Thank you to Joanna for allowing me to guest blog on this lovely day. I have met and am a fan of most of the Killer Hobbies crew, and I appreciate the opportunity to hang out with such a crafty group of mystery writers.
By the way, does reading mysteries count as a hobby? I ask because in Minnesota, where it is not uneard of for the temperature to fluctuate 60 degrees in the span of a week and most of us are so busy worrying about offending people that we don't move much, we have a limited number of hobbies to choose from. Fishing and hunting are the two most people pick, with a little snowmobiling and fourwheeling thrown in for good measure. If you’re feeling wild, you can mix and match, for example snowmobiling out to your fish house.
I don’t eat much meat, I think fish smell, and I can't afford the big toys. As a native Minnesotan, that left me to become creative in finding recreational pursuits. I came up with two that I enjoy, the second more regularly than the first: scuba diving and gardening. Because both hobbies define my life to a certain degree, I hoisted them onto Mira James, the protagonist of my Murder-by-Month series.
Scuba diving was surprisingly easy to work into a plot. My series is set in the real-life town of Battle Lake, Minnesota. Turns out there is an enormous diamond nestled in the silt at the bottom of a lake in that area. It happened in the 1920s, when wealthy east coasters regularly took the train to Battle Lake to “summer” on any of the crystal-clear, fish-packed lakes. At a local resort, nowadays known as Xanadu, a rich female vacationer went into the water for a dip wearing a diamond ring with a rock the size of a gumball and came out with no jewelry. The diamond has never been found, and so I made a fictionalized version of that real-life mystery the center of June Bug (http://www.jesslourey.com/june.html), the second in my series.
Gardening has never been a central plot in the series, but like all good hobbies, it leads to deeper character development. What our protagonists like to do to clear their minds and connect with something larger and more organized than themselves is very telling. Mira likes to garden for the same reasons I do: it’s a family tradition, it combines physical and mental focus, it creates visual order, and it has tangible results. As women, a lot of what we do during our day is either erased every 24 hours or so, like cooking and cleaning, or never particularly visible in the first place, like teaching, nursing, or selling. Not enough of us are carpenters or painters or masons, but we’ve got some killer hobbies.
Jess Lourey, the guest blogger for today, has just released August Moon, the fourth novel in her Lefty-nominated Murder-by-Month series. Of August Moon, Denise Swanson, author of the Scumble River Mysteries, writes, "Lourey has a gift for creating terrific characters. Her sly and witty take on small town USA is a sweet summer treat. Pull up a lawn chair, pour yourself a glass of lemonade, and enjoy."
Jess will be touring the West Coast with mystery author Dana Fredsti in May and hitting the Midwest in June. Check her website (http://www.jesslourey.com/appearances.html) for more details. Also, the first person to email Jess through her website and correctly identify the Minnesota state flower will win a free copy of June Bug. Be sure to tell her Killer Hobbies sent you!