Episode 7: Carol Graham A Recovery Murder Mystery - Fun, Cozy Read!

Unveiling the 'Brooklyn Murder Mysteries' series based on a delightful character in Recovery.

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Podcast Transcript:

Hello everyone, and welcome to Choices Books and Gifts, where  “You Always Have Choices.” 

Today, we have a wonderful guest - her name is Carol Graham.  I'm going to start by reading her bio. 

Born in Texas, Graham currently lives and works as a realtor in New York City in the Hudson Valley area.

Before moving to Brooklyn, she did a variety of work in the ski business as a bartender, a massage therapist, a driver for a hang-gliding pilot, a photographer, and once even worked in a bullet factory.  Her love for all things Brooklyn began the day she moved to the city from New Mexico more than 20 years ago and has only grown as she has gotten to know and appreciate the neighborhoods and the people who live there.

Carol is a member of the Woodstock Writers Group and a two-time winner of the Woodstock Book Fest story Slam.  And is the author behind the series ‘Brooklyn Murder Mysteries’. Welcome Carol, thank you.  

Thank you, Jay. Thank you so much. 

So, you know, I like to jump right into it. So, my first question is, can you tell us about Brooklyn Murder Mysteries?  What prompted you to write this book and the series? 

Well, it's a series.  This is my book, ‘Passion and Park Slope’ and it is the first in a series. 

Can I look? Oh, Beautiful. Thank you.

And I've been a writer for about 30 years, in and out of all those positions you just named.

You wore a lot of hats. 

I did. This series came about, actually I didn’t know anything about this particular brand of murder mystery called a “cozy murder mystery.”  And a cozy murder mystery, Jay, is where an amateur sleuth like Miss Marple (Agatha Christie.)  An amateur sleuth, in generally a small town, not a professional detective at all, but she solves a murder with which she comes into contact with.  Usually, no blatant sex or violence is going on the page. You have that happening off-screen. And usually, justice is served at the end, a happily ever after.

And I didn't read books like that for many years. My sister read them. And I gave her quite a hard time about that because I read literature.

But she read these and turned me on to the genre.  I finally got engaged, and I read many, many, many of them now. And I decided I wanted to write a series.  I picked Brooklyn because I love it so much and to me, each of those little neighborhoods is like a little, small towns.

Wonderful. Wonderful. Thank you for that.  What brings us some interest here in our bookstore at Choices is that the protagonist seems to be in recovery.  What made you decide to do that?  

Well, most people know someone who's in recovery. I don't know anyone who hasn't had addiction for one thing touch their lives, and hopefully, recovery came into their world in some way or another.  Its no respecter of a person, addiction. All walks of life are affected, and most people know somebody in their world who deals with recovery.  I have, and that's been my experience.  I also chose to put the protagonist in that position because it offers a substantial and interesting filter to look through the world. 

It matters in this book because the protagonist is in the regular world - she's a realtor in Brooklyn and she is in recovery.  She also looks at all her choices through that filter.  I wanted to show that because I think many people look through the world with that filter of recovery if they're lucky.

So, in the book, do you delve into the recovery part? Does she go to meetings, does she do this and that?

Well, she does, and we but we don't sit through AA meetings in this book. We don't sit through any meetings with her but it talks about why she got sober in the first place, why she got sober to begin with her as a recovering alcoholic. This protagonist, her name is Kara. And she talks about why she got sober and how that worked for her. So, it leads us to that. But no, we don't sit through meetings. You know, one of the things I've noticed in stories, TV, movies, and stuff is that I was never satisfied with the way recovery got shown in some way or another. For the most part. it never seemed quite right or something to me. It didn't satisfy me, except wait a minute; I did have some great inspiration with a television program called Elementary with Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu playing modern-day Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. And I got to tell you, I fell in love with it, because it is quirky and I mean, not that we didn't know Sherlock Holmes was quirky, but he's quirky and a very lovely and smart in an interesting way.

And so anyway, I wanted to show somebody in recovery like that. and seeing somebody in recovery that makes decisions based on their spiritual life, not religious - it’s not a religious thing that she's involved in at all - but basing her decisions on the way she looks at the world through that spiritual lens, I think, is interesting. 

So, for instance, are you saying that in a particular situation where one would - a regular detective may do something different from her because she's in recovery? Do you have any example of how she would handle it as opposed to, you know, someone not in the program? 

Well, a couple of things come to mind when this protagonist, Kara Gerard, is going through the world, and she's involved in discovering the murder, first of all. So, she is involved, even though she would not normally be involved in a murder investigation. She's involved because she saw that, and she thinks and it involves people in the real estate world. And so, she feels like she's involved anyway. It’s just her being interested and aghast, you know? But the way she chooses to look at it is through dealing - she's very direct, and she calls people up and talks to them.

She also doesn't go around telling other people’s secrets. You know, she listens. She's a good listener. And I think that came from her time in recovery and listening in meetings. She became a good listener. And from sitting through many meetings where she listened to people who had problems, you know, and who had flaws that they were discussing.

So, I think the listening part is a direct result from her role in recovery. And then, in the end, I don't want to give anything away because I want your viewers to buy this book and enjoy it. I hope they get a kick out of it. But in the end, she deals with the murder in a particular way, she’s involved with the discussion in a way that is a direct correlation to her recovery. I know that's a bit vague, but it's a murder mystery, it needs to be vague for this discussion.  

It needs to be vague because people need to buy the book. You reminded me of two things. First, you know, I've always agreed with you as well. Program, AA, all these other individual programs have not been well represented. But there is one that I got to kick off because I thought it was real and it was a series called Mom and I thought they did AA representation absolutely wonderfully. They would have meetings; they would show you what life is like in and outside of the program. And they did a good job. So, someone in Alcoholics Anonymous or any other kind of 12-step program, really, who are looking to better their lives, would they have a lot to relate to this person in the book? Would someone in recovery find it, you know, calling their name? 

Jay, I hope so. It was twofold – like any part of that background, it was so that other people in recovery would relate to it and hopefully enjoy her way of looking at the world. But it was also for people who don't or are not in recovery, who don't have that vision, that that lens to look through the world that I thought maybe it would just it would ring true for them some way and they would perhaps understand recovery a little bit better because of that.

So, it's sort of. Either way, this was written for more than just people in recovery or people not in recovery. It evolved the way life sometimes does. 

Yes. That's what recovery is all about. It's a bridge back to reality. But you have life, and you have when you're in a recovery program as well. What is something you'd like to leave us with about, you know, about the book? Why should we buy that book? Can you tell me? 

Gosh. You know, the thing about cozy mysteries I was talking about before is that with so much stress in the world and so much disagreement and polarity, this book, this genre, for one thing, in a big way.

But this book is just fun. If there's such a thing as a feel-good murder mystery, I hope this is it.  I wanted people to get a kick out of something, a little bit of entertainment, and a way to relax. And reading has brought me joy my whole life; my son and grandchildren read beyond words. And I think getting away from the screens just a little bit and having a story told up here well, on a page so that you can envision it (in your mind), is what I was going for.  And the fact that it brings a recovery filter to it is a very pleasant thing for me, personally. 

I love that. And I agree with you completely. Not a lot of people in the world read.  And I love to read as well. 

And this is a series, correct? Three so far? 

This is the first in the series, and I'm working on the second. It takes place in Windsor Terrace in Brooklyn, which is the adjacent neighborhood to Park Slope and one that I lived in for many years myself. Despite this twang, I have been in New York for over 21 years, and I love Brooklyn so much.  This is the first in a series, and I hope many neighborhoods unfold for us. But we'll see., I'm kind of old; we'll see how many I get through. 

Well, I don't think you're that old at all.  And I wish you all the luck in the world. I hope you make at least 20 of these and they're very successful. 

Jay, thank you so much.  I have these available. I hope they will someday be available in your store, but they're available online on my website www.Brooklynmurdermysteries.com.  They're available at many independent bookstores and, of course, at Amazon.  If I might give myself a plug - thank you very much.

You most certainly can, and that was an excellent plug. Thank you again for being here, and I'm just going to thank everyone for joining us at Choices Books and Gifts, where You Always Have Choices”.   

May God bless you and look after you always. 

Bye bye. 

Thank you, Jay.