So Much Stuff I Can't Recall

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Book Chat with Brandilyn Collins 2: Electric ... Never Mind

Back in April I chatted with Brandilyn Collins about her then-new novel, Web of Lies. WoL was the end of one series, Violet Dawn is the beginning of another.

Set in Kanner Lake, Idaho, Violet Dawn tells Paige Williams's story: how she finds a dead body, what she does with it, and what comes next. It also tells the stories of about a dozen other Kanner Lake residents. Some of them, like police chief Vince Edwards and fortune-seeking reporter Leslie Brymes, are directly involved in the unfolding of events; then there are the others, Hank and Janet Dretcher (pastor and his missus), Carla Radling (realtor), Wilbur Hucks (mr. crankypants), et al. While they're not front and center, this handful of "local color" keeps the reader rooted in the setting -- and rooting for Paige to overcome her difficulties and become part of it too.

Java Joint, the local sandwich and coffee hang-out, is the nexus of Kanner Lake life. It's where we find out who the locals are, what makes the town "the town," get a little gossipy exposition (it never takes you out of the story), find a little humor amid the grim doings of a murder investigation.

Java Joint is also the scene of one of Brandilyn's marketing efforts for the series: a website where the locals blog about the town. Other writers (writers who are not Brandilyn Collins) were invited to bring the characters to life, first through auditioning, then through bi-weekly blog entries. The blog takes place in real-time, so on the dates when "certain events" in the book occured the characters reacted (without spoiling the fun for future readers). Most entries are anecdotes about the characters' lives and have seemingly nothing to do with the books themselves. Are there clues dropped in? You never know.

As one of the four writers of Wilbur Hucks, I thought I'd take this Blog Tour/Book Chat opportunity to talk about Wilbur rather than ask broader questions about the book itself. (Got to do research, somehow...) The five questions went like this:
  1. A friend of mine recently moved his family up to Coeur d'Alene to bootstrap a new church. They moved into a house on Wilbur Avenue. Coincidence or have characters been named after Idaho/Cd'A locations?

    No coincidence, but it's the other way around. The street was named after Wilbur Hucks. He is famous, you know.

  2. How much did being named Wilbur (instead of William or Wilfred or Wilmer Valderrama) have to do with him becoming a crotchety old man? (And Hucks, sounds like you're getting ready to spit. Poor fella never had a chance, huh?)

    Look, I didn't birth the guy, nor name him. He came like that. What was I supposed to do? Tell him his moniker was lousy?

  3. It's Any-Pie-for-$6 Month at Marie Callendar's; Wilbur steps up to the display case and orders what flavor? (for himself; he'll order a separate pie for Trudy [Mrs. Hucks] should she so desire)

    Wilbur loves huckleberry, as these berries are ubiquitous to the north Idaho area, and he's a true Idahoan. Trudy goes bonkers for lemon meringue. It's just the right combination of sweet and tart--much like Wilbur.

  4. Wilbur's favorite movie?

    A Christmas Story. It reminds him of when he was a kid and wanted a BB gun. Plus he once did his own rendition of that getting-the-tongue-stuck-on-the-icy-flagpole thing.

  5. Exempting Oscar the Grouch, Sam the Eagle, and Statler and Waldorf (the balcony guys), who is Wilbur's favorite Muppet ... and why?

    Wilbur didn't even know who the Muppets were until a little neighbor girl chattered away to him about them one day. He accepted her invitation to watch one of the Muppet movies with her and her mom. Wilbur loved Animal right away. Animal's so . . . out there. Like Wilbur.

While not as ooky as Web of Lies, Violet Dawn is still a suspenseful -- suspense-filled -- mystery. Not so much Whodunit as Whydoodit, the book will have you regularly reminding yourself to breathe. Next in the series: Coral Moon (March '07). The prologue appears at the end of Violet Dawn ... it's a doozy.

For more about Brandilyn's writing -- what's coming up, what's new in the biz, how and why she writes, the care and feeding of agents and editors -- visit her Forensics & Faith blog.

For more stops on the Violet Dawn Blog Tour, check the blog roll under the CFBA graphic near the bottom of the left-hand sidebar (under Affiliated Affiliations).

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