Welcome the delightful V. M. Burns to ePen.
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The Novel Art of Murder by V. M. Burns
3rd in Series
Kensington (November 27, 2018)
It’s a Fine Line Between Fact and Fiction, by V. M. Burns
When I first started writing mysteries, I was under the mistaken idea that writing fiction meant the book is imaginary. Isn’t that why they call it fiction? It’s fake. As a writer, I assumed this meant I had a license to write whatever I wanted without regard to the facts or reality. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about writing a story where palm trees grow in northern Michigan. However, surely since it’s fiction, I could create my own untraceable poisons. In fact, I held on to that belief until I began working on my Master of Fine Arts degree in Writing Popular Fiction at Seton Hill University. I even remember the moment when I learned the truth. I was in a class where we were critiquing a science fiction story. One of the critiquers mentioned the writer needed to double-check some of their facts. I’ll be honest, a lot of the discussion went over my head. I recall a long discussion about space and travelling at light speed and that’s when I awoke from my stupor. I recalled enough from my high school physics to realize we can’t travel at the speed of light. So, in my opinion, what difference did any of this matter? Boy was I wrong. I learned that science fiction fans care a great deal about the facts. They are a passionate group, and even though the type of space travel mentioned in books and movies isn’t possible (no warp speed yet), the expectation is that authors need to do their due diligence and get the facts straight. Over the course of my studies, I learned science fiction fans aren’t the only readers passionate about getting the facts straight. Readers of all genres of fiction care a great deal about the facts in their fiction. Don’t believe me, Google the rules of Quidditch.
Mystery readers are also passionate about the facts. When it was my turn to get critiqued, one of the readers complained North Harbor, Michigan, the town in my book, The Plot Is Murder, isn’t real. This was one of the reader’s pet peeves and she suggested I look online and verify my facts. When it was my turn to respond, I explained that I deliberately picked a fictional name for the town. In fact, I searched hard to make sure there wasn’t a real town in Michigan by that name. Although people familiar with Southwestern Michigan have been able to guess the real town the books are based on, I didn’t want any negative reactions. I do write murder mysteries after all. Suppose tourism dropped off because people feared getting murdered in the town from my books? I would be cautious about taking a vacation in Cabot Cove, Maine. Given all the murders in that small town, it’s actually considered one of the most violent places on the globe (yep, someone actually did the math). Cabot Cove is a fictional town, but you get my point.
Despite the fact that cozy mysteries are fiction, readers expect authors to take the time to do the research and get their facts straight. If a mystery author mentions an untraceable poison, chances are it’s real. So, don’t panic if you hear your favorite mystery author is on a government watchlist. Chances are, they’ve been researching their next book.
Mystery bookstore owner Samantha Washington is trying to keep her grandmother from spending her golden years in an orange jumpsuit . . .
The small town of North Harbor, Michigan, is just not big enough for the two of them: flamboyant phony Maria Romanov and feisty Nana Jo. The insufferable Maria claims she’s descended from Russian royalty and even had a fling with King Edward VIII back in the day. She’s not just a lousy liar, she’s a bad actress, so when she nabs the lead in the Shady Acres Senior Follies—a part Nana Jo plays every year in their retirement village production—Nana Jo blows a gasket and reads her the riot act in front of everyone.
Of course, when Maria is silenced with a bullet to the head, Nana Jo lands the leading role on the suspects list. Sam’s been writing her newest mystery, set in England between the wars, with her intrepid heroine Lady Daphne drawn into murder and scandal in the household of Winston Churchill. But now she has to prove that Nana Jo’s been framed. With help from her grandmother’s posse of rambunctious retirees, Sam shines a spotlight on Maria’s secrets, hoping to draw the real killer out of the shadow.
V.M. Burns was born in Northwestern Indiana and spent many years in Southwestern Michigan on the Lake Michigan shoreline. She is a lover of dogs, British historic cozies, and scones with clotted cream. After many years in the Midwest, she went in search of milder winters and currently lives in Eastern Tennessee with her poodles. Her debut novel, The Plot is Murder was nominated for a 2017 Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Valerie is a member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and a lifetime member of Sisters in Crime. Readers can learn more by visiting her website at vmburns.com.
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