Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Island Inspiration by Julie Anne Lindsey


Have you ever visited a place that you instinctively didn’t want to leave? Can you remember how it sounded and smelled and buzzed in your system? That was me in 2007 when I discovered Chincoteague, Virginia. Until that year, I didn’t have any idea that Virginia had an island. None. And I’d lived on the East Coast my entire life. I’ve visited Virginia many times, but I was still shocked. There was an island? I had to see this place, so I went. My family packed up and headed to a place that has courted my soul ever since.

Chincoteague is a quintessential small coastal town. It’s surrounded by harbors and the Atlantic. An old fashioned drawbridge separates the island from the world. The drawbridge might as well be a cone of silence because mainland worries seem to splinter and stop before reaching the tiny community.

The town library is in a quaint little building across the street from a Misty of Chincoteague statue. The local ice cream parlor has a wall of faces who’ve finished the biggest sundae in town. The theatre is one of those small town, two show wonders. Life moves slower. People are kinder. The island measures 3x7 miles small. It bustles with fishermen, craftsmen and people who crave the sea. If that isn’t enough to get you packing your bags (or in my place firing up my laptop) did you know Chincoteague is attached to a sister island, Assateague? Assateague is even smaller than Chincoteague, united by a bridge over a marsh, and home to wildlife. Assateague is a national forest and shoreline. The beaches are pristine. The forest has wild ponies. Did you stop and reread that? Wild. Ponies. There are trails and nature centers and historical lighthouses. I mean. *jaw drop* Where has this place been my whole life? And why can’t I move immediately?

I visited Chincoteague four years before it ever occurred to me I could write anything longer than a grocery list, but the town burrowed into my heart and has since occupied my daydreams. When I started writing in 2011, the town played center stage in many of my stories. It still does.

When I set out to write a mystery with an amateur sleuth, I knew the island was a perfect setting. I wanted to tell readers about the unfathomably gorgeous sunrises over the harbor and the bleating tug boats already busy at work. I needed to tell other in-landers how hilarious and borderline dangerous it was to grill out because gulls lined the roof waiting for dinner to be served. My family loves to grill out, but it was a different experience on Chincoteague. We tag-teamed dinner. Husband opened the grill and ran for the house while I waved a broom overhead to keep the birds from swooping in and making off with our shrimp and scallops. That vacation was the experience of a lifetime. Oh, and I’m terrified of horses, so rounding a corner and coming nose to nose with a wandering pony was a real heart stopping concern for me because I walked everywhere. Who needs a car when nothing is more than a few blocks away? For me, the island was magical. Perfection.

Book one in my mystery series, Murder by the Seaside, flowed easily from vivid memories of that trip. I could literally envision every detail. But then I needed a sequel. I needed a new problem for my heroine. I love the island so much, it was tough to think of a problem and then I wondered, “What kind of things could cause a ruckus on such a peaceful island.” Guess what? I watched a movie that night with Steve Martin and Jack Black. Do you know it? The Big Year? It’s a movie about birders who travel the globe hoping to see the greatest number of different species of birds. You know what island has a ton of awesome birds? *nods* Yep. *steeples fingertips* If a few busloads of birders all rushed to the island to see the same rare bird, it could get kind of full out there. *taps chin* Birders seemed like a great addition to the problems my amateur sleuth already had on her plate, what with work, a new boyfriend, an ex who won’t go away (and he has a dimple). Life. Work. Family. Oh, and a murder. Birders were exactly what she needed to lose her tenuous cool. So, I sent them.

If you need a break from this long cold winter, I hope you’ll consider my new mystery series. Visit my favorite place on earth and smile for a while. Spend a few hours in the sun before heading back into the cold. You’ll be scheduling your Chincoteague vacation before you know it!

Murder Comes Ashore
Patience Price is just settling into her new life as resident counselor on Chincoteague Island when things take a sudden turn for the worse. A collection of body parts have washed up on shore and suddenly nothing feels safe on the quaint island.

Patience instinctively turns to current crush and FBI special agent Sebastian for help, but former flame Adrian is also on the case, hoping that solving the grisly crime will land him a win in the upcoming mayoral election.
When the body count rises and Patience's parents are brought in as suspects, Patience is spurred to begin her own investigation. It's not long before she starts receiving terrifying threats from the killer, and though she's determined to clear her family's name, it seems the closer Patience gets to finding answers, the closer she comes to being the killer's next victim.

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About Julie:

Julie Anne Lindsey is a multi-genre author who writes the stories that keep her up at night. She’s a self-proclaimed nerd with a penchant for words and proclivity for fun. Julie lives in rural Ohio with her husband and three small children. Today, she hopes to make someone smile. One day she plans to change the world.
Murder Comes Ashore is a sequel in her new mystery series, Patience Price, Counselor at Large, from Carina Press. 
 
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