I don’t know about anyone else out there in blog-land, but I love visiting South Cove. It reminds me of a combination of two small towns in Kentucky that I love to visit, Smith’s Grove and Glendale. There is every kind of small business you can think of and that small town feel in both. Today, we get to talk to Lynn Cahoon on her virtual tour about South Cove, the characters she writes and about herself and her writing the books.
BTB: Welcome back to Booth Talks Books Lynn! It was so great to see you again in Bowling Green for the Southern Kentucky Book Fest. Me and my daughter loved chatting you up. Let’s do some more yapping as they say here in the south. So, are you loving this virtual tour your on across all the book blogs?
LC: Thanks Sheryl! It’s great having a virtual tour for this book release because I can be everywhere across the country with no travel time.
BTB: First things, first. How did you get started writing?
LC: I always wanted to be a writer, but I’m a black and white girl. So there was NO clear career path to be an author. I could go to college to be a journalist, but, I knew that would mean I’d need to talk to people. I really didn’t want to do that. So I got a political science/public administration degree and went to work for the state. I stayed there for 20 years, then decided I wanted to try something else. It was also the same time when my son went away to college and I got a divorce. Why not quit my job too? I started taking classes in the MFA of Creative Writing program.
Then I started dating my husband. Darts takes a lot of time. We played league two or three nights a week, tournaments on weekends, and then at least once a month, we traveled for tournaments. No time for classes or writing.
Fast forward to 2007. We’d moved from Idaho to Illinois. I got a job with corporate America. And got my mammogram as soon as my insurance became effective. That decision changed my life. And probably saved my life. 2007 was the year of breast cancer. When you’re going through treatment, you realize what’s really important. And what you want your life to mean.
I wanted to be a writer. So I wrote. I submitted. And finally sold in 2012.
BTB: Hospitality and Homicide is the 8th book in the South Cove series and yet you keep introducing us to new places in the town. This time, we get to head to the local bed and breakfast. Why a bed and breakfast this time around? What is it about a murder and a bed and breakfast that is so unsettling?
LC: Actually Bill and Mary’s South Cove B&B have been there all along, but we’ve never stepped inside. I like visiting new businesses and focusing on different characters with each book. Of course, Jill, Greg, and Aunt Jackie will be major in all of the books, but I can feel when we haven’t brought a secondary character around much. So Esmeralda has a big role in H/H.
BTB: What do you think the fascination is with readers and the novice sleuth like Jill? She just seems to be in the worst places at the worst times. Why do you think us readers like her so much? Why do you like her so much?
LC: I like her because she mostly says what she’s thinking and does what she wants. I think sometimes women are so focused on what other people need from them, they forget about taking care of themselves. Jill may focus on food and running, but she makes sure she has Jill time. I think readers like the novice sleuth because they can imagine doing the same things, but safely in their arm chair.
BTB: Most of the time, the main character solves the crime. Do you think it’s important in an ongoing series that the mystery be solved each and every time? What do you think about an ongoing mystery through a series?
LC: You need a mystery solved in every book. But I believe you can have an ongoing mystery that continues in several books. Like my Cat Latimer series. Cat has an overarching mystery with who killed her ex-husband, but each book focuses on one current murder. Castle did this with who killed Beckett’s mother.
BTB: Why is Jill still running Coffee, Books and More? With all the adventures of crime solving, has she given serious thought to changing careers?
LC: Running the coffee shop is her life. I don’t see her giving it up anytime soon. She’s had the corporate lawyer gig, and she likes being a small business owner. Besides the shifts she schedules herself for give her a lot of time for her favorite pastime, reading.
BTB: I understanding needing some reading time and time to one’s self. Speaking of one’s self let’s put you in Jill’s shoes. Okay, you are in the same situation as Jill, would react any differently than her?
LC: Jill’s stronger than I am. She’s takes big risks (leaving her job and opening a coffee shop).
BTB: What have you learned from Jill and her risk taking and adventures in South Cove that has stuck with you the most?
LC: She takes care of herself better. I am learning those skills as I go through life.
BTB: In Hospitality and Homicide, we have an author whose crime in their book comes true in real life in South Cove. First of all, that must be freaking for Nathan Pike, the author. Has this ever happened to you or someone you know?
LC: Actually, I’ve never heard of that happening to anyone. Sometimes, fiction can be stranger than truth.
BTB: So why do you choose a specific place to set your world?
LC: Mostly the place calls to me.
BTB: Call you? Really? That’s interesting.
Guidebook to Murder started because I was vacationing in central California visiting my sister. I stopped by a small tourist town and found a house that was up for sale. The house was run down, the yard more like a
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pasture, and I wanted that house more than anything. Of course, I was going through a divorce and had a kid ready to go to college. Not a time to uproot my life and move to a coastal community. But I took a picture of the house and kept that picture on my computer for a long time.
Finally, the story came to me and the Tourist Trap series was born.
BTB: How do you choose between using a real town and a fictional town like South Cove?
LC: I’ve only used a real town when I wrote a short romantic novella (Playing Doctor.) It’s set in St. Louis, but mostly in the hospital.
Fictional towns are so much easier to work with. You have to know the area you’re using for the book but you can make the town look anyway you’d like. Until you’re several books into the series that is.
For my Farm to Fork Mystery series (releasing 2018), I’m turning my old home town into River Vista, Idaho. That way I can make it look anyway I want and still keep the feel of small town Idaho.
BTB: Do you run any book clubs or meetings for your fan following? I would love to be apart of one as I am sure many of your readers would be.
LC: Hmmm, good question. I don’t. I know several authors do and have built a strong following talking about books, their own, and comparable. Currently I have a day job as well as the writer gig. This might be something I could start up when I only write.
I’m an officer in my work Toastmaster club and run meetings there. But I don’t think that’s what you want to know about.
Southern Kentucky Book Fest author panel 2017
BTB: I guess you could start a book-club at the Toastmaster’s club. No, but seriously, you should start one. Readers seem to really latch on to your characters and I’m sure getting to discuss them with you would really be amazing. I know I would love it. So, how do you develop these three dimensional characters?
LC: Some people do character interviews, but I kind of know who I’m working with and, like any good relationship, you learn more by spending time with your imaginary friends. The good news is your editor can rein you in when you go off script. That’s also the bad news in case they don’t see it. I’ve really enjoyed doing character blog posts and interviews for the different bloggers. Sometimes my characters surprise me.
Esmeralda, the fortune teller/police dispatcher in the Tourist Trap series has a little vignette I wrote for a release bonus. I so enjoyed taking a peek into her world.
BTB: Esmeralda is such a great and original character. Do you ever gather and plot with other friends or authors and just talk about murder and mystery to inspire the your books?
LC: Laura Bradford and I talk a lot both in person and on line. Every time I’m with her, I get a new bright and shiny (idea.) I’ve only ever plotted out one book with her, and it was Cat’s young adult novel that I am so going to write one of these days. What I’ll do with it, I don’t know, but it’s getting written.
BTB: I had wondered if we’d ever get to dive into Cat’s book! That is something I would for sure read since I get snippets of it in the Cat Latimer series. As a reader, I get to escape with a well-written book. What do you as the author get from writing?
LC: I do write for the money. If you went to a job and didn’t get paid, it would be called volunteering, not a career. Writing is a career for me. I get annoyed with people who say they write for the love of writing. It’s a job. It’s a great job, but you have to treat it like a job or it can overwhelm you. I love getting the bright and shiny new idea and seeing it develop into a real story. I’ve always told myself stories. Now I get to tell my stories to others and get paid. It’s a win-win.
Thanks a ton Lynn for hanging out here at the Booth Talks Books blog and answering all these questions.
Hey readers, if you have questions, please leave them in the comments below for Lynn. Also, feel free to just say hi or how you liked the interview. You know I like to chat you all up.
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