Today, I’d like to welcome Randy Overbeck with his post ‘First, Get The Setting Right,’ so over to you, Randy…
Of course, it takes several important ingredients to create an engaging mystery—an intriguing murder, a suspenseful plot, credible characters, large and small. But any good writer also recognizes the importance of the right setting for their narrative, of creating a credible “world” the reader can inhabit for hours at a time. Sometimes this “world” can be as familiar as a small resort town or as unusual as a completely different time or place. As a reader, I’ve particularly enjoyed the worlds created by such notable mystery writers as William Kent Krueger, Walter Mosley and C.J. Box and I’ve tried to learn from their examples.
As I’ve imagined, developed, and wrote my Haunted Shores Mysteries, I endeavored each time to create a “real world” that readers could immerse themselves in and enjoy. Before starting each novel, I completed extensive research on the location to make sure I got the setting accurate and believable. For the first installment, Blood on the Chesapeake, published last year by the Wild Rose Press, I worked to create a fictional resort town on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake, where a lynching had occurred decades earlier, the crime covered over and forgotten. For my latest entry, Crimson at Cape May, released this summer, I worked with local experts and historians from the area, strolled the white sand beaches, drove the streets, sampled the food and visited with merchants—all with the aim to create a Cape May both natives and travelers would recognize. I also selected the location carefully, even before I put pen to paper, so that, when I finished, readers would see how story and setting are entwined.
The narrative of Crimson at Cape May involves a horrendous crime linked in some ways to shipping and transportation, the New Jersey area being a major transportation hub for the entire Eastern US. And, like many resort towns, Cape May possesses a dual nature. On the one hand, it offers the lure of pristine beaches and the draw of lavish Victorian architecture and delightful dining. On the other hand, the resort nature of the town is only possible because of the poverty and hardscrabble life of an underclass needed to support this style of living. I’ve done my best to capture all of this “world” within the novel. And, not least of all, Cape May has long boasted a reputation as the most haunted seaport in the Eastern US, which of course made it a perfect fit for my ghost story/mystery.
I believe readers will find my world of the 1999 town of Cape May compelling and more than credible. In fact, if readers haven’t had the chance to visit this delightful, unique resort, I guarantee, after reading Crimson at Cape May, they will include the town at the tip of New Jersey in their “to-visit” list.
My advice: just don’t be surprised if you run into a spirit or two while you’re visiting.
About the Books
That is, until he learns the town hides an ugly secret. A thirty-year-old murder in the high school. And a frightening ghost stalking his new office.
Burned by an earlier encounter with the spirit world, Darrell does not want to get involved, but when the desperate ghost hounds him, he concedes.
Assisted by his new love, he follows a trail that leads to the civil rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and even the Ku Klux Klan.
Then, when two locals who try to help are murdered, Darrell is forced to decide if he is willing to risk his life – and the life of the woman he loves – to expose the killers of a young man he never knew.
Blood on the Chesapeake is an incredible suspense thriller that forces the reader to recognize the ignorance and evils of a history that seems not so long ago. This murder mystery is skillfully written to present a cold case that should never have been forgotten.
No matter how far you run, you can never really escape a haunted past. Darrell Henshaw-teacher, coach, and paranormal sensitive-learned this lesson the hard way. Now, with his job gone and few options, he heads for Cape May to coach a summer football camp. The resort town, with gorgeous beaches, rich history and famous Victorian mansions, might just be the getaway he needs. Only, no one told him Cape May is the most haunted seaport on the East Coast. When a resident ghost, the Haunted Bride, stalks Darrell, begging for his help, he can’t refuse, and joins forces with Cassie, another sensitive. As Darrell and the street-wise teen investigate the bride’s death, they uncover something far more sinister than a murder. Can Darrell and Cassie expose those behind the crimes before they end up becoming the next victims?
About the Author
Dr. Randy Overbeck is an award-winning educator, writer and speaker who has earned recognition in the Midwest and beyond. As a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Dr. Overbeck is an active member of the literary community, contributing to a writers’ critique group, serving as a mentor to emerging writers and participating in writing conferences such as Sleuthfest, Killer Nashville and the Midwest Writers Workshop. When he’s not writing or researching his next exciting novel or sharing his presentation “Things That Go Bump in the Night,” he’s spending time with his incredible family of wife, three children (and their spouses) and seven wonderful grandchildren.
Published by The Wild Rose Press in trade paper (ISBN: 978-1-5092-3163-8, 403 pages $18.98) and eBook ($4.99) editions, Crimson at Cape May is available wherever fine books are sold. The Wild Rose Press (www.thewildrosepress.com) is an independent fiction publisher based in New York.