Jessica Estevao writes the Change of Fortune Mysteries. The first in the series, Whispers Beyond the Veil, released in September 2016. She loves the beach, mysterious happenings and all things good-naturedly paranormal. While she lives for most of the year in New Hampshire with her dark and mysterious husband and exuberant children, she spends summers on the coast of Maine where she keeps an eye out for sea monsters and mermaids.
As Jessie Crockett she’s the author of the nationally bestselling Sugar Grove Mysteries and the Daphne du Maurier Award winner, Live Free or Die.
They say that one of the ways to preserve a youthful zest for life is to always be trying something new, to allow oneself the discomfort of being a beginner at something.
For me, each book I write is an agreement to do just that. Every time I start to write a new book or a new series I feel like a beginner. It’s a frightening and exhilarating feeling. It’s sort of like being a desk-bound adrenaline junkie.
But some projects are even more terror-inducing than others. Several years ago I started spending summers in Old Orchard Beach, Maine. With each passing year my desire to write a book set there increased. As I strolled the beach, collected shells and sampled the French fries at the pier I began cobbling together bits and pieces of what would become my latest mystery, Whispers Beyond the Veil.
I knew early on that the book would be set in the past because the history of the town is so rich and compelling. I also knew that although this would be the fifth book I would write, it would also make me, in many ways, a beginner again. I had never written a historical novel before and figuring out how to do that was a youth-preserving challenge.
Every scene I wrote was fraught with questions. What would my characters have worn in 1898? What sorts of foods were available in hotel dining rooms on the Maine coast at that point in time? What would tarot cards have looked like back then? What sort of expressions were not yet commonplace?
It was a fascinating experience and one that taught me how much I love digging into the past. I also felt as though I had discovered the fountain of youth. Every day I was confronted with how much I didn’t know, how much of a beginner I truly was. It was humbling and completely wonderful. It made me feel, in many ways, like a child again.
As I am reaching the end of my second book in the Change of Fortune series I am finding that writing historical mysteries continues to leave me stretching and growing and out of my comfort zone. With as much fun as I’m having I hope I will always feel like a beginner.
Readers, which sorts of new things have you tried lately? Writers, which things stretch you with your writing?