Today is the day I have been putting off for a week. It’s the day I can no longer deny. It’s the day I start my next book. But this book is not like the other two I’ve written. This book is a sequel to Snoop and just as a first child sets expectations for its wailing siblings, Snoop #2 (Deadly Snooping) comes with some expectations and the expectations scare me to death.
The response to Snoop has been heartening and warm. “Love the characters,” some have said. “Held my attention,” has been the response of others. “Can’t wait for the next one,” though, is the comment that stops me in my tracks, that freezes my fingers on the computer keyboard, and that causes me to straighten pictures and wipe the counters, about a dozen times. I have to top the first one and I’m not sure I can do that.
When I concluded Snoop, I had a hard time leaving Cotter’s Corner and the wild and wacky people that inhabit it. Truthfully, I intended to return, but not too soon. My publisher at CCP loves sequels and she’s been very good about not letting me rest on my laurels. I knew when I got Snoop finished, I had to started mapping the next book. I did, and I even have an idea of how to go about it.
I knew I wanted a repertory company, so to speak–a group of returning players that my readers would care about, enjoy, and want to see again and again. The mixed- breed hound at the beginning of this blog is my idea of what Messy, the main character Sam’s beloved pooch, might look like. I love dogs so it makes no sense for me to create characters I like who don’t have dogs, or cats. I made a concession to have cats because my daughter Betsy loves both. Messy must show up in this and all my Snoop books. I may threaten Betsy’s life, but I will never take it. As one of my favorite mystery writers, David Rosenfelt once assured me, “No dogs die in my books.” No dogs die in my books either. So Messy returns.
Aggie, Sam’s feisty ex-babysitter and dear friend, must also return along with her friends. They define the busybody-yet-caring nature of Cotter’s Corner, and they are fun. Hilda and Bub, I already know, present a dilemma for Aggie in Deadly Snooping that has left her bitter and adrift. This is a problem for Sam especially after the murders she’d hoped were done in Cotter’s Corner begin again.
Of course, Sam’s bi-socio-economic mother Catherine Hayes Henry continues to fight her Mason Dixon line between largesse and largest. She’s not sure who she is but she knows who she wants to be. And maybe who she wants to be with? There’s no doubt that Snoop, Sam’s father, still occupies a sizzling part of Cat Henry’s life, but there are other more suitable, more attractive men.
For Sam, there is only one man, and he is ultra attractive and has been until recently totally unsuitable. Charley Cotter will return with his still golden looks and aromatic charm. This new and improved Charley is now, however, as improved as Sam might like. He’s become a workaholic and his new passion for attention to detail leaves Sam so restless she might make contact with an old boyfriend, an act that could finish her romance with Charley.
That’s where I intend to start my book, hands trembling and eyes blurry. It’s a push. I could map the story as so many well-organized, impressively detailed writers do. I’ve tried but that doesn’t work for me. I begin with an idea, usually a body. This one is found cut in half in New Jersey and somehow connects to a weeping widow in Cotter’s Corner. A big house on the lake, rumored to once have been owned by Al Capone, also play a part in the new story.
Today I will stop writing this blog and get writing the book. I hope it takes me where its predecessor did, to a far off place with people and stories I come to know well and have trouble leaving. I have doodled long enough. It’s time to begin:
Scoop was on a rant. My mother had been gone two weeks with her once best friend Cora Binita (aka Binny) Van Rensalaer, and he hated it. “Why do you think she went on a cruise with Dimmy?” he asked.
“It’s Binny,” I said, tired of having to work while he stormed around the newspaper office acting like a two-year-old. “She’ll be back tomorrow so chill.”