Tuesday, April 22, 2014

when one book grows another

Bannister's Way grew from Desert Inferno, and I might as well write about it next. David Bannister was the antithesis of Jake Donovan. David could be manipulative, extremely good looking, was very slick, and worked undercover a lot. I often have a secondary character that just calls out to have their own story. That was David.

His story began, as they all do-- with a big question for me. Who was his partner to be? You might have a hero or heroine in mind but what will make their story interesting, what will present obstacles. What about a marriage that had ended twelve years earlier, in divorce-- but where the feelings had never died?

The setting for a lot of this book was on the Tualatin River south of Portland, Oregon. I have never lived on that river but have spent time along it. Once an uncle of mine rented this terrific old house down on the river for a summer. I got to spend a week there with my cousins. Such fun as we could swim right off the dock. The attic where we slept had bats. It probably was a house deteriorating with age, but such a fun place for a book to be set.

So I wrote it in a place I liked to spend time. I set it into an art college for the fun of having other artists as his ex-wife's colleagues, which led to art conversations. Then she was a sculptor, which I have also done over many years. Her current commission brought in Greek mythology. I wrote about the process of sculpture with the fun of nude models for art classes.

To give the story action and David a reason to be there undercover, I needed a murder mystery, which led to more research for the motive as well as a very interesting villain if I do say so myself.

It was fun to write about a heroine who had changed her name (I could relate to that one) and made a life for herself that if it wasn't all she wanted, was definitely successful. This engaged the art world, a lovely setting, and to add to it four old ladies, in different places throughout the book, to add flavor--depicting old ladies I had known. Having gotten to know David when writing Desert Inferno, it was fun to give him his own book. I liked David who got flak for being manipulative. It wasn't his fault-- just the way he thought and worked well in investigation-- if not relationships.

The digital painting at the top was one I did for the first eBook cover... Boy, did it get dinged. Amateur work was the most common accusation. So I had to change the cover. Covers are one area where readers do know best. I mean if you can't get them to look inside the book, you can bet you won't sell many copies no matter how interesting the story might be. 

Snippet from Bannister's Way:



It seemed he had something else he was supposed to do, but then it came to him that there had always been something somewhere that took precedent over what he wanted. She was right. At this moment, there was nothing. The mystery of the professor's death wasn't going to get settled this week-end. He wasn’t anxious to talk to Vance, but knew, sooner than he’d want, his partner would track him down. It wouldn’t be heard this time.

      Grinning, he looked up at her. "You're right. I don't have to do a damned thing."
      Smiling, she settled in a chair with her own iced tea. She gestured toward the river. "If you just let that rhythm get hold of you, you can convince yourself you never have to do anything."
      "I could believe that."
      "When I first found this place, it needed a lot of work. The foundation was sinking, the house had been a rental without much love for a lot of years." She smiled at the memory. "The renovation was good for me as well as the house. Then it was done, and I began to tighten up again, but I learned I could come out here and sit, smell the air, listen to the ducks, hear the birds, the sound of the water going past, and let my mind go blank. Sometimes I sit down on the dock for hours and just imagine myself part of the river."
      "You've made it into a retreat."
      "That is what it is. It's not that I've got a handle on everything now, obviously, or that I always relax when I should, but this place soothes me when nothing else..." She smiled again at him. "Well, at that time nothing else could."
      He lay back, enjoying the sun that was slowly moving across the deck to bathe everything on it in its warmth. "I guess," he drawled, "you're determined to coddle me. Since I'm not strong enough to fight it, I might as well give in."
      She laughed huskily. "It's a wise man who knows when he's been defeated."
      "Since my ankle is injured, and you've got my clothes in your washer, I'm at your mercy--aren't I?" he suggested, his eyes heavily lidded.
      "You are," she agreed, meeting his gaze with a smile, "and we both know I'm merciless."
      "Yeah, we know that. So--uh, what did you have in mind?"
      "I thought I might cook us dinner."
      "Raven!" He abruptly sat up on the chaise lounge. "I don't think that's necessary."
      "I'm tired of these jokes about my cooking," she protested, stretching long, tanned legs as she savored the warmth. She wore only a halter top and shorts. Indian summer, the last real sunshine they would see for months, had come to linger over the valley, and she planned to take full advantage of these last golden days. "I'm going to end once and for all the myth I cannot cook--with a meal you will never forget."
      He subsided back onto the lounge, looking up at the blue sky overhead. "I think you already fixed that one."
      She glared at him with mock outrage. "Are you still holding a grudge about that Chicken Kiev I prepared when we first got married?"
      He rolled his eyes innocently skyward. "I wouldn't exactly call it a grudge, but I do still remember it--vividly. How could a man forget a dinner like that?"
      "It was not my fault that I didn't exactly understand everything about a recipe. I mean who could expect me to know that little t's and big T's meant different things--or that when it called for a dried spice, it might require different amounts than a powdered one of the same name!"
      "Those were natural confusions," he agreed, laughing, "and so was not understanding that for Chicken Kiev you had to remove the bones and skin from the chicken first. I can also see how you might not have realized that if something was frozen... the cooking time would be different, if you didn't thaw it first. Hey, I understood all of that."
      "You have way too good a memory.”
He sent her a sensual smile. “Not just for your cooking.”
“I think it wasn’t very kind of you to refuse to eat anything after the first bite. I mean I know the rice was a little raw but..."
      "Actually, I took several bites. I tried again, honest I did, baby, but tough as I thought I was back then, I just couldn’t do it."
      She snorted with disgust. "Wimp! Well, it's water under the bridge now. Today I can follow a recipe, and I understand what the letters mean."
      "Can't I just take your word for it?" he questioned ungallantly.
      She glared at him; and he cringed back, putting up his hands in a mock defense. "All right! I'll eat it--whatever it is."
      "That's better," she retorted, smiling to herself. "I will keep it simple this time though. No rolled meats or anything complicated."
      "That reassures my stomach somewhat. Only why did everyone last night cringe when you suggested coming to your house for dinner?"
      "There might have been a few--tiny, almost insignificant, little accidents when they've come here for dinner," she admitted, signifying with her fingers how truly minor they were, "but you know how artists are—finicky beasts."
 

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