This month, Fabulous Florida Writers is pleased to welcome guest blogger Joanna Campbell Slan. Joanna is the national best selling award-winning author of four mystery series and several non-fiction books. Her newest mystery, All Washed Up, will be released on March 21. Joanna was our featured writer on August 9, 2012.Five years ago, I found my dream house, a cottage on Jupiter Island. “Seaspray” was a foreclosure property that had been sitting vacant for more than three years. The hibiscus and sea grapes blocked the view of the ocean. Rats had taken up dwelling in the attic. The paint outside was peeling. I fell in love right away. I knew I’d come home.
I was born here in the Sunshine State, up in Jacksonville. My father was stationed in the Navy there. My parents paid for the hospital and delivery costs by winning a bet on a greyhound. (I’ve always loved dogs—no wonder!)
The large room upstairs in Seaspray offers a nearly panorama view of the beach. I use it as an office, but it was originally an artist’s studio. When the artist’s daughter dropped by for a visit, she clasped her hands to her chest and said, “Mother would be so happy to see you working here.”
Happy, happy me. What could be better than to walk the beach when I get stuck? The Treasure Coast inspires me daily. Life here on Florida’s Treasure Coast sparks my creativity. While picking up trash off the sand, I conjured up the idea of a collection of cozy mysteries, written in the style of Agatha Christie, and just as varied as the debris that rolls up in the tide. And so "Happy Homicides" was born. With my friend from Vero Beach, Linda Gordon Hengerer, we hammered out the details.
Happy Homicides 1: Thirteen Cozy Holiday Mysteries was a riptide of a success, propelling many of the authors (including me) into Amazon’s Top 100 Mystery Author category. Happy Homicides 2: Thirteen Cozy Mysteries/Crimes of the Heart came out on Valentine’s Day. Sales have been brisk.
On March 21, All Washed Up, the most recent book in my Cara Mia Delgatto Mystery Series will be released. Each book in the Cara Mia Delgatto series shares a bit of Florida history and lore. Tear Down and Die, Book #1, explored the Highwayman Paintings, those fantastic landscapes once sold for a pittance but now worth tens of thousands of dollars. Kicked to the Curb, Book #2, delved into the sorrowful history of the Dozier School for Boys. All Washed Up, Book #3, features Lilly Pulitzer and the birth of the CIA. (Yes, it happened here in Florida.) This week I’ll start work on Cast Off, Book #4. I’ll weave a tale around a stunning coral rosary, one of the pieces destined for the Queen of Spain and lost when the Spanish Armada sank in 1715. The rosary is now owned by my neighbor, Bill Brisben, who owns the salvage rights to the wrecks.
I once read an essay by a writer in Seattle who claimed the miserable weather was responsible for the success of many local authors. To that I say: Phooey. The sunshine, the views, and the diversity within our great state provide ample fodder for any writer worth his (or her!) salt.