Hint — It’s sometimes a horrible place.
“Where do you get your ideas from?”
This is a question writers get asked constantly, and there’s no easy answer.
No book blossoms fully grown from the imagination, but rather percolates, sometimes for years, in the writer’s mind. This is certainly true of my third Molly Parsons mystery, Foggy Sunset, which will be published on June 13th.
This book, like every novel I’ve written, started as a single thought — the evil of eugenics as it was practiced in the United States and Canada, and the rest of the world for that matter.
While the notion of eugenics as science sounds like something from the Third Reich, it was government policy in many states, including Michigan. In fact, Michigan was the first state to propose eugenics legislation and officially adopted a forced sterilization law in 1913. This law focused on the ‘mentally defective or insane’ which led to the forced sterilization of over 3,500 people in Michigan, most of them women.
It’s interesting that the advocates of eugenics, such as The Race Betterment Foundation, justified this evil practice as essential to breeding out the physical, moral, and mental undesirables they believed threatened the American bloodline. While it sounds crazy now, it was the law in Michigan well into the 1960s.
Ideas of groups like The Race Betterment Foundation made me once again realize the greatest villains aren’t of the James Bond super variety, but rather the ignorant and unenlightened who do the evilest things with what they believe are the best of intentions.
So that’s where Foggy Sunset began, with the idea of an evil perversion of science leading to murder and mayhem. Of course there’s much more to the story, including a high stakes election which will determine Molly’s future, and a series of horrendous murders centering around a mysterious school with an evil past.
While the subject matter sounds grim, and it is, I tried to keep a balance in the story. I even snuck in a few lighter scenes to relieve the tension. All in all, it’s a book I’m very proud of and a satisfying conclusion to the story arc I began many years ago in Dark Sunset.
Well, as they say, “there’s no rest for the wicked”. With this in mind, I’m busy working with my overworked editor on Dark the Light which is scheduled to be published next year.
Dark the Light is in many ways my most personal book to date. Inspiration came from a series of letters my maternal grandfather wrote to my grandmother from the trenches of World War One. The action alternates between Ypres, Belgium, during the war and South Carolina in 1926. Dark the Light is a mystery steeped in the Gullah culture of the Carolina Lowcountry. The real joy of writing this book was getting to research and explore the area around Beaufort and St. Helena’s Island.