We are so please to have Terrie Farley Moran with us today. I got to know Terrie last spring when we were both nominated for an Agatha Award in the best first novel category. Congratulations, again to Terrie for her win with Well Read Then Dead! Terrie is giving away a cute Caught Read-Handed (isn’t that a great title) T-shirt to a commenter today. So leave a comment and an email address!
Hi All. Caught Read-Handed, the second book in the Read ’Em and Eat cozy mystery series was released a few weeks ago and I am having a fine time wandering around the blogosphere visiting friends both old and new. I’m so excited that the Wickeds invited me back to visit them and all their terrific readers. (Thanks Sherry.)
Happy as I am that book two is out in the world, I’m struggling along writing book three of the series. I’d love to say “writing cozy mysteries is great fun” but that would be less than truthful. Writing anything is work. Hard work.
But you take research—that’s where the fun is! I am so pleased that my daughter recommended the gorgeous and tranquil (excluding the occasional cozy murder) Fort Myers Beach as the home of the Read ’Em and Eat Café and Bookstore. As part of my research naturally I read all the books that the café’s book club members read, and it would be silly not to dabble in the book-related food the café serves. (Think Old Man and the Sea Chowder, Green Eggs and Ham or Harper Lee Hush Puppies.) I freely admit there are few things I enjoy more than books and food but I am happily surprised at how much I’ve come to love the study of the flora and fauna of southwest Florida.
For one thing I had no idea the extensive variety of sea shells that can be found in the Gulf of Mexico, although I did know that all sea shells start out as the home of mollusks. Did you know that clams, mussels, oysters and scallops live in bivalve shells? That’s what you’d recognize as two sided hinged shells. How about those elegant tulip shells? Did you know they are called gastropods? Say what? Gastropods—it seems that gastropods are univalves and have snails inside with a large foot-like stomach that pushes through a hole in the shell wall to propel the gastropod around.
I still have a lot to learn about shells but one thing I can tell you for sure is that in Fort Myers Beach it is against the law to collect an occupied sea shell. If the mollusk is at home, you must leave the shell alone.
And what about those splendid palm trees decorating beaches, streets, parks and lawns—every surface imaginable? I am astounded by the sheer variety of palms, ranging from Dwarf Palms that max out at ten feet high to the more usual palm trees that reach twenty to thirty feet at maturity. For absolute grandeur there is the Florida Royal Palm which reaches a height of one hundred thirty feet and seems to live forever. In fact when Thomas Edison wintered in Fort Myers a hundred years or so ago, he bought and planted a couple of hundred Royal Palms along the roadway now known as MacGregor Boulevard, which led to Fort Myers earning its nickname “City of Palms”.
And of course there are alligators, red-shouldered hawks and large orange sulphur butterflies, not to mention the Florida panther, which lends its name to the state’s ice hockey team. I spent far too much time studying them all. And don’t get me started on the massive assortment of fish. Oh, and flowers, dazzling flowers. Some varieties bloom nearly all year. If you want to know about snakes, you’ll just have to read Caught Read-Handed.
Okay, okay, you’re right. I am having way too much fun, but hey, when was the last time you canoed through the mangrove trees on the banks of the Caloosahatchee River and called it “research”?
A writer’s life is always interesting.
Agatha Award winner Terrie Farley Moran is the author of Read ‘Em and Eat cozy mystery series including Well Read, Then Dead and Caught Read-Handed. Her short mystery fiction has been published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and numerous anthologies. Her stories have been short-listed twice for Best American Mysteries. Terrie’s web address is http://www.terriefarleymoran.com She blogs at http://www.womenofmystery.net and can be found on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/terriefarleymoran