June Wedding guest posts, today I welcome Mystery Author Lea Wait, whose latest mystery, Shadows on a Cape Cod Wedding, is so pertinent to this theme!
Maine author Lea Wait, who really does believe in traditions of most sorts, writes both the Agatha-finalist Shadows Antique Print Mystery Series and historical novels for ages 8-14 set in 19th century Maine. She also blogs at http://www.mainecrimewriters.com with other Maine mystery writers, and invites you to friend her on FB.
Like most little girls, I grew up designing wedding dresses for my paper dolls and (being old enough to be pre-Barbie) Ginny dolls. When Ginny got big sister named Jill, I saved an entire summer so I could buy her – and then, of course, started saving for her wedding dress.
She never got one. I was eleven by then, and when I went back to school, books and friends became more important than dolls.
Ten years later my younger sister got married. Chapel, white dress, flowers. I was maid of honor. Her marriage lasted 5 months. I was a bridesmaid for a couple of my college classmates. My childhood fantasies about bridal dresses and weddings were fading quickly.
By the time I started planning my own wedding, I was 25. I’d been a child of the sixties. I lived in Greenwich Village. When I called my parents to ask if the guy I’d been living with and I could be married at their home, they basically asked, “Why?” But we’d decided to buy a house in the mountains and I was old-fashioned enough to want to be married before our closing date. Which was one month away.
So I bought my groom a suit (under protest). And I went shopping for a dress. I was dismayed to discover you needed to order them months in advance. Besides - white did nothing for my pale skin and hair. When I called my mother and told her I looked much better in red, she, who was trying desperately to be flexible (I’d already nixed a church wedding and was writing my own ceremony), put down her foot.
“Any color, Lea. ANY color is all right. EXCEPT RED.” I got the message.
I was married after work, on Friday night of Memorial Day weekend, at my parents’ home, in a navy blue and white print and bare feet. The wedding was short: a family dinner and a champagne party for friends afterward. I went back to work directing a corporate TV program Sunday. The marriage was short-lived, but I have some great pictures of the wedding taken by the guy I’m married to now.
Later I helped organize other weddings. Some years later my youngest sister was married (also in blue) in my home about a month before her daughter was born. (Same photographer) Three of my four daughters married – one of them in that same home, one in a church in New Jersey with the reception at home, and one in a Maine chapel. All three daughters wore lovely, long, white, traditional gowns.
Me? When the man I love, that long-ago photographer and friend, and I finally decided to get married, ten years ago, we thought through a lot of options. Then we grinned and hugged and got a license. We’re still children of the 60s. We both wore jeans. I wore a red turtleneck; he wore a blue shirt. Two neighbors and their daughter dressed up a bit and were witnesses. And we were married by the Town Clerk of Wiscasset, Maine, on her lunch hour.
Each time I plan the next book in my Shadows Antique Print Mystery series I plan two (or sometimes three) different “event tracks.” First, of course, is the murder, or murders. Who did it? Why? How? What is their connection to my protagonist, antique print dealer Maggie Summer? And how is Maggie going to solve the puzzle? Of course, I also include a few other suspects, some red herrings, and a few twists that I hope will make the book fun to read.
The second track is Maggie’s own life. Maggie’s beau is Will Brewer. Readers of my series know that after the previous book in the series, Shadows of a Down East Summer, Will moved to move to Maine to care for his aging Aunt Nettie and Maggie wasn’t too comfortable with how that would affect their relationship. And Maggie has been wanting to adopt a child; Will doesn’t want to be a father. What steps in the new book, backward or forward, will be taken in the relationship dance? I have fans rooting for Maggie to drop Will and go and adopt several children; I have others who tell me she should move to Maine and hold on to him. Or maybe there are other options …
Third, there has to be a frame of reference for the book. What is bringing all the characters together this time around?
In the most recent book in the series, Shadows on a Cape Cod Wedding, the reason for the book is, of course, a wedding. Not Maggie and Will’s wedding … the wedding of Maggie’s closest friend. Weddings are wonderful settings for dramas – family gatherings bring out the best and worst in everyone. I sprinkled mine with a southern mother-in-law, Victorian wedding customs, and a young woman in search of family … and then bring all three plot lines together. Complications, complications. Luckily, most wedding complications don’t include guns, hurricanes, bodies, and the F.B.I.
But – a minor spoiler here – yes, despite all – Gussie does get married. She doesn’t wear a long white dress, but it isn’t red, either. She does believe in traditional New England weddings. She’s a beautiful bride.
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