This week I am honored to present a guest blogpost from C. Hope Clark, author of the award-winning Carolina Slade Mystery Series. Thanks, Hope, for guest blogging for me.
Novelists forever juggle fact and fiction, wanting so much to write what they know in real life but worried that someone will take issue with it and sue. They have a wealth of material they can incorporate into a tale to give it a sense of reality, and are afraid to use it. My mysteries abound with real life, subtly veiled as make believe, and since my craft is fiction, in my own way I honor people who’ve impacted my life.
Lowcountry Bribe is my first novel, the debut for the Carolina Slade Mystery Series. The story begins as an event that actually took place – I was offered a bribe and participated in an investigation that went sideways. For obvious reasons, I had to disguise many factions of that case. But I inserted many other pieces of my life to give it flavor, in honor of those I know and love.
On a tense scene on a front porch, Carolina Slade has a heart-to-heart with her newly separated husband about how their lives would change. Behind the door, her father stands guard, gun in hand, ready to deal with her daughter’s spouse if the need arose. I remember thinking of my own father as a hero during my own similar situation. Today he’s in his eighties. One day when he’s gone, I’ll gladly read that scene and remember.
In the same book, Slade recalls her grandfather seated at a Formica table and chairs, much like one she finds in an abandoned farm house. The floor is worn where the farmer sat day in and day out until he died. I inserted a fond memory of when my own grandfather sat at such a table, in his own farm house, my little sister on his lap. He taught her how to drink coffee cooled on a saucer, slurp it, smack in delight, and then say “Damn that’s good!” He’d reward her with a nickel to say it in front of my mother. The moment fit so well in that chapter.
My mother’s cooking, my son’s defiant behavior as a child, and even the name Slade. A strong name. A name with very defined roots in my family’s genealogy. Using that special family name, even noting in the tale that it was my Mississippi grandmother’s maiden name on my mother’s side, I’ve left a piece of my legacy in print for my progeny to pass on.
Honoring people in fiction doesn’t have to entail a poignant or nostalgic memory, though. In writing my latest release, Murder on Edisto, I recalled an argument between one of my best friends and my husband. She’s a free spirit and he’s law enforcement. When it comes to locks, she’s of the mind that strong security is welcoming danger into your life, as if embracing the negativity. Of course, security is a necessity in his world. To listen to the two go at it for an hour was humorous, especially knowing neither would convince the other to relinquish their polar position. As a nod to their beliefs, the conversation found its way into the story.
The list goes on and on. A writer can honor her world in fiction just as in nonfiction. Friends, family, pets, locations, events . . . anyone or thing can be inserted smartly into storytelling, with a wink to those who really know the truth.
BIO: Murder on Edisto is C. Hope Clark’s first Edisto Island Mystery in the series. Her award-winning Carolina Slade Mystery Series continues to be a favorite for many mystery fans. Outside her fiction, Hope is editor for FundsforWriters.com, noted by Writer’s Digest Magazine in its 101 Best Websites for Writers. Her homes are Lake Murray and Edisto Beach, both in her beloved South Carolina. www.chopeclark.com / www.fundsforwriters.com
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