Today, I'm happy to introduce C. Hope Clark, the author of the Edisto Island Mystery Series as well as the Carolina Slade Mysteries. She's here today to talk about a crossover novel that includes both sleuths!
A crossover occurs when the characters of one book (or series) cross paths with those in another book (or series). Embarrassingly, I never heard of the term Crossover Book until my publisher asked me to write one. Then I thought, Oh, crap, how am I going to do this!
Dying on Edisto is the crossover, a brand new release, and it falls under the Edisto Island Mystery Series. Number five, to be precise. The protagonist is Edisto Beach Police Chief Callie Morgan who used to be a top-notch Boston detective until the Russian mob killed her husband. She went crazy chasing the killer, took to the bottle, lost her job, and moved herself and son back down South, planting herself on South Carolina’s Edisto Beach, her childhood vacation place. Recognizing the talent, the beach offered her the badge, and there she resides and solves crime. . . crimes most of the lazy beach community never knew it had.
Great detective, but still needs to work on herself.
Enter Carolina Slade, aka Slade because she hates the feminine sound of her first name which says a lot about her from the outset. Originally a Department of Agriculture bureaucrat, she once found herself in the middle of a bribery investigation, and after almost losing her job, family, and life, still decided she loved solving cases. Coupled with federal agent Wayne Largo, whom she met on that case, they travel the state of South Carolina handling department criminal activity. You haven’t seen crime until you see it in the country where you can more easily get away with all types of creative wrongdoing.
You haven’t ever seen crime solved Slade’s way.
Challenge: Who’s the alpha?
Each protagonist is in charge of a series for a reason; they want it. They are interesting enough to carry off the role. When you have two equally qualified leading players, who do you select to run the show?
The tiebreaker turned out to be setting. Callie manages the Edisto Island area. Slade travels the state. Logistically it proved easier to send Slade to Edisto than yank Callie out of her jurisdiction. So Edisto it was.
But Slade kept finding the body first in all my scenarios.
We gave Slade a prologue of three hundred words and let her find the body. Then a fully-fleshed out Chapter One became Callie’s as she rightfully seized the story as hers, forced to deal with this clumsy oaf of a tourist who traipsed all over her crime scene.
Challenge: Are they friends or foe?
After all, these two woman are accustomed to running the show. Do we put Slade in the back seat or make the two ladies enemies?
As with any mystery, conflict rules the day. They clash from the outset, but it’s up to each of them to decide if they can work with the other on behalf of the case. Could they get along long enough to share? As a minimum, we realized that their personalities certainly had to add obstacles to the sleuthing, and the ending was up to them. We just knew we could not disappoint the Slade fans nor the Callie fans.
Slade’s books are in first person, and Callie’s are in third, designed that way from the outset so when I sat down to write, the POV put the right character in my mind without the other’s voice intruding. But now I had both in one story.
We left Slade with her first person and Callie with her third. Not only did the characters remain true to form as represented in their series, but the switch aided the reader in the transition from chapter to chapter.
Challenge: How to keep the guest from stealing the spotlight.
Slade is a rowdier, more visual person. Callie can be stoic but forceful. Put them in the room and turn them loose, however, and Slade initially takes the attention by sheer personality. She’s not the neatest or shrewdest crime-solver, ignoring rules in preference to following them, she draws a crowd.
Slade’s chapters became shorter, and Callie was given twice as many chapters. After all, she was in charge of the investigation. We needed to be in her head more and make her in charge. It was the only way to rein in Slade and make her behave.
The balance here is juggling Team Slade versus Team Callie. Each comes with her own set of readers who will pick up the book already rooting for one over the other. The writing wisdom comes in accenting both of the protagonists’ strengths, capitalizing on their weaknesses, and avoiding the messiness of simply doubling everything from two series into one.
What we didn’t want to do is throw Slade into the Edisto world and have her accomplish nothing. We weren’t interested in a token or cameo presence. The goal was for the Edisto readers to pick up Dying on Edisto, fall into the character dynamics, and pique an interest in the Slade series. And of course, we would hope the Slade readers would hear about Slade’s appearance in the Edisto series, and pick up those books as well.
It’s strategy, both in the writing and the promotion. We don’t hide the fact that we’d love all the readers to fall in love with both series. They can have a favorite. That’s part of the fun. But if they become intrigued enough in the other world, too, we all win.
ABOUT DYING ON EDISTO
One death. Two detectives. And unexpected backup.
A Callie Morgan and Carolina Slade crossover, standalone mystery!
When a renowned—and now dead—travel blogger washes ashore on the banks of Indigo Plantation, Edisto Beach Police Chief Callie Morgan agrees to head the investigation as a favor to the county sheriff, whose reasons are as questionable as the death itself. When death turns to murder and a watchdog from the county makes her investigation difficult, Callie reluctantly turns to Carolina Slade and Wayne Largo, vacationing agents with the Department of Agriculture.
Because poison is growing on this plantation and someone knows how to use it well.
C. Hope Clark’s latest release is Dying on Edisto, Book 5 of the Edisto Island Mysteries, and her ninth novel. She has also authored two award-winning mystery series and is fast at work on another. In her other life, she manages FundsforWriters.com, selected by Writer’s Digest for its 101 Best Websites for Writers for 18 years. Her newsletter reaches 35,000 readers.
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