What does a mother do when she outlives her son and her elderly Greek friend senses his widow may have a played a role in his death? Whether true or not if you are a writer, you write a novel. Using a tragedy to create a book is cathartic, helps one to deal with grief, and to come to terms with the loss.
My son died in 2000 after a “minor” operation during which he developed Swiss cheese-like gangrene in his stomach and infection in his entire body. Months later, work began on Wetumpka Widow with the same sleuths from Greek Ghosts because it would be the second book in the series. At the time, I was working two jobs, grieving, and dealing with other losses. For example, one friend ended our 10-year relationship because she was uncomfortable with my feelings that she failed to understand. When my son’s widow invited another man into their house three months after my son’s death, and married him six months later, my Greek friend felt she had to know her third husband before becoming a widow. She had waited five years after her first husband was murdered to marry my son.
In 2005 I moved to Costa Rica on my own. After settling into my new adventure, writing books and articles and editing others’ creations became my modus operandi. As the complicated story evolved from several viewpoints it provided the added benefit of keeping my brain active to avoid dementia. The result was an epic story fired by greed, manipulation, murder, romance, and sex.
As part of my brand the titles of all the books in the series would be alliterative. During a visit to Montgomery, my friends took me to Wetumpka, a nearby town discovered online. Seeing the rapids clinched my belief that it was the place to start the novel. Its title became Wetumpka Widow, Murder for Wealth. As the cover is the first point of sale, the designer created a new cover for Greek Ghosts similar to that of Wetumpka Widow to link the books.
Events in all my books feel real because descriptions are based on actual locations. Over the years I have created many albums about trips and events with photos and saved menus from a variety of restaurants. Because I picture the places in my mind’s eye, scenes pop for the reader.
Beyond researching Wetumpka and incorporating perceived circumstances surrounding my son’s death I investigated the death of my daughter-in-law’s first husband. Information garnered from newspaper clippings became the basis for one of the other husbands in the book. The third husband comes from a family from Greece that opened a branch of its business in San Diego.
Readers called Greek Ghosts a page turner. How is it possible to compel people to keep reading? First hook them within the first chapter, or in a prologue even though some editors frown upon writing one. Keep the chapters short to enhance the feeling: “I can read one more chapter before I turn out the light.” Without forecasting future events, end each chapter with a hint of a future situation. In Wetumpka Widow after a reader learns about one character, I switched to another’s viewpoint for a chapter or three before resuming the first’s story.
To prepare for the next book in the series leave a way to start the next story. In Greek Ghosts, a sleuth’s lover disappeared. He returns in Wetumpka Widow. Jennifer and Jason leave for London at the end of the novel which sets the scene for the next one in Great Britain. I lived in Gerrards Cross outside London for two years which will add reality in the third book in the series.
Was it Hemmingway that quipped, writing a book is five percent inspiration and 95 percent perspiration? To that add 100 percent marketing. So think of logical situations to include in a novel that fit seamlessly into the tale and provide possible pegs for promotion.
For example, in both books, Greek Orthodox weddings are celebrated. This justifies a book signing in June. In Wetumpka Widow, one minor character owns one of the first Mustangs. When an anniversary is touted, maybe Ford would be willing to tie an event to the book. If a restaurant still exists, perhaps the owner would sell copies. In other words, think out of the box for ways to promote your books.
Having read about my inspiration, what memorable event in your life inspired an idea for your book?
Books Written by Helen Dunn Frame:
Greek Ghosts; Book One in the Series
Wetumpka Widow, Murder for Wealth; Book Two in the Greek Ghosts Series
Secrets Behind the Big Pencil, Inspired by an Actual Scandal.
Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/helendunnframe.com
Helen Dunn Frame, whom I had the benefit of having on my writing team at Inkwell Newswatch, and for whom I have consequently had the privilege of proofreading her work, is an enormously talented writer. She’s flexible, professional, and very thorough in every writing assignment; whether it was from other sources, her own books, or me. She’s definitely a top notch writer with the desire to perform beyond the call of a “normal” writer. Rowdy Rhodes