Friday, May 2, 2014

Easter Egg Hunt 2014

The book I’m working on takes place in and around Bishop Hill, Illinois. I spent twenty-four years of my adult life living and working there. I had a jewelry-making business and raised two sons. I was involved in local organizations and on occasion wrote for the Galva News. I think I know that area as well as anything else in my life. Perhaps more than anything else. So naturally, the themes I explore in my mystery novel revolve around my past experiences in this part of Henry County. I say past, because I now live in Davenport, Iowa.

Central to my fictionalized story of a recent college grad coming home to a mystery involving a prominent Swedish-American folk artist and missing paintings is a cast of make-believe characters that starts with a 103-year-old runaway. I found it far easier to create these composite personalities than to name them all. In the midst of my first NaNoWriMo surge of writing, I had to give up on finding everyone a unique Swedish sounding surname. Instead, I went for the common and overused. This didn’t turn out as bad as you might think; it actually presented a couple of opportunities for humor. However, I wouldn’t call them Easter eggs in the traditional sense of hidden treasures awaiting discovery by an astute reader. They’re easy to spot and explained away early on.

Also in a lighter vein, I took pains to add to my narrative many, many references to coffee. After all, it’s such a Swedish thing to do. Stieg Larsson did it in his books, so why couldn’t I? Two perfectly good excuses right there.

Anyway, I’m closing in on the ending to my novel and still no cleverly hidden gem I’d call an Easter egg.

Then I got an idea. Will it work? Perhaps? Sure, why not try. To be fair, I have to go back to the beginning and add some appropriate clues. Not a big deal with my computer. I use my outline to hunt up the most likely places for the patches. The next rewrite should smooth the rough edges. In the meantime, I think I have my Easter egg. Only time and some reader feedback will let me know if I’ve succeeded or not.

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