Monday, May 23, 2011

Guest Blogger Vicki Delany - When Life Imitates Art

One sunny summer’s day last year, I finished Among the Departed, the fifth Constable Molly Smith book, and sent it off to my editor at Poisoned Pen Press for her suggestions and comments. I leaned back in my chair, relaxed and happy, with the wonderful feeling of satisfaction at having finished the book.

My mother was visiting me, and that evening we had friends over. I learned over the course of dinner that night that there really is nothing new under the sun.

Very briefly the plot of Among the Departed is as follows: When Molly Smith was thirteen years old she had a sleep-over at her best friend’s house. She ate breakfast the next morning with the friend’s family and then her mom picked her up. Shortly thereafter her friend’s father went to the convenience store. He was never seen again. No trace of him was ever found, no one reported seeing him after he walked out the door; he did not have a criminal record and no known criminal contacts. Fifteen years later his remains are found in the British Columbia wilderness by Constable Molly Smith of the Trafalgar City Police, Constable Adam Tocek of the RCMP, and Norman the police dog, while searching for a child who has wandered away from his family’s campsite in a brave search for bears.

Over dinner, my friend, whom I shall call Jane, started telling us about her father.

Who disappeared into the B.C. wilderness and wasn’t found for seventeen years. 

He was driving from Ontario to Southern B.C., last seen at a gas station in Calgary. His car was found far north of his expected route. Although in this case his car was found, for seventeen years there was no trace of Jane’s father himself. And then the body was found by a hunter. In the B.C. wilderness.

Isn’t that just too weird? I think if I hadn’t already written the book, I wouldn’t want to use the story because it would look like I was stealing my friend’s tragedy.

In Among the Departed the focus of the book is, as well as on the reopened police investigation, the fallout of the man’s disappearance and how it pretty much destroyed his wife and two children. 

My friend Jane was older than the children in the story, being in her mid-twenties at the time, but the disappearance had a devastating impact on her mother. Jane’s mother was suspected for a while of being involved in the disappearance of her husband and thus her bank accounts were all frozen. In Among the Departed the insurance company won’t pay out of course, and the wife has no source of income so is dependent on welfare and what she sees as condescending charity of the women of her church. 

In the real life case, Jane and her brother are considering approaching the police to get what documentation they can, so they can try and find out the truth about the disappearance and death of their father.

In the fictional story... Well, you’ll have to read Among the Departed to find out what happens there.

The fifth and newest book in Vicki Delany’s critically-acclaimed acclaimed Constable Molly Smith series, Among the Departed, was released on May 3rd 2011. Vicki is also the author of the Klondike Gold Rush series (Gold Fever) and standalone novels of psychological suspense (Scare the Light Away, Burden of Memory).

Having taken early retirement from her job as a systems analyst in the high-pressure financial world, Vicki is settling down to the rural life in bucolic, Prince Edward County, Ontario where she grows vegetables, eats tomatoes, shovels snow, and rarely wears a watch.

Library Journal gave Among the Departed a starred review saying: “Her exceptional ability to create characters, both realistic and sometimes creepy, makes this another terrific addition to her outstanding body of work.”

Visit Vicki's website. She is on Facebook and twitter @vickidelany.

Vicki left a copy of the fourth Constable Molly Smith novel, Negative Image, for a Meritorious Mystery reader. Send me an email at mysteryheel @ and tell me why you'd like to win it. This contest will end at midnight on Monday, May 30.


Anonymous said...

This is fascinating to read about and contemplate.

Sometimes you hear of authors saying the people they actually wrote about don't recognize themselves and the ones they didn't write about think they are in the book. This type of really odd coincidence could be one reason for that saying.

What did "Jane" say when she learned of the book? Is she going to read it?


Vicki Delany said...

"Jane" was quite excited to hear about the book. I hope she's going to read it.

jenny milchman said...

AMONG THE DEPARTED sounds fantastic, Vicki, and I will certainly get it. I have to say that *both* cases, the one you made up and the real life version you later encountered, sound a lot like a flier I saw pinned up at a coffee booth when me and my family were about to make the trip to Orcas Island in the San Juans. A man--a family man--had disappeared without a trace, his car left by the side of the road. There are certain--memes, if that's the right word--that percolate through our collective unconsciouses maybe? In any event, thanks for sharing this background, and I'm very excited to read your book.

martha said...

Hi! This is a good place to post a reminder:

Read this and the book; enter the contest, and WIN!

One Woman Crime Wave: Win a Box of Chocolates with Among the Departed

Vicky wrote:
My Facebook friend Martha is very kindly having a contest for readers of Among the Departed. You could win a box of chocolates from Martha and a signed bookmark from me by answering the following question: There is an inside joke in Among the Departed. When John Winters comes home at the end of the book he finds his wife Eliza reading. Can you tell what she's reading, and why it's an inside joke? If you know, you can friend Martha on Facebook and send her the answer. And then you win! First ten correct answers win. Her name (so you can friend her) is Martha Paley Francescato. Enjoy your chocolates.