Of Cats and Characters
Hmmm, a Steinbeck reference to start a post about the cats at the Hemingway House in Key West, Florida and how they are like writing a character.
Last year as I was writing The Gun Also Rises I had a chance to visit Key West. High on my list of things to do was visit the Hemingway House because in The Gun Also Rises Sarah Winston discovers lost Hemingway manuscripts in her client’s attic in Ellington, Massachusetts. (For the real story of how the manuscripts were lost visit http://www.thehemingwayproject.com/2018/08/22/hadley-talks-about-the-lost-manuscripts/ )
One of the many fascinating things about the Hemingway house is the cats. There are around forty to fifty polydactyl, or six-toed cats, living on the property. (You can read more about them here: https://www.hemingwayhome.com/cats/ ). As I roamed around the house I snapped pictures of them and thought about how much cats and characters in mysteries have in common.
Sleuths like the Hemingway cats should be unique. When I first started writing the Sarah Winston Garage Sale mysteries, I thought a lot about how to make Sarah different. Although she’s recently divorced and hurt when her ex is accused of murder, she doesn’t believe he could have done it, so she sets out to clear his name. Her garage sale business is unique, and it allows her a look into her clients lives that not many protagonists get. Before her divorce she lived on an Air Force base which gives her a different perspective on life. And since her ex is the chief of police of Ellington, she doesn’t have any law enforcement allies so solving things is that much harder.
Sleuths have to be observant. Sarah’s bargain hunting has taught her to find a treasure that others have overlooked. It helps her solve mysteries by noticing behaviors or comments that doesn’t fit in with the story everyone else believes to be true.
Sleuths have to know how to mingle with a crowd. Sarah’s life as a military wife gave her lots of skills for meeting and talking to new people. With all the moves and always starting over from scratch at each new location Sarah can fit in no matter the situation.
Sleuths have to know when to take a break. Even a people person like Sarah sometimes needs to get away. When she’s stressed heading to a garage sale or going antiquing distracts her from her problems. If she can’t do that she loves to take a walk at Sleepy Hollow cemetery to visit the graves of authors like Louisa May Alcott and Nathaniel Hawthorne. The peaceful setting, the quiet, and the historical setting refreshes her soul.
And finally, sleuths have to be entertaining. No one wants to read about a boring main character. The protagonist has to be the center of attention. Since I write in first person, readers always see things from Sarah’s perspective. Sarah isn’t originally from New England and she delights in the way people pronounce things, their accents, and the different terms for familiar objects like calling shopping carts “carriages.”
Thanks so much for having me!
It was a pleasure, Sherry. Thanks for that charming post, and best wishes on your new release. I’m sharing information on your blog tour below.
The Gun Also Rises
(A Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mystery)
by Sherry Harris
About the Book
The Gun Also Rises (A Sarah W. Garage Sale Mystery)
6th in Series
Kensington (January 29, 2019)
Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
Digital ASIN: B07CWF942Q
TO RECOVER A PRICELESS MANUSCRIPT . . .
A wealthy widow has asked Sarah Winston to sell her massive collection of mysteries through her garage sale business. While sorting through piles of books stashed in the woman’s attic, Sarah is amazed to discover a case of lost Hemingway stories, stolen from a train in Paris back in 1922. How did they end up in Belle Winthrop Granville’s attic in Ellington, Massachusetts, almost one hundred years later?
WILL SARAH HAVE TO PAY WITH HER LIFE?
Before Sarah can get any answers, Belle is assaulted, the case is stolen, a maid is killed, and Sarah herself is dodging bullets. And when rumors spread that Belle has a limited edition of The Sun Also Rises in her house, Sarah is soon mixed up with a mobster, the fanatical League of Literary Treasure Hunters, and a hard-to-read rare book dealer. With someone willing to kill for the Hemingway, Sarah has to race to catch the culprit—or the bell may toll for her . . .
About the Author
Agatha Award-nominated author, Sherry Harris, started bargain hunting in second grade at her best friend’s yard sale. She honed her bartering skills as she moved around the country while her husband served in the Air Force. Sherry uses her love of garage sales, her life as a military spouse, and her time living in Massachusetts as inspiration for the Sarah Winston Garage Sale series.
Webpage – https://sherryharrisauthor.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/sherry.n.harris.1
Twitter – https://twitter.com/SHarrisAuthor
Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/snhgrad/
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