Crystal Haven is the destination for tourists seeking psychics, séances, and the promise of contacting the spirit world. In this small western Michigan town, everyone knows the Fortune family. Rose is gifted with Tarot card readings. Her sister Vi is a self-proclaimed pet psychic. And her daughter Clyde is… A cop.
When Clyde moved home for the summer to figure out her life, she did not foresee that she would end up with a couple of rescued dogs, a live-in nephew and a new romance. Her family is pushing her to join the family’s psychic business. Clyde would prefer never to have another premonition. If only her psychic insights applied to her own life…
The main character, Clyde Fortune, has taken a leave of absence from her job on the police force after a shooting incident. She has psychic abilities but hasn’t developed them, a factor in her job hiatus. Her family is glad she’s home, but in Clyde’s words, “Some people run away from home to join the circus; I had left home to escape one.” For a job in hometown Crystal Haven, Clyde walks dogs and pet sits when owners leave town, adding to the realness of the series and comic relief.
Because this is the type of series I’d be interested in writing, I wanted to ask Dawn about what factors are must-haves in a fun-read series.
Please welcome Dawn Eastman to WWK. E. B. Davis What’s the attraction to paranormal, supernatural, or however this series may be categorized?
I’ve always loved stories about witches, or psychics, and I also love mysteries. I thought it would be a fun twist to have a town full of psychics and a somewhat skeptical protagonist. There is always a bit of tension surrounding any psychic proclamations because even though Clyde has her own abilities, she is extremely reluctant to rely on that sort of insight. Also, the research was a lot of fun.
What do you think constitutes a fun read?
A light tone, quirky characters, and some mayhem.
Do you have pets, Dawn?
I have a Bichon-ShihTzu mix. His name is Rowdy, and he thinks he runs the universe.
I pulled into the long gravel driveway and thought yet again that if there were
any dead to wake, the rocks pinging my undercarriage would do the trick.
“I knew it! I knew you’d be home for lunch,” said Vi as she stepped forward.
I wondered how much the gravel driveway helped my aunt’s intuition.
In the above quote from your first book in the series, Pall In The Family, you balance the “woo-woo” factor with reality. So far, only three characters seem to have genuine sixth-sense abilities. The rest of the characters may be frauds. Is the skepticism of your readers via Clyde’s insights vital in hooking readers on accepting the abilities of those characters who possess a sixth-sense?
I try to write the books so that readers can decide for themselves whether the characters really have any abilities. The mystery is not solved using psychic insight and the messages from the sixth senses can be either helpful or (in the case of Aunt Vi) get them into more trouble.
Clyde’s family, the Fortunes, all participate in Crystal Haven’s paranormal tourist trade, reading tarot cards or serving as pet psychics, except for her father—a dentist. Why a dentist?
I wanted the Dad to be as normal as possible with no psychic abilities. He is tolerant of the psychic shenanigans, but tries to mostly stay out of it. Also, I wanted him to be able to make a good living without using any psychic talents.
Some of the problem with having psychic power is in not using it. Grace, Clyde’s sister “knows” the stock market, but lost her family’s and a shady client’s money when she failed to sell even though she “knew” she should have. What happened when Clyde failed to act on her abilities?
Clyde has some feelings of guilt from the past when she didn’t interpret her ability correctly and she feels she could have prevented the outcome of some poor choices. Also, she left her police job after a shooting incident that was a direct result of following her intuition.
In Be Careful What You Witch For, Clyde has a vision of a vine-covered house set in a wooded area, and she finds it. The owner, one of my favorite characters, has become Crystal Haven’s pariah due to her terrible psychic talent. What is that talent, and how does she help Clyde?
Neila helps Clyde take her talent seriously and helps her work on interpreting the dreams and messages she receives. Having a mentor who is not pressuring her to use her talent is very important to Clyde’s development. Neila’s talent involves predicting the future of a person’s children, with a sad twist.
Clyde solves mysteries in the traditional way, tracking clues and putting two and two together. But she also gets insights or intuits about clues, like many detectives do. In Clyde’s case it may be her sixth-sense abilities or it may not. Why the ambiguity?
I wanted each mystery to be solved by traditional means. It isn’t fair to the reader if he or she doesn’t have all the clues. However, Clyde does get hints occasionally, and it is her interpretation that leads her closer to – or further from – a solution.
When nephew, Seth, points out Clyde’s similarities with her mother, she freaks. Why do we all fear becoming our mothers?
I’m sure many books have been written on that topic! In Clyde’s case, she initially rejects the family business, which leads to a lot of tension with her mother. Also, due to Neila’s unusual talent, Clyde’s mom is very over-protective, which gets on Clyde’s nerves until she understands its source.
Seth extends his summer visit to permanent residence. Why does Crystal Haven feel like home to him?
He’s not really a city kid, preferring small town life. He also feels more accepted by his Crystal Haven family than by his parents.
Aunt Vi makes a bet with Clyde. If she wins, they will start a PI firm. What’s the bet and why does Clyde take it?
The bet is that if Clyde solves the murder first, Vi will stop trying to get Clyde to use her talents for business purposes. If Vi solves it first, Clyde will open a psychic detective service with Vi for one year. Clyde takes the bet because she thinks she can’t lose, and that it will keep Vi occupied.
How did your series find a home at Berkley Prime Crime?
My agent knew one of the editors at Penguin who wanted to do more work in the cozy mystery area. Fortunately, she loved the book and the premise.
Any advice for unpublished writers?
Read as much as you can, as diversely as you can. Write as often as possible. Find a good critique group of other writers and get feedback. Also, writer’s conferences are great for meeting other authors and agents.
What’s your dream vacation, Dawn?
I’ve been very fortunate and have taken several dream vacations! This summer we went to Scotland – it is stunningly beautiful there. But a cabin in the woods with a stack of books and some knitting sounds pretty awesome.
Thank you for the interview. You asked some great questions.