Before we get started, I have an announcement - - -
Okeey doke - - and now . . .
RADINE TREES NEHRING spent ten years as a broadcast journalist and feature writer for magazines and newspapers before her first book, DEAR EARTH: A Love Letter from Spring Hollow, appeared in 1995, winning the Arkansas Governor's Award for best writing about the state. Her TO DIE FOR Ozarks mystery series began in 2002 with Macavity nominee, A VALLEY TO DIE FOR. The series has earned many other awards including two David nominations from Deadly Ink, and an Arkansas Book of the Year award. Several short stories featuring her major characters, Carrie McCrite and Henry King, are available in anthologies. One of her stories was included in the Wolfmont Press Anthology, DYING IN A WINTER WONDERLAND, a top ten bestseller on the Independent Mystery Bookseller's Association list for 2008. The fifth Carrie and Henry mystery novel, A RIVER TO DIE FOR, was released in April, 2008. Her 2010 novel, A JOURNEY TO DIE FOR, took first place in the unpublished mystery novel category at the Oklahoma Writers Federation seven-state conference this past May.
Radine is a member of Sisters in Crime, Authors Guild, Ozarks Writers League, and represents Arkansas on the board of Mystery Writers of America SW Chapter.
LET'S GO SOMEWHERE by Radine Trees Nehring
I love both travel reading and travel writing. Nope, I don't do magazine features that begin something like this: "The yellow sand beaches of San Poopio will take your breath away this time of year, and the meals at Nightmare's Inn manage to surpass my ability to describe them...."
You guessed it! There are better ways for me to travel at little cost. For example, when I want to escape extreme weather:
Ahhh, the driveway is shoveled and my toes are thawing in fuzzy slippers. Think I'll begin reading one of my new book purchases. Um, which one...? Oh yes, that one!
"Summer in Benteen County, Kansas, is a season possessed of all the gentle subtlety of an act of war.... A week ago, the thermometer had risen past the unbearable mark...and, in automatic response, the humidity rushed after it-to a level technically described as obscene." (From J. M. Hayes' mystery novel, Mad Dog & Englishman.)
But it gets hot in the Ozarks, too. In August I prefer escaping into something like Iron Lake by William Kent Krueger, (where you can experience a white-out blizzard and frozen body in northern Minnesota), or Virgin in the Ice by Ellis Peters.
Good mystery writers are master manipulators, aren't they? They create atmosphere and location inside minds, take us to places dark and stormy or glaring and sharp, thrill us with chilly caves, steaming jungles, and worlds far away from the familiar. The more skillful the writer, the more willing we are to believe, share, travel, and enjoy--riding along eagerly with characters and events and seeing new places that become real for at least the space of a novel.
Many works of fiction offer this real place reality, some taking us into actual locations where we are intrigued by the story unfolding there. I love this type novel. Readers don't have to pack a bag, endure airlines, or make long car trips, though quite often they do end up wanting to see the described location for themselves at a later date.
One author who gives readers a vivid location experience is Ellen Elizabeth Hunter, a real place writer sharing the area in and around Wilmington, North Carolina. I learned about her novels while planning a trip to the Cape Fear Crime Festival, a mystery fan convention once held on the North Carolina Coast. Someone recommended Ms. Hunter's mystery novel, Murder on the Candlelight Tour, as an introduction to the area, but the book ended up being much more than that. My husband and I toured Wilmington by using Murder on the Candlelight Tour as our guide. We visited historic buildings and restaurants portrayed in the story. We even ordered the same dishes Ms. Hunter describes so deliciously.
Hunter is not a Carolina native--perhaps one reason she notices Wilmington details with a newcomer's freshness and a tourist's excitement. She says, "I fell in love with Wilmington and wanted to live there, but couldn't because of my husband's work. I decided the next best thing to living in Wilmington myself would be creating a character who did." (If you'd like to enjoy the Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach area wherever you are, go to: www.ellenhunter.com.
Meanwhile, back in the Ozarks, my own fiction writing career was getting under way in the same time period as Ellen Hunter's. She and I are both relative newcomers in our areas. My husband and I chose Arkansas for our home after spending time thinking about going "back to the land" in several parts of the United States. My love for Arkansas led to an interest in writing about it, and I spent more than ten years selling articles, essays, and poetry about the Ozarks to publications in the United States and other countries. After publishing one non-fiction book set here,(DEAR EARTH, A Love Letter from Spring Hollow) I decided to try my hand at writing the type of book I enjoy reading most-the traditional mystery.
My first effort, A Valley to Die For, (St Kitts Press, 2002) was set in the same remote Ozarks area as Dear Earth, an easy location to describe, since it's where I live. In my second novel, Music to Die For, I sent my protagonist, Carrie McCrite, accompanied by her friends, to another Ozarks spot I love, Ozark Folk Center State Park. (Picture Sturbridge Village with an Ozarks setting and a theater where old-time music can be enjoyed.) From then on, each novel's setting has been at a different Arkansas tourist destination.
It wasn't long before I, and my location destinations, discovered it was not only fun to site books in areas enjoyed by tourists, it was good business for the locations themselves. Settings are real enough that, at signings, I give actual tourist brochures and location maps to everyone buying one or more books in the To Die For series.
As a reader, I'm excited when I find a new author who takes me to a real place, tells me about a career I'm not familiar with, and joins these with mystery/adventure puzzles. As a writer, I love telling stories set in places I have chosen to visit, absorb, and share with readers. As a result, many tourist-oriented publications, including airline and National Park magazines, have carried feature articles about my writing.
My next To Die For story takes Carrie McCrite and Henry King to three popular tourist destinations: a ride on a restored 1920's Arkansas train, the historic district and river front in Van Buren, Arkansas, and The Steamboat Arabia Museum in Kansas City. Danger times three! I had a wonderful time traveling to do research for this novel, and hope you'll soon enjoy this Journey to Die For with me!
Radine Trees Nehring
The "To Die For" mystery series...touring the Ozarks, one crime at a time.