|Ten Commandments, Iowa, where nothing is as it first seems|
Today we’re continuing with our series on where authors get their inspiration with our very own Lois Winston (she who writes about me) discussing the origins of a sequel she wrote to her first published novel.
The Inspiration Behind Elementary, My Dear Gertie
Years ago, back when chick lit hadn’t yet become the kiss of death in the publishing world, I was invited to take part in an anthology of chick lit novellas. By then I had already segued from writing romance and chick lit to spending my time wreaking havoc in Anastasia’s life, but I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to take part in this project.
The one thing my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series has in common with my previously published chick lit (now known as humorous women’s fiction) is voice. I had started out writing dark romantic suspense, but when I switched to writing chick lit, I developed a humorous and sometimes snarky voice, especially for Gertie. Anastasia owes quite a bit of her existence to the characters I created in Talk Gertie To Me.
From the time Talk Gertie To Me was published, readers had been asking for a sequel to the novel, wanting to know whether Nori and Mac eventually married. It occurred to me that the anthology project was ideal for this purpose. Sort of. Given the characters I had created, I couldn’t simply write them a traditional happily-ever-after romance ending to their story. That just wouldn’t have been in keeping with who they were and would seem at odds with the story I had created in Talk Gertie To Me.
So I decided the novella would be the perfect vehicle for bridging the genre I had written in the past with the one I was writing in the present. How to do this, though? Inspiration struck! I got them involved in murder in Ten Commandments, Iowa, the town where nothing is like what its name implies. Hence the title of the novella: Elementary, My Dear Gertie.
Unfortunately, the anthology never materialized due to contract negotiations that fell apart. However, by this point I had finished Elementary, My Dear Gertie. So it was published as a stand-alone novella, rather than as part of an anthology.
Elementary, My Dear Gertie
In this novella sequel to the award-winning Talk Gertie To Me, two years have passed since the happily-ever-after that isn’t doing so well. Nori Stedworth has moved in with the love of her life, Mackenzie Randolph, much to her parents’ displeasure. They’re coping as best as parents from Ten Commandments, Iowa can. They want Mac to make an honest woman of their daughter, and that means nothing short of marriage. Mac is all for exchanging I do’s. He’s even bought the ring, but before he can pop the question, an explosion hurls him and Nori right into the middle of a murder investigation. Gertie, Nori's alter-ego, can't help but lend her acerbic wit to the twists and turns as the town is turned upside down in the search for a murderer and arsonist, and yet another scandal envelopes the not-so-pious residents of Ten Commandments.