Tag Archives: The Story Behind the Story

Story Behind The Story: A Christmas Carol Murder by Heather Redmond

Meet Heather Redmond and the story behind her story, A Christmas Carol Murder. This is the third novel in her series of cozy murder mysteries featuring Charles Dickens as the protagonist. As Heather explains, it’s just a natural to use A Christmas Carol if you’re writing about Dickens and his fictional sleuthing. Especially at Christmastime! So meet the spirit of Christmas murders to be, Heather Redmond.

What’s the theme behind your story?

Christmas is a season of renewal.

Cover to A Christmas Carol Murder by Heather Redmond

What’s the logline?

Bah. Humbug. Murder…

What were you thinking about or what was happening when the idea occurred to you?

I was planning the first three books of the A Dickens of a Crime series with my editor. The series stars Charles Dickens as an amateur sleuth and takes inspiration from his novels. We knew one of the books had to feature Dickens’s A Christmas Carol since it is his most famous work.

How did the original idea change as you went along?

I learned that Dickens had done some great reporting on the Hatfield fire that happened a few weeks before Christmas, so I started the book there. It gave me a great chance to include a Christmas child that I could keep a secret from his fiancée Kate. The problem became how to keep her integrated into the story when she didn’t know what was going on. My editor also wanted to be sure there was no paranormal element to the book, so I had to solve any ghostly encounters with real life explanations.

How did you conceive of your characters for this story and how did they change?

My two main characters, Charles and Kate, were real people and as much as I can, I keep them true to life. The biggest change in my characters in this book was to finish the process of moving my mudlark characters off of the Thames foreshore and into the next phases of their lives. The girl, Lucy Fair, has entered service and most of the boys went to school. Dickens himself believed that some boys were simply natural, unredeemable criminals so I did leave one or two of the boys behind.

Are you pleased with the results, or do you wish you had done anything differently in the story? Why or why not?

I’m quite happy with this one as it worked out. As a writer I still tend to have to re-solve the mystery for myself at the end and make sure that the reason for the murders is truly justified. As I recall, I didn’t know what had happened to the missing corpse for quite a while.

Who would play your leads in the movie if (when!) you make a deal?

The main characters are very young so even though the series is less than three years old, I think the actors I might have envisioned have already aged out of the roles! I suspect unknowns would have to play roles, with a 23-year-old hero and a 20-year-old heroine. Maybe these roles would make stars!

What else do you want readers to know?

Dickens’s original novella A Christmas Carol is an amazing mix of comedy and horror and brilliant storytelling. I can’t account for the brilliant storytelling, but I did my best to include comedy and horror in my homage, while still being focused on telling a great mystery story.

The Heather Redmond Bio

Heather Redmond is an author of commercial fiction and also writes as Heather Hiestand. First published in mystery, she took a long detour through romance before returning. Though her last British-born ancestor departed London in the 1920s, she is a committed anglophile, Dickens devotee, and lover of all things nineteenth century.

She has lived in Illinois, California, and Texas, and now resides in a small town in Washington State with her husband and son. The author of many novels, novellas, and short stories, she has achieved best-seller status at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple Books. Her 2018 Heather Redmond debut, A Tale of Two Murders, reached #1 in Historical Mysteries at Amazon as well as being in the Top 100 on Amazon, Barnes & Noble (Top 20), and Apple Books (Top 40). It is also a multi-week Barnes & Noble Hardcover Mystery Bestseller and a Historical Mystery bestseller on Kobo Books.

Her two current mystery series are A Dickens of a Crime and the Journaling mysteries. She writes for Kensington and Severn House.

She is the 2020-21 President of the Columbia River Chapter of Sisters in Crime (SinC).

To buy A Christmas Carol Murder, click here.
For more about Heather Redmond, visit Heatherredmond.com.

The Story Behind the Story Behind the Story (and no, that’s not redundant)

https://www.amazon.com/His-30-Day-Guarantee-Eilis-Flynn-ebook/dp/B06X1BPL89/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=his+30-day+guarantee&qid=1607206982&s=books&sr=1-1

Haven’t you wondered how a particular author came up with the story they did? We all know about Mary Shelley and her inspiration on a stormy night, coming up with Frankenstein. I woke up one night wondering what the source of a story is in an author’s mind, whether it’s sweet or horror or mystifying, and how long the idea had to germinate before at last that story bloomed into being. So I asked authors to tell me.

There’s always a story about how the story that you like so much got started. Here are glimpses at what fuels the imagination of the authors. I’ll be offering one author’s story or two a week. The Story Behind the Story starts for real in January, but until then, this is sort of what it’ll be:

His 30-Day Guarantee

It was the mid-1980s — so yeah, we’re talking about a long time ago. Ronald Reagan was president, I was living in New York City, and occasionally doing freelance as a break from my regular full-time job as a financial editor. My husband was working at DC Comics at that point, and I met their proofreader and learned she was a copy editor away from comics. One of her freelance gigs was copy editing romances for a Major Publisher, and she suggested I check it out. I did, and ended up copy editing a couple. 

It was interesting, and I enjoyed it, despite it being very different from what I was used to. But more than that, it inspired me to write my own romance. 

After a couple of fits and starts (you know how that goes), I came up with a fun idea after noticing a very distinctive sales pitch that occurs in so many offers: impulsive tech tycoon type falls for a recently divorced linguistical anthropology professor at the University of Washington and offers her a deal: go out with him for one month. If they don’t mesh well, she can step away, no harm, no foul. But he’s not telling her everything.

After I finished it and submitted it (using paper and everything, because this was an earlier time), I got a revise and resubmit letter. I didn’t know that was good (because I had no experience with such a thing), so I had to think about how to do those revisions. But then life got in the way (it was 1987 and there was a Wall Street crash, causing many people to lose their jobs, including me), and by the time I got back to it, it was 1989 and we had moved across the country. And by the time I actually revised and resubmitted, years had gone by and the publisher wasn’t interested anymore.

So the novel got slipped into an envelope and slipped under the bed (or a box or whatever; it’s been a while). I joined Romance Writers of America, wrote other things, and then, thirty years after I wrote that first book, I was asked by a digital publisher if I were interested in pitching a story for a graphic novella (I wrote some comic stories while I was in college, so I understood the medium). I said sure and adapted that novel into a script. They bought it, it got done, and a few years after that, they asked if I were interested in writing a novella based on the graphic novella based on the original manuscript (whew!). I said sure, I wrote it, and they liked it, but this time, we couldn’t come to terms, so the newly updated story was back in my hands again—and it was time. So at long last, the novel-turned-into-a-novella was published. His 30-Day Guarantee, originally titled 30-Day Guarantee, is available in digital form and in print, and it only took thirty years after I originally wrote it.

What’s the moral of this (long-winded) story? Never throw anything away. You just never know.

Elizabeth Flynn, who writes as Eilis Flynn, has written fiction in the form of comic book stories, fantasies, and contemporary romances. She’s also a professional editor and has been for more than 40 years, working with genre fiction, academia, technology, finance, and comic books. She can be reached at emsflynn.com (if you’re looking for an editor) or at eilisflynn.com (if you’re looking for a good read). Her latest novel is The Unnamed World, a futuristic romance. 

Digital: https://www.amazon.com/His-30-Day-Guarantee-Eilis-Flynn-ebook/dp/B06X1BPL89/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=his+30-day+guarantee&qid=1607206982&s=books&sr=1-1

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/726669

Print: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1542486947?ie=UTF8&n=133140011