[Note: In continuing to spotlight The Debutante Class of 09, today our attention focuses on Meredith Cole's mystery debut published in February.]
Debutante Meredith Cole — an established filmmaker, screenwriter and director of two feature films (“Floating”and “Achilles’ Love”) — will add novelist to her credits when her mystery, Posed for Murder, is released tomorrow, February 17th. And, although there are no authors’ early praises on the book’s front cover, there is a gold seal that reads: “Winner of the Malice Domestic Best Traditional First Mystery Competition.” In other words, this book is already a winner, just as its author is.
Introducing herself in the September 3, 2008 post, White Gloves and Waltzing, by Deb Meredith, she writes:
“My name is Meredith Cole and I’m delighted to be a debutante at last. I begged my mother when I was twelve to let me go to Cotillion and learn how to waltz. I thought it would be like going to a ball in a Jane Austen novel, complete with a fabulous dress and white gloves. But my mother, a college professor, had no interest in paying for me to learn to be a “‘lady.’” So now I can never remember where the forks go when I set the table (something I’m sure they covered in the first lesson).
“I live in New York City with my husband, my 4-year-old son, and my two cats. I try to swim everyday (I wrote a short story called “‘Exercise is Murder’” set at my pool for the June 2008 issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine). I also love to go on long walks, entertain friends, eat dessert, and play cards (my family has cutthroat Pounce tournaments where there is no mercy for anyone of any age).
“I began my career as a filmmaker, and directed two feature films (“‘Floating’” and “‘Achilles’ Love’”) when I was in my twenties. I wrote a lot of screenplays that are still sitting in a drawer, but the birth of my son forced me to reevaluate my career. I wanted to spend time with my baby without completely abandoning my creativity. Since I love to read novels, it seemed natural to write one myself.
“I found the inspiration for my mystery in the vibrant arts community in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I made my heroine, Lydia McKenzie, a fine art photographer. In her photographs, she recreates historic murder scenes using her friends as models. And when she finally achieves her dream of having a show of her work in a New York gallery, Lydia discovers to her horror that someone is killing her models just like her photographs.
“My book POSED FOR MURDER will be released in February 2009 by St. Martin’s Press, and I’m hard at work writing the next book in the series. I’m looking forward to blogging this year with such a talented group, and celebrating everyone’s exciting debut. Now – what time do we waltz again?”
Did you catch the fact that Posed for Murder is the first in a series? And that means, for readers of any genre, tomorrow launches not only a debut novelist but a new character to follow as well. As an amateur detective, could Lydia McKenzie become the 21st century’s Miss Jane Marple? It’s certainly possible considering this admission in the December 3, 2008 post, The Books that Made Me a Writer by Deb Meredith.
Yet wanting to write a mysery novel and actually writing one that was (very) good enough to be published proved a learning proces for even Deb Meredith. In an interview at Jungle Red Writers blog, the January 21, 2009 post, Meet Meredith Cole allowed the author to describe her backstory:
“I’ve always loved to read, and mysteries have been some of my favorite books. So I used some of my downtime during my pregnancy to write a mystery with a setting that was dear to my heart—my artist neighborhood in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I made my sleuth, Lydia McKenzie, a photographer since I’ve done enough photography to know my way around a camera, and crafted a plot I thought was downright entertaining. The trouble was I spent pages and pages giving the backstory of my characters before all the entertaining stuff kicked in. Needless to say, no one was particularly interested in my first novel.
“But I loved my characters, and, since I’m incredibly persistent and stubborn, I came up with another book idea for them that was even more closely tied to my characters. This time Lydia is having a gallery show of her murder recreation photographs, and she finds out that someone is killing her models just like her photos in POSED FOR MURDER. I began to shop the book around and I also entered it into the St. Martin’s/Malice Domestic competition in October 2006.
“While I was waiting to hear back from the competition, Lydia still wouldn’t get out of my head. So I wrote a couple of short stories featuring her and her neighbors and friends. One called “Out in the Cold” ended up in the anthology MURDER NEW YORK STYLE, and the other, “Exercise is Murder,” was in Ellery Queen Magazine’s Department of First Stories in June 2008.
“In February 2007, I found out from my judge that I was a finalist. I was incredibly excited but I was also knew I had to be realistic. Only one book out of all the hundreds written and entered could win. So no one was more shocked than I when I got a call from Ruth Cavin, an editor at St. Martin’s Press, telling me that I had won…”
Now mystery novels are difficult to review, after all any slip of a detail could give away the entire plot, but there is this brief Synopsis:
“In POSED FOR MURDER, Lydia McKenzie, an edgy art photographer who recreates murder scenes in a film noir style, finally achieves her
dream of putting her art on display. That night, Williamsburg homicide cops find the model of one of her photographs murdered, her body arranged in the same fashion as one of Lydia’s photographs. When another of her models disappears, Lydia is determined to protect her friends and find the killer using everything she’s learned in her day job as an assistant to a team of private eyes. But time is running out because the killer pictures her as his next victim.”
And what about Lydia McKenzie, what’s she like? Deb Meredith parcels out bits and pieces of her protagonist, allowing us to get to know Lydia clue by clue beginning with the October 29, 2008 post Fighting back against fear by Deb Meredith, where the author states:
“We all have moments of pulse pounding fear in our lives that are forever seared into our brains. Thank God I’ve never mugged, or raped, but I’ve been terrified. Mind-numbingly terrified. And I’ve been angry at injustices and everything that make us afraid. That’s probably why I like to read and write mysteries. In a mystery, there may be violence and murder, but in the end all is resolved. The bad guys pay and the innocent get justice. Not at all like real life.
“Growing up in the country, I didn’t have a lot of exposure to the “‘mean streets.’” But knowing that I was going to move to a city, I took a self-defense class in college. In Posed for Murder, I have Lydia McKenzie take a self-defense class because the experience was important to me, and I wanted to write about it.We all have moments of pulse pounding fear in our lives that are forever seared into our brains. Thank God I’ve never mugged, or raped, but I’ve been terrified. Mind-numbingly terrified. And I’ve been angry at injustices and everything that make us afraid. That’s probably why I like to read and write mysteries. In a mystery, there may be violence and murder, but in the end all is resolved. The bad guys pay and the innocent get justice. Not at all like real life.”
From the nitty-gritty of Lydia, there are then parts of her behavior told in What’s your sign? By Deb Meredith on November 19, 2008.
Why I’d Rather Take the Subway by Deb Meredith posted December 10, 2008 describes the differences between the writer and her main character, while January 14, 2008 My Secret Sweet Tooth, by Deb Meredith provides more Lydia revelations.
However the piece de resistance — and probably what you’ve be wondering about — was only told this past week (on February 11, 2009) in Putting Passion on the Page, by Deb Meredith. Hmm, and now there are two mysteries — the one the novel revolves around and Lydia’s love life. To discover the truth about both, “You’ll have to read the book.” as Debutante Meredith Cole suggests.
Posed for Murder hits bookstore shelves tomorrow and, although mysteries are a great read any time of the year, there something about curling up with a “whodunnit” on a cold winter’s night…enjoy!***********
Despite what many readers and “daydreaming” hope-to-be authors might think having a book published will not change one’s life. Glamour, wealth and fame are bestowed on a very few but every author is changed by that life experience. Six months since her debut, here’s how Meredith feels:
“Since I became a published author, I have become much more self confident. During my book tour, I’ve had to speak in front of lots of groups, get interviewed on television and radio, and navigate strange new cities on my own. None of it was easy, but after each event, I’ve felt more prepared to deal with the new and unexpected. And the self-assurance has also extended to my writing. I’ve taken a book from start to finish, written the next book in the series, written newspaper articles and press releases, and posted a blog every week on the Debutante Ball for a year. I’m not really intimidated by the blank page–or the blank screen anymore. And that feels wonderful.”
How wonderful indeed!