Interesting question, one that made me think. At first I came up with a definite no. Then a definite yes. Perhaps I’ll compromise—a definite maybe!
No doubt about it, writing is hard work. But, in a significant way, #2 was much easier. The characters I introduced in Murder at the Book Group (#1) did indeed pave the way for Hazel Rose and her book group cohorts in Murder at the Moonshine Inn (#2). Now they’re old friends, eager for their next adventure. My characters had bonded.
In Murder at the Book Group I was just meeting my characters. It was kind of like a group first date. Or the first day on the job. We had to get to know each other, our temperaments, personalities, quirks. Plus the book group wasn’t especially congenial. As the victim died after drinking cyanide-laced tea at a book group meeting, naturally everyone was under a cloud of suspicion. Not an auspicious start.
So Murder at the Moonshine Inn is like the tenth date for the group. Maybe twentieth. An established relationship!
But even the non-recurring characters were easier to develop in Book #2. I think it’s because I “know” them on some level and can empathize with them. I’m intrigued by their hidden agendas. I can even empathize with the killer(s)—scary thought, that!—because I understand the motivation to kill. I’ve entertained the fantasy. I just don’t commit the act, while my fictional killer(s) do—sometimes more than once.
Murder at the Book Group was set in 2005 and Murder at the Moonshine Inn eight years later, in 2013. The book group goes through many changes over the years and in 2013 is a friendly gathering of women who support each other and enjoy each other’s company, whether they’re talking about books, their everyday lives …
Maggie King is the author of Murder at the Book Group and Murder at the Moonshine Inn in the Hazel Rose Book Group series. She contributed stories to the Virginia is for Mysteries anthologies.
Maggie is a member of Sisters in Crime and the American Association of University Women. She has worked as a software developer, retail sales manager, and customer service supervisor. Maggie graduated from Elizabeth Seton College and earned a B.S. degree in Business Administration from Rochester Institute of Technology. She has called New Jersey, Massachusetts, and California home. These days she lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband, Glen, and cats, Morris and Olive.