Each Thursday in December, this site will feature an author guest post, and it it goes well, that will continue after the first of the year. Today we welcome Kemberlee Shortland, one of my favorite people, and a great author. She talks about the research that went into her new mystery, Murder in Mornington:
Researching Murder in Mornington
Since releasing my latest story, Murder in Mornington, I’ve been asked what inspired it. After all, it’s a cozy mystery and I’m a romance writer. Why the change?
Well, it’s as simple, or as complicated, as real murder.
Two years ago, my hubs took a new job which meant relocating to new digs. We found what is probably the best place we’ve ever lived in Ireland . . . a cottage style house in a small bedroom community called Mornington, on the east coast where a major river opens into the Irish Sea right behind us. Bliss, right?
Bliss until a dead body was found on the riverbank!
The poor fellow had actually met his demise in our nearest town then dumped at the river, for what purpose, I don’t know. But as I’m a writer and have a curious mind, my imagination started working overtime the moment I realized there had been a murder in Mornington. “What the heck are we getting ourselves into?” More importantly, what was it about Mornington that inspired this body dump? Had others met their demise here?
With the title practically leaping into my lap, I asked myself if I could apply this to a story. Writers put everything they experience into stories . . . which is why you’re not supposed to upset us. Because we could put you into a story and torture you. A lot!
Since I live, literally, behind the scene in question (I can see the tower from my office), I’m down there all the time with our dogs, so the location research was easy. The harder part was the investigative stuff. For that, I have to say, it pays to know someone who knows someone.
Long story short, I met with an active Irish police investigator who spoke with me at length about the procedure of an investigation . . . from the moment the call is made to 999 (Ireland’s equivalent of the US’s 911).
This information was invaluable, to say the least. I was able to look through a real case file that was actually presented to the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) and used during the trial. Every little last detail of the investigation went into this three inch thick tome. Every inspectors’ note, every forensic result, every report . . . every *everything* revolving around the case. Which also included additional reports that were stuck in the back of the book after printing. And we went through the first part of this investigation with fine toothed comb until I fully understood the process of Irish investigations and could then ask questions which would apply to my fictional case.
Without having an opportunity to talk with someone in the field in which I was writing meant I was mainly reliant on the news to see how things are done. But we all know how subjective news reports can be. While what I had written was believable, it wasn’t 100% accurate. I wanted 100% accuracy.
My new friend also agreed to read my story for accuracy, which I *really* appreciated. He got out his red pen (a real red pen) and made loads of notes which I then used to amend my work. It was a good thing too because my fictional detective had illegally collected a crucial piece of evidence that would not have been admissible in court. With my friend’s guidance, I had avoided a major FUBAR. With my friend’s help, I was able to accurately write scenes from the initial discovery through search warrants to evidence collection.
I can’t say enough about good research, and about going the extra mile, especially when it comes to facts that matter. Writing a believable story is one thing, but writing one that’s accurate takes work. It pays off in the end.
The last thing hair stylist Sassy O’Brien expects to find on her morning run on her local beach is a dead body. An addict of TV crime programs, she thinks, “What would Beckett do?” After ringing the police, she takes several crime scene photos on her mobile phone, as you do.
Much to Detective Donnelly’s consternation, Sassy’s involvement becomes instrumental in his investigation, especially as clues are overlooked by his team.
How will Sassy cope when all the clues point to her?
Kemberlee was born and raised in Northern California in an area known as America’s Salad Bowl. It was home to many authors, including John Steinbeck, and for a while Jack London and Robert Louis Stevenson.
In 1997, Kemberlee left the employ of Clint Eastwood when the opportunity to live in Ireland for six months presented itself. It was there she ended up meeting a man who convinced her to stay. Kemberlee is now celebrating her eighteenth year in Ireland and has been lucky to travel the country extensively, picking up a cupla focal along the way—a few Irish words.
Kemberlee has been writing since a very young age and over the years she has published dozens of travel articles and book reviews, as well as worked with some notable authors who’ve set their books in Ireland.
2006 saw the publication of Kemberlee’s first two short stories, Tutti-Frutti Blues and Dude Looks Like a Lady, set in her hometown. Since then, Kemberlee has published a number of short stories and novels, many of which are set in Ireland.
Website – http://www.kemberlee.com
Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/kemberlee
LinkedIn – http://www.linkedin.com/in/kemberlee
Heart Shaped Stones – http://www.heartshapedstones.blogspot.com
Hearticles: Articles with Heart – http://www.hearticles.blogspot.com
Tirgearr Publishing – http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Shortland_Kemberlee
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B017DEWZEY
Watch for book two in this series, Lynched in Laytown. Coming Spring 2016.
It’s happened again. On her morning run, Sassy discovers the body of a man hanging from the scoreboard at the Laytown Races winner circle—the jockey who’d won yesterday’s famous beach race. When two women are discovered to be carrying the deceased baby, a disgruntled and jilted wife, and jealous jockeys, suspects are at a premium.
Detective Donnelly is called in to investigate, but will Sassy’s involvement be of help or hindrance? If anything from his past experience with the hair stylist is to go by, this case will take an interesting twist.