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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Stuff Your Stocking Blogfest: Kathryn Meyer Griffith

The Writing of THE ICE BRIDGE By Kathryn Meyer Griffith


Eight years ago my husband, Russell, and I were celebrating our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary and decided to return to quaint Mackinac Island in Michigan. We’d been there a few years before, but just for a quick afternoon stopover on our way home from visiting family in Wisconsin. We’d loved the Island for the few hours we’d been on it and promised ourselves we’d go there again someday. So when we began to plan for our anniversary vacation we traveled back for a longer stay of six days. I’d made reservations months ahead at the Iroquois Hotel on the water’s edge of Lake Huron and when the time came, after packing up everything we’d need, we jumped in the car and took off.

The Island doesn’t allow cars, only bicycles, horses and snowmobiles (in the winter) so we left our vehicle in a Mackinaw City parking lot on the mainland and boarded the ferry that would take us across the water to the Island, our luggage and two bicycles in tow. It was much cheaper to bring our own bikes instead of rent them there.

It was late August and the Island was beautiful. Crowded with colorful, fragrant flowers, clomping horses, whizzing bicycles and, of course, lots of tourists. Fudgies as they were called because they came, purchased and devoured so much of the little town’s fudge.

The Iroquois Hotel was lovely with its bright pastel colors and friendly service; a fancy in-house restaurant and our room with its wall of windows facing the lake. A lake that to me was as large as an ocean…because it went on forever.

Our six days there were heaven. We rode our bikes, pedalling around the horses, carriages, and equine taxis, around the eight-mile in circumference island and enjoyed the sights. The friendly people. The breathtaking views of water, boats and woods. The fudge. We sped along West Bluff Road to the ritzy Grand Hotel (made famous in the 1980 romantic time travel movie Somewhere in Time with Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve), ate the scrumptious and lavish tourists’ brunch there and afterwards, so full we could barely ride our bicycles, we gawked at the magnificent Victorian mansions with their elaborate gardens lining Lake Shore Drive.

We visited Fort Mackinac and listened amusedly to people talk about the ghost soldier some had reported seeing when twilight began to fall. My husband, a photography buff, even slipped out of our hotel room in the middle of one foggy night to get artsy pictures with our new digital camera of the fort, hoping to catch the ghost. He captured no ghost, but plenty of stunning photographs.

One night we even sat, spellbound, as a Lake Huron thunderstorm pounded wildly at our wall of windows. It was as if we were gazing at a tumultuous ocean.

Then one day someone, in a cubbyhole of a local hamburger joint, over our lunch, said something about the ice bridge, as the islanders called it. During the dead of winter, when the straits froze over, it was a narrow path that stretched about four miles across the ice that separated Mackinac Island from the St. Ignace mainland. The locals would drive in old Christmas trees along the path to show the way, to show it was now safe. To them the ice bridge meant freedom to come and go for up to two months a year without paying ferryboat or airplane fees. To me it sparked an idea for my next book…what if someone crossed the ice bridge one wintry night and fell through the ice? And disappeared…maybe even died?

I started asking questions of the locals: Had someone ever fallen through the ice and perished? Turns out over the years, that yes, some people actually had. Fallen in. When the ice wasn’t firm enough. Or when they’d gone off the solid marked path. Or in a snowstorm. Some on snowmobiles. Some were saved, dragged out, and some had not been. Hmmm.

That’s all it took for the book to begin forming in my head. The rest of the trip I looked at the Island with different eyes. A writer’s eyes. Writer’s ears. I filed away the memories and the home-grown stories recounted to me. Though most of my earlier books were romantic horror, I’d written a couple of straight contemporary murder mysteries, Scraps of Paper and All Things Slip Away, a few years before and Avalon Books had published them. I’d quite enjoyed writing them.

So I thought I’d write another one with Mackinac Island and its real and fictional ghost tales as the background. I’d show the beauty of the island, changing of the seasons, what it was like in summer, fall and winter (tons of snow and ice), and describe the historical landmarks. I’d spotlight the quirky close-knit inhabitants and have the protagonist gather their imaginary spirit stories to put into the ghost book she was writing. I’d make the Island nearly a main character itself with its enigmas, water, snow, ice and fog.

The novel would be about a woman, Charlotte, jilted in love, coming back to heal and visit her poignant childhood playground and her lonely Aunt Bess. She’d meet an Island cop, Matt, and together they’d not only fall in love but would embark on a great dangerous adventure together. There’d be a spunky old lady, Hannah, living next door and the four would be great friends. Until the old lady disappears on a winter’s night while crossing the ice bridge and the mystery would begin. Had Hannah been murdered by someone….how exactly…by whom…and why? The remainder of the book would be the unraveling of that mystery as the central characters try to keep from being killed themselves by the devious murderer behind Hannah’s death. I’d embed the Island’s so-called ghost tales throughout the book to spice up the story even more. So it’d be a romantic ghostly murder mystery. Ah, ha. I couldn’t wait to begin.

When my husband and I returned home, refreshed and happy, I started it right away, with the memories of lovely Mackinac still fresh in my mind. Gosh, how I’d loved that Island. A tiny piece of old-fashioned paradise. The book came easily to me. And so The Ice Bridge was born. Now with a stunning new cover by Dawne Dominique and edited by my publisher, Kim Richards Gilchrist, it’s out in the world for everyone to read and, I hope, enjoy.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a download of The Ice Bridge.

About the Author: Kathryn Meyer Griffith has been writing for nearly forty years and has published 14 novels and 8 short stories since 1984 with Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, The Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books and Eternal Press in the horror, romantic paranormal, suspense and murder mystery genres. Learn more about her at www.myspace.com/kathrynmeyergriffith or www.authorsden.com/kathrynmeyergriffith or www.bebo.com/kathrynmeyerG and http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=1019954486

15 comments:

Marlena Cassidy said...

I love the story behind this novel, and knowing it makes me want to read it so much more. Mackinac Island sounds like an amazing place to live/vacation, and it sounds like the perfect inspiration for an awesome novel.

Cynthia D'Alba said...

First...I LOVE Mackinac Island. I made my husband rent a horse and carriage so I could see what that felt like. The big hotel is something to see, isn't it?

I can't imagine staying on the island for a week. That would be so incredible.

The book sounds so intriguing. Love the premise.

CelticAmazon said...

I love mysteries and this sounds great. Have added to my tbr wishlist.
Patricia
panthers.ravens@yahoo dot com

Debby said...

I have been to MAckinac Island and loved it. It is to beautiful. Thanks for sharing
debby236 at gmail dot com

Clare Revell said...

The book sounds wonderful and I love the story behind it.

telsiacharis at yahoo dot co dot uk

desitheblonde said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
desitheblonde said...

there is place in ohio and they do the same thing when the island
freeze and they have vehicle that go over the ice and then they
go back and forth it put in bay island
desi the blone @ msn.com

Catherine Lee said...

Mackinac sounds beautiful. Thanks for sharing. I love that this became the inspiration for your book. Inspiration is everywhere if you're open to it.

Ho, Ho, Ho...
Catherine
@capefearlibn
catherinelee100[at]gmail[.]com

Donna E said...

I do not believe I have ever heard an author tell about the background of a book with such wonderful detail before. Your description of the place, including your feelings for it, began the enticement and then when you went on to tell of the story --- well, this is a book I MUST read.

I'm partial to mysteries anyway, but having the actual background 'explained' will just make it more exciting. [And I loved Somewhere in Time and that beautiful hotel.]

donna.durnell@sbcglobal.net

shadow_kohler said...

thats so cool. ive always wanted to go there. your book sounds great! thanks for sharing!
shadowluvs2read(at)gmail(dot)com

RoyalCheryl said...

I really would like to read this. Thank You.

sashagirl said...

Thanks all for commenting...I have picked (names in a hat) the winner of my book THE ICE BRIDGE....it's Shadow Kohler!!! And I'm sending her a ebook copy of my novel...right now! Thank you, author of 14 published novels and 8 short stories and 2012 EPIC EBOOK AWARDS FINALIST NOMINEE for her romantic end-of-the-world horror novel THE LAST VAMPIRE-Revised Author's Edition, Kathryn Meyer Griffith rdgriff@htc.net www.myspace.com./kathrynmeyergriffith www.authorsden.com/kathrynmeyergriffith

GladysMP said...

Your vacation on the island sounds heavenly. I have heard of that island but have never been there, so I enjoyed your details about no cars, only bicycles. Bicycles are much quieter than cars. I live where the traffic is terrible...and don't even mention the motorcycles.

Happy New Year to you!

Frank said...

Thanks for sharing the story behind one of your stories, Kathryn! What a lovely source of inspiration!

--flchen1, using DH's account
f dot chen at comcast dot net

Kathryn Merkel said...

From one Kathryn to another, I so agree with you about the magic of Mackinac Island. I've been to the island 5 or 6 times, but always for a day trip, never overnight. Somewhere in Time is also one of my favorite movies. The last time I was on the island I toured the Grand Hotel & felt like I was walking around on the movie set.

The Ice Bridge sounds like a great read & is on my wish list.

drainbamaged.gyzmo at gmail.com