Thursday, April 30, 2015

What We're Writing Week @LucyBurdette

John on duty during the parade
LUCY BURDETTE: You wouldn't believe the things I do in the name of research. Last fall, we arrived in Key West earlier than usual--October--so I could observe the wildest festival of the year--Fantasy Fest. Even after the week was over, I couldn't pretend to understand the grand appeal of walking up and down Duval Street basically naked except for creative body paint. But hey, it makes for a fabulous backdrop--though sorting through what can go into a cozy mystery from this week of events was a bit challenging. 

But John and I promptly signed up to train as Fantasy Fest parade ambassadors, and I ordered tutus in several colors (the men got camo tutus, including Tonka,) and made appointments for face-painting for the Zombie bike ride.

So that's the book I'm writing now! Without further ado, here's the opening for KILLER TAKEOUT, coming to bookshelves next April:



Resident islanders couldn’t remember a hotter Key West summer. Not only hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk, they agreed, but hot enough to crisp bacon, too. So far, the advent of fall was bringing no relief. Today’s temperature registered 93° and climbing--fierce-hot for October, with the humidity dense like steam from my grandmother’s kettle. And the local news anchor promised it would get hotter as the week continued, along with the party on Duval Street.

Me? I'd rather eat canned sardines from China then march down Key West’s Duval Street wearing not much more than body paint. But 100,000 out-of-town revelers didn’t agree. They were arriving on the island this week to do just that—or watch it happen—during Fantasy Fest, the celebration taking place during the ten days leading up to Halloween, including a slew of adult-themed costume parties culminating in a massive and rowdy parade.

Worse of all, the Weather Channel was tracking the path of a tropical storm in the Eastern Caribbean. They had already begun to mutter semi-hysterical recommendations: Visitors should prepare to head up the Keys to the mainland and take refuge in a safer area. But based on the crowds I’d seen, no one was listening. These hordes weren’t leaving until the event was over. Besides, with a four-hour drive to Miami on a good traffic day, getting all those people out would be like trying to squeeze ketchup back into a bottle. Might as well party.

Since no right-minded local resident would attempt to get near a restaurant this week, I had fewer food critic duties at my workplace, the style magazine, Key Zest. I was looking forward to covering some of the tamer Fantasy Fest events for the magazine, including the Zombie bike ride, the locals’ parade, and a pet masquerade contest. And since restaurants are my beat, I’d promised my bosses an article on reliable takeout food too. If that didn’t keep me busy enough, my own mother, Janet Snow, and Sam, her fiance, were arriving for the week to visit with my dear friend Connie’s new baby, and then get themselves hitched on the beach.

In a weak moment, I’d allowed Miss Gloria, my geriatric houseboat-mate, to talk me into being trained as a Fantasy Fest parade ambassador. Our job would be to help patrol the sidewalks, which would be lined with costumed and tipsy revelers scrambling for the colored glass bead necklaces thrown off the floats.

“If we aren’t going to go to the foam party, or the Adam and Eve bash, or the Tighty Whitey party, we should at least attend the parade,” Miss Gloria said.

I closed my eyes to ward off the image of my elderly friend at any of those events.

“And if we’re working as ambassadors, we’ll be stationed inside the crowd control barricades. We’ll have the best seat in the house. Get it? Seat.” She broke into helpless giggles.

            At the time, the idea seemed palatable. Barely.

Meanwhile, FATAL RESERVATIONS will be here July 7, but I'd be so thrilled if you'd order it now!


  1. Oh, Lucy, I am chuckling at the whole Fantasy Fest hoopla; creative body paint and not much else doesn't seem too appealing to me but I loved the wonderful sneak peek at Hayley's new adventure. Only now it's going to be tough to wait until next April for the rest of the story.
    It's a good thing there's a book in July that I can look forward to reading.

  2. thanks Joan! the whole thing was a hoot, though we're not convinced we have to go every year:)

  3. I think your research is more fun than anybody's, Roberta! What a hoot. As I am a big fan of costume parties, I think I should head down there one of these Octobers.

  4. you should Edith, just brace yourself! (Actually, my favorite Key West costume party so far is the wiener dog parade on New Year's Eve:)

  5. Love Hayley's voice -- I am so ready for this book but will be patient until I can read it on a hot day on Cape Cod (78 degrees?) in July.

  6. Thanks so much Denise! Will it ever get hot in New England??

    Kaye, I know:). But you can get anything your heart desires now on Etsy!

  7. What a fun and fascinating opening. I'm hooked. (But if I may be allowed a minor nit-pick, I hate when I stop cold while reading a narrative because of a "like" that should be an "as.")

  8. A Zombie bike ride. That must be hilarious.

  9. Lucy, I somehow managed to miss Fantasy Fest when my daughter lived there, but I had wanted to experience it. I'm not so sure now, as the crowds would interfere with my chill and relax atmosphere I love about Key West. However, my first visit to Key West was unintentionally planned during Poker Run and the roar of hundreds of motorcycles.

    Thanks for the great excerpt, Lucy. I just love Miss Gloria, and I can't wait to see how she navigates the wildness of Fantasy Fest. The Zombie bike ride should be most interesting. Oh, and Haley's mom is going to marry Sam on the beach. Yay!

    So happy that I have a nearer book to look forward to in July. I think I've pre-ordered it, but I'll double check that.

  10. Can't wait to see how this plays into the mystery.

  11. YOu know what? This is so terrific. YOu are so adept at the portraying setting, character, and conflict--so quickly, and with such a great and in-tune voice. ANd I love how you use food's so natural and adds so much in such a subtle way.

    Love this. And the FR cover. Gorgeous.

    ANd see you soon!!

  12. Oh, Lucy, I just want to be in your books... Which is why I'll be reading Fatal Reservations as soon as I can get my hands on it:-) and then waiting eagerly for the next one. And two books in less than a year? Fabulous!!!!!

  13. Oh my god! The names of the parties Miss Gloria wants to go to are hilarious. Do they exist?

  14. “If we aren’t going to go to the foam party, or the Adam and Eve bash, or the Tighty Whitey party, we should at least attend the parade,” Miss Gloria said. "

    I'd like more information about those parties; on the other hand, perhaps I'm better off not knowing!

  15. Okay, I am the D who just posted. Somehow my hand slipped off the key before I finished my name!

    Deb Romano

  16. Lucy, whenever I read about what you and John get up to in Key West, I kick myself for setting my books in the back end of upstate New York. Fortunately, reading Haley's adventures is like taking a quick trip down south...

    I see there's a serving fork sticking out of the card table on the cover. A hint as to the murder weapon?

  17. Roberta! Fantasy Fest is great backdrop! Truly perfect!

  18. I cant wait to read this one!! Always a blast, but I think this one may be even more hilarious!!

  19. thank you everyone for the kind comments. I tried to post from the road, but the blog did not recognize me!

    Pat and Deb R, these parties do exist, but I can assure you that Miss Gloria and Hayley are not going--me either LOL