Michele Drier spent more than twenty years as a reporter and editor at California daily newspapers. She writes two traditional mysteries a paranormal romance series, and a stand-alone medical thriller. Learn more about her and her books at her website.
Michele's File System
A Collector…Or A Hoarder?
My daughter keeps threatening to call the show Hoarders about me.
I keep telling her it’s not hoarding if they’re books.
There is one aspect of my “collecting” though that I have to ‘fess up to as hoarding—the collecting and squirreling away of small, interesting, possibly offbeat facts and pieces of information.
Most of these are on pieces of paper that get stored somewhere in my “office,” a third bedroom. I go through sticky notes, push pins, staples and manila folders to keep my collections somewhat sorted. Until I get rushed and just stick the piece of paper into a cubbyhole.
It usually takes me a bit to locate the note I want, but I was able to find the short article about a discovery of 60,000 pieces of medieval stained glass in the attics of Westminster Cathedral. This was the springboard for the plot of my latest book, Tapestry of Tears.
The fires at Notre Dame and Nantes cathedrals are the catalysts for the third Stained Glass Mystery, Resurrection of the Roses. I only have about 5,000 words, and I’ve bookmarked stories on these.
But it’s not just things I’ve read that get stuck away. One of my doctors told me about some anti-Russian literature being dropped over Estonia. I came home and jotted maybe five key words on a sticky note, added it to a short Reuters story I saw about a South Korean sending notes over the border to North Korea by balloon and now it’s a subplot in the eleventh book of the Kandesky Vampire Chronicles, SNAP: Pandemic Games.
Probably because I spent years in the newspaper business, I tend to weave current events into my stories. My books have had pedophile priests, Nazi art thieves, the Russian incursion into Crimea, medical research gone awry and international sex trafficking as background.
I learned my filing system while a reporter with the San Jose Mercury News. Those were the days when everything was on paper and I had a big “spike”, a long, sharp metal rod where I stored stuff that I needed to refer to. Everything else was on the “waterfall” filing system—pile up a stack of paper until it fell over on the floor. Things that fell on the floor got tossed.
2020 has been such an odd, out-of-sorts year that even my rudimentary echolocation filing system got out of hand. I was the co-chair for Bouchercon 2020, the oldest and largest convention of mystery fans and authors in the world. I spend five years planning for this to take place in October, then in March the world fell apart. Piles of paper with room layouts cross-referenced with panel descriptions, moderators and panelists were useless. Seating charts for the gala Anthony awards dinner didn’t matter. I regrouped and we ended up with more than 800 attendees at a Virtual Bouchercon, two days of interviews and panels that debuted to rave reviews and included a short article in Publisher’s Weekly.
But come November 1, I had more piles of paper.
It will soon be a new year and a goal I’ve set myself is to coax my granddaughter into helping me sift through the stacks in my office so that I have a chance to get to the closet. Which is stuffed full of Christmas wrapping paper and posters from travels.
Somewhere in all of that, I have a poster of a Wayne Thiebaud print made in celebration of the California Arts Council’s Tenth Anniversary…back in the mid-1980s.
I’d like to find that.
Tapestry of Tears
A Stained Glass Mystery, Book 2
History had always been a strong magnet for Rosalind Duke.
She took up the medieval craft of making stained glass and was building a solid international reputation, taking on larger and larger commissions. Her idyllic life with her husband, Winston Duke, an art historian at UCLA, was cut short when he was gunned down in a drive-by shooting.
After moving to a small town on the Oregon coast, she’s offered a commission to translate the medieval embroidery, The Bayeux Tapestry, into stained glass for a museum at a small Wisconsin university. Roz jumps at the chance. Not only to try to transfer the Tapestry into a new medium, but to spend time in Southern England and Northern France, tracing the path taken by the invading Normans under William the Conqueror.
But the 21st century drags her back when she finds a body crumpled against a wall in an ancient stone church in the small town of Lympne, on the southern coast of England. Has she walked into a contemporary murder?