Friday, May 8, 2009

Finding My Way Home

Meredith Cole directed feature films and wrote screenplays before writing mysteries. She won the St. Martin’s/Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery competition. Her book POSED FOR MURDER,set in Williamsburg Brooklyn, was published by St. Martin’s Minotaur in February 2009. She is a member of the Mystery Writers of NY board, and blogs at www.thedebutanteball.com .

Where are you from? Where is home? They’re such simple questions, but too complex for me to answer easily. Some people say “home is where the heart is” or “it’s where you rest your head,” but I guess my heart (and my head) has always felt differently.

When I shut my eyes and think about “home,” I see first my mother’s house in the rolling hills of Virginia near Charlottesville. Right now I live in Brooklyn, New York. I love New York, and appreciate the diversity, the flavors, and the excitement. I like taking the subway (except when it’s delayed), and walking everywhere. But I dislike the noise, the crowded streets, the trash, and the lack of trees—but that’s a discussion for another day.

In POSED FOR MURDER, Lydia McKenzie has left Ohio behind and gone off to New York City to be an artist. She embraces everything about the city and dreams of hitting it big. Her parents have sold their house and taken to the road in an RV, and she tells herself she doesn’t mind. But Lydia is still haunted by the past, a girl she knew as a child who was kidnapped and murdered. The girl’s experience infuses her work and leads her to try to find some sort of closure for other murdered women and their families. But instead it leads her deep into trouble, and makes her the center of a murder investigation.

My own story mirrors that of lots of Americans who because of jobs and families end up somewhere different then where they started out. My parents moved to rural Virginia from Chicago when I was two. Simple enough, but then things got complicated. My parents got divorced when I was three, and my father moved to Northern Virginia when I was six. I split my time between both places until college. I went to college in Massachusetts (Smith), lived after college in Washington, DC for five years, and then moved to Brooklyn, NY (after a few stops in Paris and Pittsburgh). So I move a lot. So do a lot of other people. So what’s the problem?

I probably agonize over the question of where I’m from because I’m a writer. I want to get my own story straight and figure out my motivation. But I’m not easy to decipher. I’m both hugely sentimental and very callous. I hate to give up my memories, my friends, and certain things that remind me of good times and people that I love—but at the same time I’m anti-stuff. I’ve never been a collector, and when I’m ready to move I throw lots of things out.

And I’m the same way when I write. The way I approach a story and the structure of a book can change a million times throughout the process. But the goal remains the same. Tell the story. Finish what I start. And then return home--wherever that might be.

Meredith Cole

7 comments:

  1. Meredith: Thanks for blogging with us! As someone who never moves (hate change), I'm interested in what you have to say about where "home" is.

    I hope you have another book in the works...keep us posted.

    Great to meet you at Malice. Best--Maggie

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  2. Thanks for having me! It was great to meet you at Malice, and see members of the "gang."

    My second book in the series, currently titled "Dead in the Water," has been finished--but no word yet on when that will be coming out.

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  3. Hi Meredith,

    Maybe "home is where the family is."

    By the way, I love your animated photo montage. How did you do that?

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  4. Hi, Meredith,

    What a great post. When I first married we moved a lot--then it seemed we stayed in one place for about 20 years and now in the foothills in CA for 35 years. I hate moving, that could be part of the reason.

    Your book sounds great!

    Always wished one of my daughters would name a child Meredith but none did.

    Marilyn a.k.a F. M. Meredith

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  5. Meredith exudes home in her writing and in person. She was very welcoming to me during Edgar week in NY. (Also had a fab dress.)The lesson here is you can feel at home surrounded by friends, whether you've known them a lifetime, or a few minutes.

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  6. Awww... Thanks everyone! I certainly feel quite "at home" in the mystery community (the nicest people EVER!). It was so exciting to see Julie (coming off of winning so many awards), and Alan again (who is my friend for life since he came to my book signing in Reston), and so many wonderful friends this past week at the Edgar's/Malice&Festival of Mystery.

    And I hate moving, too, Marilyn--but I love new adventures. Always a contradiction!

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  7. Two things:

    1) Anyone but me think that Maggie and Meredith look very much alike? (And, what's it like to be so pretty?)

    2) I've moved and travelled lots, though less in the last 15 years than in my first 30 years. I even moved to (and from, after about 4 years) France years ago. I think that the most striking thing moving to and living in another place does is refocus you and intensify what your core nature is and who you really are against a back drop that is new to you. Where you're really coming from, so to speak.

    Example: living in Paris for four years taught me lots more about the Americans, including me, than it did about the French or "me in a faux-French life".

    Conflict--or in it's milder form, contrast: it's what story is all about, right?

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