If you’re familiar with pop music from the 60s, you might recall the song recorded by The Byrds, “Turn! Turn! Turn!” Here are some of the lyrics:
turn, turn, turn.
There is a season,
turn, turn, turn.
And a time to every purpose
Although I hadn’t planned it from the start, I set each of my mystery novels in the Megan Scott/Michael Elliott Mystery series in a consecutive season. You could say that the first few lines of the aforementioned song provided the inspiration for doing so. Here’s how and why I did it.
I didn’t hesitate to choose summer as the season for False Impressions, my first mystery novel. I’d spent many years in Montreal when the summer days were hot and humid, and pedestrians sought refuge in air-conditioned venues. In False Impressions, the city’s sweltering climate heightens the conflict and suspense. It intensifies the relentless theme of a woman struggling to prove her innocence when she becomes a prime suspect in her husband’s murder. In essence, the sizzling summer acts as a backdrop to the mounting and unrestrained emotions in the story.
My second novel, Fatal Whispers, takes my sleuths to Portland, Maine in the fall. Since I’d once visited the town in October when gusty winds, rainy days, and Halloween played a role, I integrated tidbits of my experience into the story. No, I didn’t hunt down any suspects, but I captured the charming ambiance of this New England town where murders seldom occurred. To the astonishment of my fictional characters—and maybe my readers—I wove three shocking and unexpected deaths into the tale.
By the time I sat down to write my third book, I already had winter in mind. Like many people in the Northern Hemisphere, I’d survived an ice storm and witnessed its catastrophic results: massive uprooted evergreens, multi-car pileups, and widespread power outages that lasted days and even weeks. A fast-moving ice storm reinforces the plot in Icy Silence and leaves residents of an elite college school with no heat, dwindling food supplies, and no means of communication to the outside world. In the vein of art imitating life, the disaster creates panic and desperation among school staff and students, which only deepens when they learn about a killer in their midst.
Different seasons continue to play distinctive roles in subsequent novels in the series. Not only do they add variety to the settings from book to book, but they also increase the challenges my characters face. And we all know how unpredictable the weather can sometimes be!
For a walk down memory lane, click here to listen to “Turn! Turn! Turn” by The Byrds on YouTube.