I’m happy to introduce Mollie Cox Bryan as my guest blogger for this week. Mollie has a new book coming out: Scrapbook of Secrets: A Cumberland Creek Mystery. It sounds like a great read and Mollie has agreed to give away a copy to one of the commentors. I hope all of you will enjoy meeting Mollie and her characters.
Take it away Mollie!
Meet the Women of Cumberland Creek
My first novel, SCRAPBOOK OF SECRETS: A CUMBERLAND CREEK MYSTERY has just been published by Kensington. With publishing schedules being what they are, as I begin to promote this book, I’m expecting edits on the second book and am in the middle of the first draft of the third in the series. Seriously. Now, when I sit down to write, it feels like I’m visiting old friends. I’d like to introduce them to you.
My series revolves around a group of women in a small but growing Southern town. They get together to scrapbook, eat, and as it happens, to solve murders.
The story is told from three main characters points of view. They are surrounded by a secondary group of women and men. There’s also a third tier of characters I like to call my “walk-ons.” You’ll have to read the book to meet those folks. In the mean time here’s my three characters.
Annie Chamovitz is 36-years-old and has “retired” from the rough and tumble world of Washington, D.C., investigative journalism. She and her husband Mike moved to Cumberland Creek from Bethesda, Md., a tone suburb. Her family is the only Jewish family in town. When the book opens, she is a stay-at-home mom to Sam and Ben. After being in Cumberland Creek about a year, she is finally invited to a weekly scrapbooking crop. She goes to the scrapbook gathering—reluctantly. Visions of frilly stickers and glitter paper dissuade her. Soon, she is part of the group, finding she loves the “puzzle” aspect to scrapbooking. Soon enough, she also gets sucked back into freelance journalism.
My favorite quote from Annie:
“I don’t need my husband’s permission, Detective, just his support. This is the twenty-first century,” she said.
Vera Matthews has just turned forty. She is the owner of the only dancing school in town. She has never quite resolved her longing for the stage. So she delights in changing hair color and make-up palettes. She is married to her college sweetheart, Bill. She grew up in Cumberland Creek, went to college in NYC, and danced professionally for a brief period of time. Because she’s childless, she makes scrapbooks for her students and herself.
My favorite quote from Vera:
“I may be a bitch, but I work too hard for my money to go and have some pop psychologist to charge me to tell me about the psychological aspect to a hobby. Some people just sap all the fun out of everything,” Vera said, taking a bite of the cake.
Beatrice Matthews is Vera’s eighty-year-old mother and is not a scrapbooker. She is a quantum physicist and has conversations with her dead husband, who appears in ghost form throughout the book—but only to her. She grew up on Jenkins Mountain, one of the many mountains surrounding the town of Cumberland Creek. At the beginning of the book, Bea is stabbed.
My favorite Beatrice quote: “You’re Daddy bought it for me and taught me how to use it. I feel safe with it here next to me in my nightstand. So over my dead body will I get rid of it. In fact, you can bury me with my gun in one hand and a book in the other,” Beatrice said.
About the Book
Having traded in her career as a successful investigative journalist for the life of a stay-at-home mum in picturesque Cumberland Creek, Virginia, Annie can’t help but feel that something’s missing. But she finds solace in a local “crop circle” of scrapbookers united by chore-shy husbands, demanding children, and occasional fantasies of their former single lives. And when the quiet idyll of their small town is shattered by a young mother’s suicide, they band together to find out what went wrong…Annie resurrects her reporting skills and discovers that Maggie Rae was a closet scrapbooker who left behind more than a few secrets – and perhaps a few enemies. As they sift through Maggie Rae’s mysteriously discarded scrapbooks, Annie and her “crop” sisters begin to suspect that her suicide may have been murder. It seems that something sinister is lurking beneath the town’s beguilingly calm facade – like a killer with unfinished business…
Mollie Cox Bryan is a food writer and cookbook author with a penchant for murder. Her stories have many forms: cookbooks, articles, essays, poetry and fiction. Mollie grew up near Pittsburgh, Pa., and attended Point Park University, where she received a B.A. in Journalism and Communications. Her first real job out of college was as a paste-up artist at a small newspaper, where she was allowed to write “on her own time” and she did.
Mollie moved to the Washington, D.C. area, where she held a number of writing jobs, and has written about a diverse array of subjects, such as construction, mathematics education, and life insurance. While working in the editorial field, Mollie began taking poetry classes at the Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Md. Soon, she was leading local poetry workshops and was selected to participate in the prestigious Jenny McKean Moore Poetry Workshop. Mollie still writes poetry— not as frequently— and believes that her study of poetry informs all of her writing.
In 1999, shortly after the birth of her first daughter, Emma, Mollie and her husband moved to the Shenandoah Valley of Va., where he took a job at the Frontier Culture Museum and she stayed at home to take care of Emma and start a freelancing career.
Mrs. Rowe’s Little Book of Southern Pies (Ten Speed/Random House, 2009) The Good Cook Book Club; named one of the best cookbooks of 2009 by Rose Kennedy of All Foods Considered.
Mrs. Rowe’s Restaurant Cookbook: A Lifetime of Recipes from the Shenandoah Valley (Ten Speed Press, 2006)
Unsilenced: the Spirit of Women, Commune-A-Key, 1999. A poetry and essay compilation.
Honey, I’m Sorry I Killed Your Aquasaurs (and other short essays on the parenting life) E-book on Amazon. This is a compilation of my newspaper column, Thoroughly Modern Mollie.
A few publications Mollie’s articles are published in:
Grit, NPR’s Kitchen Window, The Christian Science Monitor, Taste of the South Magazine. Virginia Living. Relish,
Currently, Mollie is a restaurant reviewer for the Daily News Leader, Staunton, Va. and a frequent contributor for the local NPR-affiliate, WVTF.