Monday, May 6, 2019

Mysterious Weddings


LUCY BURDETTE: I love the idea of inserting weddings into the Key West mysteries—the possibilities for conflict are endless. Plus, Key West is in real life a very popular wedding destination. So we see every kind of ceremony, from two people who've stumbled off a cruise ship to get married on the beach to unbelievable extravaganzas ending with fireworks. The caterers in town are experts at setting up for a wedding and tearing it all down the same night so it looks as though absolutely nothing happened the next day. There are several bakeries specializing in gorgeous wedding cakes, and there are beautiful tropical wedding flowers and plenty of places to party. 

My good friend and wonderful character Steve Torrence conducts a thriving wedding business on the side of his police and church work—I think he did at least four over one weekend in April. When I started to think it was time for Hayley Snow to tie the knot, I realized that I've already had two weddings in this series--one took place at the Hemingway Home in Murder with Ganache (I absolutely love that cover!) and the other in Killer Takeout in a closet during a hurricane. There is supposed to be a wedding in A DEADLY FEAST, but I'm going to save that story for tomorrow when the book is out!!

Reds, do you put weddings into your books? Why or why not? 

HALLIE EPHRON: Realizing I've never put a wedding in a  book... except as back story. But it is the PERFECT setup for conflict, and talk about high stakes! Don't tell anyone but I'm about to celebrate my 50th wedding anniversary. What can I say, I got lucky the first time, and the truth is we were SO young it could easily have been a disaster. I did not have a wedding dress (never wanted one) but the one thing I did get at my wedding was great food. Big surprise, right? I'm stealing this from someone, but I do think what makes a good marriage is marrying someone whose annoying habits you find charming.

RHYS BOWEN : I have had a wedding in all three of my series.  If the series goes on long enough and there is a romantic interest then eventually you have to marry off the characters. Lady Georgie got married last year although enough bad things happened before the wedding that the outcome wasn't certain. But it was fun to write. As for a good marriage... I can beat Hallie by two years. I don't have a secret except be lucky enough to choose the right partner in the first place and to work at it... It also helps to be in the same page in the big things... Money, child rearing, religion. But Hallie I still find his annoying habits, annoying!

JENN McKINLAY: Lots of weddings here! All of my series have weddings. Primarily, because I start with a thirty-something character and after ten books and one or two relationships it seems to be the natural order of things. I haven’t written many books beyond the wedding in any of the series so I’ll have to see if it’s a series killer or not. Hmm...



DEBORAH CROMBIE: I've only had one wedding, Gemma and Duncan's, and it was very low key. I had a lot of worries that marrying them would be a series killer, but not so far! But, weddings as a source of conflict, that's brilliant. Somehow I've never thought of putting another wedding in one of my books. Lucy, you've given me ideas!

Oh, and I'm about to celebrate my 25th. Not too bad, considering this is marriage #2:-)

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Didn't Shakespeare end all of his comedies with weddings? It's the perfect way to wrap up of loose ends and providing a moment to reiterate theme and provide emotion and  indicate to the readers (and listeners) that the characters' lives will continue. So--all good.

I had a wedding in FACE TIME, and I have to say I adored it. (Not Charlie's of course.)  It really was one of my favorite things I've ever written, and it even makes me weepy now to think of it. My mom said she'd cried at the scene, and my editor did, too!  Pretty interesting, considering it's a murder mystery.

Interestingly and now that I think of it : in domestic suspense, it doesn't feel so natural. Hmmm. Have to multiply that over.

Gosh, we are coming up to year...22! Amazing. Awww. It really seems so recent. 

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Ross said our marriage was the best twenty years of his life...on our thirtieth anniversary. (Picture me with serious side-eye.) I guess it took me at least a decade to find his annoying habits charming, Hallie! My top priority for a good marriage (or really, any other relationship) is communication and follow-through. You have to be willing to sit down and actually talk about your feelings, expectations, issues, etc. And then both partners need to follow through with the agreed upon action. I remember vividly the point where I realized Ross was The One - it was the fact that if I said, "This is bothering me," he listened, gave his point of view, and then actually DID something about the thing that was bothering me. (Except for picking his socks up from the floor, And after fifteen years or so, that just didn't bother me anymore.)


Weddings: I've had two, described very briefly, because they were sweet add-ons to the main story, not the focus. I have seriously thought about doing a short -to- Novella length story about Clare and Russ's wedding, in part because I'd really love to see Clare's snobbish Southern Belle mother dealing with the fact the groom-to-be was a cop thirteen years older than her daughter. Plus, her mother drives Clare insane. You're so right, Lucy, that the possibility for conflicts are endless when it comes to weddings. Even if you don't throw a death in the mix, the combination of money, family, expectations and Pinterest-fueled delirium could drive a whole novel.

Lucy: Julia, we want the novella please! Hank, you are so right about suspense not lending itself to weddings...

For Red readers, do you like reading about weddings in your mysteries? 

59 comments:

  1. I always enjoy reading about weddings! There are so many story possibilities. Besides, don’t they say that everyone loves a wedding?

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    1. I have to say, I've known several cases where the guests had a much better time than the bride and groom...

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    2. That's actually kind of sad . . .

      I'd like to add my "yes, please" vote for a Clare and Russ wedding novella . . . .

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    3. We attended a wedding once, late afternoon affair, held at an expensive hotel in Southern Cal, somewhat posh. We were friends of the groom, a nice guy, easy to like, with a circle of close friends going way back. After the ceremony and reception, the bride retired to the hotel suite with a migraine and he stayed downstairs in one of the hotel's smaller rooms, shooting pool and hanging out with the friends who had flown in from the East Coast and with us, his work pals. It was a great, warm time--lots of laughs, storytelling, very fun, and genuine. But the entire time I was thinking about his bride, either alone or with her bridesmaids, or mother, or her own girlfriends, on her wedding night. I have chronic migraines, so I understand not being able to join in even the most appealing gathering sometimes...but on our wedding night I would have hoped my new husband would have excused himself and kept me company. (A quick Google search tells me they were still married 2006, and I have no indication that they aren't still going strong, so there you go.)

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  2. I love a wedding! When it is intrinsic to the story. Please don't marry off two characters, though, just because your editor suggested it was a good way to up your sales, or because you can't think of anything else to do with your characters--know what I mean? I've read a few of those. A wedding ought to happen because it fits where the characters are at (I'm looking at you, Gemma and Duncan and Clare and Russ)! Can't wait to see what fireworks buzz through Haley's wedding when it finally occurs!

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  3. That's good advice Flora, though I have never had an editor tell me someone needed to get married. Seems more likely a writer might be told not to marry someone off--just as a bad! Debs' characters get into plenty of trouble married--I think it's a great direction for this series

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    1. I've had an editor suggest knocking off a character or two. No weddings, though.

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  4. Of course I love a wedding! But in a series I don't think it should come too soon since we love the anticipation. But don't make us wait for it forever, either. Seems like all the Reds' books I have read with weddings they have come at just the right time!

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  5. Generally, I"m somewhat nervous about wedding scenes in book. It's great when two characters I love together get married off, but I'm always afraid the weddings will be sappy. I had nothing to fear with Reds' characters weddings -- they've all gone off swimmingly, and I remember crying a little when Margaret Maron's Deborah Knott married Dwight -- and that was one I was afraid would be too sappy, too. I guess I need to trust my favorite authors more! (Also, nothing wrong with some sappiness, but there are some weddings scenes that are way over done, IMHO.)

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    1. that's a very great compliment that you cried at Margaret Maron's wedding!

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  6. Oddly enough, the first thing this made me thing about was the marriage of Lynley and Helen in the Elizabeth George series. And we all know how that worked out. When it went south, so did the series, in my opinion.

    I rarely care whether characters get married or not. So please don't write in a wedding on my account!

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  7. Yes, in FaceTime, it’s not Charlie who gets married, and the theme of the wedding, (or the possible wedding,) has an effect on what happens in the rest of the story, and actually adds to the conflict, and to a mending of fences in the end. So the wedding becomes sort of a theme in that it indicates more than just the bride and groom celebrating a commitment. Or at least… That’s what I meant it to do!
    And I agree, in the Charlie series, for instance, every book takes place for months later, so getting married to you soon would mean a new relationship had progressed pretty quickly!

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    1. that's perfect Hank, that it ripples through other characters. The least attractive part about real weddings happens when one of the pair (usually the bride) begins to feel that her opinions and feelings are the only ones that matter in world. I bet we all have stories...

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    2. Lucy - or the weddings where the mother/ mother-in-law wants to run the show.

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  8. My short story "The Bride Wore Gold" takes place in New Orleans, full of great food and music. And conniving sorority sisters. Julia, I always think of Clare floating down the aisle when I hear the Christmas carol, "Tomorrow Shall be my Dancing Day." Lovely image. Gearing up for my daughter's upcoming beach wedding.

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    1. Hope she has a beautiful day and happy days after that!

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    2. Good luck with the planning, Margaret!

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  10. Yes to weddings being part of the story but not the whole story, but as meaningful and logical next steps for the character. That said, I’ll make an exception for Russ and Clare’s!! . Julia: I’ll pre-order that novella!!

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    1. Yes Julia! you see, we are dying to read this...

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    2. Let me see how I do on getting a good start on Book Number 10! I'd like to turn it in within a year and blow my editor's mind.

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    3. Thanks Lucy, not sure what the secret is but we do like each other and he has always had my back, sometimes through strange ventures.
      Julia, don’t be a cheap date! You know you’re welcome anytime. I think the novella would be a great way to get back in the saddle, and you would get the urge or surge into book 10.

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  11. Timing is everything, right? I guess we all love a wedding when it's perfectly timed in the story line and the character arc of a series. As a reader I'm also a little nervous about what the series will morph into going forward.

    I fortunate enough to hear Sue Grafton speak when her book "X" came first out. Someone in the audience asked why she hadn't married off Kinsey and Deitz. Her response was along the lines of how she just couldn't picture Kinsey stopping at a phone booth in the middle of tracking a suspect to call Deitz and ask what he wanted for dinner. "Pork chops, okay hon?"

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    1. That's a great story! But Debs's Duncan seems to do a lot of the cooking, doesn't he? And those two certainly keep on investigating--even with kids. To me that would be even harder...

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  12. Loove reading about weddings, or seeing them in a series on tv, though not in soaps. A shout out to Hallie, a very Happy Golden wedding anniversary; victor and I achieve 50 years in 18 days. What a journey, it’s a shame that m not a writer. Loved Clare and Russ wedding, but wanted more. So Julia, how can I bribe you and with what to get that novella written?

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    1. yes, a bribe for Julia! we'll all chip in.

      congrats to you Celia, 50 years is remarkable. I had a therapist who once wisely reminded me that if you think about a long marriage as a series of phases or mini-marriages, it makes more sense and is less overwhelming.

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    2. I can be easily bought with one of your dinners, Celia.

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  13. I have not yet written a wedding, but yes, I can see they would be great cauldrons of conflict - no matter who is getting married, main character or other.

    Coming up on year 22 myself.

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  14. I do like reading about weddings and now I really want Julia to write that novella!

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  15. I want to taste Haley’s wedding cake

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    1. The BEST thing about modern weddings is that brides are ordering GOOD cake. I remember the many, many weddings I went to/took part in back in the eighties - the cake was always uninspired, sturdy and relatively tasteless; something to hold up the icing and decorations. But the weddings I've been to in the last ten years - all children of friends - have had great cakes, created to taste good, not jut to look pretty.

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    2. I agree, Julia! This is one trend I've loved--delicious wedding cakes where you actually hope you get a piece to take home!

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  16. I enjoy wedding in my mysteries, but how big they are and how much of the book they take up depends on how invested I am in the characters. Some characters need a low key wedding in a mystery, and others can slow things down since I have been waiting for this moment for books.

    Of course, if the wedding is the backdrop to the murder with motives and suspects at the event, then that changes everything.

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    1. Smart comments Mark! we would not want a big wedding production stuck in the middle of the story if it didn't make sense for pacing etc. Since we write crime fiction, not romance (except for Jenn), the ideas of weddings getting interrupted by mayhem is usually part of the plot...

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  17. You have to excuse me if I'm sniffling over my keyboard--I reread Gemma and Duncan's wedding scene in Necessary as Blood. I'd forgotten how much I liked it. It's so sweet, and I wouldn't have had it any other way. But it is only a part of that story, and I like that, too.

    And, Julia, yes, I want to read that novella, or long short story. You could do that as a digital offering, part of the promotion for Hid From Our Eyes. People would snap it up, and then buy the book!

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  18. Julia, my daughter married a guy 13 years older, but he's from the South, and so was her first husband, too (only close to her own age). I have to say, we really like the older guy, who is almost as mature as she is! Their wedding, which took place on the hill at the back of their property, overlooking the beautiful Virginia mountains, took a whopping ten minutes. As opposed to the first one, which was a big, floofy white dress disaster. I much prefer the second one, to be honest.

    I do enjoy weddings in books. No gift necessary!

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    1. Sounds wonderful, Karen! I always think of what Miss Manners wrote about 1st and 2nd weddings: "People cry at first weddings. They smile at second weddings; a smile being infinitely more complicated."

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    2. We laughed, a lot. My other two daughters couldn't make it to the wedding, so one was FaceTiming on an iPhone, and the other was Skyping. My oldest daughter, from her home in Michigan, was sobbing so loudly that the minister asked that "the sister who is crying, please just stop a minute".

      And then there was the wedding avocado. My new stepgranddaughter's best friend brought an avocado as a gift. We are still cracking up over that, two years later.

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  19. I've read almost all of your weddings, and Clare & Russ and Gemma & Duncan stand out for me; I guess I prefer a more low key event. I recently read JK Rowling/Robert Galbraith's CB Strike series, and thought she incorporated the wedding planning and event organically and realistically, but even more well done was the aftermath of that plotline. Congrats, ladies, on all your long and successful marriages, and for those of us who have lost our spouses, may the memories be a comfort!

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  20. I am ordering one wedding novella from Julia! We too are about to celebrate our Golden. We’re going to the Bay Area for a week. Where we lived when we were first married. Grandchildren have been an incredible boost to our happiness.

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    1. Congratulations, Denise Ann! I hope your week is wonderful, and full of the best memories.

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    2. Congratulations to you and your spouse Denise, have a great trip. We are also celebrating our 50th, but no big trips but a new sleep number bed, king size and a huge awning for our deck which looks onto the lake.

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  21. Lucy, no spoilers please because I want to read your book. I love weddings in novels when the characters are right for each other. When I read a novel where two characters in a relationship, IMHO, are NOT a good match, though this rarely happens.

    The characters have to be likable.

    Diana

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  22. I like weddings in books if I've been following the developing relationship for years and I'm at the point of do something for pitys sake! I love the changes in attitudes, the anticipation, all of it. I don't really care that much about wedding details; the fewer, the better. I just want to soak in the atmosphere. I have a feeling Clare and Russ's wedding had a lot of uninvited input from a lot of people. Frank and I will be coming up on 47 years of marriage in August; we met 5 years earlier but weren't together that whole time.

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  23. Possible spoiler alert: Don't read my comments if you haven't read Lucy's A Deadly Feast yet.

    Let me just add that I've enjoyed any and all weddings in the Reds' books, and the most recent one in Lucy's A Deadly Feast with Hallie and Nathan was outstanding. I especially enjoy the food in Lucy's weddings, and add to this one all the friends and family, I was completely happy.

    Oh, Julia, please do give us a novella about Clare's and Russ' wedding! Please!

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    1. oh thank you Kathy, you're such a good friend to Hayley!

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  24. Love weddings in mysteries. I thought a recent wedding in a book (no spoiler here) might not happen. Glad it did.

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  25. Perhaps because I'm the least romantic person you will ever meet, I find that having a wedding in a book is just another scene to be set. Scenes describing grocery shopping, a night at the bar or a wedding ceremony all hold the same amount of interest for me. Does it serve to be part of the story? Yes? Then fine. I read it and move on to solving the "Who provided the dead body?" question.

    In a long running series, it makes sense to marry characters off after the long term relationship begins to feel artificially extended.

    Not surprisingly, I'm not married. Of course, since I never wanted that anyway, this is such a good thing!

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    1. You're funny Jay! I would have expected nothing different in your answer:)

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  26. I enjoy weddings in mysteries. There are several series that involve wedding or events planners or caterers that deal with murders at weddings. Most of them are very funny, also.

    I dropped the Elizabeth George series because Lynley and Helen went through so much to get married and have a child. I went through it with them so I was done with the whole thing!

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  27. I like weddings in mysteries as long as they fit into the storyline.

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