Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Michele Drier - Author: "Novel Research" Interview

In 2011, when ebooks were just beginning to hit their stride on Amazon, Michele Drier and I met through an online writers' group, the Guppies chapter of Sisters in Crime, Inc. We had both dipped our toes into the phenomenon of electronic novels. SNAP: The World Unfolds was the debut novel of Michele's series "The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles."

Michele is a fifth generation Californian. During her career in journalism at daily newspapers in California, she won awards for investigative series. She is the past president of Capitol Crimes, a Sisters in Crime chapter; the Guppies chapter of SinC, current vice president of NorCal Sisters in Crime, and she co-chaired Bouchercon 2020.

Michele enjoyed journalism; but one thing she reveals that I didn't know about her was that she really wanted to be a Formula 1 driver and spent several years hanging around and driving sportscar time trials in California.

Because she has graciously accepted an invitation to discuss the novel research for her latest book, Tapestry of Tears (see Monday’s book review on this blog,) I now welcome author Michele Drier.

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Author Michele Drier

Greetings from California. Thanks so much for inviting me. 

As career choices go, if I had it to do over, I’d be an archeologist. I have a deep, abiding love of history, particularly medieval Europe. This love led me to the plot of Tapestry of Tears, the second book in the Stained Glass Mysteries.

Roz Duke, an internationally known stained glass artist, has accepted a commission to reproduce a section of the Bayeux Tapestry in glass for a university in Wisconsin.

To understand the history behind the 11th century depiction of William the Conqueror’s invasion of England, and to further study medieval stained glass, she takes a sabbatical from her studio in Oregon and moves to Hythe, a medieval city in the south of Kent, England. From here, it’s a ferry ride to northern France and the Tapestry Museum in Bayeux, France.

See: History of the Bayeux Tapestry - Bayeux Tapestry
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh (uwosh.edu)
An odd fact, the discovery of 30,000 pieces of medieval stained glass in the attics of Westminster Cathedral, was the impetus for getting Roz to England. 

And it’s a true fact, giving me the initial plot for Tapestry of Tears.

I’d been to Bayeux and spent the day at the Tapestry Museum and had been to the south of England a few times, including Hythe and the tiny town on Dymchurch. And on one trip, I stood on the cliffs overlooking Omaha Beach, where the Allied assault forces invaded France and broke Hitler’s hold on the world.

As I was writing, I went down the rabbit hole of Google a lot of times, checking and double-checking my recollections; I bought yet another book on the Tapestry; I looked up ferry times and crossings of the Channel (even priced the Chunnel but decided Roz was too cheap to spend that much money!); went through some of my old pictures and wore the pages in my European atlas to shreds checking on all the small roads and sites in Kent.

At one point in the book, I have Roz moving some of her belongings from north of London to Hythe with the help of Hal, a Kentish policeman. I turned to my trusty atlas, tracing their route on the M25 and found the town of Waltham Abbey, a convenient place to stop and spend the night.

As I Googled Waltham Abbey, I discovered they had a medieval cathedral which was the burial site of King Harold, who was defeated by William the Conqueror. Well, of course Roz had to visit it.

I love research and can spend far too many hours chasing leads and tidbits. In an earlier book, Labeled for Death, about vineyard workers found dead, I managed to wheedle a visit to the Wine Library at UC Davis. After interviewing one of the oenologists, I was taken to the stacks and watched as a librarian, wearing white cotton gloves, reverently placed a large (maybe 20” x 24”) loose-leaf book in front of me. It was sample wine grape leaves from 1870 with hand-written descriptions and was how they determined varieties. The same method (with pictures instead of actual leaves) is still used today at all the wineries in California.

On the whole, I think my years in journalism has led me to relish finding sources and unearthing facts—from large to small. At this late date, I doubt I’ll ever be an archeologist, but I can pretend as I follow link to link to link and tuck interesting facts away…or write them on sticky notes that I immediately misplace.

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Michele’s Amy Hobbes Newspaper Mysteries are Edited for Death, (called “Riveting and much recommended” by the Midwest Book Review), Labeled for Death and Delta for Death. A stand-alone, Ashes of Memories was published May 2017.

Her paranormal romance series, SNAP: The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles, was named the best paranormal vampire series of 2014 by PRG and she’s currently writing Book Eleven, SNAP: Pandemic Games.

Her new series is the Stained Glass Mysteries, Stain on the Soul and Tapestry of Tears.  She lives in Sacramento with her cat, Malley, and she’s working on the third book in the series, Resurrection of the Roses.

Visit her webpage, www.MicheleDrier.me

Or her Facebook page, ,http://www.facebook.com/AuthorMicheleDrier

Or find her on her author page at http://www.amazon.com/Michele-Drier/e/B005D2YC8G/

Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08P41FKJY or

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tapestry-of-tears-michele-drier/1138556280?ean=2940162911357


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7 comments:

  1. Research and rabbit holes go hand-in-hand. Michele, I love that you started with one factual moment to develop your story. Was that fact the inspiration, or had you started down that road and that cemented it?

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  2. In this case, I'd read the small story about the Westminster find on some English history blog and thought it was wonderfully odd, so tucked it away. Then a year of so later I developed the character of Roz, a current-day stained glass artist who was living her own mystery...why was her husband killed in a drive-by shooting? As Roz and her life took shape in the first book, Stain on the Soul, the Westminster glass hoard was percolating away and I knew that Roz had to deal with it. But she lives in Oregon? Aaahh, an interesting and challenging commission brings her to the south coast of England and into the mystery of the missing Westminster glass (which isn't really missing, after all!). Serendipity ... and an interesting English police detective to boot.
    Thanks for the comment, AJ.

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    1. What perfect timing for that little fact about Westminster to bubble to the surface after you'd thought about Roz. It certainly made what sounds like some wonderful challenges for your characters. Thanks, Michele.

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  3. Thanks so much for hosting me, Gail. Little did I know that stained glass plays such a big part in both our histories! There's a peace that comes when the sun shines through. The third book, Resurrection of the Roses, centers on French cathedrals being burned and rose windows being destroyed (although Notre Dame's did survive the fire).

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    1. You're certainly welcome, Michele. And so thankful we are that Notre Dame wasn't totally destroyed, although most likely I won't be booking a flight for 2024 when it is supposed to reopen.

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  4. Michele, do you find it difficult to lay aside those research finds that really truly don't fit in the book? I always had a hard time with authors who wanted to include ever detail they found in research.
    Love Roz and her series and am anxiously awaiting Resurrection of the Roses.

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    1. Hi Judy, I try to pare down my research to the logical information that fits in the plot, but sometimes it's hard to let got of a particularly juicy factoid! One nice side effect of being a pantser is that I can shift or massage the plot line a bit to add things (or people!) of interest. And as a small teaser, Tut will be with her in France.

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