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Friday, August 24, 2012

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY - GUEST AUTHOR SUSAN SANTANGELO


Today we have a return visit from Susan Santangelo, author of the Baby Boomer Mysteries. An early member of the Baby Boomer generation, Susan Santangelo has been a feature writer, drama critic and editor for daily and weekly newspapers in the New York metropolitan area, including a stint at Cosmopolitan magazine. A seasoned public relations and marketing professional, she has designed and managed not-for-profit events and programs for over 25 years, and was principal of her own public relations firm, Events Unlimited, in Princeton NJ for ten years. She also served as Director of Special Events and Volunteers for Carnegie Hall during the Hall's 1990-1991 Centennial season.
  
A portion of the sales from the Baby Boomer Mysteries is donated to the Breast Cancer Survival Center, a non-profit organization based in Connecticut which Susan founded in 1999 after being diagnosed with cancer herself.  Read more about Susan and her books at her website. -- AP 

Location! Location! Location!
It’s a major selling point when home buyers are looking at properties to buy.

And for me, location is just as important in fiction. As an avid mystery reader, I find myself more willing to take a chance on a new author I know nothing about if I’m attracted to the locale where the book is set.

When I started writing the Baby Boomer mysteries, I created the Connecticut town of Fairport. It’s a thinly disguised version of Fairfield, where my family and I lived for many years. And, yes, we lived in an antique house, just like the principal characters in the series, Carol and Jim Andrews. But because Fairport is a fictional place, I was free to populate it with restaurants, churches, stores, and street names to my heart’s content, as long as they all worked into the story line, without any current Fairfield resident (or, heaven forbid, an elected town official!) contacting me to say that I hadn’t gotten the description down correctly.

Believe me, that can happen. Don’t ask me how I know, please. Just trust me. I know.

But when I started to write Book 3 in the series, Marriage Can be Murder, I wanted to include a destination wedding, so I had to move the location out of Fairport. Where did I decide to have the wedding take place? Somewhere I’ve always loved -- the island of Nantucket.
   
I discovered when I started doing some research about Nantucket that the entire island is designated as a National Historic Landmark. I never knew that. Nantucket is affectionately referred to as The Little Grey Lady of the Sea because of its many grey-shingled buildings and frequent fog. The island is 14 miles long by 3.5 miles wide, and is 27 miles out to sea. Nantucket is 30 miles south of Cape Cod, and has a year-round population of approximately 10,000. The population increases to about 50,000 during the summer months, which is Nantucket’s peak tourist season. There are great shopping opportunities at this time of year. Don’t ask me how I know this, either. But, trust me, I know.

Nantucket was the whaling capital of the world from the mid-1700s to the late 1830s, and was made famous by Herman Melville in his classic novel, Moby Dick. Ok, I’ll confess I’ve never read that book. But I’m sure it’s on my to-be-read pile, somewhere in my office. And I did see the movie starring Gregory Peck, so that counts, right?

Some atlases describe Nantucket Island as crescent-shaped. To really get the picture, take your right hand and fold in all your fingers but the thumb and index finger. Then rotate your hand to the left, palm down, and voila – your own Nantucket island. Madaket is where your thumb is -- a tiny community with its own harbor, gorgeous houses and beautiful beaches. Follow your thumb to the right – that’s Madaket Road, which eventually leads you into the town of Nantucket, approximately where your thumb opens as it heads toward the index finger. Picture that opening as the town, and Straight Wharf, where the ferries to and from the mainland dock.

More than 800 houses on Nantucket were built before the American Civil War, and I decided the primary site for my mystery would be one of them. I named it the Grey Gull Inn. You won’t find this inn on Nantucket, because it’s the product of my over active imagination. And then I really had fun -- I gave it some history. Here’s what Carol Andrews, my protagonist, finds out about it from the Grey Gull Inn website:

“The inn was built in 1825 by Nathaniel Grey, a whaling captain, as a gift to his new bride, Charity. Tragically, soon after the couple moved into the house, Charity was found dead at the bottom of the house’s circular staircase. An inquest determined her death was a tragic accident. Captain Grey never recovered from the shock of his young wife’s death, and legend has it that he continues to live in the house, searching in vain for his bride. The building was converted in the 1980s to a 10-bedroom inn. The current owners are siblings JoAnn and Skip Wallace, who are direct descendants of Captain Nate, as he was known in the family. They completely refurbished the structure in 2006, adding a new wing to the inn with six more guest room suites.”

I placed the Grey Gull Inn right in the center of Nantucket town, close to historic Main Street, Nantucket’s primary shopping district. I gave it a full-service gourmet restaurant and one of the most notable wine lists on the island. But I didn’t give an en suite bathroom to the older part of the inn, where the Andrews family is staying.

Why? Well, I won’t tell.
  
Here’s the back cover blurb for the book. See if you can figure out a clue.

Book Three of the Baby Boomer mystery series, Marriage Can Be Murder, brings the Andrews family to Nantucket. Carol is thrilled when daughter Jenny announces her engagement. She’s dreamed of planning her daughter’s wedding since the day Jenny was born. But with only two months to pull together a destination wedding on Nantucket, Jenny insists on hiring Cinderella Weddings to organize the event. Father-of-the-bride Jim objects to the cost, and Carol objects to having her opinion ignored. When Carol finds the wedding planner dead at the bottom of a spiral staircase at a Nantucket inn, and the husband of Carol’s BFF Nancy is accused of her death, Carol has more to worry about than getting to the church on time!

If you can’t figure out the clue, you’ll just have to check out Marriage Can Be Murder for yourself. The Grey Gull Inn is open and ready to receive your reservation! But be sure to call ahead for the ferry, if you want to bring a car.

Thanks so much for joining us today, Susan. One of these days I hope to get to Nantucket. -- AP

4 comments:

Kathleen Kaska said...

Hi Susan, I love Nantucket and have spent a few vacations there. It's a lovely location for a wedding and perfect for a murder mystery. The fog covers the island so quickly, it's scary. This is one mystery I will have to read.

Michelle F. said...

Sounds like a good book. I love mysteries.

Susan Santangelo said...

Hi Kathleen. I'm so glad you love Nantucket. Hope you check out Marriage Can Be Murder. I got an e-mail from a new reader who read it and was so enthralled with the Nantucket descriptions, she visited the island for the first time in her life. She had a great time,and e-mailed the Nantucket Chamber of Commerce to tell them why she finally came. How about that!

Susan Santangelo said...

Hello Michelle. I had lots of fun writing this one. Hope you'll check it out and let me know how you like it!