Ginny is the winner of Meri’s giveaway! Watch for an email from Meri!
I was lucky enough to live near Meri/Shari for a number of years! She’s a great friend and excellent writer. Today we are celebrating the release of Fatal Fudge Swirl, the third book in her Ice Cream Shop mysteries.
Meri Allen/Shari Randall:
Recently I had the amazing good fortune of attending a performance of “Jewels” by the New York City Ballet. (Author note: I took out paragraphs of gushing admiration so you won’t have to wade through it, but let me tell you, this ballet is sheer beauty.) The choreographer, George Balanchine, is regarded as one of the all-time greats.
Each section of the ballet has a different feel created by the choreography, music, costumes, and set design. The ballet was inspired by Balanchine’s favorite dancers and, the story goes, a visit to Van Cleef and Arpels jewelry store.
Though the dancers’ big moves are impressive, the small gestures highlighted and differentiated the character of each section. The mood of “Emeralds” was romantic and subtle, the mood of “Rubies” brash and playful, the mood of “Diamonds” glittering and formal. It was a master class in the ways different elements create a whole.
Writers do that too, combining setting, character, dialogue, plot, and pace into, we hope, an entertaining book. But one thing at Jewels stood out to me. It was the small gestures — the shrug of a shoulder, fingertips reaching but not quite touching, the toss of a head – that conveyed so much emotion, so subtly, but so immediately and forcefully.
I realized that the small gestures in books make an impact, too. Think about the small details, habits, gestures, and catch phrases of your favorite characters and what these things tell us:
Hercule Poirot and his “little grey cells” catchphrase. A small but telling description – scientific and formal. His luxurious moustaches, on the other hand, point to a bit of vanity.
Ann Cleeves’s Vera’s battered hat. It is the hat of a woman who is down to earth, practical, and no-nonsense, a woman who knows herself and doesn’t worry about what anyone else thinks.
Miss Marple’s knitting. It’s always something soft and wooly, but needles are sharp, aren’t they? Her hobby gives us a clue to her personality.
My sleuth, Riley Rhodes, makes lists, reflecting an organized mind, necessary for running a popular ice cream shop and solving murders. Allegra Larkin, the star of my Lobster Shack Mysteries, is a dancer well-attuned to the importance of those tiny, unconscious “tells” that reveal so much about a person, especially a person who has something to hide.
Even little details can tell us something important about a character.
What small detail tells us the most about your favorite character? I’ll send a copy of FATAL FUDGE SWIRL to one lucky commenter. US only please. Note: Please include your email address when you sign in to comment to be included in the giveaway. Without that information we have no way to contact you.
Meri Allen is the author of the Ice Cream Shop Mystery series starring former CIA librarian, Riley Rhodes. “Meri Allen” is the pen name of Shari Randall, who also wrote the award-winning Lobster Shack Mystery series. A native New Englander, she lives a short walk from a lighthouse with her good-sport husband and way too many books. Her latest book is FATAL FUDGE SWIRL.
You can find her on social media at @meriallenbooks or @sharirandallauthor.