Guest-Alexis Morgan

Jessie: In New Hamshire, enjoying the lengthening of daylight.

Alexis Morgan is our guest again today and I as someone who is also a plotter rather than a pantser I was delighted to read her post. I am sure you will find it fascinating too! She is offering ARCs as giveaways to two commenters with US shipping addresses.

Abby McCree spends a summer showing family films under the stars—only to end the season with an unexpected slasher flick . . .

Ushered once again onto another committee by the mayor of Snowberry Creek, Washington, Abby is tasked with keeping the box office receipts of the town’s Movies in the Park nights. Cut to the director’s chair from where she’s suddenly organizing the summer’s last feature. From the opening scene through the final credits, Abby feels she’s earned nominations for best volunteer, best movie date with her tenant Tripp Blackston—and best daughter for ignoring her mother Phoebe’s own movie date with Owen Quinn.

Unfortunately, Abby and the others are treated to a post-credits scene: the body of local insurance agent Mitchell Anders. This discovery is followed by a plot twist revealing that the murder weapon comes from Owen’s food truck. With her mother’s boyfriend suspected of murder, Abby starts her own investigation determined to shine a spotlight on the real killer . . .

LAWN CHAIRS AND MURDER…

Did you know lawn chairs can be lethal?

Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s true that a lawn chair did play a starring role in my newest release, DEATH BY INTERMISSION. You see, when I start at ground zero to begin plotting a story, I often start with a single image and the plot develops from there. That object  needs to be something the reader won’t expect to be significant to the plot.

In my first Abby McCree Mystery, it was a missing quilt, one held special significance to Abby, my amateur sleuth. In the second book, it was a beautifully carved jack-o’-lantern. In the third book, it was a something hidden in a toilet tank. 

But as I began plotting the fourth book, I immediately imagined  a man sitting in a lawn chair, the bill of his baseball cap pulled down low over his face. I could see him so clearly. At that point, I started asking myself questions. 

This is the folding chair for outdoor

Where was he? There were so many possibilities, but I settled on him being at the city park in Snowberry Creek, the town where Abby lives. 

When was he there? That was a bit harder. In theory, it could be any time of day. I liked the idea of him sitting in the deepest shadows just inside the tree line at the top of a small rise long after dark.

But why was he there? Whatever the reason, it would also have to account for why Abby would be there, too. Well, Abby has an ongoing problem with being “volunteered” to take on various committees and events in town. It only made sense to me that this time she should be in charge of a movie-in-the-park night. The movie is over, and Abby is patrolling the area looking for trash and personal articles left behind by the other movie goers. 

So far, so good. But why did the man in the chair not leave when everyone else did? Well, it is a murder mystery after all. Once again, Abby gets drawn into a murder investigation to answer the hardest question of them all:  Whodunit?

I love plotting a book and the whole creative process behind it. As an avid reader myself, I often wonder what the author’s initial moment of inspiration was that led her to write a book that I particularly love. So here’s my question for everyone today:

 If you could ask any author to explain how one of your favorite books came to be, who would it be and which book/series would you ask about? 

BIO:

USA Today Best-selling author Alexis Morgan lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband. She is the author of over forty novels, novellas, and short stories that span a wide variety of genres. DEATH BY INTERMISSION is the fourth book in her first cozy mystery series, The Abby McCree Mysteries

WEBSITE: www.alexismorgan.com

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46 Thoughts

  1. Love the glimpse into your process.

    I would go back in time and ask P.D. James about the seed of An Unsuitable Job for a Woman and why she abandoned Cordelia Grey.

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    1. I think it always says something about the strenghth of the author’s connection to a particular character when readers worry about that person long after they’ve finished reading the book. =o)

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    1. Thanks for stopping by today and for letting me know that you’re enjoying Abby’s adventures!

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    1. I would love to sit down with Agatha Christiie over a cup a tea and just listen to her talk about her life and her books. Hers were among the first mysteries I ever read.

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    1. Thanks, Sherry! And I want to thank all THe Wickeds for inviting me to spend the day with you and your readers!

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  2. As a children’s librarian I was blessed to meet so many lovely authors. Having the opportunity to talk to an author about their work does give the reader special insight. This question reminds me of the one circulating around for years now about who would you invite to dinner, living or dead. My answer always ended up with such a large group we would have had to meet in a convention center. With authors it is much the same, I want to meet and talk to all of you who write the books I enjoy reading. My first questions would be: How do you know your main character/s so well? Why her, him or them?

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    1. Hi, Judy–I’m with you about having so many people I would like to meet in person! To answer your question, I suspect the truth is the same for most if not all authors–the people we create in our heads are as three dimensional to us as the people we meet in the real world. I had a good idea of who Abby McCree was when I started the series, but I’ve gotten to know her so much better over time. She’s even managed to surprise me a few times–I never expected her to be a “pool shark,” but she has wicked talent with a pool cue!

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    1. Hi, Edith–It’s a process I never get tired of! Finding all the pieces necessary to build the story–the right namess, the right location, all of it. =o)

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  3. I love this series, I “discovered” it last summer while I was sitting home on Covid furlough, and read the first three one after another. I preordered this volume and it sits at the top of my TBR pile. I don’t like to think too much about the mechanics of how a book evolves, I just enjoy the results, but sometimes I do wonder where the original idea came from.

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    1. Hi, Debbie–I’m so glad you’ve been enjoying Abby’s adventures so much! I have a great deal of fun seeing what she and Zeke get up to.

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  4. I would love to talk to Sue Grafton or Louise Penny about their series. I was lucky enough to hear Sue Grafton speak years ago and now it’s too late but she was lovely.

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  5. That’s an interesting question. I have so many favorites after a lifetime of reading. I think it would be a very old series I’ve read many times over the years. The People books by Zenna Henderson. They included The Pilgrimage, Holding Wonder, The Anything Box, No Different Flesh. I’ve always wondered what lead her to write those books. They were very real. Did she “know” someone?
    I’ve always found the creative process fascinating. I love that you start with an image.
    Thanks.

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    1. Hi, Catherine–I wasn’t familiar with that series, but I see that my local library has the stories in one volume–and I have on hold. I enjoy science fiction, and that looks like a great premise. And it’s fun to wonder if she “Knew” someone. =o)

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  6. Your series sounds wonderful, I look forward to reading your books! One book I discovered as a teenager that made a great impression on me is Josephine Tey’s Daughter of Time. I would love to be able to ask her why she selected a plot that would require so much deep historical research, or if she was researching the topic for other reasons & decided to use her research in a novel. In grad school I was working on a paper about Richard’s succession and was able to use Tey’s sources to help prove my thesis!

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    1. Hi, Judith–
      I hope you enjoy the series if you do decide to give it a try. I just took a peek at Daughter of TIme to see what it was about. It would be interesting to know the reason she chose to research Richard III. And that’s so cool that you were able to put her work to such use yourself.

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    1. Thanks, Barbara–it never ceases to amaze me how a single image can spiral out to form a complete plot!

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    1. Hi, Mark! I also enjoy hearing how other writers work and where they find their inspiration. I sometimes feel as if it’s like stepping off a cliff and assuming I will land safely. =o)

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  7. I love to hear how author’s plot their stories. Thanks for the inside scoop.

    My first thought mirrors Liz. Agatha Christie always came up with plots unlike anyone else’s. And I also like Judith’s choice of Daughter of Time. I would love to talk to Daphne du Maurier to know what was going on in her mind when she wrote House on the Strand.

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    1. I loved Agatha Christie’s Poirot books. I’ve always wondered why she made him Belgian–and that mustache of his was almost a character in its own right! Still, his unsual personality was what made him so memorable and kept me coming back for more.

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  8. I’m always amazed at the amount of thought and world-building that went into the Harry Potter series. That years later there’s still more information coming out, extensive backstories on characters with a one-time mention, detailed family trees, a throwaway comment in book 2 has a big payoff in book 7, things like that.

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    1. Alicia–I’m with you on that. Ms. Rowling did an amazing job of creating a world that we’d all like to experience firsthand. I love the owl messenger system and all of the creatures living out in the woods near the school. And each of hcr characters has such a fully developed individual personality which makes them all seem so real. No wonder the series is loved by readers of all ages!

      Another fantasy series I really love for its world building is Anne Bishop’s The Others. So amazing! I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve reread the entire series.

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  9. Fun post and I am looking forward to reading Abby’s new adventure. I would love to ask Jasper Fforde about the Thursday Next world.

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  10. I would love to talk to Karen White and ask her how she came to write the Tradd Street series. She really makes me feel like I’m in Charleston SC.

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    1. Hi Dianne! I loved that whole series. I’m especailly fond of ghost books, and I also liked the way she made Charleston come alive for me when I read the books.

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  11. I find it very interesting to learn how an author puts their thinking process to work on a new book. Thanks for sharing your method. My fingers are crossed I might be able to call this book as mine.

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