Thursday, August 25, 2011

Summer Breezes By with Guest Blogger: Amy Corwin

Win a copy of A Rose Before Dying and meet author Amy Corwin today at the Book Boost!

She's here to chat about the end of summer and beyond and here's what she had to say...

The end of the summer has always been such a special time for me. When I was young, it meant the excitement of going back to school, seeing friends, and the start of a brand new year where anything was possible. As I grew older, this season kept that thrill. The weather cooled, and we could return to the woods and gardens to hike, camp and garden.

Now, one of my favorite things at the end of August is to travel to the mountains, particularly along the Appalachian trail, to watch the birds migrating south. All those confusing fall warblers in eclipse plumage that seems to be mostly shades of olive and brown…they blend into the foliage so well that it’s a heart-thumping miracle when you spot one. Then there are the kettles of hawks hanging on thermals and circling lazily…how can you resist spending a day with friends watching the sky for the graceful, lazy swoop of a Broad-winged Hawk?

A few years ago, we dug out several plots for gardening. Now roses, flowers, vegetables and herbs grow in rampant glory and although they suffer during the hottest months of summer, as the weather cools, they put out another effort that is the best of all. The leaves of the trees turn brilliant colors and the sky has never been a more brilliant blue as a backdrop for the flowers. And to our delight, the apples ripen, and the roses put on a final, magnificent show as summer glides into fall.

There is so much to enjoy and celebrate that it would be impossible to ignore the seasons in our books. The time of year is a critical element of the setting and often becomes almost another character. In fact, I’ve had editors remove some of my descriptions because of “point of view” faults where the wind or rain has developed its own point of view and interacts with the characters. One day, I may grow bold enough to write “STET” when an editor tells me to remove those passages and leave the Season as yet another character to enrich the story.

Here in North Carolina, when hurricane season sets in, it can truly be an adversary and a devastating force to challenge our heroes and heroines. In my mysteries, the weather always sets the mood and in books like A Rose Before Dying a dreary, cold rain adds to the problems besetting the hero as he races to prevent another murder. The hopeless chill reflects his mood when he fears he may be too late to save those dear to him, and the rain intensifies to become nearly as villainous as the murderer.

In Smuggled Rose the story takes place in late winter to early spring, a time when life is just returning to the garden. That sense of a new beginning underscores the theme of redemption and new hope, and resonates with the heroine’s own interests, as she is an avid rose gardener awaiting the first green leaves of spring. When the story begins, the rose garden is nothing but thorny sticks, however they grow and blossom just as the heroine does.

Properly handled, the seasons are incredibly important to both our lives and our stories. They reflect the rhythm of life and without that element, books would be poor, drab things without resonance or life.

Celebrate the joys of the seasons and take a bite of the first crisp, fall apples. You won’t regret it.

A Note from the Book Boost: What a beautifully written post and tribute to the changing seasons, Amy. Thanks for joining us today. I live in the too hot southern U.S. and I can hardly wait for the season to change down here. Come on Fall! :-) Please tell us more about your book.


Only Sir Edward had the motive, the opportunity, and a garden full of the identical roses sent to each victim before their death.

The first victim was Sir Edward's ex-mistress, a woman who threw him over for a younger man. After receiving a mysterious rose, she dies while alone with Sir Edward. Then a second rose is delivered and a deadly game commences, where roses are the only clues to save the next victim.

However, Charles Vance, Earl of Castlemoor, refuses to believe his uncle, Sir Edward, could commit the murders, even when the renowned head of the Second Sons Inquiry Agency warns him there may be some truth behind the rumors. “The roses are Sir Edward's attempt to cast suspicion elsewhere.” “Misdirection.” Or so the whispers say.

Convinced he can prove his uncle's innocence, Vance enlists the aide of notable rosarian, Ariadne Wellfleet, little realizing his actions will involve the Wellfleet household in the killer's game.
Before the week is out, Charles receives another rose.

And someone else is missing.


“Is this our only clue, then?” Charles arranged the two calling cards in front of him before gently rewrapping the spray of yellow flowers. “Did anyone see the flowers delivered?”

“No. The butler found the first bundle on the stoop when he opened the door for Lady Banks and Sir Edward to attend church services. They assumed I’d left it there as a surprise when I arrived.”

“Surely the accident didn’t occur on your way to church?” Charles asked, appalled.

“No—no. We went for a walk. Later. In the garden,” Sir Edward said. “There was a shot. She fell into my arms…”

After a moment of silence, Gaunt picked up the threads of the story to spare Sir Edward. “The second note and rose were left at the French doors leading to the garden.”

“Inside the house?”

“No. Outside,” his uncle said.

“And no one saw anyone?” How was that possible?

“No. No one but me. The servants said no one but me had visited or been in the garden. The constable did his best. He questioned several of the lads—known poachers—but they all had witnesses to verify their whereabouts at the time. Then he had to look elsewhere. By then, the whispers had started. I was alone in the garden with her. They said I did it. I was the only one there.”

Charles touched his uncle’s shoulder. “Nonsense. Obviously, someone else had been there. Had she argued with anyone?”

“No!” The single word exploded from his uncle’s white lips. “No. She argued with no one. This was—inexplicable. Inexcusable. She was an innocent victim. I—I believe it was aimed at me. The taunting flowers—what other reason could there be for those bloody roses?” He voice rasped with barely suppressed emotion. “He killed her—so they weren’t meant for her. The flowers were a message to me.”

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Debby said...

Great post Amy. I enjoyed reading it. Great break from school start up procedures.
debby236 at gmail dot com

TheWaldos said...

Amy, just out of curiosity...what's your fave season? Pick only one. :0)

Thanks for a fun post.


buddyt said...

Rosarian ? That is a new term to me but I suppose I am not really that into gadening.

The premise of the book sounds interesting so if the giveaway is open worldwide, please enter me.

Thank you.

Carol T

buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

Na said...

I am embracing the upcoming Fall season. It's time to bid farewell to the long, hot, humid summer days and welcome a cooler season. I think travelling the mountains is a wonderful way to end the summer. There are plenty of mountain trails around here too and it's a great way to take in Mother Nature's offerings. I'm glad to see the beauty of seasons incorporated into your story.

voip services said...

Rosarian ? That is a new term to me but I suppose I am not really that into gadening.