Provincetown, on the very tip of Cape Cod, is a magical place. Part summer resort, part arts colony, this diverse and very LGBTQIA+ friendly village still shows its roots in the Portuguese- American fishing community too. And while I’m one of the thousands who fill its beaches and restaurants each summer, I love visiting in the off-season too. And when I can’t get physically across Cape Cod Bay? That’s when I turn to Jeannette de Beauvoir’s mysteries!
How does a book start for you?
With a spark of some kind. I was doing research in Montréal and came across a list of names associated with a graveyard, and realized they were all children. Asking how that could happen provided the spark that everntually became my novel ASYLUM. Another time, the curator at the local museum called me in to show me some Civil War-era shoes discovered in the wall of a home during renovation; that inspired my book THE DEADLIEST BLESSING. Once I have that kernel, that spark, I build around it. The plot always falls into place after that.
Who in your latest book has surprised you most – and why?
My protagonist’s boyfriend, Ali. He’s actually *not* in this book, he’s off doing undercover work, and what’s surprised me is how much I miss him. I was a little surprised when they got together in the first book, and have always seen him somewhat as a “throwaway” character—just Sydney’s boyfriend. I even once contemplated killing him. But he’s become more and more important to me, not least because he’s Muslim—he can be that “Muslim friend” that some readers might not get to have in real life, and perhaps destroy some stereotypes and assumptions.
When and/or where is your latest book set and is there a story behind that setting?
It’s in Provincetown; this whole series is in Provincetown. Most of my mysteries take place in the present but are influenced by something from the past—old secrets resurfacing, that sort of thing. A FATAL FOLLY starts with a treasure hunt for a second wreck from pirate Black Sam Bellamy’s fleet, but quickly turns to a local unsolved crime… *and* more danger for my protagonist, Sydney Riley. All this against the backdrop of Holly Folly, Provincetown’s winter holiday extravaganza.
Provincetown is a lot of fun to write about. It’s diverse, it’s beautiful, and it attracts a lot of misfits, the kind of people willing to live out at Land’s End, the very tip of the continent. That makes for some dark secrets… and a lot of material for a novelist! Each book takes place during one of Provincetown’s famous “theme weeks,” which serve as context and often as part of the plot.
What are you working on now?
I have two projects going. I’m working on a book called THE MATINEE MURDERS, the next in the Sydney Riley Provincetown series (its backdrop is the Provincetown International Film Festival), due out next spring. And I’m also launching a new series—I hope—with a protagonist who’s a linguist. I love words so much, I thought that would be a perfect match!
Which question didn’t I ask you that I should have?
“Should” is a loaded word… I guess something about how I feel about writing? I’m just grateful to all my readers, all the people who trust me enough to give me precious hours of their time and thought. I hope my stories are worthy of that.
Award-winning author Jeannette de Beauvoir writes mystery and historical fiction (or a combination thereof!) that’s been translated into 12 languages. A Booksense Book-of-the-Year finalist, she’s a member of the Authors Guild, the Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and the National Writers Union.
All her novels are firmly rooted in a sense of place, and her delight is to find characters true to the spaces in which they live. She herself lives and writes in a cottage in Provincetown, on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and loves the collection of people who assemble at a place like land’s end.
The Sydney Riley Provincetown mystery series is in its sixth installment on June 5 with the release of The Matinée Murders.