Please welcome Amanda Flower, a three time Agatha-nominated mystery author, started her writing career in elementary school when she read a story she wrote to her sixth grade class and had the class in stitches with her description of being stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel. She knew at that moment she’d found her calling of making people laugh with her words. Amanda is a librarian in Northeast Ohio. She also writes as USA Today Bestselling Author Isabella Alan.
If I am going to write a mystery novel, it’s very important to me to know the setting inside and out. I think it’s because I’m a librarian, and I think a well research novel has so much more flavor and depth. Also it helps me to understand the characters better to know their regional identity. Because of that, every novel I’ve ever written has been set in Ohio, my home state where I have always lived, but after sixteen novels set in the Buckeye State I finally felt ready to venture out and try a new location.
In Crime and Poetry, the first Magical Bookshop Mystery, I put my characters in a small village just outside of Niagara Falls in Western New York State. My picturesque village is actually based on the adorable town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, which is located in Ontario, Canada just on the other side of the border.
I knew if I was going to write about this adorable place, I was going to have to go there, and what better way to go than to make it a girls’ trip with two of my closest friends, Suzy and Sarah. The three of us packed up my car and hit the road for a long weekend of adventure.
We had a tight agenda because I wanted to do as much of what my characters would be doing in the novel, as well as the rest of the series, as possible. The Niagara region is wine country and especially known for ice wines, so a wine tour was a must, and because my main character, Violet Waverly, gets around her fictional village, Cascade Springs, on a bike, we had to make the tour on bikes. After the last stop, we were a little wobbly on our wheels, but it was one of the most fun tours I have ever been on and something I will definitely incorporate in a future book. The bike tour also gave me an up close and personal view of the town and the surrounding countryside, which I made a point of infusing in my descriptions of the area.
Next on the agenda was the world famous Niagara Falls. In Crime and Poetry, Violet goes to the Niagara Falls to sniff out some clues about her suspects. Of course, we had to go there too and see one of the natural wonders of the world. While Violet’s there, she pauses for a moment to take in the majesty of the falls and the crushing crowds of tourists from all over the world; I did the same.
However, the highlight of our trip was the carriage ride through Niagara-on-the-Lake. This was a must for me because the victim in Crime and Poetry is a carriage driver. I needed to see the village from his perspective, and what better way to do that go on a horse-drawn carriage ride through the village? The rattle of the carriage, the ongoing chatter of the driver, and smell of the horse are all tiny details which made it into the novel.
I’m so glad that we took that trip, and I know that it added so much more to the story and gave it sense of place of which I’m incredibly proud. I can’t wait for you to join Violet and me in Cascade Springs. You might never want to leave; I know I don’t.
As for my next location? Only time will tell, but my friends are already asking where it will be so we can go on another girls’ trip. I don’t think that next trip it too far away because there is always a new book idea and adventure around the corner. I’m ready to go!
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Her current release is CRIME AND POETRY coming April 5, 2016. www.amandaflower.com
THANK YOU Ms. Flowers for that "behind the scenes" look at researching your book.