READ DIANE'S 5* REVIEW:
Fans of the Pat Tierney Mystery series will enjoy this new novel as we reconnect with Pat. New family turmoil arises. Life as a single mother raising three children can’t be easy, but now Pat gets embroiled in another murder case. An elderly woman’s body is discovered in a storage locker, wrapped in a rug. Pat’s newspaper editor friend, Bruce, immediately becomes suspect number one since the woman was his mother.
Pat can’t let Bruce take the fall for the murder. He’s just getting his life back on track after the death of his father, and she knows the police won’t track down the killer. Pat volunteers to help solve the crime. The old woman suffered from dementia, so Pat must unravel a tangled web of past relationships while searching for suspects.
Pat hoped to spend her summer vacation enjoying a lakeside cabin. She only needed to wrap up loose ends in the investment firm and get the new branch manager, Nate, up to speed. Suddenly she must mediate between Nate and Soupy, the disgruntled salesman who thought he should get the top job. More problems arise. A fake cabin-rental scheme sends hapless renters to a clients’ cabin and later to her own place. It’s unnerving to see photos of her possessions spread across the internet site. Who broke in to take those shots?
Braeloch, the quiet lakeside refuge, looks more like a dangerous place with a murderer striking victims and angry renters showing up on the doorstep. Turmoil among her own family, distress at work, and problems investigating a murder makes Pat long for city life once more. Can she track down the killer before Bruce gets arrested? Can she resolve the predicament in her family? This exciting novel is sure to keep readers glued to the page until the very end of the book.
Murder, jealousy, fraud, deceit – welcome to sunny cottage country!
The author describes the book:
Diane, it’s great to be with you on Day Six of my Raven Lake blog tour. You did a super interview with one of my characters in Black Water, my second Pat Tierney mystery, when that book launched a few years ago. Now Pat is back for more adventures in Raven Lake.
When the novel opens at the end of June, she is more than ready for a summer vacation. She is about to leave her job at the investment firm where she’s worked for nearly two decades. She plans to spend the summer chilling out at a lakefront cottage she’s rented in Canadian cottage country, then return to Toronto in September to open her own financial advisory practice.
But Pat’s well-earned holiday gets off to a very bad start when her teenage daughter announces that she is pregnant. Then a friend of Pat’s is pegged by police as their prime suspect in a murder. And when victims of a cottage-rental scam start turning up at her door, Pat knows that her dream vacation has turned into a nightmare.
My challenge in creating Pat’s third mystery was what to do with her backstory from the first two novels.
Creating a protagonist’s backstory—his or her “life story” before the book opens—is essential for a writer in developing a novel. But determining how much of it to reveal to readers and how far along in the story to do so, is equally as important. As the word implies, backstory should be kept in the background.
Pat Tierney’s backstory goes way back—to before readers met her in Safe Harbor, the first novel in the series. She grew up in Montreal as Patty Kelleher, and her older brother, Jon, a freestyle skier, was her idol. Her world was shattered when Jon was killed in a car crash in his final year of high school.
The Kelleher home was not a happy one after his death. Patty’s parents couldn’t recover from their loss or help Patty cope with her grief. When she left home to attend college in another city, she was determined to make a new start. She called herself Pat and found new circle of friends. One of them was Michael Tierney—confident, laid-back, easy on the eyes. Pat and Michael married the year after Pat finished college.
But readers need to know very little of this, and I included very little of it in Safe Harbor. Backstory takes a story backward. Whether it’s revealed through flashbacks, a character’s memories or exposition, backstory stops the story’s forward movement. It’s important to the writer because it deepens her understanding of her protagonist, and creates a fuller, more engaging character. But it’s far less important to readers.
As New York literary agent Donald Maass notes in The Breakout Novelist, the prime reason why novel manuscripts are rejected is failure to put the main conflict in place quickly enough, “usually due to setting up the story with backstory.”
Raven Lake opens a few months after the end of Black Water, where Pat was based in cottage country north of Toronto, supervising the opening of a branch of her investment firm. She’s still in cottage country in the third novel, but I kept the backstory from the previous books to an absolute minimum. I put her to work by handing her a plateful of problems, and wove in the backstory as it was needed. We learn about her family when Laura drops the bomb about her pregnancy. We catch up with Bruce Stohl, a troubled man we first met in Black Water, when his elderly mother is killed and he becomes the main suspect. And then there’s the problem of the would-be vacationers who discover they’ve lost their holiday money to a rental fraudster and have nowhere to spend their vacations.
Very little backstory, but huge obstacles that keep Pat constantly on the go.
Rosemary McCracken is now a Canadian fiction writer and a freelance journalist, and she teaches novel writing at Toronto’s George Brown College. Her first Pat Tierney mystery, Safe Harbor, was shortlisted for Britain’s Crime Writers’ Association’s Debut Dagger in 2010 and published by Imajin Books in 2012. It was followed by Black Water in 2013. “The Sweetheart Scamster,” a Pat Tierney mystery in the anthology Thirteen, was a finalist for a Derringer Award in 2014. Rosemary’s third Pat Tierney mystery, Raven Lake, has just been released! Jack Batten, the Toronto Star’s crime fiction reviewer, calls Pat “a hugely attractive sleuth figure.”
on her blog, Moving Target at: http://rosemarymccracken.wordpress.com;
on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RosemaryMcCracken.Author/;
and on Twitter @RCMcCracken.
Visit Rosemary’s website at http://www.rosemarymccracken.com/.