Book Secrets

Inside information on Missing Persons; A Kate Conway Mystery

My favorite crew! Dave Keller (audio) Brian Noreika (camera) and me, on location in Pennsylvania.

• Kate Conway, the main character, is named after two people near and dear to me. Her first name is from my aunt, Kathleen Sweeney, a strong woman with a sarcastic wit, and Kate’s last name, Conway, is the maiden name of my grandmother, Sabina Sweeney, a woman who could not be fooled (even by clever young grandchildren). I thought a strong, sarcastic woman who could not be fooled was the perfect combo of qualities for my new sleuth.

• Though I’ve been a TV producer for more than a decade, this is absolutely a work of fiction and none of the characters are based on anyone I’ve worked with or interviewed. However, just like Kate, I did once get yelled at for shutting down an interview due to a tornado. The executive producer thought I could have worked around it.

• Matlock is one of my favorite guilty pleasures, and something I get teased about, so I had to include a bit of Matlock in the book as a shout-out to all my friends who don’t understand.

• Frank, Kate’s late husband, was an artist. You may also know that Nell, the main character in the Someday books is an art student. I’ve taken some painting classes and enjoy it, but mainly I just love to be around artists – painters, potters, metal workers (and of course, quilters), so I guess they naturally crop up in my books.

• While I was writing this book I was also working on a TV show, so I often wrote while the crew was setting up the camera and lights. Luckily, I’ve worked with some great crews over the years and like Andres and Victor, they have been very patient with me!

The secrets of The Someday Quilts Mysteries

A batik drunkard's path I made in 2009

• Like Kate Conway, many of the characters are named after real people (though not based on them). For example, Maggie Sweeney, the librarian with the son named Brian, is named after my cousin, Maggie Smith, a librarian with a son named Brian. But one of my characters is actually named after another fictional character. Jesse Dewalt gets his first name as an homage to Jessica Fletcher, the main character in Murder She Wrote, another old show I really love. (I watch too much TV.)

• Shortly after working on a very tough documentary for the History Channel, I took a vacation to Tennessee, one of my favorite places. While I was there, walking around the Blue Ridge Mountains, I relaxed for the first time in months. I realized that my life had become so much about work that I didn’t focus enough on the things I really enjoyed. It was then I decided to finally start on that book idea I had. In fact, I was so excited, I started making notes for it on the trip. The book idea became my first novel, The Lover’s Knot.

• I originally planned to kill off Oliver White, who is introduced as a character in The Drunkard’s Path. My sister, Mary, hated that idea. She felt Eleanor had enough pain in her life and deserved a little happiness. And, she added, Oliver should be English. I’m so glad I kept him around. (And, I’ll bet, so is Eleanor!)

• Archers Rest is a fictional town but it’s based (at least in layout) on Sleepy Hollow, NY, where I lived for a couple of years. In particular the image of a town set between the Hudson River and an enormous graveyard, comes from the real place. (By the way, it’s “that” Sleepy Hollow from the Washington Irving story, and such a cute place to visit, particularly around Halloween.)

• I am a quilter. It’s something I get asked a lot since the art form is such a huge part of each of my Someday novels. I’ve made dozens of mostly traditional quilts, though often I incorporate modern fabrics – like a Kaffe Fassett log cabin or a batik drunkard’s path. I used to think I could give up the habit, or at least cut down on my fabric purchases, but no luck. As addictions go, I guess it’s a pretty harmless one, so I’m going to keep quilting until I use up my entire stash. (HA!)

      © Clare O'Donohue 2011. All Rights Reserved.

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