by Lucy Burdette
If you are a regular follower of TopRetirements, do you take the website’s advice? Maybe you’ll have read the article from November 21 discussing Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s The Five Secrets of Super Agers. Having watched my father’s mental faculties wane under the onslaught of dementia, I’m definitely interested in keeping my brain healthy as I age. I’m pretty good at his number one, exercise, though I don’t try to keep up with my hub, Mr. Top Retirements. Number four, a Mediterranean-style diet and number five, staying connected, have been important to me for a long time.
Trying something new was number three on the list. At first I thought: I write most days, and all the words are new, so I have this one down cold. On the other hand, in the mystery world, I’m mostly known for my series featuring a food critic living in quirky Key West. I’m comfortable writing that series—I know the characters and the setting, and I love talking about restaurants and food. Even though this is a long-running series, every book is new in some way. Each story has a new plot, usually some new characters, and often new layers in the relationships between the regulars.
But over the years, darker ideas have come to me that would not have fit in that genre. I filed away snippets of characters and plots that seemed too gritty or dark for a cozy mystery even though I recognized them as elements of a good story. For example, what if a terrified young girl handed you a newborn—and then vanished? It took ten years to write this book and get it published, but this week I saw the publication of thriller, UNSAFE HAVEN, something definitely outside of my cozy mystery comfort zone.
Here’s the one-sentence description: After giving birth in a subway bathroom and thrusting her newborn into a newly jilted bride’s arms, a teenage runaway teams up with that stranger to save herself and her baby from the ruthless sex trafficker in pursuit.
No one is dining at restaurants in this story, or discussing recipes—they are too busy running for their lives. And the book is told from the perspective of four different characters—also a new approach for me. The upshot? This was hard! I feel certain it worked new muscles and synapses in my brain. I also hope some of my readers will enjoy reading something very different.
How about you, TR fans? Are you trying new things in your lives?
Lucy Burdette aka clinical psychologist Roberta Isleib is the author of the popular Key West Food Critic mystery series, including the latest, A SCONE OF CONTENTION. Lucy’s first novel of suspense, UNSAFE HAVEN, was published by Severn House December 7.