by Barb, who is sad to be winding down her time in the Keys
One of my favorite cozy series is Susan Santangelo’s Baby Boomer Mysteries about Carol and Jim Andrews, subtitled, Every Wife Has a Story. The sixth book in the series, Second Honeymoons Can Be Murder, was published on Tuesday, so I thought this was a good time to catch up with Susan on Carol and Jim’s latest adventures.
Barb: Tell us a little about Second Honeymoons Can Be Murder.
Susan: Hi Barb. Thanks so much for letting me guest blog with the Wickeds today about the sixth book in my Baby Boomer mystery series, Second Honeymoons Can Be Murder.I had lots of fun writing this one. Here’s the back cover blurb: Carol Andrews can’t believe her luck when her husband, Jim, surprises her with a second honeymoon trip to Florida. But there’s a catch — it’s really a business trip, not the romantic getaway Carol expects. Jim’s been called out of retirement to create a marketing plan for a new television show aimed at Baby Boomers, The Second Honeymoon Game, and the pilot episode will be shot in the Sunshine State. The honeymoon is really over when the show’s executive producer, none other than Carol’s grammar school boyfriend, winds up dead on Carol and Jim’s first night in Florida. And their son, Mike, is the police’s number one suspect.
Barb: In your previous books you’ve explored the challenges Baby Boomers face at this stage of their lives–retirement, downsizing, parenting grown children. I’m almost afraid to ask–what boomer challenge do you explore in Second Honeymoons?
Susan: Jim and Carol don’t kill each other off in this book! But they do disagree on how to solve the murder. Of course, Jim wants Carol to stay out of it — that is, when she can get him to focus on the fact that their son is in a heap of trouble. Jim is thrilled to be “back in harness” again, and Carol is finding out, much to her surprise, that having him around the house, rather than working all the time, isn’t so bad after all. The overriding themes are communication (or lack thereof) between a long-married couple, and parenting grown children. Again. Will they ever grow up???
Barb: Your central couple, Carol and Jim Andrews’s son Mike has always been a bit of a mysterious character. (My husband and I used to joke that with our son everything was on a need-to-know basis–and there was nothing we needed to know.) Do we learn more about Mike’s life in Florida in this story?
Susan: I decided it was high time, after 5 books, that Mike became more of a central character, rather than hovering around the edges of the plot and chiming in electronically when asked. Of course, I had to get to know Mike, too. He turned out to be a very likable, but very stubborn young guy who falls for the wrong girl at the wrong time. But in the right book!
Barb: Why did you make the decision to move Carol away from her home base, not to mention her supportive friends and beloved dogs? What were the challenges and the rewards? (I’m asking because I’m writing a book like this now myself.)
Susan: Since I’ve become a “weather refugee,” spending the cold winter months in Florida, it seemed natural to me that Carol and Jim should spend some time in Florida. But most of the other central characters in the book — Carol’s best girlfriends, and the dogs — get to come along on the trip, too. A lot of the book is set on Honeymoon Island, which really exists. Although not the way I portrayed it in the book, of course.
I wanted to keep the series fresh, and I think that adding a change of scene can help, assuming it makes sense. I tried to balance keeping what’s worked in the other books — many of the central characters — with a new location, to attract new readers. It was a challenge to figure out how to get Lucy and Ethel to Florida — I didn’t want them to travel on a commercial airplane where they’d be put in the hold of the plane and travel like two pieces of baggage. And Jim and Carol would never make the long drive to Florida from Connecticut. So i had everybody travel to Florida by private jet. Hey, why not? I also introduced a new dog on the back cover of the book — our new English cocker puppy, Lilly. Her AKC name is My Pulitzer Prize, so I finally got my own Pulitzer Prize. Her snappy Lilly Pulitzer bandanna, which she’s wearing in her picture is, a perfect fashion accent piece for a Florida canine. She was definitely ready for her closeup!
Barb: I’ve always admired your approach to the business side of writing. After self-publishing the first four Baby Boomer Mysteries, you’ve gone in-house with the last two with Suspense Publishing. What’s the same and what’s different?
Susan: Since my first four books are indie, I get to play with promotion and marketing ideas that might not be available otherwise. For example, My first mystery, Retirement Can Be Murder, will be part of a boxed set of first-in-a-series books by 10 indie authors called Sleuthing Women, to be published in early May by the ever creative Lois Winston, who’s become an indie author herself.
Suspense gives me the security and branding that only a traditional publishing house can. Plus, since I also review mysteries for Suspense Magazine, I get to read books by so many fabulous authors whose work I really admire. Like many of the Wickeds! I am very lucky to have the very best of both worlds.
Barb: So interesting! I enjoy seeing the challenges in my life reflected with humor and a sense of adventure.
Readers: Do you like books that reflect your life or provide an exotic adventure? Both? Neither?