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Friday, May 11, 2018

Author Bumping - a guest post by Barbara Silkstone

Author Barbara Silkstone joins us today in celebration of the release of the first book in her Florence Nightingale comedy mystery series.  If this adventure is any indication of those we'll find in The Giggling Corpse (and I'm sure it is!), we are in for a fun, rollicking mystery ride!  ~Mrs. MRM

Author Bumping
 By Barbara Silkstone

Like most authors, I am often asked where I get my ideas for stories. I must confess I have led a life that often parallels that of Wile E. Coyote. All I have to do is close my eyes and bingo! I’m in trouble.

Author Bumping has provided me with a good number of funny scenes in my comedy mysteries. Exactly what is AB?

Bumping is a talent I come by naturally. I have literally fallen into a full body bump with some pretty big name writers. These unplanned slams usually occur with hilarious results.

Robert B. Parker was a lovely man. Known as the Dean of American Crime Fiction, he was the creator of the wisecracking, street-smart Boston private eye, Spenser. (Spenser for Hire)

My first meeting with him was not the sophisticated event I would have preferred.  I accidentally slammed into the poor man as if he were home base. All one hundred and twenty-five pounds of me hitting his chubby frame with an “umph!” But let me back up and get a running start into this story.

A number of years ago I attended a writers’ workshop in London. We were a small group of dedicated hopefuls there to learn at the feet of PD James, Stephen King, and Bob Parker.

The workshop took place at the London Polytechnic University campus located on Marylebone Road across from Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, and near White Chapel—home of Jack the Ripper. It was summer and the school was all but abandoned. Alighting from a cab, lugging my gear behind me, I gasped at the sight of the red graffiti scrawled over the tall grim buildings. I understand the school has since been renovated but at that time it was pretty eerie.

I took a seat in the old lecture theater, laying my knapsack and duffle bag on the floor. I was pleased I had traveled light and finally got the hang of looking like a mystery writer. I had dropped the pink dresses and kitten heels after my last writers’ conference and now dressed in black slacks, matching top, and ballet flats.

An administrator spoke from the stage telling the small assembly of mostly ladies how to find our room assignments in the dorms. She assured us that someone would be addressing our group shortly. I settled back and admired the carved wood paneling and Phantom of the Opera ambiance.

The lady sitting next to me spoke. “Hi. My name is Shirley. I have really got to find a ladies’ room. Would you mind my bags for me?”

“Sure.” But I needed a loo trip, too. Now was as good a time as any. The lady on Shirley’s far side agreed to stand sentry over our bags. My new friend and I set out in search of a potty.

The halls were silent and resembled a mausoleum. The polished marble floors were slick underfoot and the lighting was dim. There were no attendants and no signs directing us to our much-needed ladies’ loo.

“Maybe they’re on the second floor,” I said optimistically. We walked up a level. Nothing. And the lights grew dimmer. Shirley and I agreed to take this up one more floor. I was mentally kicking myself for not using the loo at the airport as I clung to the railing and hiked up the stairs. With the school unoccupied for the summer, someone had done a rather diligent job of polishing the marble floors. They were as slippery as ice.

No potty. No loo. “One more floor?” I asked. Shirley nodded, her eyes like two giant robin’s eggs behind her thick glasses. It was awfully quiet. We made our way to the fourth floor clinging to the banister to steady ourselves.  A good tinkle was now at the top of my list of most desirable things to do in London.

On the fourth floor, we finally found a ladies loo. The harsh lighting cast the feel of the men’s room scene in The Shining. Jack Nicholson meets the long-dead manager of the Overlook Hotel. Okay… my nerves were a bit prickly.

Shirley grabbed one stall and I hit another. I’d clicked the door shut and was in bladder emptying ecstasy when the cubicle shook. “Open up or I’ll break the door down!” A male voice with a cockney accent growled just outside the door. “I want you. Not the other one!”

Knowing it would do no good to scream, I said… “Absolutely not!”  (I’m notoriously polite.)

“Barbara! What’s going on?” my new friend whimpered.

“We have a problem, Shirley.”

Silence. Not a word. No heavy breathing. Only the sound of Shirley sniveling from her position two stalls down. More silence. He was either waiting outside the door with a Jack the Ripper Knife or he had run away.

I made an executive decision. “Shirley… at the count of three let’s make a run for it. One…”

“Barbara, I can’t run! I can’t get my girdle up. I’m too scared!”

Girdle? Who wears a girdle? I was trapped in a farce with a woman in a girdle, and a guy who wasn’t seeking a pen pal. “Shirley… ditch your girdle. We’re running for it! 2-3!”

We broke out of our stalls like two racehorses out for the Triple Crown. We hit the marble floor with Flintstone feet flying. Funny thing about running on slippery surfaces … you can build up some real speed.

At the second level… Shirley went reeling. “Turn into the skid!” I yelled at her as I grabbed the railing. She squealed and then righted herself.  By the time we hit the ground floor, we must have been going a hundred miles an hour.

A group of people stood at the entrance to the auditorium. Robert B. Parker was among them. I lost control, went into a slide, and bumped hard into his portly belly. Slam!

It wasn’t exactly how I envisioned our first meeting, but I have used versions of the incident in at least two of my stories.

With love & laughter!

Just released! The Giggling Corpse

 A trailblazing figure in nursing, Florence Nightingale faces a series of bizarre mysteries for which she must use her nimble deductive powers while aided by her little pocket owl, Athena, and her sweet but snarky sidekick, Poppy Throckmorten.

In this first book in the series, the ladies journey to Greece on a mission for young Queen Victoria, the successful completion of which will fund the Nightingale School for Lady Nurses—the first of its kind in England.

Armed only with her quick wit and a rock-hard India rubber ball, Poppy is determined to assist Florence in securing the donation promised by a wealthy Greek philanthropist. But before they can return to England, the gift is stolen and one member of their British contingent is dead—was it murder?

Can Florence and Poppy find a possible killer and recover the endowment before they must answer to the Queen? And what’s with the giggling corpse?

Join me as I start my latest series of tongue-in-cheek, fast-paced mysteries that see Poppy Throckmorten chronicle the adventures of the brilliant but eccentric sleuth, Miss Florence Nightingale.

Connect with Barbara!
Coming Soon
The next two books in the Florence Nightingale Comedy Mystery Series:



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