Guest Lucy Burdette, plus #giveaway

Edith/Maddie writing from north of Boston where I’m blissfully awash in ripe tomatoes and basil.

I’m so happy to welcome Friend of the Wickeds Lucy Burdette back to the blog. A Dish to Die For, her newest Key West Food Critic mystery, is out. Like every book in this series, it’s a fabulous read!

Why I Love Real Places and People in My Mystery Series

A couple of weeks ago I started thinking about the difference between a writer who writes a book completely out of her imagination, and one (like me) who uses real places, real food, and sometimes even real people. Am I just a lazy writer who prefers stealing stories rather than making them up from scratch? It seems so much more difficult to develop an entire series and a setting using only what I might find in my mind.

When I was writing the first book in the Key West food critic series, An Appetite for Murder, a writing friend in Key West suggested that it would be better to use imaginary places. Then as the series progressed, I would not be saddled with an inbox full of complaints about how that particular restaurant was no longer in business or I’d gotten the town’s geography wrong, etc.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that real places and people are for me what writing prompts are to other writers. If for example, if I travel up the keys to Geiger Key and spend the day sitting on Boca Chica Beach, my imagination begins to go wild. What if a body was found here? Why would a body be found here, when it’s not near much of anything and would be difficult to drag a mile along the beach and then bury? Why is my character, a Key West resident with a Key West police detective husband, involved in a crime this far out of town? As I ask the questions based on what I see and experience, the book begins to take shape. Plus, if I visit a place, I can take note of and use the little details that will bring it to life for readers. And if a friend sends me a link to an old cookbook, I thank my lucky stars that I now have a new plot point.

Back to my writer buddy’s advice: I considered her suggestion seriously but decided to continue with the path I’d started on. I am glad I did, as now my inbox is full of readers who love Key West as much as I do or yearn to visit and thank me for the Key West tourist and restaurant suggestions.

Readers: How about you – do you enjoy books set in real places, or prefer them imaginary? I’ll send one US commenter a signed hardcover edition of the new book.

New Jersey born Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib is the author of 21 mysteries, including A DISH TO DIE FOR, the latest in the Key West series featuring food critic Hayley Snow (Crooked Lane Books.) The tenth book in her Key West food critic mystery series, THE KEY LIME CRIME, won the Florida Book Award’s bronze medal for popular fiction. Her first thriller, UNSAFE HAVEN, was published by Severn House in December. Her books and stories have been short-listed for Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards. She’s a past president of Sisters in Crime, and currently serving as president of the Friends of the Key West Library. Find her here:

105 Thoughts

  1. From 2004 until 2016, we would go to the Florida Keys for two months an take our boat and our dogs. We rented a house in Marathon and friends from San Antonio would come for two weeks or so to be with us and eat and fish. We, of course, would go to Key West regularly and loved it. I started buying your books because I loved anything Key West and read many books written down there. I love your series and can’t wait for another one to come out. We don’t go anymore because Hubby Dearest had to have hip replacement and then the house we rented got messed up by a hurricane and has not been fixed. It was on a canal but three houses from the ocean. We made many friends down there and keep in touch. I miss it but am glad that we had so many good memories made there. We did everything we could and saw everything, ate everything and bought everything. I even drove the African Queen in Key Largo. I like it when authors write about real places, especially if I have been there. Keep on writing from Key West.

    1. Madeline these are wonderful memories! I’m so glad you enjoy the series and I will keep writing. Hope you get to come back for a visit.

  2. So glad you chose to write about real places – especially Key West! Every time I read one of your books I am transported to one of my favorite places, and my fond memories interweave with your storyline. It’s delicious! Please keep writing about real places and transporting readers like me!

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