Lauren Carr returns today to share with readers how she manages her various series. Each is different, yet the characters overlap in a way that makes you want to read all of them!
This month, her latest in the Mac Faraday series, Candidate for Murder, will be released. Watch for our review coming soon!
On a virtual tour in June and July, you can find more about Lauren, her series, and her books, here at her iRead Book Tours Home Page. You won’t want to miss Lauren’s entertaining novels.
Writing Multiple Mystery Series: Keeping Up with Your Children
By Lauren Carr
I have been blessed as an author. Not only am I able to write full-time, but now I have not one, but three mystery series to write—and, like a mother with three children, I enjoy each one of them for their own unique reasons.
This year, I will release four mysteries: two Mac Faradays, one Lovers in Crime, and one Thorny Rose mystery. I’ve been asked if I favor any one series over the other and the only answer I can come up with is, “Do you love one of your children more than the other?”
My mother, who had four children, once said that is isn’t that you love one child more than the other—you simply love each one differently.
My first “child” is Joshua Thornton, who I introduced in A Small Case of Murder, back in 2004. After being widowed with five children, Joshua returns to the small town where he had grown up—Chester, West Virginia—the same town where I had grown up.
Joshua Thornton lived, and still lives, in Chester, a small rural town along the Ohio River in the northern panhandle of West Virginia. A retired Navy officer, Joshua is a man of integrity and honor. While he is a brilliant detective, he feels clueless when it comes to his children, four of whom were teenagers when I wrote the first installment in this series, which was released in 2004.
It was in my first two books, A Small Case of Murder and A Reunion to Die For, that readers met a teenaged Murphy Thornton, destined to become one half of the Thorny Rose detectives.
After penning the second Joshua Thornton Mystery (A Reunion to Die For) my sister-in-law suggested that I set a mystery in the small resort town where she summered. At the time, I did have an idea for a mystery, but this one called for a detective to solve the case, not a lawyer.
So, multi-millionaire Mac Faraday, retired homicide detective, was created. The Mac Faraday Mysteries is set in the resort area of Deep Creek Lake in western Maryland. Unlike the rural West Virginian town of Chester, Spencer is the vacation place for East Coast movers and shakers.
At the request of Joshua Thornton fans, I resurrected him in Shades of Murder, the third Mac Faraday Mystery. At that point, five years had passed since I had visit Joshua. He was ready to love again. Upon meeting Cameron Gates, a homicide detective with the Pennsylvania State Police, the Joshua Thornton series became the Lovers in Crime.
Last year, Kill and Run, the first installment in my latest series, the Thorny Rose Mysteries, was released. This winter, the second installment, A Fine Year for Murder, will join the line-up. The Thorny Rose mysteries is quite literally the marriage of the Mac Faraday and Lovers in Crime mysteries. In Three Days to Forever, Joshua’s son Murphy meets and married Jessica Faraday, Mac’s daughter.
Readers have expressed concern that when I develop a new series that I am abandoning the older series. Most definitely this is not the case. As a writer, each series offered me yet another venue for a different type of mystery plot line.
Like children, each of my series has its own unique setting and characters that makes it home to certain types of mysteries. If a story idea won’t work with one series, it may fit perfectly for another.
Lovers in Crime is my rural small town mystery series. County prosecuting attorney Joshua Thornton is a small town boy. Yes, you can take the boy out of the small town, but you can’t take the small town out of the boy. Joshua Thornton grew up in Chester, West Virginia (the actual small town where I grew up). He graduated from the Naval Academy in Annapolis, and has traveled the world. But in the end, he returned to his country roots.
It is in this unique setting that as a mystery author, I set my small town mysteries. Scheduled for release in September, Killer in the Band, is set on a successful dairy farm and orchard in Chester, West Virginia. Joshua’s eldest son, Joshua Thornton Jr. (J.J.) has graduated at the top of his class from law school and is returning home to spend the summer studying for the bar exam. However, to the Thornton’s shock and dismay, J.J. decides to move in with Suellen Russell, a retired symphony conductor twice his age, who has returned to the dairy farm that has been in her family for several generations.
While there are farms in western Maryland, Cameron’s role as a Pennsylvania homicide detective (the mystery is connected to a cold case she has been working), and Joshua’s roots to the community are intricately important to the plotline in this book.
The Mac Faraday Mysteries is my resort town mystery. Mac Faraday is a retired big city homicide detective who inherits a two-hundred-and seventy million dollars on the day his divorce becomes final. Coming from Washington DC, Mac knows how to relate to the rich and powerful. As a homicide detective, he remembers when he was the outsider, the enemy who used to be looked down upon by those who believed they were above the law—which unfortunately he found sometimes they were. Now, he is on their level and in Spencer, Maryland, they are on his turf.
Spencer, Maryland, is mixture of small town and big city, which is brought to light in Candidate for Murder. In recent years, the small resort town has become divided between the local year-round residents who have enjoyed their rural way of life and the city dwellers moving into their mansions, taking over the town council, and proceeding to turn Deep Creek Lake into a closed gate community—complete with a host of regulations for everything from speed limits to clothes lines.
It is because of this great division that Gnarly is thrust into the mayoral race. Mac Faraday fans may remember some local characters from past books who rally behind Gnarly in his campaign—including Bernie and Hap from Twelve to Murder.
The plot for Candidate for Murder would never have worked in the Lovers in Crime setting. The Ohio River Valley is not an area divide. As for the Thorny Rose mystery, I just can’t see the Washington DC area going for a dog running for mayor, can you?
Still, every now and then, plotlines come to mind that beg for a big city protagonist or couple of protagonists. This was when Mac Faraday’s daughter, Jessica, in her snazzy purple Ferrari, and Joshua’s son Murphy, the Naval Academy graduate assigned to a special ops team reporting directly to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stepped forward to become the Thorny Rose Mysteries.
Living in the heart of the Nation’s Capital, the newlywed couple of the Thorny Rose mysteries kick things up a notch in cases dealing with big city crime—not the least of which involves intrigue, sex, politics (of course!) and murder.
In A Fine Year for Murder, Jessica and Murphy tackle a brutal murder case set in a vineyard in southern Virginia. While the setting may have worked for a Mac Faraday mystery (Archie is a wine expert), the plotline demanded Murphy’s physical skills as a Phantom to work the case. The story also allowed Murphy and Jessica to deepen their commitment to each other.
Looking at the many characters in each of my series, and the roles they fill with each mystery that comes their way, I have to agree with my mother. I love all of them equally, but differently.
It’s election time in Spencer, Maryland, and the race for mayor is not a pretty one. In recent years, the small resort town has become divided between the local year-round residents who have enjoyed their rural way of life and the city dwellers moving into their mansions, taking over the town council, and proceeding to turn Deep Creek Lake into a closed gate community complete with a host of regulations for everything from speed limits to clothes lines.When the political parties force-feed two unsavory mayoral nominees on the town residents, Police Chief David O’Callaghan decides to make a statement—by nominating Gnarly, Mac Faraday’s German shepherd, to run as mayor of Spencer!
What starts out as a joke turns into a disaster when overnight Gnarly becomes the front runner—at which point his political enemies take a page straight out of Politics 101. What do you do when you’re behind in a race? Dig up dirt on the front runner, of course.
Seemingly, someone is not content to rest with simply embarrassing the front runner by publicizing his dishonorable discharge from the United States Army, but to throw in a murder for good measure. With murder on the ballot, Mac Faraday and the gang—including old friends from past cases—dive in to clear Gnarly’s name, catch a killer, and save Spencer!
Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries. The twelfth installment in the Mac Faraday Mystery series, Candidate for Murder will be released June 2016.
Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, son, and four dogs (including the real Gnarly) on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR