by Julie, gaining inspiration by changing location for a few days
I’m delighted to welcome Nancy Coco to the blog today! Nancy has as many names as I do, and today we’re celebrating the release of her latest Candy-Coated Mystery, Have Yourself a Fudgy Little Christmas. Welcome back Nancy!
Someone in a recent book talk didn’t know that Mackinac Island is a real place. Mackinac Island is also the setting for my USA Today Bestselling Candy-coated mystery series. It is indeed a real place nestled in the straits where Lake Michigan meets Lake Huron. The natives called it the big turtle and it was an important post in the war of 1812. There are two forts on the island that was held by Americans until the British overran them, then returned to the USA after the war ended. It is a lovely island that takes you back in time to the Victorian era where everyone gets around by foot, bike, or horse and carriage. The wealthy would come to spend the summer and get out of the big cities of Chicago and Detroit. Their homes, called cottages, are gorgeous Victorian painted ladies and Main Street is filled with shops and the smell of fudge, popcorn and ice cream.
Mackinac Island is considered the fudge capital of the world and even if you can’t visit you can order fudge online from any of their shops.
My protagonist, Allie McMurphy, owns a small hotel and fudge shop on Main street. Motor vehicles have been banned from the island, which gives it a lazy pre-automobile feel. There are two ways to reach the island, by ferry and by airplane. Most people ferry in and spend the day, but it’s a real treat if you get to stay on the island overnight. Everything goes soft and quiet and people light bon fires and roast marshmallows and drink hot cocoa. The sounds of the lake lapping against the shore fill the air as the horses all return to the stables to rest.
I try to get there as often as possible to research such places as the Butterfly House where I set a murder amid the beautiful exotic butterflies, and the police and fire station on Market street where my main detective and EMT’s hang out. I discovered a new coffee shop on market that is featured in Have Yourself a Fudgy Little Christmas. Winters on Mackinac are cold, snowy and small town. The shops all close in October for the season and the summer houses are winter proofed. About 300 people remain on the island year round. Children take snow mobiles to school and only the grocery store and a few bars on Main street remain open.
The ferry’s run on a modified schedule until the straits freeze over than everyone moves by plane until the ice freezes thick enough to hold the weight of a snowmobile and rider. Then brave souls will snowmobile across the ice bridge to the upper or lower peninsula.
There was an old movie filmed there called “Somewhere in Time” with Christopher Reeves that highlights the romance of the place.
My mother grew up nearby and so it’s a family vacation place for us. I thought it was the perfect place to set a mystery series. There are so many tourists coming and going and small town rivals and festivals, a state park and lovely scenery to add color and flavor to the series.
In Have Yourself a Fudgy Little Christmas, Allie sets her mind to wintering on the island and enjoying the Christmas festivities when a mysterious note takes her to a dead woman and family secrets that rock the island.
Do you vacation in the winter? Where is your favorite spot? Sun or snow? Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Have Yourself a Fudgy Little Christmas.
Nancy J Parra AKA Nancy Coco AKA Nell Hampton is the author of over 30 published novels which include five mystery series: The Oregon Honey-comb Mystery Series (Kensington), The Candy-Coated Mysteries (Kensington), The Kensington Palace Mystery Series (Crooked Lane), The Wine Country Tours Mystery Series (Crooked Lane) The Gluten-free Baker’s Treat Mysteries (Berkley Prime Crime), and The Perfect Proposal Mysteries (Berkley Prime Crime). Her writing has been called witty and her protagonists plucky by reviewers around the world. Nancy is a member of Sisters in Crime and loves to hear from readers. Here’s a link to her website.
About the Book:
All Allie wants for Christmas is for renovations to be finished on the Historic McMurphy Hotel and Fudge Shop so she can move back home for the holidays. But for now she’s staying in her friend Frances’s apartment, busily baking batches of holiday fudge. After someone leaves a mysterious note on the door to meet up, the curious fudge maker goes to the rendezvous with her bichonpoo, Mal—only to discover a woman facedown in a snowdrift. With her dying breath, the woman gasps, “Frances.” The police suspect she named her killer, but Allie knows that’s impossible. She needs to wrap up this case before the trail runs cold—and give her friend the gift of freedom this Christmas season . . .