What I Learned About Myself While Writing “A Cold Death” — Marilyn Meredith

Today I’m excited to welcome Marilyn Meredith as she talks about her latest book, A Cold Death.

A Cold Death is the 16th book in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series. Tempe, a Native American, is the resident deputy of a mountain community in the Southern Sierra in California.

The story was inspired while my husband and I were at breakfast with friends from church. They told me about a time when they were the caretakers of a summer camp. During the winter, they stayed on to do maintenance. One winter they experienced a monumental snow storm. As they talked, I began to ask questions, and of course an idea for a mystery began to form.

In my tale, not only are the caretakers marooned by the storm, but also the owners and guests they’ve brought along. The official blurb is:

Deputy Tempe Crabtree and her pastor husband answer the call for help with unruly guests visiting a closed summer camp during a huge snow storm and are trapped there along with the others. One is a murderer.

I had such a great time developing the characters for this tale. And for a long time, I wasn’t sure who the guilty party was. I know that sounds odd, but that has happened to me several times. While writing, I begin thinking one character is the murderer, but as the plot develops, I realize it had to be someone else.

Now to get around to what I learned about myself while writing this book. This is not the first time I’ve written about a group of folks stranded together. It suddenly became obvious to me how much influence the writings of Agatha Christie had on me. Why it took so long for me to realize this, I don’t know. I’ve read many mysteries over the years, and I know other writers have probably influenced me in different ways, but Christie’s writing probably has had the greatest effect on me.

To other authors, is there one writer who you know has influenced you?

And to readers, when reading a book, have you thought that something about it reminded you of another author’s book?

The book is available on Kindle and as a trade paperback:


First Page:

“What a strange request.” Tempe hung up the phone and turned to her husband. Because of the unusual and heavy snowfall, she’d been called out several times to check the welfare of several citizens, especially those who lived in the remote cabins in the higher elevations. As the resident deputy of the mountain community of Bear Creek, instead of calling 911, most of the town folks never hesitated to contact her on her private landline, or her cellphone. She’d lived and worked here for so long she knew almost everyone who lived in the area she patrolled.

“Who was it?” Hutch asked.

“Mac McConahey.”

Hutch scratched his already mussed auburn hair. “I’m not sure who he is. Name sounds familiar though.”

“Mac and his wife run that summer camp for girls. The one way up in the mountains.”

“What are they doing there now?”

“They’re the caretakers in the winter, and I suspect that’s when they do repairs.”

“Is the snow storm causing them a problem?” Hutch started to clear the table.

“Kind of, but what Mac asked was that I come and convince some not-so-welcome guests to go home.”

Hutch laughed. “That is odd. What are you going to do?”

“Head up there and take a look at the situation.”

“Let me get these dishes in the sink and I’ll go with you.”

“I’d like that.”

About Marilyn:

Marilyn Meredith’s published book count is nearing 40. She is one of the founding members of the San Joaquin chapter of Sister in Crime. She taught writing for Writers Digest Schools for 10 years, and was an instructor at the prestigious Maui Writers Retreat, and has taught at many writers’ conferences. Marilyn is a member of three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and serves on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. She lives in the foothills of the Sierra, a place with many similarities to Tempe Crabtree’s patrol area.

Webpage: http://fictionforyou.com

Blog: http://marilymeredith.blogspot.com/

7 thoughts on “What I Learned About Myself While Writing “A Cold Death” — Marilyn Meredith

  1. Isolating a group of people in a situation has lead to many great novels. Beside Agatha Christie, think of Thomas Mann (Nobel Prize winner) and the Magic Mountain.

    I’ve read Marilyn’s novel. It is one of her best. I guess the villain wrong.

  2. I just bought your A Cold Death this morning and am anxious to read it, Marilyn. I love settings such as that in what I read. That or oceanside or lake settings seem to appeal a lot to me. Oddly, the author who has influenced my writing is Caleb Pirtle III. I love the style he writes with and have learned so much from him via personal communications. He’s been a good friend that I’ve been blessed with.

  3. Marilyn: I also have surprised myself when the one I wanted to be the murderer has an accomplice or turns out to be someone unexpected! What I have discovered about my writing is that I entertain myself, and if I don’t, I should not expect it to entertain others. Please let me know if you ever plan a trip to New Orleans. We now have a Sisters in Crime chapter here and I would love to show you a favorite restaurant or two! Colleen Mooney

  4. J.L, thank you for commenting and thank you for the compliment on A Cold Death. (I didn’t know who the villain was for a long time either.)

    Jackie, thank you for taking a chance with A Cold Death. I haven’t read any of Caleb Pirtle’s writing, though I do know who he is.

    Hi, Colleen, how I’d love to visit New Orleans again. I went there once for an Epic conference and didn’t see enough–though we did have some great food. Not doing too much long distance traveling these days. Thank you so much for commenting.

  5. I love your first line, Marilyn! When I was reading about your idea, I couldn’t help but think the story sounds like something along the lines of Agatha Christie stories (what mystery author has she not influenced? :). I look forward to reading, Marilyn!

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