Tag: Agnes Luthi

Agnes Luthi

Oh, the Places You'll Go

Warning: These photos of the places that inspire my fellow Miss Demeanors will cause longing and dreaming (and, we hope, a little fear about the darkness lurking beneath all that beauty). The only remedy is to open up a book. Tracee: First off, I start with Switzerland! Everything about it is special. Kidding aside, when I develop my story I think about places in Switzerland that are special – meaning there is an element of unique to that place. A castle on the shore of Lac Leman? An elite boarding school set in a chalet? The world’s leading watch show? The task is to share these with readers without too much description. What is the essence of the place? Perhaps the people who are there (their behavior, clothing, actions); the smell (fresh air, smell of cows, chocolate); the architecture (new concrete, historic stone). I find myself diving in and then trimming the description, and trimming. People need enough to understand the atmosphere but not build the building. Paula: I fell in love with Vermont many years ago, and so I set A Borrowing of Bones there simply because Iwanted to visit this wonderful place in my mind as often as I could. The research trips where I get to go there in body as well as mind and spirit are a bonus. I put so much pro-Vermont content in the book–food and drink and wildlife and more–that my editor finally said to me, “Does everything in Vermont have to be the best?” Photo Credit: William Alexander  Michele: When I try to describe the lush natural beauty of St. John in the US Virgin Islands to people, I tell them if you picked up the state of Vermont in the summer and plopped it into the Caribbean, you’d have St. John. Culturally rich with history, music, art, and literature, the island is blessed with people who know how to live in contradiction. Inundated with tourists, yet juxtaposed in the kind of isolation unique to an island, the people of St. John are its essence. People who choose to live surrounded by water are by definition different. And after Irma and Maria blew through St. John with 286 mph winds, it is the people who are nurturing the island back after near devastation. The photo I am sharing is “my writing spot” under a tree at Hawksnest Beach. The tree no longer stands, but the water is still sparkling turquoise and warm. And I am #stillwriting. Cate: I tend to like contrasts in my settings: a claustrophobic cruise ship cabin surrounded by endless ocean, a crowded beach house beside a vast sea. I use water as a metaphor for escape in a lot of my work and the characters’ inability to enter it as a way of highlighting their trapped situations. There are a lot of moats in my stories. I also like the duality of water, we need it to live and too much of it can kill us. Susan: My Maggie Dove mysteries are set in a small village in the Hudson Valley, partly because I live in a small village in the Hudson Valley, but mainly because I think village life lends itself so perfectly to mystery writing. It’s difficult to be anonymous in a village. People know what you’re up to. Why is your Subaru parked in front of Mr. Andrew’s house? Are you paying a visit? Having an affair? Or killing him? People trust each other, but they’re also a little suspicious, especially of newcomers who’ve only lived here 30 years. I’m attaching a picture of our train station, which looks mysterious to me!   Alexia: The Gethsemane Brown mysteries are set in a small village that only exists in my head and on the page. I don’t have an answer for “Why Ireland?” other than, “Because Ireland.” (Because it’s green and beautiful and historic and modern and mythical and mysterious and friendly and familiar and exotic all at the same time.) “Why a village?” is easier. Because crime is expected in inner cities and, to a lesser extent, economically depressed rural areas. But villages and small towns and suburbs are viewed as safe, Norman Rockwellian, havens. Nothing bad is ever supposed to happen there. People flee to these bubbles to escape crime. But beneath their sedate, non-threatening veneers, ugliness and dysfunction and intolerance and evil lurk, waiting to strike and rock everyone’s seemingly happy, safe little world. I (perversely) love the idea of giving people who think they have nothing to worry about something to worry about. I also like the idea of showing the suspicion and mistrust and intolerance that hide beneath the polite veneer of small towns/villages. A result of growing up reading Miss Marple mysteries I guess. I try to communicate the danger underlying the calm surface by painting my village as a beautiful, charming, picture-postcard kind of place, then dropping a murder or five in the midst of it. Robin: What isn’t special about San Francisco? 
I love boats. They’re featured in the book out on submission right now and in a short story I’ve just submitted for my local SinC chapter’s anthology. Boats can be tranquil (the gentle roll of golden waves at sunset) or ominous (the setting sun cast shadows like spilled ink across the murky waters). They can be claustrophobic, like Cate said, or they can express freedom. Personally, I just think they’re a fun way to see the City from a unique perspective. It never gets old to me. I have a friend with a historic yacht and every time I go out I see or experience something new. This photo is from one of our trips just before the “dancing lights” came on at the Bay Bridge.

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What time is it?

The day has arrived for fans of Agnes Agnes Lüthi: A Well-Timed Murder is out, and before Tracee heads off for her book tour, I was able to get her to answer a few questions about book number two. Alison: Your book releases today, what’s the day look like for you? Tracee: I’m lucky to celebrate my pub day in a bookstore! The marvelous WordsWorth Books & Co. in Little Rock, Arkansas. I’ll be there from 5-7 pm so there’s still time to come out and chat and support a great independent book store. Alison: You live in Virginia, why Arkansas? Tracee: My mother’s family moved to Arkansas pre-statehood and she was born there. It is a perfect spot to kick off my tour. After Little Rock I’ll go to my hometown in Kentucky. Then I’ll carry on for another two weeks, through a variety of states, ending with a Barnes & Noble and a new independent book store, Book No Further, near where I currently live.  Alison: This is the second in a series. What is Agnes Lüthi up to now? Tracee: We pick Agnes up a few weeks after the conclusion of Swiss Vendetta. A Well-Timed Murder can certainly be read as a stand-alone, but if you’ve read Swiss Vendetta you’ll know why Agnes has a limp. I think of the connection between the two books as a behind-the-curtain glimpse that returning readers have. As a series reader myself, I like to feel a connection between books. At the same time, I don’t want to have to read them in order. Alison: Agnes works for a Violent Crimes unit in Lausanne, Switzerland. I’ve always thought of Switzerland as idyllic, what kind of trouble does she uncover? Tracee: You’re right about the country being idyllic. That’s part of the reason for crime! There is a lot of pressure to keep up such a high standard of living. For example, in A Well-Timed Murder we see the pressure behind the watch industry when a well-renowned watchmaker dies in suspicious circumstances. By the end of writing the book I started to think that timing is everything. In life, death, and love. It certainly proves to be for Agnes. Alison: I heard the book’s first victim died of a peanut allergy, is that true? Tracee: Yes! Recently, I possibly frightened a guest at our home when I mentioned this.She has a serious peanutallergy and I’m sure she wondered if I felt a need to test my ‘mysterious circumstances.’ The unusual circumstances of my victim’s death pose one of the first obstacles to Agnes’s investigation, an investigation that takes her to Baselworld – an annual show at the heart of the watch industry – and to a boarding school where the victim died. Alison: Didn’t your husband attend boarding school in Switzerland? Is this the revelation of a dark secret from hispast? Tracee: No revelations from his past, but certainly his idyllic school (there’s that word again!) served as inspiration.An international school is a true melting pot of cultures and languages at the very time when young people are testing their limits and finding their identity. A perfect place for chaos. That said, the main way my school is based on his, is in the central architecture. Who can resist a towering chalet? Murder and mayhem played no part in his education. Truly. Alison: Thanks for joining us on pub day! And promise to send us some photos during your tour.  I posted Tracee’s Book Tour Postcard in yesterday’s post in case any readers live nearby. If you missed that, just check below so you can see Tracee’s (rather packed) schedule. Do stop by. Tracee would love to meet you.  Tracee: Please do. I’ve met so many friends-of-friends and friends-of-readers in bookstores this past year and the connection is amazing! Tour dates Feb. 6 – Little Rock, ARWordsWorth & Co., 5 pm Feb. 7 – Madisonville, KYReadmore Book-N-Card, 3 pm Feb. 8 – Louisville, KYCarmichael’s Bookstore, 7 pm Feb. 12 – Lexington, KYJoseph-Beth Booksellers, 7 pm Feb. 13 – Knoxville, TNUnion Ave Books, 6 pm Feb. 14 – Chattanooga, TNStar Line Books, 6:30 pm Feb. 15 – Woodstock, GA (Atlanta)FoxTale Book Shoppe, 6:30 pm(With Roger Johns and Jonathan Putnam) Feb. 17 – Christiansburg, VABarnes & Noble, 2 pm Feb. 20 – Houston, TXMurder by the Book, 6:30 pm Feb. 24 – Roanoke, VABook No Further, 2 pm   

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