Message From The Author
Before I started writing mystery novels full-time, I ran my own painting/design company in the San Francisco Bay Area specializing in murals, faux finishes, and artistic restoration of historic structures. The finish artists (as the name implies) are usually the last ones in on any given renovation project, and since most such projects run over-schedule, it was not uncommon to find myself alone on a construction site at two in the morning, painting as fast as I could to meet a morning deadline.
It’s amazing what one’s imagination can come up with at two in the morning on a construction site!
That’s how the idea for If Walls Could Talk was born. The Haunted Home Renovation mystery series gives me a chance to combine my love of old homes, architecture, and antiques, with a good old-fashioned ghost story, a little romance, and a mystery.
Old houses often hold secrets behind their walls, and it always feels to me as though there are spirits in every corner. I also really enjoy construction workers and builders—these handy men (and occasionally, women) are able to construct a home or repair a building with just a few tools, a little wood, and their skills. Working on jobsites over the years, I met people from all walks of life in the construction industry, and many became good friends despite our dissimilar backgrounds. I believe that they leave a bit of themselves in every job, as well.
As If Walls Could Talk begins, Mel Turner is disillusioned and rather cynical, just a couple of years out of a messy divorce. She used to be an anthropologist, but when her mother passed away suddenly, her father couldn’t cope. Since he was unable to effectively manage his high-end San Francisco construction company, Turner Construction, Mel stepped in to help run the company “for a few months”. Now, it’s two years later and Mel still hasn’t managed to escape to Paris, her enduring fantasy. She does, however, happen upon a sexy building inspector who was an old college crush, long before she married. He might just challenge Mel’s cynical outlook on love and relationships….
Mel’s dad in the book, Bill Turner, is ex-military; a gruff, yet loving, man of honor. Bill’s character is based on my real father, a manly-man and former downhill skier, motorcycle racer, and jet pilot. I never understood exactly how brave he was until I went to an event on an aircraft carrier and saw the itty-bitty cable the jet pilots have to catch in order to stop their speeding planes on the ship’s impossibly short tarmac. My dad, like Mel’s, combines nerves of steel with a conservative pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps attitude…but he’s something of a marshmallow underneath. Though we clash in our political beliefs, we love each other fiercely. And since my own mother has been sick, we’ve grown very close. It was such fun to feel as though I was spending time with Dad as I wrote the novel.
I also drew inspiration from my son as I wrote Mel’s stepson Caleb into the book. My son was fifteen when the idea for the book was germinating (he’s now off to college!) but even though he was often sullen and spoke in monosyllables, I adored him and his friends. So I wanted to include a teenaged character with lots of what we think of as negative teenage attributes, but also the positives: their often inadvertently sweet reaction to the world around them, their energy, their wide-open take on life.
Finally, in If Walls Could Talk Mel picks up a stray dog, simply referred to as Dog. Dog is based on my beloved rescued pup, Sam, who passed away a year ago. Sam was quirky, to be kind: she didn’t like riding in cars, or chasing balls, or anything particularly doglike…but she was such a joy. She’s the dog on the front cover of the book – in reality she was a chocolate brown, but the picture isn’t far off. It was such fun to spend time with my quirky canine again!
Writing If Walls Could Talk let me indulge my love for so many things, from loved ones to ghost stories to historic San Francisco architecture to the promise of romance…and, of course, murder mysteries, both contemporary and past. I sincerely hope you enjoy reading the book as much as I did writing it!
- Juliet Blackwell
You can also visit the author at her website, www.julietblackwell.net, follow her on Twitter, @JulietBlackwell, and friend her on Facebook!
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