By Maggie Toussaint
When I had a hard time breaking into publishing with conventional mysteries, I wondered if my subject material was too tame. How could I think outside of the box? How could I challenge myself as a writer and a person?
As I cast about for ideas, I remembered there was a naturalist colony in the woods of my old stomping grounds. Most of us locals debated for hours on end – what were they doing in there with all the bugs, ticks, snakes, and buzzards? I’ll admit my curiosity level rocketed off the chart.
Uh oh. A puzzle. I love puzzles. The idea of writing about a nudist colony tantalized me. And it scared me half to death. Could I do it? How would I do it? Would I have to do onsite research?
That idea nearly gave me heart arrythmia. But it got me thinking. If everyone was naked, where would they hide the murder weapon? Strangers would stand out, so it would have to be someone known to the victim. Hmm. I liked this idea more and more.
But. I did not want to see naked strangers. So, I did two things that really helped me. I talked to a former classmate of mine who’d been in there, and her eyewitness account was invaluable. And I decided to create a collage to use as a writing focal point.
I collected images of people, of items I thought would be related to the story. This wasn’t hard for clothed people. But it was increasingly difficult for the naked people. I started looking for images of people that looked more free-spirited or mean or conniving. I stumbled onto an article about naked grannies in England that gave me hope for my project. I found several images in magazines of naked people with the sexual parts out of eyesight through careful positioning.
I needed images that were provocative without being lewd. Granted, “racy” is in the eye of the beholder, but I didn’t need to see EVERYTHING. That’s what my imagination is for.
I labeled everyone on the collage, and I propped the final posterboard on the wall behind my computer monitor. Instant centering during my writing phase.
The final project turned out great, but it needed a special publisher to allow it to shine. Muse It Up took a chance on MURDER IN THE BUFF, and I’m so glad they did.
Here’s the blurb for MURDER IN THE BUFF:
Reporter Molly Darter’s world is crashing around her. Her cheating husband and trashy sister wrecked her marriage, and now she has to collect a nudist’s obituary to keep her job. The nudists convince Molly their friend was murdered. Molly scoffs until explicit pictures of the nudist with town leaders and her father surface. Family loyalty kicks in, and she hunts for the killer in earnest to save her dad.
Who killed Barbara Jean? Was it the judge, the preacher, or the banker? Or was the killer someone she knew intimately? Only one thing’s for certain. The killer is watching every move Molly makes.
MURDER IN THE BUFF is available at: Muse It Up Publishing and Amazon.
Thanks to Maggie for sharing with us today. For those of you who missed my review of her fun mystery, MURDER IN THE BUFF, please go to the post for March 14th at
Thanks for stopping by!