Alice Fitzpatrick Debuts Intriguing Mystery Series

I’ve always been drawn to books set on islands, as well as those that explore long-held family secrets. Alice Fitzpatrick’s SECRETS IN THE WATER features both, and I’m so delighted to welcome her to my blog today to talk about her novel, the first in a new series, Meredith Island Mysteries. Below are her responses to my interview questions, followed by her bio and buy/contact links:

First off, congratulations on the release of SECRETS IN THE WATER, the first book in your Meredith Island Mysteries.  Can you share with our readers a bit about the book and what inspired the series?

Thank you, Lynn.  It’s wonderful to finally see my book out in the world.  Let me tell you something about it.

            When Kate Galway was just three years old, her aunt Emma committed suicide.  Now Kate has returned home to Meredith Island, her childhood island home off the Welsh coast, to bury her grandmother where she’s confronted with the islanders’ conviction that her aunt was murdered all those years ago.  But it’s when she learns that her grandmother died believing she was responsible for Emma’s death that Kate decides to track down a killer who has eluded detection for fifty years.  Along the way, she must confront shameful secrets from her family’s past and her conflicted feelings about the place which was once her home.

One of the themes in Secrets in the Water is how our memories and perceptions of people change over time.  Because Kate was just three years old when Emma died, she remembers only the loving aunt who played with her and bought her ice-cream.  If she is to solve the murder, Kate has to learn the truth about Emma.  But in the fifty years that have passed since her death, the islanders have idealized the young woman who died so tragically, making Kate’s job anything but straightforward.

            Because I grew up reading Agatha Christie novels, the traditional British mystery is my favourite genre and thus the inspiration for this series with its isolated setting, Gothic manor house, and eccentric characters.  My first attempt at writing a mystery was a story I wrote almost thirty-five years ago which became Secrets in the Water.  The lesson here is never throw anything out. 

What drew you to set the series on a Welsh island?

When I was a child, my British family moved to a Welsh seaside resort where I spent my summers.  That’s when I fell in love with the country and its people.  When I decided to write a series, I realized I’d be carrying the setting around in my head for the next twenty or thirty years, so I wanted it to be somewhere where I felt comfortable and welcome.  Since I’ve always lived near large bodies of water, and I particularly love the sea, a Welsh island was perfect.  

Your protagonist, Kate Galway, is also a novelist. To what extent does she share personality characteristics with yourself?

We’re both English teachers and academics.  After defending her master’s thesis, Kate’s plan was to do her doctorate and teach university, but an unexpected pregnancy put a stop to that.  I’d always said I’d to do my PhD when I retired, but when faced with the choice of spending seven years doing academic research versus writing seven novels, I chose the novels.

            Both of us have a passion for solving puzzles.  That’s what leads Kate to investigate murders and me to write about them.  We also both have a strong moral code.  Mine takes the form of fighting for social justice.  Kate comes to the aid of friends and neighbors who are wrongly accused of crimes.  Her sidekick, Siobhan, believes her friend’s irritating reluctance to bend the law comes from having been married to a police detective, but in reality it’s because Kate grew up on the island.  In a place where no one locks their doors, people respect and take care of each other. 

You have been a writer all of your life and have published literary short fiction and personal essays.  What drew you to writing mysteries?

Mystery has dominated my life.  My Polish relatives, whom I never met, lived under Communist rule which might explain my father’s secretive nature.  He spoke little about his past, but when he did, he told a different story to each of us. 

            Like Kate’s aunt and her father who died before Kate was born, people in my British family had a habit of disappearing from my life—my uncle Terry died when my mother was pregnant with me; his son, my cousin Terry, broke off all communication with the family for over fifty years; and my great-aunt Marie exiled herself to the Isle of Man. 

            It’s no wonder I wrote a book which at its heart is the story of a woman seeking to reclaim her family’s history.

Can you share with our readers what your writing process is like?

I’m a plantser which is a combination of pantser and plotter.  I usually outline up to the murder, but then have only a vague idea about how to proceed with the actual investigation.  Before I begin to write, I must know the identities of both the first victim and the murderer, the motive and method of death, the relationship of the victim to the other characters, and their secrets.

            I’m also a firm believer in separating the creating and editing processes.  It provides a distance which allows me to view my writing more objectively.  Ideally I would prefer to write the entire first draft before beginning to edit, but that’s not practical.  I’m constantly making notes to myself to check previous scenes in case I’ve already revealed a clue, to reorganize scenes, delete irrelevant information, or to change the name of a character.  When the notes become overwhelming, I’m forced to go back and tidy things up before continuing or risk chaos.  

A related question: What’s a typical writing day for you like?

I’m awake at eight, read for an hour, and then check my emails and social media.  Over breakfast I watch a crime show or two which I rationalize as research.  My alternative excuse is that the cats are sitting on me, and I can’t disturb them.  By now it’s early afternoon, and I can’t put off writing any longer.  The good news is that once I get started, I usually keep going until six, seven, or even eight o’clock.  

What advice would you give to an aspiring mystery writer?

My favorite piece of advice comes from Darcy Pattison: “The first draft of a story is to tell you what the story is.  The next drafts are a search for the best way to tell this story.”

            As a perfectionist—and what writer isn’t or doesn’t aspire to be—I get hung up on getting the first draft as good as I can.  In the past, this would often stop me in my tracks as I edited and re-edited what I’d already written, afraid to continue in case I got it wrong.  Darcy’s advice gives me permission to let go of expectations of immediate perfection.  Getting it wrong is a valuable part of the process.

What’s next for you writing-wise?

A Dark Death, the second Meredith Island Mystery, will be released in June, 2025.  The third book in the series, A Killer Cold, will be released the following year, so please stay tuned for more adventures with the wonderful folks on Meredith Island. 

I noticed that you write with a pen name. What led to your decision to adopt a pen name?

From my Polish father, I inherited a last name no one can spell or pronounce.  Because I feared it might impede people’s ability to find my books, I took my maternal grandmother’s name.  It also honors a woman who supported me in everything I wanted to do with my life.

            And to be honest, after a lifetime of people stumbling over my name, it’s nice to have one people can pronounce.

Anything else you’d like to add, or wish I’d asked that I didn’t?

I love to connect with readers, so for news and upcoming events, please check my website at www.alicefitzpatrick.com and sign up for my newsletter to keep up-to-date with all the goings-on of Kate Galway, Siobhan, and the rest of the islanders.

 

BIO

Alice Fitzpatrick has contributed short stories to literary magazines and anthologies and has recently retired from teaching to devote herself to writing full-time.  She is a fearless champion of singing, cats, all things Welsh, and the Oxford comma.  Secrets in the Water is the first book in the Meredith Island Mystery series inspired by her summers spent with her Welsh family in Pembrokeshire.  Alice lives in Toronto but dreams of a cottage on the Welsh coast. 

 

CONTACT LINKS

To learn more about Alice and her writing, please visit her website at www.alicefitzpatrick.comhttps://twitter.com/alicefitzp

https://www.facebook.com/alicefitzp

https://www.instagram.com/alicefitzpatrickauthor

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/10602521-alice-fitzpatrick

 

BUY LINKS

Amazon.com:  https://www.amazon.com/Secrets-Water-Alice-Fitzpatrick/dp/1988754607/ref=sr_1_3?crid=2Y4WR55SAPZI4&dib=eyJ2IjoiMSJ9.Iuqe92KEgEDzMI243KsZrwOn6IkvZeptSHzvtbdNmTfRhiCRM-q22a7KJoPphn2ulhY7IES0Z5TJFP7E2Ty1rbVKSwjRXj0rVd8v4CYpLSjbfpogqEaClQEeyGtqDlxOnK9qV5UwFPLTlUfBC3v-_z9JUUQKOb8EvnWl6E8SkwP89TfYLqyudVcTPto5Tt-McC8LPsPZevGYudSlAwYeRoMsIKd0OPZ7xe7r9DvBQH0.PA0z_Hr0ZUcv8C19vO-UuVLhu0nZO1d2eiYr7zK7V_o&dib_tag=se&keywords=alice+fitzpatrick&qid=1711308736&sprefix=alice+fitzpatrick%2Caps%2C79&sr=8-3

 

Indigo:  https://www.indigo.ca/en-ca/secrets-in-the-water/9781988754604.html?searchType=products&searchTerm=alice%20fitzpatrick&relatedTerms=alice%20fitzpatrick

 

 

2 Comments

  1. Pamela Ruth Meyer on June 6, 2024 at 4:51 pm

    Thanks for this post, Lynn and Alice. Generally, it’s so much easier to keep what we’ve written in the past now with our technology as it is. It sure is fortunate Alice saved the more traditional writing she’d done back then. I guess you never truly know…

  2. Alice Fitzpatrick on June 6, 2024 at 6:37 pm

    Thanks for your comment, Pamela. I was haunted by the story I wrote all those years ago. But when I came to write it as a novel, I didn’t think that it would work with a 14-year-old amateur detective (this was before I discovered Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce series) so I aged the protagonist by 40 years and changed the identity of the murderer, but hopefully the feeling is still there.

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