The Story Behind Shadows in the Salon by Kirsten Fullmer

11 Aug 2020

By Kirsten Fullmer

When I decided to write a series of cozy mystery books I wanted to do something different. First and foremost, I didn’t want there to be a dead body. I knew this was breaking the mold and more than a few rules, but the heart wants what the heart wants. Or in this case, what the heart doesn’t want. I also didn’t like the idea of the leading lady owning a book store or a bakery, I wanted to create something different; something with a new twist. I knew that if I was going to take away the intrigue and fear of death I’d have to come up with something thought-provoking and fun to keep the reader engaged. And of course, since I love to write about small towns and bossy women, I knew they’d have to be included as well.

One day while chatting with my daughter about my ideas, she said she’d read a mystery/comedy where the women in a small town had much more power than anyone suspected and it sparked a memory. When I was young, Disney released the movie North Avenue Irregulars, about a group of church women who take on the mob in their small town. I remembered loving that movie! I thought it was so funny how the women managed to spy on the bad guys while driving their kids to soccer practice etc. And there it was, the idea for my series of cozy mysteries was born!

In my other books, The Hometown Series about Smithville PA, I chose to center the stories around the same small town, but each book in the series has a new leading couple and they are friends with the couples in the previous books. I like that idea, so it was decided that my new lady spies/sleuths would be friends and each book in the series would be written from the point of view of a different lady in the group. So what type of a group should it be? I considered a church group or a reading group, but those have all been done. Then my kids gave me the idea to make the group look like one thing, but be something else entirely. It was genius! I could camouflage them in plain sight as something benign, but what? I spent days talking to my family about different ideas, and even though I’m sure I drove them crazy, they had so much fun input. I spent months working out the characters and their jobs and personalities.

I knew I had to choose an unconventional location for my town. My husband and I travel for his job and we’ve stayed in many interesting and historical places, but at the time we were in the mountains of western North Carolina. My maternal grandfather was from the area before he went west to homestead in Oregon in 1900, and the more I looked into his hometown, the more I fell in love with the idea of setting my new series there. Given the interesting and unique history of the area, I decided to make my leading ladies into a historical society. It was my son’s idea that the ladies have much more than history on their minds, so their reenactments are always a mess. This gives the group the cover of being inept, making them and their activates no threat to anyone in town.

Since I’d primarily written romance novels up to this point, I also wanted to add a bit of spice and male/female conflict, a combination of romance and cozy mystery. I can’t seem to help myself, It’s just too much fun.

So, there you have it! Shadows in the Salon, my newest release, is book 3 in the Sugar Mountain series. This story is told from the viewpoint of Michelle, the free-spirited beauty salon owner. Her home and salon are being haunted, and she thinks it’s a sign from beyond that she should beware. But the ladies of the society think someone is trying to frighten Michelle, and they are determined to find out who’s behind the spooky goings on.

I know the series doesn’t quite fit the mold as a cozy mystery, and if you love the ebb and flow of that well-known genre you may not enjoy my twist. But if you’re looking for something new, something with a bit of sweet romance, something sassy and fun, then you’re sure to love the antics of the Sugar Mountain Ladies Historical Society. Come along for the ride in this zany, offbeat, romp through Sugar Mountain!


Kirsten Fullmer is the author of the new book Shadows in the Salon.

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