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Author Spotlight: Mystery Writer Carol Light Has a New Book!

We have a winner! Kathleen Bylsma you were randomly drawn to receive Carol’s giveaway. Carol be in touch with you! Thanks to everyone for stopping by! We love talking to our readers!

Know what I love? Carol Light’s Cluttered Crime Mysteries. And now there is a brand new one and her heroine, professional organizer Crys Ward, has somehow landed in the middle of another murder. Carol’s here to tell us all about writing this new book, plus she has a giveaway for one lucky commenter!

Carol Light is an avid reader and writer of mysteries. She loves creating amateur sleuths and complicating their normal lives with a crime that they must use their talents and wits to solve. She’s traveled worldwide and lived in Australia for eight years, teaching high school English and learning to speak “Strine.” Florida is now her home. If she’s not at the beach or writing, you can find her tackling quilting in much the same way that she figures out her mysteries—piece by piece, clue by clue.

Carol, take it away…

Thanks, Nan, for granting me the privilege of appearing once again in your blog! The third book in my Cluttered Crime mystery series, Killer Close to Home, was just released January 11. This story required more research than the first two, and l thought your readers might enjoy hearing about some of my experiences nailing down accurate details.

Killer Close to Home introduces Crystal Ward’s backyard neighbor and current client, Roscoe Tremaine, a childless widower who is preparing to move into assisted living. Crys, a professional organizer, is helping him go through his belongings prior to his move. Roscoe is one of those millionaires next door you might have heard about. He and his late wife were thrifty, only took annual trips by car to Florida, and lived simply. His only family and presumed heirs are his younger brother and his family—two adult and very different daughters, a teenaged granddaughter, a son-in-law, and a former son-in-law. There’s another word for this dysfunctional bunch as the story progresses—suspects!

The night after Roscoe announces to his family that he’s disinheriting his nieces, a natural gas explosion levels his home and kills him. The explosion damages the Ward home and other neighboring houses, causing broken and cracked windows and blasting flaming debris into their yards. My editor, who experienced a much larger gas explosion near her Indianapolis neighborhood, wondered if I was being realistic about the amount of damage I’d described. I’d already researched gas explosions online and found that the effects could range from destroying a single house or apartment to flattening a city block or an entire neighborhood. I also had established that most of Roscoe’s neighbors didn’t have gas appliances (and probably never will after that explosion!). Just to confirm my scenario further, I called the Chicago Fire Department and spoke to a very knowledgeable inspector. I don’t think he’d ever been contacted by a novelist before and he wouldn’t give me his name, but he confirmed my scenario was realistic. Whew—I was relieved to be able to leave Crys’s house largely intact as she has plenty of other problems to deal with in this story.

Poor Roscoe needed a funeral, so I researched cemeteries in or near Irving Park in Chicago, where Crys’s neighborhood is located. I discovered Graceland, a park-like cemetery created in the nineteenth century. The more I read, the more fascinated I was. Not only are many famous people buried at Graceland—John Pullman, Marshall Field, Ernie Banks, and many of Chicago’s most famous architects—but it’s an arboretum and famous for its beautiful trees. I took a virtual walk through Graceland on YouTube and hope to visit it in person one day.

I couldn’t find the answers to all of my questions about Graceland online. There is a restored chapel on the grounds, but I wasn’t sure if services were still held there (they are). I also had to find out if it was handicap accessible for Rick Ward’s wheelchair (yes, it is—the ramp is on the side of the chapel). There didn’t seem to be a parking lot, so I needed to know where vehicles parked (on the street). I emailed the Graceland staff, who patiently answered all my questions and were very helpful. I was able to lay Roscoe to rest with peace of mind that I’d provided readers with an accurate portrayal of this Chicago landmark.

Details can really help readers to feel as if they’re in the setting with the characters and allow them to trust the writer. Having read Nan’s River’s Edge books, I’m convinced I could find my way around town (I’d probably go directly to Mac’s diner or Paula’s bakery). Because my series takes place in Chicago, there are many incredible sites and great variety in weather to make my settings rich in local color. I hope you’ll enjoy spending some time in Chicago by reading all three Cluttered Crime novels—Room for Suspicion, Deadlier Than Fiction, and Killer Close to Home.

Giveaway! For a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card, tell me about your favorite uncle (or another favorite relative if you don’t have an uncle). A winner will be chosen at random on Saturday.

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Killer Close to Home

Not all clutter is visible to the human eye… 

Professional organizer Crystal Ward’s latest client, her neighbor Roscoe Tremaine, is changing his will, an announcement that sets off an explosive reaction within his family. That same night, a gas leak ignites, destroying his house, killing him, and rocking the Ward family at its foundation.

Her husband, Rick, is injured in the blast, so Crys hires Roscoe’s former caregiver, Wink Keller, to help him recover after surgery. But trouble is just beginning. Both Crys and Wink are beneficiaries in Roscoe’s will, and their alliance sends accusations flying from the Tremaines’ side of the fence.

Crys has her hands full dealing with her client’s not-so-grieving relatives, a teenaged girl stalking Wink, and a suspicious fire inspector. But when threatening “gifts” left on the Wards’ doorstep escalate, Crys is forced to sort through a tangled web of relationships, including her own, to keep her family safe.

Was Roscoe’s death just an accident, or is there a killer close to home?

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  • Kimberly Field

    I loved getting to know more about your research. I have 5 uncles on my mom’s side. I would say I was close to a couple of them.My uncle Fred is also my Godfather, and at least lives on the same coast, so I get to see him and my aunt and their children and grandkids at least once a year.

    • Carol Light

      Hi Kimberly. So glad you enjoyed my spotlight! Glad you have an uncle you can still visit. Thanks for stopping by.

  • Glenda M

    My favorite uncle was actually a great uncle – one of my maternal grandmother’s brothers. He stayed on the farm and was actually able to buy some of the land they grew up on as tenant farmers during the dust bowl. We always had fun visiting his farm and playing with our cousins. One of them let us drive Uncle Stan’s farm truck in the fallow fields. At the time we were all so short, one person had to be on the floor of the truck to press the gas or break.

    • Carol Light

      Glenda, that’s a great story about you and your cousins driving the tractor! Your family are a tough bunch if they survived the dust bowl years on their farm. It sounds like you have many happy memories of your childhood there.

  • Cherie J

    One of my favorite Uncles was my Uncle Celestino. Though her lived far from us when I was growing up in NYC, he would take the subway and visit us when we could and sometimes he would bring a bakery box full of pastries. I appreciated the fact that he made an effort unlike my other uncles.

    • Carol Light

      Cherie, those pastries sure made him stand out from the competition! I fondly remember one great-aunt who took my brother and me out for hot fudge sundaes. It felt special being treated by her without our parents coming along.

  • Debra Pruss

    Uncle Eston was my favorite uncle. He also was my godfather. He was always here for me. He would be the protector for me. He also was the first one to tease and give me a hard time. He always thought I could do anything that I wanted to. He passed away right after I turned 18 years old. Thank you for sharing. God bless you.

  • Roseann McGrath Brooks

    My favorite aunt was Aunt Janee. Janee was a high school English teacher and passed along her love of language to her nieces and nephews. We used to have a holiday tradition reciting a pattern of words she developed to teach her students rhythm. My brothers and I got to say, “potato chip” eight times to set the backbeat. So much fun!

  • Sue Farmer

    Sadly, all of my uncles have passed away. Between both my parents I had quite a few. My favorite was my Uncle Don. He was married to my mother’s closest sister Ann, who was also my Godmother. He and my aunt worked in the Pentagon and it was always so fun to go visit them each summer. We visited all the historical sites as well as the beach. They never had any children so they always did special things with me. After they retired, they moved to Cape Coral, Florida. I enjoyed visiting them there as well. They were like a second set of parents.

  • Carol Light

    Thanks, Liz! I’m so glad you’re enjoying Deadlier Than Fiction and honored that you’re reading it, as busy as you are. Yes, I love learning through my research and from readers, too, when they give me feedback or tell me how they related to my characters or stories. I’m also a word nerd. I look up words sometimes just to be sure my definition is correct and matches what I’m intending to communicate. I’ve been surprised sometimes and had to find another word!

  • Kathleen Bylsma

    Favorite uncle was my great uncle Chet…a stern old Norwegian who loved kids, could never have them, learning how to deal with six rambunctious little kids in his and great Aunt Florence (another dearheart) home, all at once…we loved him and GAF

    • Carol Light

      That’s terrific! I had a fun uncle who took us water skiing and fishing. He was also silly like a big kid himself!

  • Renee Mirsky

    My parents as well as all my aunts and uncles have passed on. Favourite relative would have to be my wonderful husband who is my best friend and lover all in one!

  • Doris H Lankford

    My favorite uncle would be my Mom’s youngest brother, we call him Uncle Billy. He was a very handsome young man and all the girls had a crush on him. Now that he is older he is still a handsome man. He used to be a farmer and he was very involved in his community. He is the last of my Mom’s siblings to still be here with us and we cherish him everyday.

    • Carol Light

      He sounds terrific, Doris. I’m in the same boat–only one aunt left alive (no uncles living). Hope he’s with you a long time.

  • Liz Flaherty

    I loved reading about your research. It’s one of the most satisfying parts of writing, isn’t it? You learn so much new stuff and–voila!–then you get to actually USE what you’ve learned.

    I’m still reading the the DEADLIER THAN FICTION–I know, slow–and enjoying it. I can’t wait for this 3rd one, though!