|A needlepoint Santa embellished with the author's favorite Victorian|
Mabry Hall created Annalee Wyatt, 18 Karat Cold Mysteries' bling-bedecked sleuth, out of her love of antique jewelry. She gets a vicarious pleasure when Annalee buys, sells, and sometimes wears the beautiful pieces of jewelry she would love to have for herself. However, she's quite happy to leave the murders to her fictional creation and lives a quiet life in Louisiana, not far from the imaginary town of Berryville and Annalee's Goat Hill Farm. Learn more about her and her books at her website.
My 18 Karat Cold Mystery series revolves around a heroine who makes her living with antique jewelry, one of my passions. Annalee Wyatt lives in an historic family home in north Louisiana, has a good-looking neighbor who annoys and intrigues her, and discovers she has an affinity for murder. While she doesn’t commit any herself, somehow each death involves a piece of jewelry that pulls her into the action.
I wish I could share my process of designing and creating jewelry, but I’d be lying. I have no such skills, but I do appreciate the talent that produced the antique jewelry I love so much. On my first guest blog here in 2016, I discussed how that love for antique jewelry led to the creation of my 18 Karat Cold Mystery series. Today I’ll share how my Pinterest boards influence my plots.
I was slow to come to the world of Pinterest, and among the first boards I created was one for needlepoint stitches. I’ve been stitching since college, and used to design my own canvases. I now rely on painted ones, but I put my own stamp on them with the stitches and threads I choose. Pinterest search results can lead you in directions you never planned, and in my case, searches for medieval stitchery began to turn up medieval jewelry, which led to Georgian and Victorian jewelry, then Art Nouveau, then on and on until I would look at the clock and realize life was happening without me.
I created a general board for antique jewelry, which inspired me to create separate boards for each of my books. For example, the second book, A Regrettable Reunion, revolves around a brooch made of demantoid garnets, which most people have never heard of. Its Pinterest board shows multiple examples of intricate Victorian and Edwardian jewelry made with the unique green stones, including the salamander pin that’s a key clue in the mystery.
Each 18 Karat board gives a view of both the specific pieces that are mentioned in the books plus a broad array of similar items. While searching for demantoids, I began to see many pictures of Art Deco and Art Nouveau jewelry. I was inspired to add a subplot about the estate of an early Texas oil baron, and so the board is full of incredibly beautiful, intricate pieces from the early 1900s. You’ll see things by Tiffany, for example, that are far more complex and colorful than the items you find in the store today. In general, jewelry from that era is highly focused on naturalism, with many pieces depicting plants or animals— and lots of insects! There are bumblebees, butterflies, dragonflies, spiders, and even wasps made from precious jewels and colorful enamel.
The patterns and colors in these styles inspire me and feed my creativity. I’d love to take some serious jewelry making classes, but there are only a few places in the country that teach the techniques I’d like to learn. Another consideration is that the raw materials are quite a bit more expensive than needlepoint thread or even the laptop I use for writing. I think I’m better off with my Pinterest boards and the occasional purchase of jewelry, unfortunately not of Tiffany’s quality.
You can check out my Pinterest boards here.
A Rumor of Riches
An 18 Karat Cold Mystery, Book 3
Annalee Wyatt is looking forward to a quiet, solitary week in the woods. Just her, a couple of friendly dogs, and a well-stocked wine cellar. What could possibly go wrong?
The offer to stay in a cozy 1850s cabin sounds perfect, even if winter in Louisiana means there won’t be a blanket of snow. All Annalee needs to do in return is make an appraisal of a deceased artist’s jewelry and antiques.
As an added bonus, she’ll have some strategic time away from the easy-going boyfriend who’s gotten too complacent about their relationship.
From the minute of her arrival, though, the historic house has more in store for her than antique jewelry and Cabernet. As it reveals its secrets, beginning with a never-ending supply of gold coins, the remote property becomes a magnet for a cast of characters ranging from pretty darn charming to obnoxiously oddball. She views all with her usual suspicion, which kicks into overdrive when she realizes each wants something he believes is hidden at the old homestead.
Who can she trust when one of her visitors turns up dead? Thank goodness for the two stalwart hounds and her old friend Tennie. A benevolent spirit from the past is just welcome lagniappe.