“It has been six years since you wrote your last Tamara Hayle Mystery. When can I expect a new one?”
I’ve received countless emails from folks over the last few years troubled about the absence of a new Tamara Hayle mystery, but this reader, bless her heart, was the first to actually put a time on it. Six years. Yikes! (A word I never say but love how it looks in print.) Was I okay, the reader wanted to know? Was I still writing? What was going on with Jamal, Jake, Wvyetta…Basil?
Sandra Kitt, a good friend and fabulous writer, had some wise words for her fans when asked why she hadn’t put out a book in a while. To paraphrase Sandra, the sorrows and joys of life happen for writers just like they do for everyone else, and when they do we need to turn-off our laptops and tend to them. As writers, writing is our default mode so we always come back to it.
In the past six years, I’ve become a grandmother, done a bit of traveling, taught creative writing workshops and written two novels under the pen name Savanna Welles. When the Night Whispers, the first Savanna Welles novel, came out from St. Martin’s Press last year, and the second, The Moon Tells Secrets comes out next March. They are paranormal romances, quite different from the mysteries I usually write, so I needed to wear a different writing cap and do a different kind of research. I had no idea there were so many websites dedicated to “demon lovers” (When the Night Whispers) and “Shape-Shifters” (The Moon Tells Secrets). Creating a paranormal setting meant creating a world that reached beyond reason but still made perfect sense. Harder to do than you might think.
So it’s been a joy to return to the real streets of Tamara Hayle’s Newark and tumble into the comforting walls of Wyvetta Green’s Beauty Biscuit. Revisiting Tamara, Jake and Basil is like catching up with good friends you love and haven’t seen in a while and know you’ll never wait so long to talk to them again.
In this new mystery, Pet (remember Tamara’s long lost sister?) drops into town and all hell breaks loose. Petula Hayes is quite a character with a tragic, colorful past—and it’s been exciting bringing her to life. I’ve written five chapters, so I’m about a third way through the book…too early to know too much, even for this writer.
Here are the first few paragraphs:
I was my long-gone sister's one and only call, which shocked the hell out of me. "Pet? Pet, is that you?” I screamed into the phone gripping it so tightly my fingers cramped.
“Ain’t no fucking Pet no more, Angel. I claimed the name they gave me. Petula. Petula Hayle! That's my name.” She scolded me like she used to when I was a kid, with a chuckle that told me she was only half-serious, but there was a meanness in that laugh I didn’t remember, even though decades had passed since I’d heard it. Old memories, the tender ones, came tumbling back: the scent of the Jergen’s lotion she wore like perfume; the soft comfort of the palms that covered my ears so I wouldn't hear my parents fight; the glimmer in her eyes when I read the books she brought back from the library. "Before you get all carried away about hearing from me and shit, let me tell you why I’m calling, better hear that first," she said.
I haven’t come up with a title yet, but you can be sure I’ll have one by the time the book is finished. I’ll be writing about Tamara, her loves and lusts from time to time on this blog. Basil Dupre makes a long-awaited re-entry into Tamara’s life in the chapter I’m working on now. Can’t wait to write that… Stay tuned.
My quote of the day--
“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”