Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Going Deep into the Mind of Lauren Carr

A Mac Faraday Mystery
by Lauren Carr


Lauren is also the author of the Mac Faraday Mysteries, which takes place in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. The first two books in her series, It’s Murder, My Son and Old Loves Die Hard have been getting rave reviews from readers and reviewers. The next book in this series, Shades of Murder, will be released May 2012. This will be Lauren’s fifth mystery.

Lauren’s sixth book, Dead on Ice, will be released in Fall 2012. Dead on Ice will introduce a new series entitled Lovers in Crime, in which Joshua Thornton will join forces with homicide detective Cameron Gates.

Visit Lauren’s websites and blog at:

Publisher: CreateSpace. (Under the Publishing Management of Acorn Book Services)
Release Date: May 15, 2012
Format: Print/E-Book


In a Place Far, Far Away Only in My Mind, or—
What’s a writer to do when she wants to humiliate someone but they won’t go along willingly?

By Lauren Carr

During my writing career, I have discovered that people are both thrilled and anxious about the prospect of ending up in a book involving murder and mayhem. After meeting me, some have to wonder, “How does she see me in one of her books? A detective? A suspect? Oh, my heavens, certainly not a corpse!”
My first series, the Joshua Thornton mysteries are set in Chester, West Virginia; the small town where I had grown up. In A small Case of Murder, Joshua’s parents discover a dead body in the barn on my brother’s farm. Mark has fun telling people that actually no dead body was ever found on his farm. When researching A Reunion to Die For, I took a tour of the county prosecutor’s office. Hancock County’s prosecuting attorney thinks it’s a kick having a fictional counterpart.
However, while writing the Mac Faraday mysteries, I learned that when it strikes too close to home, some people would rather the author take her murder elsewhere.
My sister-in-law had asked me to set a murder mystery in her home town, a sweet summer place in Wisconsin called Pelican Lake. At the time, I was working on a storyline that wasn’t a good fit for Joshua Thornton. So I went to work on a new series set on a lake in the resort town of Pelican Lake.
I had completed the first draft of It’s Murder, My Son in time for a visit from my sister-in-law. Excited about a murder set in her town at her request, she asked for all the details. When I mentioned that the murder victim was killed in her house, I was surprised to see horror on her face. Since her home and property had a unique design and layout, anyone knowing her could easily tell that the murder took place in her home.
For the sake of family harmony, I decided to do a re-write.
 As luck would have it, my family started vacationing at Deep Creek Lake in Maryland. Like Pelican Lake, this Maryland town is a resort area. It was child’s play to pick up my murder in Pelican Lake and plop it down in Deep Creek Lake, until I asked the local police department to let me portray them as a bunch of idiots.
In the storyline for It’s Murder, My Son, homicide detective Mac Faraday discovers that his birth mother is the late Robin Spencer, America’s Queen of Mystery and he is her sole heir. Upon learning that he has a half brother, police officer David O’Callaghan, he moves to Deep Creek Lake to meet him.
Mac is drawn into the murder investigation of his neighbor after Gnarly, his inherited German shepherd, drags home a dismembered head. When he sees that the chief detective is an incompetent, Mac joins David in the investigation. It is the perfect opportunity to get to know his brother better. But, as luck would have it, Mac ends up making David the prime suspect.
While rewriting It’s Murder, My Son, I was surprised when the local police department refused to cooperate in my research. Unlike the Hancock County sheriff (a protagonist) in the Joshua Thornton mysteries, the sheriff in Deep Creek Lake (an antagonist) would only give me a tour of the jail if I brought my toothbrush and planned to stay a while. Their resistance was understandable. Even though I promised disclaimers in my acknowledgements about my work being completely fiction and not based on anyone real, the police department was concern about their image.
So, out of respect for the real law enforcement, I created a fictional resort town resting on the shores of the real Deep Creek Lake and had a blast doing it.
In my previous series, my imagination was fenced in by the boundaries of Chester’s realities. While I was able to move the barn on my brother’s farm, I couldn’t get away with placing a twenty-five story high-rise on Carolina Avenue. Nor could I change the town’s history to fit a storyline.
When a murder mystery is set in a real town, readers expect the writer to be true to the facts. Even with a work of fiction, readers familiar with the area have a hard time forgiving authors when they rewrite their hometown’s history or change the streets. Even if the author had a legitimate reason for making the change, to the reader, it looks like sloppy research. For example, a woman once told me that she had stopped reading a series set in Washington DC when the writer had placed an exit ramp off Rock Creek Parkway that wasn’t there.
This all came back to me when writing Shades of Murder, my latest mystery. Even though it is a Mac Faraday mystery, I brought back Joshua Thornton, who had reopened a seemingly unconnected case in the Pittsburgh while Mac is investigating the murder of a famous artist in Deep Creek Lake.
While I was free to let my imagination go when it came to the fictional town of Spencer, Maryland, my writing had to be true in the portions of the book taking place in Pittsburgh. After all, that is a real town and a lot of readers would know if I had a character driving off an exit that wasn’t there.
In one chapter, homicide detective Cameron Gates gives Joshua directions to where a Jane Doe’s body had been discovered in a field. Those directions to that field are real, right down to the mileage and estimated time for driving them.
When I sat down to create the setting for It’s Murder, My Son, the first installment in the Mac Faraday mysteries, it was like a bird set free from a cage. My imagination opened its wings and soared. Since this was my town, I had the freedom to do with it as I saw fit.
Thus, Spencer, Maryland, was founded.
Nestled in a corner of Deep Creek Lake, Spencer is named after my protagonist’s ancestors. As the descendent of the town’s founders, the character of Mac Faraday has political influence that he otherwise couldn’t have inherited.
Since my first draft had already been on a lake in Wisconsin, I duplicated that setting in Spencer, but added some of my own touches. Mac Faraday’s cedar and stone home rests at the end of the most expensive piece of real estate on Deep Creek Lake. The peninsula houses a half-dozen lake houses that grow in size and grandeur along the stretch of Spencer Court, which ends at the stone pillars marking the multi-million dollar estate that had been the birthplace and home of one of the world’s most famous authors.
My fictional setting’s affluence is born out of necessity. While this lakeside town is small, it also has its own police department. In order to make that feasible, I had to make Spencer a getaway for the rich and famous.
From the lakeshore, Spencer’s border stretches up and over a mountain, on top of which rests the Spencer Inn, a resort and spa, which is also part of Mac’s inheritance. Ironically, before his windfall, he couldn’t have afforded to eat there.
While it is fun to create a fictional setting, the writer does need to keep hold on the reins. The setting needs to fit with the surrounding area. Readers familiar with Deep Creek Lake would never buy an exclusive resort town like Spencer on their shores if in fact the area was an impoverished swamp. In reality, Deep Creek Lake is a popular vacation spot for people from Washington, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and all the surrounding areas. The million dollar homes in my setting fit right in with the other vacation houses that dot the lake and mountainside.
Writing the Mac Faraday Mysteries has been an amazing ride. But I have to admit, it was a challenge researching the real city of Pittsburgh, studying the maps and wondering, “Hmm, where’s the best place for a dead body to be found?” With Spencer, I can put that dead body anywhere I want.
Which do I prefer? Real settings or fictional settings? They both have their advantages.

As a writer, it is exhilarating to let your imagination go free without the reins of reality. Who knows, maybe in Max Faraday’s next adventure, I’ll have him go into a galaxy far, far away—or was that already done?

Book Excerpts :

“What does the letter say?” Archie came back in from the kitchen. With the scissors, she broke through the plastic cord wrapped around the box.
Mac was still reading the first letter. “It’s a bunch of legal mumbo jumbo. This guy, Archibald Poole, died. He had left this to Robin Spencer. In the event of her death preceding his, it was to be passed on to her next of kin. Since that’s me, I get it.”
Archie stopped snipping. “Archibald Poole?”
Gnarly stopped sniffing.
“Did you know him?” He was breaking through the seal of the white envelope addressed to Robin.
“Creepy old man. One of those eccentric rich guys. He didn’t make it all on the up and up. I think Robin remained friends with him because he was good material for her books. He lived in a big mansion up on top of a mountain in southern West Virginia.”
Mac was only half paying attention. “He left Robin a painting.”
With one end unsealed, Archie peered inside the box to see that the contents were wrapped in brown paper and padding.
Sitting on the top step leading down into the dining room, Mac read the letter out loud:
Dearest Robin,
If you are reading this, then I’m dead and you are now observing my gift to you. So, what do you leave to the girl who has everything? When that girl is Robin Spencer, it’s a mystery.
You will find that I have left you an Ilysa Ramsay painting. That alone makes it worth a fortune. But, ah, my dear Robin, this is not just any Ilysa Ramsay painting. It is her lost painting.
You will recall that Ilysa Ramsay was brutally murdered on your own Deep Creek Lake in the early hours of Labor Day in 2004. At the same time, her last painting was stolen from her studio where her dead body was discovered. She had unveiled what she had declared to be her masterpiece to her family and friends the same evening that she was murdered.
Grasping the frame wrapped in packaging, Archie tugged at the painting to pull it out of the box while Mac continued reading:
Everyone in the art world has been searching for Ilysa Ramsay’s last work of art. With only a handful of people having seen it; and no photographs taken of it before its theft; its value is priceless.
As my good luck would have it, a month after her murder, my guy called me. He had been contacted by a fence representing someone claiming to have the painting and wanting to unload it. Being familiar with Ilysa Ramsay’s work, I was able to authenticate it. Also, I had seen reports from witnesses who had described it as a self-portrait of Ilysa.
As I write this letter, Ilysa’s murder has yet to be solved. Nor do I know who had stolen the painting. It was sold to me by a third party.
And so, my dear lovely Robin, I leave this task to you. Here is the painting that the art world has been searching for, for years, and a mystery of who stole it, along with who killed its lovely artist. Enjoy, as I know you will!
My Love, Archibald Poole
Her yellow suit droopy, Archie slapped her hat down on the dining room table, and ripped through the padding to reveal the painting of a red-haired woman lying across a lounge with a red and green clover pattern. She was dressed in an emerald gown with a ruby red choker stretched across her throat. Ruby red jewels spilled down her throat toward the bodice.
Gnarly sat on the floor at Mac’s feet to gaze at the painting.
They studied the image together.
“Just what I always wanted,” Mac said. “A stolen priceless painting with a dead body attached to it.”


Lauren Carr fell in love with mysteries when her mother read Perry Mason to her at bedtime. The first installment in the Joshua Thornton mysteries, A Small Case of Murder was a finalist for the Independent Publisher Book Award. A Reunion to Die For was released in hardback in June 2007. Both of these books are in re-release.
The owner of Acorn Book Services, Lauren is also a publishing manager, consultant, editor, cover and layout designer, and marketing agent for independent authors. This spring, two books written by independent authors will be released through the management of Acorn Book Services.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She also passes on what she has learned in her years of writing and publishing by conducting workshops and teaching in community education classes.

She lives with her husband, son, and two dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.


Patti Hultstrand said...

Welcome Lauren and our readers. I thought we were visiting with Lauren tomorrow, so I apologize for getting this up late.

We have a very tight Virtual Book Tour schedule and Blog Talk Radio show schedule for the next few weeks, so come back here every day because we will have some great chances at FREEBIES.

Lauren Carr said...

Hello, Patti and readers! It's great to be here! I'm sure you'll enjoy Shades of Murder, which is already out and available both in print and epub. Don't forget to enter my Name the Porn Star Contest. Details are on my website: You could win a prize for naming the murder victim in my next book: Dead on Ice!

Lauren Carr

Cindy McDonald said...

Hey Lauren, just finished reading Shades of Murder--loved it. Your problem with readers becoming angry over hometown details is the exact reason that I created a fictional Pennsylvania town for my book series. Although, they do love that I mention the Steelers and the Pirates in the stories.

Lauren Carr said...

Yes, Cindy, readers do get tickled when an author mentions their home or heroes in a book. One of the advantages of a fictional town is that you do have more freedom as a writer, as long as you are true to the general area. For example, Spencer is a fictional town, but if I put a high rise on the lake, residents would get angry. But even in a real town, I will fictionalize places. Like if I have a murder happen a restaurant, I won't use a real business in a real town. Would hate to be responsible for a business going south because readers think they have a dead body back in their freezer.

Likewise, in Dead on Ice, coming out in the fall, my ice cream loving protagonists, frequent Cricksters, a real restaurant in Chester, WV.