Friday, January 14, 2011

Mary Kennedy, Guest Blogger

It's my pleasure to welcome author Mary Kennedy as guest blogger.  Kennedy is also a psychologist, and she brings that background to her mystery series.  I think you'll enjoy her blog.  And, anyone who comments on my blog today will be eligible to win a copy of the latest book in the Talk Radio mystery series, Stay Tuned for Murder.  So, make sure you include your email address if you want a chance!  Mary will be contacting the winner for your mailing address.  Saying that, please help me welcome Mary Kennedy as guest blogger today.


A WRITER’S RESEARCH: KEEP THE BEST AND TOSS THE REST!



You might be surprised what writers do in the name of research. Karen Dionne (Boiling Point) visited a Chaiten volcano in the Northern Patagonia region of Chile. Kate Collins (The Flower Shop Mysteries) made a daunting trip to a local funeral parlor and even visited a crematorium. Julie Hyzy (The White House Chef Mysteries) enjoyed a wonderful visit to the White House to get a first hand feel for the place. Terri Brisbin (The Mercenary Bride) went to Dunottar Castle in Scotland and chatted with men in kilts (Tough work, but somebody had to do it.).

I have to admit, I’ve taken the easy way out. I decided to write the Talk Radio Mysteries for a very simple reason: it was familiar territory. Just like my heroine, Dr. Maggie Walsh, I’m a practicing clinical psychologist and I also have a background in broadcasting. Maggie closes up her Manhattan office to move to sunny Florida. I’m still in practice here in Delaware, but I do make an annual pilgrimage to Ft. Lauderdale. And I used to be a radio copywriter. No problem in describing the worlds of psychology and radio.

Researching Florida was a dream assignment. I spent a couple of weeks in an oceanfront condo, watching the waves, soaking up the ambience, and took the occasional trip into Miami Beach and Lincoln Road. A couple of the scenes in DEAD AIR and REEL MURDER (the first two books in the series) take place in South Beach, so I figured a fun lunch at an outdoor café was in order. And there were long drives along AIA, the fabulous beach road, to check out the glam hotels and celebrity spots.

I made several pages of notes about Florida architecture, gorgeous scenery and exciting places. But only a few lines, here and there, made it into the finished book. Why? The secret is to use the most compelling detail, the most descriptive phrase to bring the magic of a place alive for the reader. Just like the title says, “keep the best and toss the rest.” Hope you enjoy Dr. Maggie’s adventures in paradise.


Thank you, Mary!  And, don't forget readers should include their email address in the comments if you hope to win a copy of the latest book.

Mary Kennedy's website is http://www.marykennedy.net/

Stay Tuned for Murder by Mary Kennedy.  Penguin Group (USA), ©2011. ISBN 9780451232359 (paperback), 320p.

29 comments:

Pamela Keener said...

Thank you for your insights to your writing. I envy your research trips to Florida. I am a beach girl at heart and I love beach settings for the books I read. You are a new to me author that I will have add to my book buying list.
Love & Hugs,
Pam
pk4290(at)comcast(dot)net

Kate Collins said...

Mary, your research was WAY more fun than mine. In fact, fun isn't even a word I would use for visiting a crematorium. (shiver). I love the way you bring out the Florida setting in your mysteries.

Irene said...

I should think the hardest part of writing a mystery is coming up with the mystery! That's something I find most fascinating. Who-done- what is the hard part, isn't it?

mary kennedy said...

Hi everybody, I'm here (waving madly) I have to admit I took the slacker way out. I picked a beautiful location, sunny skies, golden sand, ocean waves and let it "inspire" me. Irene, re: mysteries, I actually find mysteries easier to write than other genres. In mysteries, solving the mystery "is" the plot. If that makes sense . I have my own surefire method, really simple. I write the victim's name on a piece of paper, then draw a big circle around it. Then I add the names of the suspects...all around the edges of the circle, just like numbers on a clock. I figure out what their motives are, their opportunity, etc. You know, MMO. Then I try to think of connections between the suspects and draw a line between them, just to add a little more interest. It sounds really basic, but it works! Kate, thank you for stopping by! Your Flower Shop Mysteries always have terrific plots.

caryn said...

I'd think it would be hard to concentrate on your rwriting while sitting near the beach! Just readingyour blog post cheered me up a bit-I have the first in the series and given how cold and ucky it is here (St.Louis) I think I may need to pull it out and go visit a warmer climate.
stclairck@gmail.com
Caryn in St.Louis

Julie Hyzy said...

You're no slacker, Mary! Anyone who reads your books will know that right off. Writing what you know for Maggie's location and profession just gave you extra time to research for your plots and the excellence shines through! Keep 'em coming!
PS - Thanks for the mention! I hope to get back to the White House again this year. Fingers crossed!

Kaye said...

I keep reading such wonderful things on GoodReads about this series. I've love a chance to win one. Set in my home state, a cozy mystery - what more does one need or want?

florida982002[at]yahoo.com

Lesa said...

Thank you, Mary, for doing the blog today, and for stopping by during the day.

Remember, everyone! If you leave your email address, one of you will be a winner of Mary's book. The winner will be selected tomorrow! Good luck!

mary kennedy said...

Julie, you've got to get back to the White House. I can't wait to hear what Ollie is up to! I'm sure everyone knows about your terrific series, but if they don't, it's the White House Chef series. Intriguing plots, wonderful characters, it is a hoot!

Dru said...

I've read all the books in this series, and I can see and feel the research that you did for these stories.

Karen B said...

KEEP THE BEST AND TOSS THE REST! I love that - and it could be used in other areas, too. Your research sounds like so much fun. (If I were you I'd have to add visiting my son and family in the Tampa area.) I have Kate and Julie's latest books sitting here waiting to be read. Hopefully your book will join them - it sounds terrific and the series is now on my wish list!

kpbarnett1941[at]aol[dot]com

Lesa said...

So, Dru doesn't need the book, but Karen would like to win it. Keep those comments and email addresses coming if you want a chance to win Mary's latest book!

mary kennedy said...

Thank you, Dru. I was afraid maybe the Florida Department of Tourism wouldn't like that scene in the dingy trailer park in DEAD AIR, but I really needed it for the plot. It was the only Florida spot in the book that wasn't gorgeous...Karen,I would love to visit Tampa, that's one of the few cities I haven't visited! Who knows, maybe I'll do a book signing down there, or attend a conference. I love Florida, never miss an excuse to get down there.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Love seeing you here, Mary! And I love your books...and the way you sacrifice yourself for your annual trip to Ft. Lauderdale each year for your research! :) Best wishes for the new release!

Kay said...

Oooh, another series to add to my list. I'm definitely a series junkie because I just can't let go of characters after one book. Looking forward to reading this one!

janezfan(at)yahoo(dot)com

mary kennedy said...

Speaking of series, I hope everyone has read DELICIOUS AND SUSPICIOUS in Riley Adam's Memphis Barbecue Mysteries. It got a fantastic review from PW and fabulous reviews on Goodreads. If you haven't read it, you are in for a real treat! I found it especially interesting because when I lived down in Kinston, NC, my next door neighbor owned one of the most famous barbecue restaurants on the east coast. People swung by Kinston, just to eat at his restaurant!

Linda Leszczuk said...

Hi Mary - you know I've read all three Maggie's and loved every one. This post started me thinking I should pick a place I want to go and figure out how to make it research but I'm toying with an idea for a fantasy/sci fi set in another world. Hmmm. Might be tricky.

mary kennedy said...

I bet you can do it, Linda. There has got to be a way. Don't forget, dystopian fiction is really hot (omg, I sound like Paris Hilton, sorry about that)so maybe you could take a real city and just set it a couple of thousand years into the future. Someplace fabulous with a beach, of course. Drinks with umbrellas, cabana boys, that sort of thing.

Bev Stephans said...

This sounds like a fun series and I would definitely like to try one of the books. Your research sounds more like play than work, but heck, what's wrong with that.

boogiebev@hotmail.com

mary kennedy said...

Bev, you are right, it was definitely play! I always rent an oceanfront condo in Ft. Lauderdale for a couple of weeks each winter (I've rented the same one, for the last dozen or so years.) I keep telling myself that I'm going to explore the beautiful Ft. Lauderdale area, so many lovely parks, fabulous restaurants and boat tours, wonderful shops along Las Olas, etc, but I'm like a pet rock. Put me down on the beach and I tend to stay there! Doing research was good for me, because it really did make me drive into Miami, explore the shops on Lincoln Road, take a peek at the glam hotels lining Ocean Drive, stop for coffee at a trendy spot in South Beach, etc. There's a great mystery book store in Delray called Murder on the Beach, some of you probably know it.

petite said...

Your series sounds delightful and unique. Oh, to be at the beach which is my favorite place to read and relax. best wishes. rojosho(at)hotmail(dot)com

traveler said...

The research trips to Florida would be wonderful, South Beach and Lincoln Road. Reading about these areas is nostalgic and the beauty and architecture appeals to me. The beach setting is an added bonus. I will be reading this book and I know it will be enjoyable. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

Kari Wainwright said...

I think that if I made it to Murder on the Beach, the rest of my time in the area would be spent with my nose in a book.

Kari
gkw9000 [at] gmail.com

mary kennedy said...

It's a great bookstore and Joanne, the owner, is a wonderful friend to writers. Lots of familiar names do signings there, Elaine Viets, etc.

Lesa said...

Congratulations, Kay! You won Mary's book, and I'll send her your email address!

Kay said...

Thanks so much, Mary, for writing STAY TUNED and offering a giveaway. Also, thanks Lesa for always bringing new authors and books to our attention!

Lesa said...

It's one of my greatest joys, Kay, bringing authors and books to the attention of readers. Love it! Congratulations!

moonsword said...

Thank you for the background on the book. It's always nice to peek into the process of writing a great mystery.

Lesa said...

Moonsword,

I'm with you. I always like to hear about the background of a mystery.

Thanks for stopping by!