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Meredith Cole and Dead in the Water

May 10, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books

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Fans of Meredith Cole and her critically acclaimed debut mysstery, Posed for Murder, can celebrate tomorrow when the author’s second novel, Dead in the Water, appears in bookstores and ships from online retailers.

For anyone still wondering the answer is “Yes,” this is another crime-solving adventure for Lydia McKenzie. Actually the author’s guest post, Meredith Cole Creates a Sleuth and a Series, revealed that and more:

“Lydia is an interesting character, an artist and photographer struggling to build a career in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. She loves vintage clothes, music and spending time with her friends. In order to pay her rent and pay for her studio, she works as an administrative assistant to two private investigators.”

“The first book introduces Lydia, her private eye bosses the D’Angelos, the detective Daniel Romero and her best friend Georgia Rae. In the second book, DEAD IN THE WATER, Lydia has a boyfriend named Jack. A few readers have asked me about Romero and what’s going to happen with the two of them, so they may be disappointed when she dates someone else. But I wanted to see what Lydia was like in a relationship. She’s very independent, and I thought it would be interesting to see that side of her. I also gave her a cat, which presents its own challenges.”

Still a truly interesting amateur sleuth needs a local town or neighborhood where she not only has a home, friends and job, but a vested interest for solving crimes. Meredith found inspiration for her mystery in the vibrant arts community in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. She also discovered the idea for the storyline of Dead in the Water. In fact it existed right “in her own backyard:”

“When I first moved to Williamsburg, prostitutes regularly walked the waterfront. I was intrigued by the women I saw in the shadowy corners of the night. They seemed both tough and vulnerable, and I wondered what their stories were. Right before I moved there, a serial killer had been killing prostitutes in Williamsburg. He was caught and jailed, but it made the waterfront always feel really dangerous at night. And that true story was certainly an inspiration for the book.

“I also became interested in the phenomenon of women who are ‘”part-timers”‘ or who turn tricks when they need the cash, but keep it pretty secret from family. I heard a story on NPR that got the wheels turning in my head. I’ve also always been intrigued by the various programs that help women, either providing safe houses or going out to make sure they get adequate medical care. I came up with the idea of a bus that helps prostitutes, and then found out there actually is one in DC. I did some reading on it, but made the bus in DEAD IN THE WATER individual and unique.”

Then that backstory evolved into the following synopsis:

She’s in over her head… Photographer Lydia McKenzie is taking portraits of prostitutes on the waterfront of Williamsburg Brooklyn when her art project takes a deadly turn. She discovers the body of Glenda, the star of her series, floating in the East River.

Lydia ’s new boyfriend doesn’t want her to get involved in the investigation, and neither does NYPD detective Daniel Romero. But Glenda’s grieving mother begs her for help. So when the D’Angelo brothers, her bosses at the detective agency where she works as an administrative assistant, send Lydia out to the Williamsburg waterfront to catch their cousin’s cheating husband and bring back photos as evidence, she starts to do some sleuthing on the side.

When more hookers are murdered, Lydia teams up with a volunteer organization whose mission is to help women find a way off the streets. She ends up questioning her choices, her relationships, her art, and her identity—all while she runs for her life from a killer who isn’t finished with a deadly rampage.

Meredith Cole’s second novel is a thrilling adventure, boasting memorable characters and a vivid setting.

Memorable characters and vivid setting indeed! Reading the Advanced Uncorrected Proof from Minotaur Books (St. Martin’s Publishing), I easily slipped back into Lydia’s world. Her friends are colorful and artistically talented, even her new boyfriend Jack — a stockbroker and a photographer — could be considered for that category. Yet it’s Lydia who shines brighter than ever as she wears her “heart of gold” on her sleeve and becomes physically as well as emotionally vulnerable.

To give you the slightest hint of a *spoiler* would ruin your reading pleasure. However what can be told is that Meredith Cole’s directing and screenwriting background combine to make this mystery come alive, reeling through the reader’s mind.

A member of The Debutante Ball Class of 2009, Meredith wrote the telling post, Learning to Lean by Deb Meredith, in which she’s the first to admit:

“I’ve always been very independent. I need some time alone everyday to decompress (and write). I like to do things myself, and hate being told what to do.”

Life changed with marriage and motherhood and the author happily adjusted:

“Only occasionally do I fantasize about what it would be like to be a single gal again—able to run out and do whatever I want whenever I want to do it. But it’s mostly when I’m at the computer writing my Lydia McKenzie mystery series. And then I remember how lonely it is to be single, and how much I’d miss my guys. And I shut my laptop and joyfully return to my life.”

In Dead in the Water, a cat enters Lydia’s life and I asked Meredith if he was an anchor or an acknowledgement of loneliness? Her answer is somewhat sad but true:

“To be a detective is to be alone in some ways. Lydia has good friends, but she hasn’t found a real anchor in her life. Her apartment is just temporary, and so is her job. She resists commitment as much as she is attracted to it. I thought it might be interesting to give Lydia a cat because it would force her to commit to something, or make her admit that she wasn’t ready to be in a relationship with anyone, much less a cat.”

Now seriously how can you resist Lydia and her latest murder investigation? Dead in the Water — it’s a thrilling mystery with heart.

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Meredith Cole’s Dead in the Water in a random drawing to anyone who comments only on this specific post. Comments left on other posts during the week are not entered into the contest. The deadline is Wednesday, May 12, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return on Thursday to possibly claim your book.

Meredith Cole Creates A Sleuth and A Series

April 21, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

When mystery author Meredith Cole penned her first novel, Posed for Murder, she had two puzzles to solve: 1) Introduce an engaging and likable amateur sleuth and 2) Tell a good story. With the critical success of Posed for Murder, Meredith did just that and now her second book, Dead in the Water — coming May 11, 2010 –, will continue with Lydia’s (mis)adventures.

In today’s guest post, the author explains how it all began as well as offers a few clues to where it’s going.

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The Start of Something Special

When I wrote my first book POSED FOR MURDER, I knew Lydia McKenzie was going to have her own series. Lydia is an interesting character, an artist and photographer struggling to build a career in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. She loves vintage clothes, music and spending time with her friends. In order to pay her rent and pay for her studio, she works as an administrative assistant to two private investigators.

Whether you like them or not, there’s no question that series dominate the mystery genre. It’s hard to come up with a good sleuth, and people don’t like to see them exit the stage when a book is done. Arthur Conan Doyle couldn’t kill off Sherlock Holmes: the public kept clamoring for more, even though he was sick of him.

That decision to make my book the start of a series gave me a couple of interesting challenges. As I wrote, I not only had to think about the arc of the book, but I also had to think about the arc of the series. Lydia couldn’t change too much in each book and become unrecognizable, but she also has to have room to grow. I don’t like characters that never evolve, but I had to give readers a character that also felt consistent.

The first book introduces Lydia, her private eye bosses the D’Angelos, the detective Daniel Romero and her best friend Georgia Rae. In the second book, DEAD IN THE WATER, Lydia has a boyfriend named Jack. A few readers have asked me about Romero and what’s going to happen with the two of them, so they may be disappointed when she dates someone else. But I wanted to see what Lydia was like in a relationship. She’s very independent, and I thought it would be interesting to see that side of her. I also gave her a cat, which presents its own challenges.

So far, I’ve tried to make each book a little different and show different aspects of Lydia. Both books reveal a lot about her art. In the first book, she’s photographing her friends and posing them as murder victims based on historic cases she’s researched. In the second, she’s photographing portraits of prostitutes. In both cases her art leads her into trouble and helps her solve the crime, so there’s a nice symmetry.

DEAD IN THE WATER comes out in a few weeks, and I’m hard at work finishing book #3. I won’t tell you whether she keeps the boyfriend or cat from book #2, but I will tell you that Lydia’s parents come for a visit in book #3. They’re traveling America in an RV, and they have a mystery in New York that they need to solve. I thought it would be intriguing to see what she was like with her family. Her parents have been lots of fun to write, and they’ve definitely helped me learn even more about Lydia. I hope readers will enjoy learning about her as much as I have.

The Revealing of Meredith Cole

April 14, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles

MeredithMeredith Cole (Posed for Murder nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Mystery Novel) offers readers another Lydia McKenzie adventure with Dead in the Water to be released May 11, 2010.

The Divining Wand has scheduled a presentation/review of Meredith’s latest book for Monday, May 10, 2010, but between then and now, let’s meet the author through her formal, professional “bio:”

Meredith Cole directed feature films and wrote screenplays before writing mysteries. She won the St. Martin’s/Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery competition. Her book POSED FOR MURDER, set in Williamsburg Brooklyn, was published by St. Martin’s Minotaur in February 2009 and was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Meredith’s short story “Exercise is Murder” was in the June 2008 issue of EQMM, and her short story “Out in the Cold,” is in the anthology MURDER NEW YORK STYLE. Her second book, DEAD IN THE WATER, comes out May 11, 2010. She teaches mystery writing and screenwriting and lives in Virginia.

Hmm, not much that you didn’t already know? Well then it’s seems the appropriate time for the revealing of Meredith:

Q: How would you describe your life in 8 words?
A: Grateful to have happiness, love and many books.

Q: What is your motto or maxim?
A: Help out or get out of the way. I don’t like when people sit around and complain. Getting off your duff and jumping in is the best way to change anything in your life (or the world). And you actually feel a lot better.

Q: How would you describe perfect happiness?
A: Picnicking with friends and family next to a river on a beautiful day.

Q: What’s your greatest fear?
A: Losing someone I love. Not finishing what I start. Falling off something high. Do I have to choose one?

Q: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A: In an outdoor café in Paris watching the world go by.

Q: Which living person do you most admire?
A: Barack Obama. He’s a smart man, and I hope he becomes known as one of our greatest presidents. He has a lot of challenges ahead of him.

Q: What are your most overused words or phrases?
A: Great. Sigh. Shrug.

Q: If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A: I tried several times to play an instrument and never got very far. I love music and I would love to be able to play guitar or piano.

Q: What is your greatest achievement?
A: My amazing kid.

Q: What’s your greatest flaw?
A: Stubbornness. I can’t be moved once I make up my mind.

Q: What’s your best quality?
A: Stubbornness. I never give up!

Q: What do you regret most?
A: I regret the times when I haven’t been very patient with people.

Q: If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
A: A dolphin. They look so beautiful and happy all the time, and they’re terrific swimmers.

Q: What trait is most noticeable about you?
A: My eyes. People who knew me when I was two years old (and had no hair) still recognize me when they meet me again as an adult.

Q: Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A: Elizabeth Bennett.

Q: Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A: Professor Moriarty

Q: If you could meet any athlete, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A: My great-grandfather Harry J. Huff was an Olympian (a runner) and I would love to have met him. I just wish I could run as fast.

Q: What is your biggest pet peeve?
A: Whining.

Q: What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A: Swimming. Reading. Being a mom.

Q: What’s your fantasy profession?
A: Full-time novelist—with benefits.

Q: What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A: Honesty. Cheerfulness. Helpfulness.

Q: If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
A: Strawberries.

Q: What are your 5 favorite songs?
A: “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” (trad.)
“It’s a Beautiful Day” – U2
“You can get it if you really want” – Jimmy Cliff
“Woke up it was a Chelsea Morning” – Joni Mitchell
“Angel from Montgomery” – John Prine (and Bonnie Raitt)

Q: What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
The Greengage Summer by Rumer Godden
Ten Little Indians by Agatha Christie
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey

Wonder what more lies behind the mystery writer’s stunning blue eyes? Follow Meredith on Twitter, become a friend on Facebook and you may find out.

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria in a random drawing of all comments left on this post. The deadline is tonight at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winners to be announced here in tomorrow’s post. If you enter, please return tomorrow to possibly claim your book.