Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Friday, November 18, 2022

Film Crews and Rendezvous: A Jules Keene Glamping Mystery by Heather Weidner

"The mystery itself was well-plotted and had a quick pace. There were certainly plenty of suspects to choose from. As I followed Jules’s investigation, I bounced from guess to guess…[...] There are clues for the armchair detective to follow but the with a surprising and crafty twist at the reveal, I think most will appreciate the clever resolution." K.A. Davis, Goodreads


Published: October 2022

Hollywood has come to Fern Valley, and the one stoplight town may never be the same. Everyone wants to get in on the act.

The crew from the wildly popular, fan favorite, Fatal Impressions, takes over Jules Keene's glamping resort, and they bring a lot of offscreen drama and baggage that doesn't include the scads of costumes, props, and crowds that descend on the bucolic resort in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Added security, hundreds of calls from hopeful extras, and some demanding divas keep Jules's team hopping.

When the show's prickly head writer ends up dead under the L. Frank Baum tiny house in what looks like a staged murder scene with a kitschy homage to the Wizard of Oz, Jules has to figure out who would want the writer dead. Then while they are still reeling from the first murder, the popular publicist gets lost after a long night at the local honky-tonk and winds up strangled. Jules needs to solve both crimes before filming is canceled, and her business is ruined.

Location, Location, Location – Mysteries Series and Their Settings

I am a Virginia girl, and all of my stories are set there. I write where I know. Plus, I want to share the uniqueness of the Commonwealth with its beaches, mountains, fabulous restaurants, and historical sites. I needed a small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia to set my Jules Keene Glamping Mysteries. Since murder and mayhem were going to take place all over town, I decided to create my own. I don’t usually have horrific crimes happen in real places.

Jules Keene, the owner of the Fern Valley Camping Resort, grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains. My fictional town is west of Charlottesville to give folks a point of reference. Her parents bought the traditional campground before she was born, and after her divorce from the Idiot, she moved back to the resort, where she helped her father convert and repurpose vintage trailers. She saved a bunch from the scrapheap and was able to preserve their history and create some upscale places for her guests to visit. All of the trailers come with wine chillers and posh amenities for glamping (glamorous camping).

Jules themed each trailer’s décor. Her 1953 Redman New Moon is decorated in honor of Lucy and Desi’s classic movie, “The Long, Long Trailer” that featured the same model camper. Her 1959 Sunliner Caravan, debuted the same year as Barbie, so this one is decorated in pink, white, and black in homage to the classic doll.

At the end of the book, Jules and Jake, her maintenance/security guy, decide to add tiny houses to the resort’s offerings. He plans to build a village of small dwellings in a vacant section of the resort, and Jules is going to create book themes for each. Each house had some sort of surprise for the guests. The first four are names for the authors, Beatrix Potter, L. Frank Baum, J. K. Rowling, and Bram Stoker.

My aunt and uncle owned a traditional campground in Nelson County near Crabtree Falls in the 1970s. It was a magical place with mountains and all the traditional camping fun. I heard my first echo there and played my first game of pinball in the rec room. The water in the stream from the falls was ice cold, and I saw an entire family picnic on one of the magnificent rocks. It was a place full of lots of fun memories, and this became the model for the Fern Valley Resort.

My husband does a lot of DIY projects, and he restores classic cars, so we watch A LOT of home and vehicle renovation shows. I stumbled on one that restored classic campers on the West Coast, and it gave me an idea for Jules’s resort. I am also fascinated with tiny houses. I am amazed at how creative people are to build in storage and living space in small spaces. These are a perfect addition to the Fern Valley Camping Resort.

So, while the town of Fern Valley is fictitious, the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the glamping craze, vintage trailers, and tiny houses are real, and they combine to add a sense of place to the Jules Keene Glamping Mysteries.

About the author:
Through the years, Heather Weidner has been a cop’s kid, technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, and IT manager. Vintage Trailers and Blackmailers is the first in her cozy mystery series, the Jules Keene Glamping Mysteries. She also writes the Delanie Fitzgerald mystery series set in Virginia. Her Mermaid Bay Christmas Shoppe Mysteries debut in 2023.

Her short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries series, 50 Shades of Cabernet, Deadly Southern Charm, and Murder by the Glass, and her novellas appear in The Mutt Mysteries series.

Originally from Virginia Beach, Heather has been a mystery fan since Scooby-Doo and Nancy Drew. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers.

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1 comment:

Heather Weidner said...

Thanks so much for letting me and the glamping gang stop by!