The Mayflower Society is about to hold its annual meeting at Washington D.C.’s swanky gathering place for the elite, the Continental Club. That means Kit Marshall’s upper-crust future in-laws, Buffy and Winston Hollingsworth, are coming for a visit. Annoyed that Kit has not set a date to marry Doug, Buffy wants her to commit to a high society wedding at the club. Kit, though chief of staff for a congresswoman, feels uncomfortable with Buffy and Winston’s crowd.
Kit receives an unexpected reprieve in the form of murder. En route to her morning jog, she encounters the corpse of the leader of the Mayflower Society, conservative multimedia tycoon Grayson Bancroft. On the security cameras, no one was seen entering or leaving the club, which means the culprit had to be an overnight guest. Little love was lost on Bancroft, but the police have their prime suspect: Doug’s father.
Buffy and Winston, formerly disdainful of Kit’s sleuthing, urge her to investigate. With her future in-laws’ freedom and reputations at stake, Kit sets out once again to solve a murder mystery, this time aided by her fiancé Doug in addition to her friends Meg and Trevor and her dog Clarence. Her search for clues will take her from the club to the Smithsonian Museum, the National Archives, and Mount Vernon.
Calamity at the Continental Club is Book 3 of the Washington Whodunit series, which began with Stabbing in the Senate and continued with Homicide in the House.
Island Confidential: Colleen, welcome to Island Confidential! Can you tell us a little bit about your protagonist?
Colleen Shogan: Kit Marshall is a plucky, thirty-something Capitol Hill staffer who somehow finds herself embroiled in murder on a routine basis in Washington, D.C. In this book, she’s dealing with her recent proposal and planning a wedding while she solves a double homicide. She’s got her hands full!
How similar are you and Kit?
CS: I previously worked as a congressional staffer, but I’m not Kit Marshall. Instead, Kit is a pastiche of all the women I worked with on Capitol Hill. She’s no one person, but blends a lot of traits and characteristics. Kit tries to balance a lot in her life. She’s a little obsessed with keeping everyone happy: her fiancé, her best friend, her boss. But she also likes to have fun and has an impetuous side. She’d be a good person to know in Washington.
Do your characters change and evolve throughout consecutive books in the series?
CS: Yes, absolutely. I’ve read a number of cozy mystery series and one of my pet peeves is characters who remain static. There’s something comforting to readers about that consistency but it can also grow boring. So I try to keep relationships evolving. Kit’s fiancé, Doug, changes a lot in this story, and that’s going to have long term effects for the role he plays in the series.
Have you ever thought of killing someone that you know in real life–on the pages of a murder mystery, I mean?
CS: Sure, all the time. What’s the point of writing mysteries if you can’t fantasize about killing people who bug you the most?
How realistic is your setting? Do you take liberties, or are you true to life?
CS: My settings are true to life. This book is set at a fictitious social club in Washington, D.C. but it strongly resembles several real-life locations. At times, you may need to take small liberties to make a particular plot work, but I am pretty obsessive about making sure I’m describing Washington in an accurate way. I want people who have never lived in our nation’s capital to understand what it’s like to reside there.
When the movie or TV series is made, who plays the major parts?
CS: America Ferrera might make a good Kit Marshall. Or maybe Kelly Clarkson. I don’t like it when movies are made and the character in the book wasn’t super skinny, but then the actress who plays her is a size 2. That ruins it. For Meg, I picture a Clare Danes or Kristen Bell. For Doug, it’s harder to say. I think Charlie Day could do it. He could bring a lot of humor and wit to Doug.
What’s the worst and best advice you’ve heard or received as an author?
CS: The best advice has to do with perseverance. It’s important to keep writing and revising. Not everyone is going to like what you write. That doesn’t mean a lot of other people won’t love it! I’ve been lucky and haven’t received too much bad advice. I do remember an agent I met who liked my concept for a mystery series based in Washington, D.C. But she didn’t like the working title of my first book, Stabbing in the Senate. Quite frankly, I adored the alliterative title and so did everyone else who heard about it. So I had to say “thanks, but no thanks!”
About the Author
Colleen Shogan has been reading mysteries since the age of six. A political scientist by training, Colleen has taught American politics at Yale, George Mason, Georgetown, and Penn. She previously worked in the United States Senate and for the Congressional Research Service. She’s currently a senior executive at the Library of Congress, working on great outreach initiatives such as the National Book Festival. She lives in Arlington, Virginia with her husband Rob Raffety and their beagle mutt, Conan.
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