Autumn leaves aren’t the only things falling in the historic Virginia village of Taylorsford—so are some cherished memories, and a few bodies.
October in Taylorsford, Virginia means it’s leaf peeping season, with bright colorful foliage and a delightful fresh crew of tourists attending the annual Heritage Festival which celebrates local history and arts and crafts. Library director Amy Webber, though, is slightly dreading having to spend two days running a yard sale fundraiser for her library. But during these preparations, when she and her assistant Sunny stumble across a dead body, Amy finds a real reason to be worried.
The body belonged to a renowned artist who was murdered with her own pallet knife. A search of the artist’s studio uncovers a cache of forged paintings, and when the sheriff’s chief deputy Brad Tucker realizes Amy is skilled in art history research, she’s recruited to aid the investigation. It doesn’t seem to be an easy task, but when the state’s art expert uncovers a possible connection between Amy’s deceased uncle and the murder case, Amy must champion her Aunt Lydia to clear her late husband’s name.
That’s when another killing shakes the quiet town, and danger sweeps in like an autumn wind. Now, with her swoon-inducing neighbor Richard Muir, Amy must scour their resources to once again close the books on murder.
Victoria, welcome to Island Confidential! Can you tell us about your heroine?
Amy Webber is a 33-year-old librarian, currently working as the director of the public library in the historic mountain town of Taylorsford, Virginia. She lives with her Aunt Lydia in a lovely, but slightly run-down, Victorian house that has been passed down through her mother’s family. While Amy’s family has lived in Taylorsford for generations, Aunt Lydia is now the only one left in town, as her sister (Amy’s mother) moved away as soon as she went to college. Amy visited Lydia in the summers, but she wasn’t raised in Taylorsford and only moved in with her aunt about two years previously. This gives her a bit of a hybrid status – she isn’t entirely an outsider, but she isn’t totally accepted by the town either.
Amy has never been married and is not concerned about this. She is dating her next-door neighbor, Richard Muir, who is a contemporary dancer, choreographer, and dance instructor. Amy has always been curious and determined to solve problems, which leads her to investigate murders that occur in and around Taylorsford. She assists the sheriff’s office with her research skills and her ability to uncover both historical and recent truths about her town and its citizens and visitors.
Are you and Amy at all alike?
The main connection is that both Amy and I are librarians with backgrounds in art history and a love of movies and gardening. However, Amy looks nothing like me, and she is certainly a good bit younger than I am. Actually, although I’m sure a lot of my worldview and opinions seep through, I deliberately try to NOT make my protagonists mirror me too closely. I like to explore personality traits, appearances, and behaviors different from mine as I think that is much more interesting than creating characters who resemble me.
How do you think you’d feel about Amy if you met her in real life?
I’d like Amy. She is a caring person who has a good sense of humor as well as a great deal of innate curiosity and intelligence. I think we could be good friends!
Do your characters change and evolve throughout consecutive books in the series?
I hope so! I definitely try to show them learning things about themselves and others, as well as about life in general. Amy definitely evolves over the course of the books – she becomes a lot more confident in her own body and develops more internal strength and courage. She also learns to change some of her opinions concerning other people and grows to appreciate different ways of looking at the world. Some of the other characters also learn to let go of old habits and discover new horizons.
Have you ever thought of killing someone that you know in real life–on the pages of a murder mystery, I mean?
No. I actually don’t create characters based on people I know. I do draw on certain characteristics or behaviors I’ve observed in people in real life, but I tend to combine those elements in different ways to develop wholly original characters.
How realistic is your setting? Do you take liberties, or are you true to life?
My setting is very realistic. I based on my own knowledge of growing up in a life in a small, historic, town in the mountains in northern Virginia. I hope I am true to life. Perhaps one stretch is that more murders occur in and around Taylorsford than might be statistically likely in real life but try to make everything else realistic.
When the movie or TV series is made, who plays the major parts?
All I know is that whoever plays Richard needs to look and move like a dancer, even if they aren’t actually one, and I would hope that Amy, Richard, and Sunny would be played by characters in their thirties instead of much younger actors.
What’s the worst and best advice you’ve heard or received as an author?
Worst: Write to the market and use social media as some sort of targeted “weapon” to achieve certain sales goals.
Best: Always think of the long-game and don’t allow present obstacles or failures to derail your career or to destroy your love of writing. Be true to yourself and build your career by writing books you believe in.
About The Author
Victoria Gilbert, raised in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains, turned her early obsession with reading into a dual career as an author and librarian. She has worked as a reference librarian, research librarian, and library director.
When not writing or reading, Victoria likes to spend her time watching films, gardening, or traveling. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and International Thriller Writers, and is represented by Frances Black at Literary Council, NY, NY.
Victoria lives in North Carolina with her husband and some very spoiled cats.