Sharon Daynard is a staple of our New England crime fiction community. I first came to know her through her short stories, which have been shortlisted for the Al Blanchard and Derringer awards. When I heard that Sharon had a novel coming out, of course I needed to hear about that. I’m thrilled that she’s celebrating her debut, Murder Points North here today!
How does a book start for you?
Ideas for my stories come from the strangest places. Sometimes it’s a phrase that strikes me as “off” because it can be taken a number of ways. The phrase “a fortune to be had” sparked a story about a swindling fortune teller who becomes the victim of a con. Other times, it’s a line in a song playing on the radio that jump-starts a what-if. My short story “Black Coffee in Bed” came about from the Squeeze song. And of course there are the visual cues that take on a life of their own. Watching Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest gave me the idea for “A Glutton for Punishment.” And for Murder Points North, the perfect murder weapon came to me, oddly enough, while giving a hands-on lecture to a group of boy scouts.
Who in your latest book has surprised you most – and why?
In Murder Points North, the character of Kiki Ring surprised me the most. I added Kiki’s character for a bit of levity. Kiki considers herself a psychic. My protagonist, Liesl Alan, along with and most of Points North, writes her off as a kook and a gossip. Even I thought of Kiki as a ditz with D cups, but as the story progressed, she proved there was a bit more to her “gifts” than anyone realized.
When and/or where is your latest book set and is there a story behind that setting?
Murder Points North is set in the fictional village of Points North in New Hampshire’s White Mountains during the holiday season. Despite it being December, the region is experiencing an Indian summer without as much as a token snow flurry in the long-term forecast. Considering this is “snow country,” the scenario is set for somebody to snap with deadly results.
I’m sure it’s pure coincidence that I eloped on Christmas Eve and honeymooned in the White Mountains…
What are you working on now?
I’m working the second installment in the Points North series. It takes place over Valentine’s weekend with Liesl Alan attending a speed dating charity event that goes terribly wrong.
Which question didn’t I ask you that I should have?
I thought you would’ve asked me why Liesl Alan is a geologist. Like my protagonist, Liesl Alan, my degrees are in geology. My favorite subject as an undergrad was Mineralogy. I particularly enjoyed the challenge of identifying rock and mineral samples. When writing Murder Points North, the similarity of IDing a rock or mineral and solving a murder wasn’t lost on me. With a rock or mineral you start with one sample and a long list of possibilities. You narrow that list down based on hardness, luster, color, streak, specific gravity and cleavage to determine what your sample is. With a murder your amateur sleuth has a long list of suspects and based on motive, means, and opportunity, you systematically narrows that list down to one person—the killer.
Sharon Daynard’s writing runs the gamut from light and quirky to downright dark and troubling. Her debut novel, Murder Points North, takes a humorous spin on murder in a small town. Her short stories include “The Boss of Butlers Square” which received Honorable Mention for the Al Blanchard Award and “Widows Peak” which was nominated for a Derringer Award. Find her on Facebook here.