Where I Found A Most Curious Murder
Author Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli on the unusual way that Little Libraries and Alice in Wonderland provided the inspiration behind her new series.
“Little Libraries,” my agent, Jessica Faust, suggested after Crooked Lane Books called and asked if I would do a new series for them.
I pictured small town libraries so tiny there would be no place to hide a body unless I stuffed it in the book return.
“You know, those little lending libraries people put up in front of their houses.” Jessica explained the obvious to me.
Of course I’d seen Little Library boxes right here in Traverse City, Michigan, and applauded them as a way for neighbors to exchange books but how was I to get at least two murders, a handful of suspects, a credible plot and subplot, and a hint of romance out of a cute little book box standing benignly in front of a charming cottage?
I told Jessica I had to think about it and took to my writing studio where I usually solve problems with a lot of good music, a little incense, and a bunch of lighted candles—which did nothing for my thought process and only put me to sleep.
Days went by and nothing came to me. No plot. No dead folks. No suspects.
Nothing. Until one night while I was sleeping. A Little Person did a couple of pirouettes around a Little Library box in my head, followed by a huge white rabbit holding a big round watch (a la Alice in Wonderland).
Zoe Zola was born, a woman under four feet tall usually dressed in pants with Disney characters on them. Zoe is a magic person with a brain as crafty as Sherlock Holmes’ and an intense interest in Alice in Wonderland. She spouts quotes from Alice when they seem apropos to her, and brings Wonderland characters to life around her.
That was all I needed: a quirky character who writes books about fairy tales and magic people. I had the beginning of a Little Library story.
Up drove Jenny Weston, a recent divorcee from Chicago, home to stay with her mother until her bruised ego was back intact.
Then Zoe slipped me a grumpy old man not long for this world, and a flawed town carpenter.
I was off!
A Most Curious Murder was born and fully grown in six months.
Now there are more to come. In January, She Stopped for Death will be published by Crooked Lane Books. This time it is the story of a magical and murderous writer who has grabbed Zoe’s wild imagination. And again there is Jenny Weston, the confused divorcee, along with the rough and ready carpenter.
Like all my books, I love messing with my characters then letting them shine in all their brilliance as they solve a few murders, meet casts of odd people one doesn’t meet every day, and then move on to tell another tale.
Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli lives in Mancelona, MI. She has published nine novels, one work of non-fiction, and several short stories, which have been produced onstage, read on NPR, and published in several newspapers. For many years she taught writing at the International Women’s Writing Guild summer program at Skidmore College and currently teaches at Northwestern Michigan College. A Most Curious Murder (July 12, Crooked Lane Books) is the first in her Little Library series. For more, visit her here.
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