Callie Reed makes a long overdue visit to her aunt Melodie, who lives in a fairy-tale cottage in quaint Keepsake Cove, home to a bevy of unique collectible shops on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Just as they’re beginning to reconnect, Callie discovers her aunt’s body on the floor of her music box shop. Grief-stricken, Callie finds she can’t accept Melodie’s death being called accidental. How could her strong and healthy aunt take such a fatal fall? And why was she there in the middle of the night?
As Callie searches for the truth, signs seem to come from her late aunt through a favorite music box, urging Callie on. Or are they warnings? If Callie isn’t careful, she could meet a similar deadly fate amid Melodie’s collection.
Mary Ellen, welcome to Island Confidential! Can you tell us about your protagonist, Callie?
Callie Reed is a young woman in the process of making big changes in her life. She was on the verge of leaving a downward-spiraling relationship and got the push she needed when her aunt died and left her a music box shop and the charming little cottage behind it on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. She’s struggling, though, with the official “accident” ruling on her aunt’s death and starts to search for what really happened.
How alike are you and Callie?
Though I tried my best to create someone totally new, I suspect some of me crept into Callie. Or maybe some of the wishful me. I don’t think I’d be as brave in certain situations as she is. But it’s fun to write and watch the situations from afar.
How would you feel about Callie if you met her in real life?
I think I’d like Callie if I met her. She’s smart, despite the wrong life choices she made when she was younger, and she has a pretty good heart.
Will your characters change and evolve throughout consecutive books in the series?
A Fatal Collection is the first book in the Keepsake Cove series, but I intend to have the characters grow. In my previous series (Pickled and Preserved mysteries and Craft Corner mysteries) the characters’ relationships progressed in a pretty natural way, I’d say.
Have you ever thought of killing someone that you know in real life–on the pages of a murder mystery, I mean?
I’ve thought of it but have never done it. I don’t put entire, real people into my books. I’ll mix and match various attributes to create someone new who will do what I want them to do.
How realistic is your setting? Do you take liberties, or are you true to life?
I’ve created a fictional town. Keepsake Cove is a section of Mapleton filled with shops that each carry particular collectible items. Callie’s has collectible music boxes. Then there’s collectible cooking items, vintage toys, jewelry, etc. But the town is on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, a real area that I describe accurately as the characters move about.
When the movie or TV series is made, who plays the major parts?
From your lips to God’s ears! Hmm. If I had total control (in my dreams!) I’d like Emma Watson for Callie, partly because she seems to have grown up pretty well from her Harry Potter role as Hermione.
George Clooney, unfortunately is a little too old to play Callie’s potential love interest, Brian, who runs the Keepsake Café across the street from her shop. But, hey, who wouldn’t want George on the set? We could darken his hair a little, right?
What’s the best and worst advice you’ve heard or received as an author?
One piece of advice that might be both the worst and the best is “write what you know.” A beginning writer might take that as sticking to what they already know and writing only about things they’ve experienced. That, of course, could be severely limiting and possibly quite boring.
What it really means is to know what you write. In other words, do your research, learn about your subject if you don’t already know about it, or learn a lot more about it if you do so that you can write accurately as well as drop in the little tidbits that flesh out a scene or a character so nicely for the reader.
About the Author
Mary Ellen Hughes is the bestselling author of the Pickled and Preserved Mysteries (Penguin), the Craft Corner Mysteries, and the Maggie Olenski Mysteries, along with several short stories. A Fatal Collection is her debut with Midnight Ink. A Wisconsin native, she has lived most of her adult life in Maryland, where she’s set many of her stories. Visit her at www.MaryEllenHughes.com.