|The newly redesigned cover of the soon-to-be published book|
I should have figured it was trouble from the moment I first started it. The concept for The Case of the Imposing Imposter (the original working title) was good -- full of potential scenarios. A middle aged teacher-turned-innkeeper, caring for a handicapped mother, with a bad case of sibling rivalry and a sharp tongue. Scarlet Wilson's life hasn't gone according to her plan. When family duties come before personal growth, and you lose your retirement fund because of a scheming financial adviser, life isn't exactly hunky-dory. She often finds herself settling for what's convenient, and over the years, she's gotten into the routine of letting life drive the bus. When a series of events shake, rattle, and roll through the Four Acorns Inn, the still vibrant, still smart Scarlet finds herself facing a tough challenge -- she has to face the fact that she's played it safe a little too long -- that complacent attitude is what puts her in the greatest danger.
Coming on the heels of the latest Gabby Grimm ebook, Little Red Riding Hood and the Secret Cookie Recipe, I spent far too much time worrying about how I would top that crazy adventure and not enough time on my people skills for the new story. Every time I wrote a chapter, I got bogged down. More than once, to my horror, I actually found myself starting to doze off as I typed. How could I make this book as interesting as Gabby's newest tale? How could I draw in readers and ask them to stick with a story that put me to sleep?
I wrestled with this dilemma (or was it a demon?) even as I pushed myself to work and rework the story. And then I dropped a bombshell on Scarlet and it all clicked into place. You see, she found out that her brother had been boffing a guest at the inn -- even worse, the pair had been going at it for some time before that same guest found herself in dire straits. Can you imagine Scarlet's horror? Bur Wilson happens to be a co-owner of the inn. As if that weren't bad enough, it turns out her older brother has been wreaking havoc with her love life. What's a sister to do with a brother who's already been divorced twice and can't seem to reign in that impulsive and snarky behavior? The dead body in the woods problem enough, but what happens if the cops start to suspect Bur of murder because he keeps tripping over his own alibi?
The more I changed what I wrote, the more I found new, unexpected characters popping up all over the place. Rather than the old high school flame being predictable and safe, I let him grow into the man he had become through age and experience. How will Scarlet handle the fact that Kenny Tolliver, the boy she fell in lust with all those years ago, is a real flesh-and-blood male? She's spent all those years since high school mourning the guy that got away. The widowed father, still in mourning, spent the last two decades working his way up to assistant director of public safety for Princeton University before retiring and going into private security. Is Scarlet going to think he's qualified to handle a missing person's case, or is she going to see him as a rent-a-cop kind of guy, a lightweight who's biggest problem was those pesky students flooding the quad fountain with bubbles?
As I found my way out of the quicksand and back onto my feet as the author and creator of Scarlet Wilson, I realized it was time to rename both the series and this particular episode. In the end, despite all my efforts, the character made the decision for me. Her nickname lent itself to the new title -- Miz Scarlet and the Imposing Imposter. You see, Scarlet might not have ever married, but don't ever think she believes herself to be a lesser woman because of it. She's actually quite proud of her own achievements in life and the good head she has on her shoulders. And as for the series, how could it be demeaned by a cute little snippet when Scarlet is clearly a very dignified heroine? In the end, it was her name on the credits, so to speak. This is a Scarlet Wilson Mystery because she now takes herself very seriously and expects you to do the same, even as you are laughing at the antics.
The new cover features a key hole. How appropriate, considering all the action that takes place behind closed doors. But rather than being the typical snoopy innkeeper, Scarlet turns out to be the one spied upon as she goes about her business. What did she do to earn someone's wrath? Let's hope she figures out in time that she's a target, or the consequences might turn out to be deadly!
Will she appealed to readers as much as my other two heroines do? Deputy Gabby Grimm is so down-to-earth -- goodhearted and fun-loving, even as she's prepared to do what she has to do to keep the people of Latimer Falls, Vermont safe. Bea Jones, the CIA-connected innkeeper of The Bard's Bed & Breakfast, is certainly far more prickly and defiant, although you know you can count on her to be decent and righteous. Scarlet is a good woman to add to the roster of my heroines. She's funny, sassy, and a little too cerebral for all the sibling rivalry she wrestles with, but I'm looking forward to watching her grow with time. Most of all, I want to see what develops with Kenny Tolliver, now that he's retired and rethinking his own life. Could it be a match made in heaven, or something wonderful here on Earth?