Today Lavender (Lew) Lewis is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Bogged Down, the first novel in the Vashon Island mystery series.
Welcome, Lew. Let’s get started, shall we?
Tell us about the novel that you live inside. Is it part of a series? If so, please tell us about the series too.
I feel very fortunate to be the main character in Bogged Down (A Vashon Island Mystery). It’s the first in what I hope will be a successful series because it’s a wonderful place to live. I have a walk-in cabin on a sandy beach, good friends who tolerate my flaws, two self-centered cats that I adore, and a great place to practice my favorite sport – woods parkour. Because I’m an HR investigator, I often get a peek at the underbellies of organizations in the greater Seattle area. But I also do consulting for a lot of organizations with admirable missions and dedicated employees. Unfortunately, you never know when even a good organization may harbor ill-will strong enough to end in murder. That’s why I didn’t anticipate what happened in Bogged Down.
Does the writer control what happens in the story or do you get a say too?
My personality and athleticism gives some sway in how the story evolves. I admit, I’m not the most personable individual. In fact, some might say I can be overly abrupt and sarcastic at times. That means I can’t be put into situations that require charm and finesse to succeed. I mean, Charlotte can try, but it doesn’t work. On the other hand, I can be counted on to move quickly through the woods – even at night – as well as leap across barriers and even defend myself if necessary. When my writer is working on the plot, she knows she can rely on me for certain things but not others, and that tends to drive what happens.
How did you evolve as the main character?
I grew up in Alaska in a commune. My mother was what is often referred to as a free spirit. She wasn’t controlling; in fact, she was very hands-off as a mother. But the commune enforced strict rules for girls, very conservative rules. That’s why I ran away and joined the army at 17. Serving in the military gave my life direction and paid for my education. Then I met JJ, a colleague and my best friend. When he moved from Seattle to Vashon Island, I followed. I was leading a happy and calm life on the island…until I came across a body in a bog.
Do you have any other characters you like sharing the story with? If so, why are you partial to them?
As I mentioned, JJ is my best friend. He’s always there for me when I need him. He tolerates my flaws. And he has enough charm for both of us – everyone loves him. He’s my buffer to the world of people. I’m also fond of my elderly neighbor, Beatrice. She keeps on eye on me and my two cats without demanding anything in return. In this mystery I also enjoyed meeting Chewie. Even though I didn’t care much for his sexist nicknames for me, I appreciated his offbeat lifestyle and his two identical and scary Dobermans, both named Spike.
What’s the place like where you find yourself in this story?
Vashon Island is a semi-rural community filled with independent people willing to put up with being a ferry ride away from the city. In exchange for the inconvenience of living on an island, there are lovely forest trails, a fair number of small farms, enough birds to satisfy Audubon enthusiasts, and some friendly and some not-so-friendly wildlife. Vashon’s motto is “Keep Vashon Weird.” In support of their motto, people on the island seem to have a penchant for antique tractors, quirky roadside art, and an unusual annual parade that includes grocery employees doing choreographed shopping cart maneuvers. Oh, and did I mention that one year their honorary mayor was Sid, the goat?
Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about you and the book?
Although I tend to be a loner, I do value the time spent with readers. So, if you would like to know more about what happened after I discovered the body in the bog…join me in Bogged Down.
Thank you for answering my questions, Lew, and good luck to you and your author, Charlotte Stuart, with Bogged Down, the first book in the Vashon Island mystery series.
The novel is available at the following online retailers:
About Charlotte Stuart: In a world filled with uncertainty and too little chocolate, Charlotte Stuart has a passion for writing lighthearted mysteries with a pinch of adventure and a dollop of humor. She began her career in academia, spent nine years commercial salmon fishing in Alaska, was a partner in a consulting group, and a VP for a credit union. Currently, she is the VP for Puget Sound Sisters in Crime and lives and writes on Vashon Island in Washington State’s Puget Sound. She spends time each day entertained by herons, seals, eagles, and other wildlife.