Patty and I were driving down to Lancaster, PA this past April for a relaxing visit to Amish Country, one of our favorite get-way places. One the way down, I happened to spot a sign advertising a sub shop. Nothing clever, just two simple words: Sub Express. And it got me thinking--if I owned a sandwich shop, what would I call it. A couple of minutes later, inspiration struck: Sub-Versive--the Sub half for the cafe, and the Versive for a literary arts center. I patted myself on the back for this stroke of genius, and we went on our merry way.
Except that a couple of miles later, I suddenly had all these characters crowding their way into my head: Maggie Harper, former software developer turned owner of the Sub-Versive. Her partner, Colin Ritchie, former poet and professor, now baker of bread at Sub-Versive. And Carter Dorrance, a particularly nasty specimen of poet, who inconveniently got himself murdered at Sub-Versive on the opening night. They all started telling me their stories, and before we reached Lancaster I had a title (Read Before Dying), a setting, a basic plot, a list of characters, and a story that needed telling. I spent hours with pen and paper (I hadn't brought the computer) trying to write it all down, and driving Patty crazy. I'm now about halfway through the book. And, unlike Maggie at this point, I think I even know whodunnit.
I think that, once Read Before Dying is done, there will be other Sub-Versive mysteries to tantalize Maggie and Colin, and perhaps even Colin's Uncle Bernie, the shyster. I hope so--I like these people and the world they inhabit. Even if I did make it all up on the way to Lancaster.
Here's the teaser for the first book, Read Before Dying:
Maggie Harper is living her dream. She’s quit her job as a software developer, cashed in her stock options, and found the perfect business partner. Colin Ritchie is a baker extraordinaire, poet, and former English professor at the college in Columbia, Vermont. Now Maggie and Colin are poised to open Sub-Versive, a café and literary arts center, in Columbia’s artsy downtown. But the grand opening is marred by murder when poet Carter Dorrance is found stabbed to death just before the scheduled reading of his latest work.
The police are satisfied that Colin is guilty—Dorrance had been responsible for his dismissal from Columbia College, and the murder weapon is one of Colin’s knives. But when Maggie begins to ask questions, she finds plenty of suspects who would have liked nothing better than to help Carter Dorrance take his last bow. As Maggie struggles to decipher the tangled poetry of Carter Dorrance’s life and death, she learns a little too much of the truth behind the fiction—and discovers that someone is just waiting to write ‘The End’ to her own life.