What do Whispers, a new murder mystery and David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, and A Tale of Two Cities have in common? They all first appeared as a Serial, not as a novel.
This bit of Charles Dickens trivia popped up during a breakfast one morning in the Carpenter Street Dining Room in St. Michaels. Suddenly, Attraction publisher Richard Slaughter, Associate Publisher Jennifer Latham and I had the same thought:
“What if we offered a Serial story in Attraction?” The idea took on a life of its own almost immediately.
[Thinking back on that moment, I shiver at little bit at the enormity of the idea and my gentle acceptance of the idea that this would be fun to do. FUN TO DO? In 32 episodes? THIRTY-TWO, between now and December 1st?! When I think how all this came about and so quickly, I begin to hyperventilate, but REALLY, what a great idea and such a super opportunity! Let's continue with the story of how Whispers came to be.]
Charles Dickens pioneered the idea of publishing a novel in episodes or installments. Today, we are familiar with the idea as we watch our favorite television programs week to week. Charles Dickens developed the idea of a Serial so more people could afford to read his work. Today, things are very different. The internet delivers a constant – and instant – stream of free content.
The Serialized novel was a good concept, but it needed a story. Everyone loves a mystery so I brought in another local mystery writer, Cheril Thomas of Easton, Maryland — the county seat just up the road from St. Michaels — to help with the story development and writing responsibilities. She is very creative, flexible and good at handling tight deadlines like these.
Cheril’s non-fiction work has appeared in Municipal Maryland. Her short fiction has been published by Wordpool Press and featured in Digital Papercut Literary Journal, as well as Wild Violet Literary Magazine. New fiction is forthcoming in Blinders Literary Journal. Her new novel Adverse Possession will be released in 2016.
Keep in mind, we’d never worked together or collaborated on a story. The Serial concept, the story and the ways of working were all new.
“Reading and writing mystery fiction has been a lifelong passion of mine,” said Cheril. “I love Susan’s St. Michaels/Silver Mystery series and am excited to be working with a writer of her caliber.”
[I had to include that quote from Cheril that was used in a publicity piece released around the launch of the serial. Wasn't that nice for her to say? She is an excellent writer, diligent, attentive to detail and a all-around very nice person to work with!]
We went to work, wading through a lot of details and possibilities. Almost immediately, we decided that the characters in Whispers should visit some actual special events on Maryland’s Mid-Shore as the story unfolded. Many places are real, but, of course, none of the characters are based on real people, living … or dead.
Whispers, the story…
Maggie Maitland, a wholesale antiques buyer and new resident of the Eastern Shore, is still reeling from the sudden death of her husband. Just as she begins her new way of life, she is thrust into the spotlight as a suspect the man she believes killed her husband. To clear herself and protect her best friends, Maggie starts her own investigation and attracts the attention of the real killer.
The serial launched on April 28th and a new episode appears each week on Tuesday at www.AttractionMag.com. Check it out and tell us what you think in the comment box at the end of each episode.
I hope you have as much fun reading Whispers as Cheril and I are having writing it. Check out the latest right here. Whispers has its own tab above.
Now, I have to run…. I’m facing another episode deadline!