing series: the Bibliophile Mysteries featuring San Francisco bookbinder Brooklyn Wainwright, whose rare book restoration skills uncover old secrets, treachery and murder; and the Fixer-Upper Mysteries, featuring Shannon Hammer, a home contractor who discovers not only skeletons in her neighbors’ closets, but murder victims, too. Hallmark Movies & Mysteries has brought the Fixer-Upper Mysteries to TV in a series of movies starring Jewel and Colin Ferguson. A native Californian, Kate worked in television production for many years before turning to writing.

One sunny day last year, I was in Palm Springs with my husband and our family. The sky was a beautiful bright blue, the temperature a perfect 72 degrees. We strolled through shops, stopped for a bite to eat… not a worry in the world. It was all very relaxed and lighthearted.

Until suddenly, we found ourselves in an incredibly dangerous, life-or-death situation.

We stumbled upon a vampire’s lair and were confronted by a vampire who’d been locked out of his coffin! We were his only hope. We had to work together to uncover the secrets behind how he became a vampire in the first place in order to find the key to his coffin before the sun turned him to dust.

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We were at Escape Room Palm Springs on a research trip for my latest book, The Book Supremacy.

Have you heard of escape rooms? They’re the latest trend in experiential entertainment. Unlike going to a movie, where you’re passive, entering an escape room puts you right into the thick of the action. You become part of the story.

In The Book Supremacy, bookbinder Brooklyn Wainwright allows her rare first edition James Bond novel to be displayed for the anniversary of a San Francisco spy shop with escape rooms. Then the fun and games turn deadly.

Confession: I wrote the first draft of The Book Supremacy without ever having visited an escape room. I turned in the book, but I was worried that I had made the puzzles too challenging. So between first draft and revisions, I visited Escape Room Palm Springs to experience it for myself.

Here’s a snippet about one of the escape rooms in The Book Supremacy:

Alex looked up and gasped.

I followed her gaze up to the ceiling and saw that one of the acoustic tiles had come loose. A bloody hand and part of an arm were sticking out from the duct. A dozen bloody handprints marked the nearby ceiling tiles.

Unsure whether to laugh or shriek, I whispered, “Oh, my God.”

“Don’t mind him,” the Game Master said. “He’s dead. But there are other zombies outside, also dead of course, but ready to attack.” He stared intently at the three of us. “We usually have more people playing the game so you three will have to work harder. But you all look like you’ve got brains.”

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“We do,” Wallace said.

“Good.” The Game Master flashed an evil grin. “Zombies love brains.”

We all laughed weakly.

He began to giggle. His laughter grew louder and louder until he was hysterical. Abruptly he stopped laughing and headed out the door. “Clock starts now. Good luck, kiddies.”

He shut the door firmly and we heard the loud click.

There was a sudden loud pounding. I swore I must’ve jumped a foot.

“Open up!” someone screeched. “Let us in!”

There was growling and more shrieks as the pounding continued.

“Holy crap.” I quickly backed away from the door.

Wallace gazed from me to Alex. “I believe those are the zombies.”

My family and I had a blast at Escape Room Palm Springs! We had to solve a series of puzzles in order to reach the next clue, and the next, and the next, until finally you either reach the end. . . or the vampire dies. The puzzles were really clever and made us think. What was especially fun was that it felt like a competition, but not against each other. We worked together and competed against the clock. We had one hour to complete it, and we used up every bit of that time. When we solved the final puzzle and saved the poor lonely vampire’s life, we really felt like we accomplished something.

And best of all, I discovered that the escape room in The Book Supremacy would give my readers a very realistic experience. The real-life escape room was every bit as challenging as the ones in the book. The only difference is that in the real world, no one was murdered—at least, not as far as I know.

Do escape rooms sound fun to you? Have you ever visited? If so, tell me about it. If not, would you? Or would you prefer to stick with the fictional version in The Book Supremacy?

 ABOUT THE BOOK:

Kate4In the latest in this New York Times bestselling series, San Francisco book-restoration expert Brooklyn Wainwright investigates a mysterious spy novel linked to a string of murders…

 Newlyweds Brooklyn and Derek are enjoying the final days of their honeymoon in Paris. As they’re browsing the book stalls along the Seine, Brooklyn finds the perfect gift for Derek, a first edition James Bond novel, The Spy Who Loved Me. When they bump into Ned, an old friend from Derek’s spy days, Brooklyn shows him her latest treasure.

Once they’re back home in San Francisco, they visit a spy shop Ned mentioned. The owner begs them to let him display the book Brooklyn found in Paris as part of the shop’s first anniversary celebration. Before they agree, Derek makes sure the security is up to snuff—turns out, the unassuming book is worth a great deal more than sentimental value.

Soon after, Derek is dismayed when he receives a mysterious letter from Paris announcing Ned’s death. Then late one night, someone is killed inside the spy shop. Are the murders connected to Brooklyn’s rare, pricey book? Is there something even more sinister afoot? Brooklyn and the spy who loves her will have to delve into the darkest parts of Derek’s past to unmask an enemy who’s been waiting for the chance to destroy everything they hold dear.