CHRIS RICE COOPER is a newspaper/fiction writer, poet, photographer, painter. CRC Blog is an INCLUSIVE & NON-PROFIT BLOG acknowledging ALL voices, ALL individuals, ALL political views, ALL philosophies, ALL religions including Islamism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Catholicism, Protestantism, Judaism, Agnosticism, Atheism. She has a B.S. in Criminal Justice & completed her workshops required for her Master’s in Creative Writing. She lives in St. Louis.
CRC website http://chrisricecooper.com/
Monday, January 20, 2020
#125 Inside the Emotion of Fiction "DRESSED FOR DEATH IN BURGUNDY" by Susan C. Shea
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Shea’s DRESSED FOR DEATH IN BURGUNDY is
in the never-ending series called INSIDE THE EMOTION OF FICTION where the Chris
Rice Cooper Blog (CRC) focuses on one specific excerpt from a fiction
genre and how that fiction writer wrote that specific excerpt.All INSIDE THE EMOTION OF FICTIONlinks are at the end of this piece.
Fiction genre? Ex science fiction,
short story, fantasy novella, romance, drama, crime, plays, flash fiction,
historical, comedy, movie script, screenplay, etc. And how many pages long?A traditional murder
mystery investigated somewhat clumsily by a couple of amateur sleuths - not
hardboiled, not a thriller per se, and leaning toward what are called cozies.
But there are no talking dogs and no recipes! There is definitely some humor
but it’s more like the kind that makes you smile when you’re observing it than
laugh out loud.
What is the date you began writing this piece of fiction and the date when you completely finished the piece of
see…I turned in the finished draft of the first in the series in mid-2015, so I
must have started this in early 2016. I would guess I finished my part by early
2017. After that, there’s back and forth with the copy editor and then with the
proofreader, all of which had to be done by the late fall of 2017 in order for
them to sign off and go to print in time for a May 1, 2018 release. It’s a long
Where did you do most of your
writing for this fiction work? And please describe in detail.I have a home office, a
space that is packed with genre books, a desk with teetering piles of paper,
and a laptop computer. Most of my writing happens here. I do a lot of note
taking when I’m in Burgundy and take a thousand cell phone photos to remind
myself of the weather, the color of the stones used on the buildings, the
window displays at the butcher and the patisserie.
What were your writing habits while
writing this work- did you drink something as you wrote, listen to music, write
in pen and paper, directly on laptop; specific time of day?I never listen to music when I write because music sets its own
story in my head and takes me right out of my writing. Always the computer, although
I only type with three fingers and get hand cramps as a result!I sometimes eat lunch at the computer and
always have a glass of something cold nearby.
What is the summary of this specific
fiction work?American ex-pat Katherine Goff
has already put her foot in it with a mysterious death in her small village in
rural France, but now she is with a group of tourists when a body appears in an
especially gruesome setting. She and a young would-be mystery writer are pulled
into the new mystery and think they’ve stumbled on to a few clues. But the
closer they get to the heart of the story, the more the unknown killer sees
them as a threat. Dressed for Death in Burgundyis the second in a series.
Can you give the reader just
enough information for them to understand what is going on in the excerpt?Katherine and her young English friend are in the narrow
hallway in front of a roped off display room in the costume museum, surrounded
by the American tourists for whom Katherine is serving as translator,
Please include just one excerpt
and include page numbers as reference. This one excerpt can be as short or as
long as you prefer.
The men in the group brought
up the rear as the tour progressed and spent their time in murmured
conversation about the American stock market. The women were completely taken
by the silver-backed hairbrushes and spider-seamed stockings, the silhouette
cutouts of hoop-skirted dancers, and the tableaus in each room.
Katherine had stopped to look
at a delicate pair of ear- rings in a case opposite the final tableau in a room
on the museum’s top floor and didn’t hear the first sounds that signaled
something out of place. It sounded like more exclamations of pleasure. But when
Madame began screaming in her high-pitched voice, and Mrs. Harris started
saying, “Oh lord, oh lord, oh lord,” Katherine spun around and pushed to the
velvet rope that cordoned off the display.
Madame was holding on to the
rope’s stanchion, and turned to give Katherine a wild stare. Her face was a
pale greenish gray and she looked like she was going to faint, so Katherine
grabbed her in a hug. The woman turned and buried herself in Katherine’s arms,
beginning to sob.
Mr. Harris and Ronnie had both
caught up, the stock market forgotten as their wives kept moaning.
“What the hell?” Ronnie said,
trying to see what was causing the upset.
“Probably a rat,” Mr. Harris
whispered in Katherine’s ear as he moved up next to her at the entrance to the
room. But it wasn’t. By this time, Katherine had picked out the reason for the
women’s horror. Draped along the chaise longue at the center of the room, one
arm over the back of the sofa and another resting on the floor, was a woman in
costume. The costume, Katherine noted with one part of her brain, wasn’t
fitting her as well as their outfits did the rest of the mannequins. And no
wonder. It was no blandly smiling figurine that looked glassily out at the
visitors. It was a middle-aged woman and she was very, very dead.
Why is this excerpt so emotional
for you as a writer to write? And can you describe your own emotional
experience of writing this specific excerpt?I visited that wonderful museum (Right: Musee du Costume in
Avallon, France) twice, met the charming, frail 90-year old Frenchwoman who ran
it, and was charmed by everything. But I write fiction, crime fiction
specifically, and these quiet, out-of-the-way rooms with life-sized mannequins
wearing real clothes was just too tempting.
Were there any deletions from
this excerpt that you can share with us? And can you please include a photo of
your marked up rough drafts of this excerpt.I write on the computer and I’ve long since overwritten
earlier drafts. But they didn’t change much. My big scenes rarely do and my
agent and editor seem to like them as submitted.
Other works you have published? MURDER IN THE
ABSTRACT was the first in the Dani O’Rourke mystery
series. THE KING’S JAR and MIXED UP WITH MURDER were the second
and third. LOVE & DEATH IN BURGUNDY was the first in this series.
Champagne Girl” is a short story that was just published in the Northern
California Sisters in Crime anthology, FAULT LINES. I had a long career in
non-profits during which I wrote many annual reports, campaign case statements,
university magazine stories, professional journal articles, etc., so I’ve had
lots of writing jobs.
Anything you would like to add? If
you want to write, do it every day. Read like crazy, believe in yourself, and
never give up. But don’t expect to get rich!
Susan C Shea loves a good mystery, so much so that
she has written five already: the Dani O’Rourke Mysteries and two set in rural
France. Cats play minor roles in both, at the urging of her own felines. She is
on the national board of Sisters in Crime, is a member of the Norcal chapters
of SinC and MWA, and is excited that her first short story is included in the
Norcal SinC chapter’s anthology, Fault
Lines. She blogs at 7CriminalMinds and is active on Facebook at Susan C
Shea, Author. French recipes and more atwww.susancshea.com