Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Rhys Revisits New York

 RHYS BOWEN:  Today's post has a New York theme!. 

Before I show you what I’m writing I have had some amazing things happen to me recently. But the most amazing thing is happening right now. THE VENICE SKETCHBOOK  is on a billboard in Times Square. Can you believe it? When I was a teenager I dreamed of being an actress and would have loved my name in lights on Broadway. Well… finally! Who’d have thought it?



Anyway, now back to reality and work. I am currently busy writing my second Molly Murphy book with my daughter Clare. She came to stay for a couple of weeks and then we spent a week together in San Diego while we plotted and now we’re about 100 pages into the story. Clare’s a little worried because nobody has died yet, but I tell her that I’ve written several books in which nobody dies in the first hundred pages. Other dramatic things happen, and we’re leading up to a big murder scene, so all is well.

I thought I’d share a little about how the book begins. Poor Molly--just when she seems settled and all is going well, I do like to throw that curveball at her!  Here is a snippet from the start of the book. Daniel takes Molly out for a walk and springs a big surprise on her (not going to tell you what it is), then this follows:

We walked down the right side of the street on the wide sidewalk past the 5th Avenue brownstones. On the other side of Ninth Street Daniel stopped at an impressive flight of marble steps with a wrought iron railing leading up to a white door framed with a decorated arch.

“Let’s pay a call, shall we?” Daniel lifted Liam out of the pram and into my arms then climbed the steps and rang the bell.

“Wait, Daniel,” I called after him. “Who are we visiting? You should have warned me. I’m not suitably dressed. A stroll, you said.”

Daniel looked back and smiled. “You look fine,” he said. “Don’t worry.

“I came up with steps to stand  beside him and stood rather nervously on the stoop. Really, I like a surprise but this was going too far. Was Sheriff that high a position that Daniel would now know people who lived in 5th Avenue houses like this?  Had we been invited to tea and here was I in my usual two piece costume and not a tea dress. It had probably never occurred to Daniel that women like to know in advance what to wear for every occasion. Honestly, men can be infuriating. But it was too late to turn back now.

The door was answered by a maid who didn’t show any surprise at seeing us. “You must be Captain and Mrs. Sullivan,” she said, giving us a shy smile as she dropped a curtsey. “You are expected, please come in. I’m Mary.” We walked into the front hall and Daniel took off his hat and hung it on the hat stand, then helped me off with my cloak and hung it up as well. The marble floor echoed as I set Liam down and he stomped his foot experimentally and headed toward the staircase in front of us.

“Shh. Liam come here.” I hurriedly took his coat off as well and lifted him up again. The maid waited and then indicated we should follow her through a curtained doorway. “The parlor is through here, sir.”

I walked in with a bright smile on my face expecting to be introduced to the man or lady of the house, but the parlor was empty. A fire burned in the marble fireplace. A table in the center of the room under the electric chandelier held a priceless looking vase and ornate shelves just across from me were full of decorative plates, cups and figurines. I instinctively clutched Liam a little tighter, making sure his hands were safely out of the way and decided that putting him down here was not a good idea.

“The family drawing room is back here, sir.” She led us through another silk curtained doorway and into a comfortable looking drawing room. The room was crowded with delicate embroidered sofas and chairs and carved mahogany tables in many sizes. There was a beautiful Persian rug on the floor and a large tapestry on the far wall. But still no people. My mind spun. Had Daniel brought me to a murder scene? Hardly an outing to bring your son along to. Were the owners of the house very shy?

“The dining room is at the back of the house and bedrooms are upstairs, sir if you will follow me.” Mary continued after a pause as we looked around the empty drawing room. The bedrooms?

“Daniel,” I turned to him in exasperation. “Why are we seeing the bedrooms? Is the owner an invalid?’

“No,” he replied, already heading toward the stairs.

“Daniel!” I called after him. “What is going on? Whose house is this.”

He turned to me with a big smile. “Yours.” He put his arms around both Liam and me. “Ours. Welcome home, Mrs. Sullivan!”

RHYS: How have they managed to move into this big and beautiful house? Has Daniel become a crooked cop? Is he taking bribes?  You'll have to read the book to find out. Our working title is   ALL THAT IS HIDDEN.

So, dear Reds and readers, would you be thrilled if your husband suddenly sprang a lovely new house on you?

51 comments:

  1. Wow! How exciting, Rhys . . . . did you know in advance that they were planning to put your book up on the billboard or was it a surprise?

    My goodness, what a lovely surprise for Molly. I can’t wait to read the rest of the story . . . .

    Would I be thrilled if John suddenly sprang a lovely new house on me? Yes, I believe I would be [but I hope he’d also get someone to do all that packing and moving :) ]

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    1. I did not know until they sent me the pictures yesterday. Total surprise--but one of the good variety. A new house? Not so much.

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  2. Yes I would be surprised if anyone sprang a new house on me.

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  3. Wonderful. But why is it furnished with someone else's tea things and tapestry? So many questions. And the billboard - wow!

    I would NOT be thrilled by that kind of surprise. Not one bit. A new house is a huge decision, and I would want to be part of it. That said, there isn't a snowflake's chance in Phoenix that he would, LOL, so I'm safe!

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    1. Now that I think about it, in my fifth Quaker Midwife Mystery, Rose's husband-to-be presented her with a house he'd had built for them. But the furnishings were up to her, and he'd included an office with a separate entrance for her midwifery business. Those things helped!

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  4. Rhys, that enormous sign in the middle of NYC is fabulous. How exciting! Well deserved! Yippee!

    Daniel does things like that to Molly. He is infuriating. Having read all the Molly Murphy books thus far, I am pretty sure Molly won't just think, "Oh, what a nice surprise." I can't imagine being presented with a fully furnished grand house by my husband. He has difficulty choosing a sweater for me.

    Back to Molly, I can hardly wait to read the new books you and Clare are writing together. What a joy!

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    1. You're right. She won't be too thrilled--especially when she finds out the reason.
      And it is a joy to write with her.

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  5. Well, since I'm not married to anyone much less a guy, I think I would be highly surprised if suddenly a husband of mine sprang a new house on me. But it would probably be less of a surprise about the house than the fact that I was married, an act of insanity I hope to never be encumbered by.

    *Said with a smile for all those that do enjoy the married life.*

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  6. I’m very happy for you to have your book on a NYC billboard !
    Even if I was married, I’m not a big fan of surprises of any kind.
    For me the surrounding of a home is as important as the building itself. I don’t think that Molly will appreciate the place.

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  7. A billboard on Times Square! oh my better than all the tea in China. Congratulations. Before I answer your question, I have one for you Rhys. I have always wondered how co authors do the work. Who writes down the words? Who does the research? Things like that. I am thrilled that Molly is telling us more stories.
    Now then. My beloved Ed did get a house for me sight unseen. I was in Seattle, he in Okinawa. He was so very nervous about his choices, and so very proud of what he had found. We were four months into our marriage. I would have loved it even if the plumbing was an outhouse.
    Cut to the 21st Century. If a beloved pulled this stunt, the person would be living alone.

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    1. Clare has been doing the research this time. We talk through plot and then take the scene we'd like to write. Then the other edits and we move forward. It works well for us and in the end it's hard to remember who wrote what.

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  8. Rhys, the billboard is just too cool!

    Yes, I'd be very surprised if The Hubby sprung a new house on me.

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  9. Whoo hoo! The billboard looks GREAT! Congratulations, Rhys.

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  10. Great billboard! But where is the closest bookstore? I hope tourists see the sign and scurry to buy the book.

    Yes, our move from Atlanta to Cincinnati was complicated and I deputized my husband to buy a house in our first choice neighborhood. It all worked out...the small backyard won over potential drainage issues at other houses. I knew I could fix the ugly kitchen and I did.

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  11. Omigosh, you have to be so excited about the building sized, lit-up (and flashing?) billboard! That is one of the coolest things ever!

    Love the snippet from the new book. It remains to be seen whether Daniel is in trouble or not. Steve would never, not in a million years, buy a house without me. However, I put an offer on a house while he was away on lecture tour once. Our original offer was rejected, but a few months later we together offered a third lower and ended up living there for 34 years, so I think he was okay with my choice.

    We are back from Kenya, after a grueling 37-hour journey, and so little sleep. Our 9+-hour flight from Paris included a screaming-at-the-top-of-her-lungs baby two rows behind us. The entire time. And that was after hours of screaming in the airport waiting area beforehand. I suspect an ear infection, and as worn out as we are, her poor parents must be ready for the loony bin.

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    1. Glad you are safely back! I now (or used to) bring my silicone earplugs on flights for exactly that reason.

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    2. Karen, so glad you are back safe and sound. Get some rest and then tell all!! Sorry for the baby and everyone around her. How dreadful!

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    4. Welcome home--having endured the screaming baby. I can never understand why parents don't come prepared--a bottle, a pacifier or a boob! We look forward to hearing more of your exploits when you recover.

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    5. Welcome back Karen. There are very few times that I am relieved that I am deaf. Continuous crying infants = one of them. sorry for y'all. Eagerly waiting to hear about the visit.

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    6. So glad you are home safely, Karen. Do you have to quarantine now? And sympathies on the baby. It is so hard for the parents, too, and sometimes there is nothing they can do.

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    7. Oh, Karen, of all the things you DID worry about--not that! Ahhhh...so relentless. ANd you are such a dear...yes, those parents. Ah. Welcome home, and cannot wait to hear about it.

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    8. Debs, no, because Kenya not only requires a current negative COVID test to enter the country, they also require one to leave the country! So we took one the day before we left, and then had to upload the results into an Africa-wide travel system. It was remarkable.

      Everywhere we went every single person was masked, by law, and there is a 10 PM curfew still. Restaurants have installed handwashing sinks or sanitizing areas at the door, and we were met with thermometers even to enter the shopping mall. We were politely asked to please restore our mask properly if we forget. It was so different from here. They want vaccines badly, but can't get them.

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  12. Oh heavens no! This was a major plot point in the book The Dutch House, and our book club had a field day with discussing this point. For the people I know, a house is a major investment and a major lifestyle choice. It is a decision to be made deliberatively and collaboratively, taking time to consider all the ramifications. It is NOT one to be made unilaterally!

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    1. Susan, liked the Dutch House a lot and completely agree - cannot imagine a man who would think this is a good idea. Not enemy own husband, who does have a lot of faith in his good judgment! Back in Molly's day? Maybe.

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  13. First, I send you Rhys, the biggest congratulations that Amazon can deliver. My guess is Amazon expects the punters to pull out phones and order in sight (site?). As for the house purchase. This is the joy of fiction, the more unlikely the better. I need to clarify to say that I have chosen our two house purchases. We don’t plan to Move again.

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  14. Rhys, yes, that billboard is the coolest thing ever!!! AND WELL DESERVED!!!

    About the house, it will be interesting to see Molly's reaction--and if Daniel survives it. For myself, have you ever seen a house that you loved at first sight? You love the setting or the neighborhood, the architectural details, etc. If my husband surprised me with something like that, I'd probably think he's a keeper :-)

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  15. Yay, Rhys! I will go say hello to the billboard next time I am in midtown.

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  16. I'm so suspicious, my mind immediately went to, "Daniel's on the take!" But that seems woefully out of character. I shall hope for a rich uncle Sullivan who passed peacefully at the age of 101 and left everything to his nephew.

    And Molly, definitely don't worry about when the murder occurs. I set almost all mine later in the book - once the murder didn't occur until p 230-something! Readers don't seem to mind.

    And finally - holy cow. Times Square billboard. I feel like I know a STAR right now. Try not to go all Hollywood on us! ;-)

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    1. Whoops, my bad - a billboard outside Penn Station (which makes a lot more sense really - all those people going back to their offices and traveling are looking for something good to read!)

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    2. I gather it is one end of Times Square. I wasn't quite sure of exact location. Either way it's good!

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  17. Susan, liked the Dutch House a lot and completely agree - cannot imagine a man who would think this is a good idea. Not enemy own husband, who does have a lot of faith in his good judgment! Back in Molly's day? Maybe.

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  18. RHYS,

    Great introduction to the next Molly Murphy mystery. When no one was there, I suspected that Daniel decided to surprise Molly with a new house. I think he bought the house without asking Molly first. I remember that Daniel was never comfortable with some of the neighbors, who were kind people though. He was not comfortable with how they live their lives, right? I can guess where Daniel got the money. I think a wealthy relative gave Daniel some money. I seem to remember that Daniel's mother is wealthy with a big house and servants.

    If someone surprised me with a lovely new house, I may or may not like it. That would depend on several things: if the lovely house is in Smog Valley, then no thank you. My grandfather had a beautiful Spanish hacienda style house above Sunset Blvd. and as lovely as it was, the city was besieged by Bad Air and Smog. If the lovely house was in a village /town /city where the air is clean like the English Cotswolds village, then yes.

    Look forward to reading the next Molly Murphy novel.

    Diana

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    1. I'm with you on the Cotswolds. Louise Penny and I discussed buying a cottage together in the Cotswolds last time we met in London. Wouldn't that be fun?

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    2. Only if you and Louise let me come and stay, Rhys! :-)

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    3. What fun that would be!

      Diana

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  19. That billboard is so cool! I just read the Venice Sketchbook last week. I really liked it! As for a house. . . Frank rented a house in El Paso while I was in New Orleans years ago. I was fine with that. We needed a place to move into. But buying a house? No way. Our tastes are not in sync anymore and what he may love I may dislike. If he pulled that stunt like Daniel he'd be living in it by himself!

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  20. Congrats on the Billboard!

    I'd love to have a large new house with a staff sprung on me. Hint, hint, universe. However, since I live alone, I suspect that I'll have to do this for myself.

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  21. Rhys, the billboard is SO FAB!!! You are a star!!!

    And I loved the scene. I knew what was happening right away, as Duncan does something similar to Gemma with their house in Notting Hill. But it's only a lease, and she did have the choice to turn it down. I can't wait to see how Daniel has managed this, and how furious Molly is going to be!!!

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  22. Wow! A Times Square billboard. Congratulations, Rhys. (Aside, a long way from billboard that puffs smoke rings! Totally mesmerized by that as a child.)
    Would absolutely want a husband who would buy and decorate a house! One of Carola Dunn’s Daisy Dalrymple mysteries begins with Daisy touring and planning to decorate a house Alec inherited from an uncle. The house came into both their lives sight unseen.
    Very glad that Molly and Daniel are back!

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  23. This is SUCH a great scene! And a total Master Class in point of view.
    And your name in lights on Broadway? I have to say..I am not surprised. xoxooo Standing ovation!

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  24. And you know, if Jonathan bought a house for me? I bet it would be fabulous. He wouldn't, though. ANd that's the interesting part. But Molly's was such a different time in the world!

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  25. Rhys, I can only imagine how thrilling it is to have your book up in Times Square as a bright, beautiful billboard. That is just the most amazing thing. I am loving the new Molly. You and Clare definitely have me hooked with that excerpt. I'm looking forward to Molly's reaction to Daniel having bought the house without telling her first. And, I so hope that this move doesn't mean Sid and Gus are being phased out of her life (possibly a hope that Daniel harbors). Thinking about how Daniel is able to afford the new house, I was remembering a relative (sister, aunt?) whom Daniel's mother was visiting in one of the books. Maybe that relative died and left Daniel a bundle? I'm not sure his mother could have managed to give him the money. I'm thinking she would need her money to live on.

    I don't have to worry about my husband springing such a surprise on me. I've found the two houses we've lived in. He's most content to stay where we are the rest of our lives. However, my father did do that to my mother. First, you need to know that he was a real estate broker, so he was aware of the houses coming on the market or auctions. A larger house in our neighborhood was up for auction, and he bought it without consulting my mother. It was interesting (not sure that's the word I want, maybe ironic) that he bought the larger house after my mother raised four kids in a small house. I was fifteen when we moved, and my older siblings had left the nest. I suppose my mother did enjoy picking out carpet and appliances and paint and wallpaper and so on to redo the new house, but it must have been a shock, too.

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    1. Apparently my great grandmother would change houses on a whim (they rented not owned) and send the children to the station to meet my great grandfather and lead him to the new house!

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    2. Oh, Rhys, that's too funny . . . and the children shall show the way (home).
      The sad opposite of that would be when one of our jr. high students got home from school to discover the family and mobile home had left and left him behind. Yes, teens can be difficult, but no one deserved that. I heard of this long after the fact, but knowing our faculty, I'm sure they worked hard to get him the help he'd need and he likely ended up better off without them.

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  26. Hurrah for your name (and book cover) in lights! Big time, and may it inspire many new readers!
    A surprise house . . . sounds thrilling, but any such major step really should be a collaborative decision. This will be fun to read. ;-) Kathy, a friend bought a larger house when ALL her children were grown and married. She said it was to have room for them to come stay at holidays, with spouses and children. She may also have been inspired by her SIL's new, bigger house.

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  27. AMAZING, Rhys!!! I love seeing you up in lights in NYC!!! Also, I'm late to killing people in my books, too. No worries. Can't wait for the return of Molly Murphy! Woo hoo!

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  28. The billboard (or whatever the proper term is) is outstanding! Your publisher knows how to get our attention. That is who did it, isn't it?

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    1. Yes. It’s Lake Union. An Amazon company. They are amazing

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