Today’s blog is written by C. Hope Clark, an author friend of mine from South Carolina. I’m so proud to know her and call her friend. She’s a smart, strong woman and a fiercely good writer who is both Traditionally and independently published. I asked her to tell my readers about her Edisto book series. This is what she has to say…
I love a strong sense of place in my stories, as writer or reader, so when given the opportunity for a new mystery series, I leaped onto the chance to place my mysteries on Edisto Beach in the Lowcountry of South Carolina.
The hardest of hearts and the saddest of souls can find peace on the sand, waves lapping at their toes. How many stories have been written and movies made about the ocean, and how people have used that ebb and flow, soft breezy environment to get away, seek answers, and let go of life’s burdens if even for a few days?
In my Edisto Mystery Series, I take a broken main character running from an eroded law enforcement career, and help her escape to the beach where she hopes to heal. But of course I do not let that happen, and what was supposed to be a long-term retreat for Callie Jean Morgan turns into death, injury, mental anguish, and a vicious cycle of life-threatening events. Amidst the waves, gulls, swaying palmettos and salty balmy wind, danger abounds. And in the newest in the series, Echoes of Edisto, just when Callie thinks her life is finding a new norm in the island paradise, death rears its head as she loses someone close. And the deeper she delves, the nastier the facts she learns about people she trusted.
Callie is often her own worst enemy, and since she operated in Boston for years, she views the beach from a detective’s eye, so even where island residents don’t see danger, she does. Without that juxtaposition of locations – big city rubbing against beach village – the magic wouldn’t happen nearly as well.
From another angle, she is Southern, reared in a political family in a mid-sized town about forty miles from the coast. Forever clashing with her socialist mother and ladder-climbing father, she graduates from a South Carolina college and takes a job up North, a smack in the face of any deep Southern family. She marries a Bostonian, but then I kill him off, forcing her to almost lose her mind and retreat to her roots. The class of place appears here as well. I make her life a yoyo, with setting often holding the string.
Setting can often assume the role of a character. When a tale can’t be told better anywhere else, setting has morphed into a player. Frankly, that’s my preference in reading material – those stories where even the very ground the character stands on has an impact on the plot.
But the beach . . . especially one as secluded as the real Edisto Beach . . . is romantic, magnetic, and beckoning. Who doesn’t enjoy the salt and surf. Add to it the signature marsh, oak trees dripping with moss, loggerhead turtles and pelican vees gliding two feet above the wave crests at dusk. It’s relaxation clashing with melancholy, peace going up against crime, the joy of endless waves versus the pain of no one to share it with.
Imagine Sherlock Holmes in other than England. Or Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum in other than New Jersey. Or Tony Hillerman’s western mysteries without the Navajo west? There are many mysteries that could happen in any urban setting, or any rural setting, or any country, for that matter. But doesn’t it enrich the storytelling so much more to know that where the players fight, love, live and die impacts how the tale all turns out?
- Hope Clark inserts strong setting in both her award-winning Carolina Slade Mysteries and Edisto Island Mysteries, all set in rural South Carolina. Her newest release is Echoes of Edisto, book three in the Edisto series, available August 5 wherever books are sold. When she isn’t writing mysteries, she is editor of FundsforWriters.com, an award-winning site to aid professional writers in their careers. She lives on the banks of Lake Murray in central SC when she isn’t walking the coast of Edisto Beach. www.chopeclark.com