Monday, October 8, 2012

How Samantha Found her Settings

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This week my guest is Peggy Edelheit, author of the Samantha Jamison mysteries.
I’d say there’s a lot of Samantha in me, and visa versa. We seek advice, give others credit more so than ourselves, and are reluctant to take center stage. Although we get carried away on occasion, we have a great sense of humor. Just looking at the quirky characters we both have to deal with proves we’re unpredictable, too.
Samantha made her debut as my protagonist in The Puzzle in Highlands, North CarolinaI owned a log home there at one time; hence it was a picture-perfect location to write a mystery with the mountains as a backdrop. I would often sit in that house daydreaming what a great isolated place for a writer to get caught up in her own mystery. Many incidents in the book did happen, including the ice storm.
Being familiar with Ocean City, NJ, it was perfect for Without Any Warning, Volume 2. The boardwalk and beach were an ideal setting for my characters to barge in on Sam to continue the series. A reader who read that mystery wrote me, saying she appreciated that I had my facts straight, even down to the best pizza place to eat. Readers are always looking for authenticity and this proved it. You have to be as accurate as possible or they will let you know when you’re not.
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 In 86 Avenue du Goulet, Volume 3, the French Riviera mystery, our neighbors really were Martine, Jean, and their dog Sonia, just as in the book. Jean passed away, and so I dedicated that book in his memory, with a special thanks to Martine. I did spend time working in the gardens with our French gardener, and the location of the other properties surrounding us and their exact locations played right into the mystery, including the house with the red light across the way. The mysterious cat lady who came and went at dusk, slipping cat food under our garden gate really did exist.
A Lethal Time, Volume 4 takes place in New Hampshire, a setting that was similar to ours where we once had a vacation home. Our horses were Amanda, Luke, Blaze, and yes, even Boss, that unruly wild horse in the book. We used to go to the motorcycle rallies each summer on my husband’s Harley. Both research and living there helped give a more familiar feel to the mystery.
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Mouth Of The Rat, Volume 5, takes place in south Florida. Being a resident of Florida, I knew just how to play it right down to the tongue-and-cheek attitude of the players. Florida has a rich mix of cultures and backgrounds. I had a lot of fun with that one. My husband could hear me chuckling as I typed. And no, I don’t dine at 4:30pm.
The disadvantage is the reader only sees my mysteries from Sam’s point of view. So I try to keep them in the loop right up until the very last page with its surprise ending.
Thank you, Ellis for having me as a guest on your blog. I enjoyed it immensely. 
Or her website:


Claude Bouchard said...

Kudos, Peggy! An interesting and entertaining post. I strive for authenticity as well. :)

Polly Iyer said...

My, you've lived a lot of places, which makes your stories authentic. Enjoyed your post, Peggy.

Sandy Cody said...

It's interesting to hear how you've woven setting into each story. The fact that each is different helps to create a different tone from book to book - sometimes a problem when writing a series.

Valerie B.E. said...

Great post. I wonder where the next mystery will take place!

Pat C. said...

Loved your posting, Peggy!!!! I also love the authenticity, it adds a an extra helping of mystery and excitement to know that some of these characters and places exist with delicious familiarity.


Peggy said...

I like being able to change venues, which of course, changes the tone of the book. But that is what makes the storyline so interesting for me. So far, I haven't had a problem with it and have been able to slip in and out certain characters as the need and circumstances demand to make the book more interesting and moving along. Wow, I feel like I'm writing a new post. (chuckle) Authenticity is very important to me and the reader. Once you lose the reader on that, they aren't coming back.

Ellis Vidler said...

Peggy, so glad you're here! The way you've used your own experiences to make Samantha's life more interesting is terrific. You have so many fun places to draw on, it certainly does give each book a different flavor.

It makes me think about some of the settings I've been in too.