Edith here, so very delighted to host the prolific and talented (and my friend) Annette Dashofy on the blog. We are occasional retreat-mates, too (read below), and I absolutely love her Zoe Chambers Mysteries. The new book, Cry Wolf, is nearly out, and you won’t want to miss it.
Rural Pennsylvania’s Vance Township Police Chief Pete Adams is down an officer and has been dealing with extra shifts as well as a pair of bickering neighbors, one of whom owns a machete and isn’t afraid to use it. Golden Oaks Assisted Living is outside Pete’s jurisdiction, but a murder in the facility his Alzheimer’s-afflicted father calls home makes the case personal.
Paramedic and Deputy Coroner Zoe Chambers has been itching for an opportunity to take the lead in a death investigation. She gets her chance when her boss is hospitalized and not only assigns her to the Golden Oaks homicide but puts her in charge of the county coroner’s office. As if she doesn’t have enough to handle, a long-lost, over-protective, older half-brother walks into her life threatening to drive a wedge between her and the man she loves. A second dead body leads them to realize the case may have dark ties to a distant past…and if Zoe doesn’t untangle the web of lies, Pete will be the one to pay the ultimate price.
Take it away, Annette!
A Visit to the Idea Store
Every writer who has put a story out into the word has been asked where their ideas come from. One author (I can’t remember whom—sorry) responded to this query with “From the Idea Store.”
In reality, ideas come from anywhere and everywhere. I’ve taken my own family issues and folklore and morphed them into stories. I’ve picked up tidbits from local news stories and used them as springboards into fictional crimes. I take life, ask “what if…?” and add a healthy dose of creative license as my recipe for a mystery.
One of the key plotlines in Cry Wolf came from a blip of a news story. A man in a rural area attacked his neighbor with a machete. I don’t recall the details. I don’t even know if I listened to the rest of the report. That one line was all I needed. Machete, I scoffed. The
guy’s a farmer. It’s a corn knife. The rest of the opening unfolded with an ease I can only wish was true of all scenes. Why would a farmer attack his neighbor with a corn knife? Because the neighbor is a clueless city dude who refuses to believe his fresh grass clippings could harm the farmer’s horses.
And by the way, that’s very true. Fresh grass clippings can be lethal to a horse’s delicate digestive system. (Read a Zoe Chambers Mystery, learn a lesson about equine biology.)
While a great many of my story ideas come from news stories, some drop into my lap when I least expect them. Last summer, I attended a retreat led by the fabulous Ramona Long. The wonderfully Wicked Edith Maxwell was a fellow attendee. One evening she and I sat around chatting, and from that relaxed conversation, a seed sprouted in my brain.
What if a previously unknown relative suddenly came into your life?
Zoe Chambers grew up without her father. The lack of a supportive male role model in her life shaped much about her. What if she learned she had an older brother? How would that one person, one element in her life, change who she was? After decades of taking care of herself, what would she do if someone offered to help and wanted to look out for her? And how would a protective older sibling affect her relationship with Pete Adams? Especially if that sibling didn’t share Zoe’s affinity with law enforcement?
Oh, the conflict. I love exploring issues like these.
Wickeds: do you have a source you keep going back to for story ideas? Do you ever fear you’ll run out? Readers: do you prefer a story with threads that ring true to reality for you, or do you prefer total escapist fantasy?
USA Today bestselling author Annette Dashofy has spent her entire life in rural Pennsylvania surrounded by cattle and horses. When she wasn’t roaming the family’s farm or playing in the barn, she could be found reading or writing. After high school, she spent five years as an EMT on the local ambulance service, dealing with everything from drunks passing out on the sidewalk to mangled bodies in car accidents. These days, she, her husband, and their spoiled cat, Kensi, live on property that was once part of her grandfather’s dairy. Her Zoe Chambers mysteries have received three nominations for the prestigious Agatha Award. Cry Wolf (September 2018) is the seventh in the series.