Well, not exactly – but the wonderful Welsh-Canadian author Cathy Ace has a new book out, her tenth Cait Morgan Mystery, The Corpse with the Iron Will. Cathy’s not only a celebrated creator of atmospheric crime fiction, the IPPY and Bony Blithe Award-winning Ace is also a wonderful and supportive member of our writing community – and so I am thrilled beyond belief to welcome her as a guest, writing about writing, her new book, and this really strange year…
A CORPSE TOO CLOSE TO HOME?
We’ve all had to rethink our lives this past year or so and authors are no different – except we’ve also had to rethink our fictional lives, too; how to deal with the pandemic in our fictional world is a “real” dilemma for many of us.
I made a Big Decision when plotting the tenth Cait Morgan Mystery: I will not mention the pandemic in the series at all. Why? Well, I can’t be sure when a person will be reading the books, so have no idea how the world will have changed (again) by then. Also, I firmly believe many of my readers pick up my books to be entertained, to escape…so I don’t need to burden them with today’s routine of masks and hand-washing, etc.
What I did decide to do, however, was to have Cait and her husband Bud at home for a change (usually they’re away from home, often at a delightful location) and to have to grapple with their own shifting sense of what “home” and “community” mean to them – because that’s something we’ve all been challenged by.
I’m extremely fortunate to live where I do, and I’ve made sure Cait is as lucky as I am because she lives in a fictionalized version of my home area – half-way up a little mountain in the south-western corner of British Columbia. That means I’ve been able to allow readers to “visit” Cait (and me) at home in this book, and I’ve even been able to use the names of many people from my real life (with their permission, of course) for characters who are nothing like them, but do give a true flavor of the sort of mix of folks I’m surrounded by (dead bodies notwithstanding!).
But this book hasn’t been without its challenges: usually I take Cait to a place I know well (all the books have been set somewhere I’ve lived or worked, as opposed to having just visited once as a tourist) and I’ve become accustomed to dripping in details of the location for readers to be able to absorb its atmosphere throughout the book. This time I found I was editing out great big chunks of “too much information” about the place I know best, and love the most – my own neighborhood. It’s true to say my editing process was bloody and brutal this time, and I hope readers feel I got the balance right…it’s so important to me to convey the way nature lives in harmony with itself here that I just hope I didn’t over-egg the cake!
At least there’s one good thing – I’ve been able to use lots of photographs of my garden in my promotional efforts…not just because it looks good (I think it does, anyway…LOL!) but because it’s relevant to the book, in which the titular corpse is a man with a wealth of knowledge about plants, and nature.
Cathy Ace’s Welsh Canadian criminal psychologist sleuth Cait Morgan encounters traditional, closed-circle whodunits around the world, while her WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries feature a quartet of soft-boiled female PIs who solve more cozy cases from their office at a Welsh stately home. Her standalone suspense novel, The Wrong Boy, has been optioned for TV (as have her Cait Morgan Mysteries). Shortlisted for Canada’s Bony Blithe Award three times in four years, winning in 2015, she’s also won IPPY and IBA Awards, and has been shortlisted for an Arthur Ellis Award. Cathy lives in Canada, having migrated from Wales aged 40.
Find Cathy at http://www.cathyace.com/ on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Cathy-Ace-Author-318388861616661 – Twitter: @AceCathy – IG: @cathyace1
And that garden she speaks of? Gorgeous: