I understand you’ve taken your character to a new location in “Murder in a Safe Haven.” What’s that all about?
As you may remember from “Murder in Mariposa Bay,” Bella’s mom dies and, being a good daughter, she honors her mother’s wishes and brings her ashes back to Detroit for burial. While there she finds new dangers in her old haunts, including the convent where she spent her formative years. The Mariposa Bay book ended with her getting on a plane for Detroit, and the new one opens with her arrival. Poor Bella, in real time she’s been flying around at 39,000 feet for two years.
It’s natural that you should set your mysteries on California’s Central Coast since you live there. What about Detroit? Where did that idea come from?
I’m from Detroit originally and so is Bella. Of course, the city has problems, but those are grist for the writer's mill, right? It also has gorgeous lakes and greenery, warm, "tell-it-like-it-is" folks, and a proud history. It was a major stop on the Underground Railway during the Civil War. I’ve made use of all these elements in “Safe Haven.”
Why the title “Murder in a Safe Haven?”
Unknowingly, Bella is being stalked by an old enemy with a familial score to settle. She takes refuge in the convent where she spent her formative years, but her nemesis has a long reach, as well as a long memory, thanks in part to the Detroit Mafia.
Tell us about the new characters you developed for his story.
Antagonists are a dime a dozen, but I really missed my “helpful” characters, Bella’s nephew Chris and her golden Lab, Sam. Every cozy needs one person the protagonist can lean on, the helpful character, and of course, animals add so much to any narrative. It took me awhile to "find" Sister Monica, her new helpmate, and a new fur friend, a cat named Mama and her two kittens.
In what ways did Detroit and its history become a character in the story?
As I said Detroit was a major stop on the Underground Railway, the last one for runaway slaves before escaping to Canada just across the river and guaranteed freedom. Unlike many States, Canada did not return runaways. The novel’s denouement takes place in an old slave tunnel.
What was your lowest point?
A year ago I thought I had the book all whipped into shape. But when I got comments back from Beta Readers I realized I had a lot of work to do. The basic problem was I had too many characters and they were hard for the reader to keep straight. As Catherine Ryan Hyde of “Pay it Forward” fame says, when you get bad reviews, you’re allowed to go to bed for three days and eat cold Chinese food, then you have to get up and get to work. Which I did—combining characters, naming only the important ones, while leaving nameless those with only brief appearances. But it will be awhile until I’m ready to eat Chinese again.
There are rumors that Bella makes a life changing decision in this book. What’s that all about?”
You’ll have to read the book to find that out.
How do your readers feel about your change of location?
I was worried, because my other books are Central Coast specific, and I have good fan support here. However, readers so far have been enthusiastic, and I’ve gotten some great reviews.
I’m halfway through the next Bella book, tentatively called “Death at Schooners Cove,” which brings her back to the Central Coast. In the new book, six years have passed and the long-awaited sewer is about to be hooked up. But a body is discovered in the foundation of the wastewater treatment facility and the fun begins.
Bio: Sue McGinty
With little more than an urge to hang out at the beach, write mystery novels and calm a cat experiencing his first car ride, Sue McGinty left Los Angeles June 17, 1994, the same day OJ Simpson took his infamous ride. Unlike OJ, Sue had a destination in mind: the Central Coast hamlet of Los Osos. Not the Cabot Cove of “Murder She Wrote,” but close.
Her California Central Coast mysteries include “Murder in Los Lobos,” “Murder at Cuyamaca Beach,” “Murder in Mariposa Bay,” and “Murder in a Safe Haven.” Her short fiction has also been featured in four Sisters in Crime Central Coast chapter mysteries.
In her “real” life, Sue worked as a technical writer for McGraw-Hill.
Sue McGinty lives and writes in the California Central Coast town of Los Osos. Her Bella Kowalski mysteries include “Murder in Los Lobos,” “Murder at Cuyamaca Beach,” “Murder in Mariposa Bay,” and “Murder in a Safe Haven.”
link to Amazon: amazon-murder-in-a-safe-haven
I am definitely anxious to read this one, Sue, And I love the cover.