An aspiring journalist who’s bored with her hometown. Nineteen eighties nostalgia. And an alien sighting.
These are just some of the elements in my soon-to-be released cozy mystery, Close Encounters of the Murderous Kind. But what inspired this story?
When I was finishing Deadly Heartbreak, the final Georgia Rae Winston mystery, I had a couple of ideas for spin-offs. One might’ve seemed obvious to readers, and that was a series about ice-cream truck owner Clover Calloway. She helped Georgia solve a mystery at Lake Hideaway in Deadly Hideaway. However, as world events began to get crazier, I longed for the escape that comes with writing a series set in the past, so I put the idea with Clover aside.
Then, it occurred to me I’d never explained why Georgia’s favorite coffee joint in Wildcat Springs, Indiana, is called Latte Conspiracies. What inspired the shop’s owner Bobbi Sue to use alien-themed branding and create quirky drinks such as the Area 51 Latte, Crop Circle Cappuccino, and the Sasquatch Mocha? I needed to find the answer, so I dove into Bobbi Sue’s past. That took me to Wildcat Springs in the summer of 1988 when she was just twenty-one years old and eager to leave home to conquer the world as a journalist.
And so my research and writing began.
Though 1988 is the first year of my life that I remember with a decent amount of detail, I researched to refresh my memory. I read old newspaper articles from my local paper in Newspaper Archive. I scoured copies of People, Time, and Good Housekeeping from June 1988.
As for Bobbi Sue’s alien sighting, I studied books to understand what people with strange encounters have experienced. One of the most helpful was J. Allen Hynek’s The UFO Experience: A Scientific Inquiry. This is the book where he presented close encounter classifications of the first, second, and third kinds.
In the end, I had a blast getting to know the young Bobbi Sue. It’s so much fun writing a mystery where the main character can’t rely on a cell phone to have instant access to information—and help. I’m currently writing book two in this series, and I’m looking forward to uncovering more of her adventures.