Liz here, happy to welcome Laurien Berenson back to the blog! Christmas and New Year’s are over, so we’re moving on to Valentine’s Day – which is when her book, Killer Cupid, takes place. Take it away, Laurien!
Thank you to Liz Mugavero and the Wickeds for inviting me back to your blog!
Though I’m not a romantic person, I’ve always loved the idea of Valentine’s Day. After all, what could be better than a holiday devoted to the expression of love? As I see it, a Valentine shouldn’t need to be a lover, spouse or SO. Parents, children, best friends, and pets should all qualify too. The more, the merrier.
There are several theories about the origins of the holiday. One is that it began with the pagan celebration of Lupercalia, a festival of fertility held on the ides of February. Later, Pope Gelasius—who was opposed pagan rituals on principle–renamed February 14th Saint Valentine’s Day in honor of a martyred saint. During the Middle Ages, the day was believed to signal the start of mating season. Around that time, poets began to celebrate the romantic aspect of February 14th in their verses. Clearly it was a felicitous idea. Valentine’s Day is now celebrated in numerous countries around the world.
The first Valentines were simple, usually consisting of hand-written notes, pictures, or poems. Over time, they grew both more fashionable and more decorative. By the mid-1800s the holiday had become so popular that Valentine’s cards were being massed produced. Valentine’s Day is now the second biggest card-giving holiday after Christmas.
So why would a self-proclaimed “non-romantic” write a book whose plot centers around Valentine’s Day? Because characters don’t always do what you expect them to. Sometimes they run rampant through your plot, and occasionally they prod your subconscious with an idea whose time has come.
Melanie Travis is the main character in my cozy mystery series. After 29 books, she’s been through a lot. When the series opened she was a divorced single mother with a young son. Sam Driver appeared in the debut too. He started out as a potential suspect, but by the end of the book he’d decided he liked his prospects as a love interest. And when my characters talk to me, I tend to listen.
Over the course of the series, Sam and Melanie have had their ups and downs. They got together. Then they broke up. (It turned out Sam had an ex-wife he’d never mentioned, and she showed up to win him back.) Two books later, Sam and Melanie were together again. Sam proposed, Melanie turned him down. (Trust issues, naturally. I would have turned him down, too.) More time passed. Eventually they smoothed out their differences, got married, and had a baby.
Domestic bliss with mystery-solving on the side.
Except…I realized that in the decade Melanie and Sam have been a couple, they’d never been given the chance to spend any time alone together. Just the two of them–without the complicating factors of jobs, kids, Poodles, dog shows and the ever-meddling Aunt Peg.
If ever there was a couple in need of a romantic getaway, it’s these two.
So in KILLER CUPID, Sam and Melanie sign up for a Valentine holiday weekend at a picturesque resort in the snowy Berkshire Mountains. They plan to go tobogganing, drink hot toddies, and cuddle in front of a cozy fire. What could possibly go wrong with that?
Readers: what’s your favorite way to celebrate Valentine’s Day? Leave a comment below!
Laurien Berenson is the author of the Melanie Travis mystery series, including the new book KILLER CUPID. She also writes the Senior Sleuths series which debuted with PEG AND ROSE SOLVE A MURDER. Her books have won or been nominated for the Maxwell Award for Dog Fiction, RT Reviewer’s Choice Award, Agatha and Macavity awards. She lives on a farm in Kentucky, surrounded by dogs and horses.