Welcome Susan O’Brien! I met Susan when we moved back to Northern Virginia. She writes the Nicki Valentine mystery series where single mom Nicki becomes a private investigator. Here’s a little about Sky Dive:
Life is finally settling down for private investigator Nicki Valentine, her kids, and her boyfriend Dean. But when a jailed mom seeks help for her endangered biological daughter, who just “aged out” of foster care, Nicki can’t say no. With Dean by her side and her free-wheeling BFF eager to investigate too, Nicki braves back alleys, drug dens, and the strip-club scene, all while wondering if any risk is too great when it comes to finding a teen in trouble. As if navigating the mean streets of King County, Virginia, isn’t enough, Nicki also faces the realities of dating as a single mom, including “sleepover” requests she never anticipated. Ultimately—in both relationships and work—Nicki must decide, “How much am I willing to risk for love?”
Susan: I’ve never been a “winter person,” so by early December, I’m already thinking spring. This carries into my writing and even onto my book covers. I set each Nicki Valentine mystery in a different season, and it’s no surprise that she hasn’t battled snow or ice yet. I was thrilled to see spring flowers on the cover of Skydive, which released in November. And the fall leaves on Sky High are my favorite part of its design. Finding Sky’s cover features a clothesline on a breezy summer day.
I wonder how many authors and readers consider seasons when writing or choosing books. As a reader, I’m especially drawn to covers and plots featuring beaches. I can almost feel the sun’s heat and the soft sand between my toes. I’ll read books with winter themes, too, but usually under a cozy blanket with hot chocolate or coffee in hand.
Seasons provide countless opportunities to define characters as well. Does the protagonist break out the skis when it’s snowing, or does she huddle inside? Does she sow seeds in the spring or admire gardens from afar? Does she go bikini shopping in the summer or avoid swimming altogether? Does she enjoy falling leaves or find them depressing? Or does she fit somewhere in the middle? (My protagonist hits the beach during one investigation—with her crush, no less—and confidence is an issue for her.)
As much as I dread winter, I admit that cold days are nice for reading and writing…assuming there’s a warm mug and a crackling fire nearby. (Unfortunately, I don’t have a fireplace, so I use a space heater that looks like one.) If it’s snowing, I even have an excuse to skip errands and write for hours, only taking breaks for household responsibilities.
So tell me, what is your favorite season for writing, reading, or simply enjoying life? And do the seasons on book covers affect a story’s appeal? And are any of you reading this from a warm climate? Lucky you!
Susan O’Brien is the Agatha Award-nominated author of the Nicki Valentine mystery series. She lives with her family in Northern Virginia and donates part of her earnings to missing children’s causes. Visit Susan online at www.SkywritingSusan.com.