Since I soon have a mystery coming out set in Canada (Deadly Devotion from Revell, June 2013), I was delighted to find another inspirational mystery also set in Canada.
Murder in Hum Harbour (yes, that’s the way we spell “harbor” in Canada) by Jayne E. Self is set in Nova Scotia.
This is the first in a three-book Seaglass Mystery series, so called after the heroine sleuth’s intriguing occupation of jewelry making using sea glass.
Murder in Hum Harbour is Jayne’s debut novel and won the Canadian Christian Writing Award in the mystery category.
I’ve loved visiting Canada’s Maritime provinces in real life and thoroughly enjoyed visiting again vicariously through Jayne’s story.
She has wonderful quirky characters who kept me glued to the story until I finished–not to mention great plot twists and a fun romantic thread.
Intrigued by the story, I contacted Jayne and asked her if she’d answer a few questions for all of us.
Is Hum Harbor a real place?
No. The “location” I’ve claimed for Hum Harbour, along the shores of Cape George north of Antigonish is real. However, I created the village of Hum Harbour as a composite of a few local communities. I do stay as accurate as possible to the local geography.
Have you lived in NS?
We own a cottage in Nova Scotia (just down the shore from Hum Harbour) and I have spent each summer for the past twenty-some years there so in a way it’s been home base for our transient family. I chose the location because it’s familiar enough to be part of my heart and special enough to feel a little exotic to me.
Did you do any special research for the book?
Mostly research connected to commercial fishing—boats, gear, seasons—and crafting sea glass jewelry—which involved some serious shopping.
Who’s your publisher? Where are they from? How did you connect with them?
Harbourlight Books is an imprint of Pelican ventures, a small Christian Publisher out of New Mexico. TWG member Janet Sketchley alerted me to their new mystery line. [NB: TWG stands for The Word Guild a writer’s organization for Canadian writers who are Christian, and isn’t it cool that the American publisher spells “harbour” the same way we do in Canada?!]
Anything you’d like to share about what inspired the story?
Every summer a good friend and I walk the beach at our Nova Scotia cottage, collect sea glass and plot murders. The plotting murders part started as a silly game, but over the years, our ‘plots’ have turned into books. Although my past attempts have been shortlisted in contests, Murder in Hum Harbour is the first to achieve publication. I was THRILLED when it won the 2012 Canadian Christian writing Award in the mystery category, and was runner up for the Grace Irwin Award (Canada’s largest Christian Literary Prize.) Its sequel, Death of a Highland Heavyweight was released in 2012 and the third in the series, The Secret of the Hubris Heron is being plotted as we speak.
Yes, since asking Jayne these questions, I’ve had a chance to read the sequel. I love revisiting characters–especially as romance blossoms. 😉
Here’s the Back Cover Blurb for Murder in Hum Harbour:
Part-time medical receptionist, part-time jewelry crafter, Gailynn MacDonald thinks she knows everything about everyone in Hum Harbour, Nova Scotia. That’s the way she likes it. But when her former employer Doc Campbell turns up dead aboard his beached yacht, and her sister-in-law becomes the prime suspect, quirky, over-excitable Gailynn vows to unmask the killer. With Geoff Grant, Doc’s handsome replacement, by her side Gailynn uncovers secrets and confronts childhood fears. And in the process she discovers that catching a killer is a lot like crafting her seaglass jewelry… it’s all in the details.
In addition to being an award-winning author, Jayne is the director of Canada’ largest Christian Writing Conference, Write!Canada, and a grandma. You can learn more about Jayne and her books at her website: http://www.jayneself.com/
Your Turn: What kind of mysteries do you enjoy? Twenty or thirty-something female sleuths with a touch of romance to sweeten the story? Older lady sleuths like Miss Marple? Quirky little Belgians like Hercule Poirot? Ones where the heroine is in danger, too? Other….? Just curious. 🙂
Your question re. mysteries. All of the above. I prefer mysteries with a touch of irony, of humour, very little or no coarse language and no in-depth descriptions of “gore on the floor”. I want enough description to be with the main character and to feel and see and smell the scene, so I can fit myself into it, but don’t wish to be overloaded or sickened by the description. Appreciate my ability to imagine being given credit. I love it when I have realized the probable outcome towards the end of the book but not when it is too obvious,too soon.
Apart from being tripped up by a few editing errors in the text,I thoroughly enjoyed Jayne’s first book in the series. Her main character’s self-abasing humour is realistic and delightful. I look forward to reading the other two.
Thanks for visiting, Patricia! You’ve brought up a great point and one that I also appreciate in books–limit the gore. 🙂
Ooh, I love that book title. It has a great rhythm. Sounds like a fun book, too! I love all kinds of mysteries, but since I grew up reading Nancy Drew, then I’d probably say 20- to 30-something female sleuths…especially if they’re a little feisty. 🙂
Ah, yes, the intrepid Nancy Drew! I was partial to Trixie Beldon. I think she was just a teenager, but then again so was I at the time. 🙂
Hi Melissa, sounds like Gailynn MacDonald (sleuth in my Seaglass Mysteries) is your kind of girl!
I’m looking forward to reading both Deadly Devotion and The Secret of the Hubris Heron… good to have some new mysteries on the horizon. I think my favourite mysteries aren’t high-tension, and I confess I prefer them without much romance. Humour is a definite plus, and/or characters I can root for and admire, like Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache.
Ooh, I’m not familiar with Inspector Gamache. I’ll have to check that one out.
I agree, Janet. Louise Penny’s Quebec mysteries are among my favourites..
I love the idea of this series. Funny, I collect sea glass, although we call it lake glass – from Lake Michigan. I’ve got 2 cookie jars filled with it. My daughter and I have been making earrings. The books sound good!
I just watched a 1948 film titled Johnny Belinda, which takes place at Bay Fortune, Prince Edward Island. Great old movie. I guess the book is based on real events that took place there.
Thanks for the interview, Sandra.
That’s cool, Loree. I’d never heard of jewelry made of sea or lake glass until I’d read the book. I’m going to see if I can find the movie you mentioned. I so enjoyed our visit to PEI, too.
You can never have too much sea’lake glass, can you?
I’m with the no detailed gore, coarse language etc. I like quirky mysteries too. I’ve read a number of them where the heroine’s ‘Dr. Watson’ is a cat or a dog. That’s always fun.
How exciting that there’s another Canadian inspirational author out there! And that you have both set your books in Canadian locations. That’s exciting.
I have a question though — one I keep asking and haven’t really figured it out yet. What is the difference between a mystery and a suspense? The only thing I can think of is that often in a suspense the reader knows who the bad guy is, but I don’t think that’s ever the case in a mystery.
So I’m curious — you’re doing suspense with Love Inspired and Mystery with Revell? How easy is it to go between genres?
Hi Kav, great questions!
A suspense is generally when you’re racing against time to get away from a bad guy or solve the mystery or catch the bad guy before something worse happens. In Love Inspired Suspense, they want that to include the heroine being in danger. Mysteries often don’t have the heroine in any grave danger, except by virtue of her snooping where she shouldn’t. So she wouldn’t necessarily be in danger if she just minded her own business (unlike a suspense where she is in danger no matter what). My upcoming book is a bit of a mix of both, just as my LIS titles always include a mystery as to who the bad guy is. Yet, as you said, in a lot of romantic suspense the bad guy is known.
As for writing for LIS and Revell, my biggest challenge has been pacing. I’ve gotten used to writing quick-paced suspense novels, out of necessity due to the shorter word count in LIS, so when I wrote the first first draft of my second Revell book, I was horrified to realize that I was almost done at only 50K words. Of course, once I sat down and explored all the ways I could take the plot sideways and incorporate subplots, I had plenty more to write about that deepened the plot in great ways, but pacing the romance (which unfolds more slowly in my Revell books, because the romance arcs over the three books) continues to be something I have to watch.
This sounds great! I used to read a LOT of Mary Higgins Clarke and I think I read ALL of Agatha Christie’s books. 🙂
I have to confess, while I have a collection of Agatha Christie books (inherited from my dad), I haven’t actually read one! I enjoy the BBC depictions of them though so I feel like I know most of the stories. 🙂
Crack open those books, Sandra. You’re in for delight.
This was a great glimpse into Jayne’s writing life and the book sound very intriguing. We visited NS a few years ago and I would love to read the book. sound good.
Thanks for visiting, Tracy. You’ll enjoy “revisiting” Nova Scotia via this mystery. 🙂
Hi Tracy, I invite you to drop by .jayneself.com where faith and mystery converge. I have regular book give-aways–among a host of other things.
Thank you for this chance to talk about mysteries together!