HANK: Scrapbooking is kind of like cookbooks—I mean, if we looked into a person’s cookbook, we’d find the pages they love the most, the ones here they’ve made annotations, the pages that are splatted with gravy or sauce. Right? So you’re really exploring people’s minds and what they care about…
MOLLIE: Absolutely. As part of my cookbook research, for example, I dove into Mrs. Rowe's handwritten notebooks and recipe files, clippings, and so on. It was fascinating to see the notes she made along the side of the recipes or and the bottom. If she had been a scrapbooker, it would have made my life a little easier at the time. But she told her story with her food. It was my job to organize it.
And my love of scrapbooking really helped me when it came to writing the cookbook, which is not what I had in mind at all when I started writing about Mrs. Rowe. I wrote a 250-page biography that we couldn't sell. Ten Speed Press came back and asked if I could make it into a cookbook and I said certainly--you always say yes, right? Well, let's just say I had quite the learning curve. At one point my editor said, "Think of this book as a scrapbook. Pick out the best stories for the narrative. But also use the photos, recipe head notes, and sidebars as part of the story." That was my "light-bulb" moment.
In SCRAPBOOK OF SECRETS, my characters make scrapbooks for children belonging to a woman who has mysteriously died. They piece together more than photos and pretty paper. They piece together a life full of depth, complexity, and secrets.
In my third book, due to be out next year, DEATH OF AN IRISH DIVA, one of my characters discovers an old scrapbook that relates to an event happening around her. The past leaves footprints everywhere, and scrapbooking can be a bridge between the past and the present.
Scrapbooking has a puzzle-like quality to it that makes it perfect for mysteries.
HANK: Pushing the analogy—writing a mystery means you have to use a recipe, in a way. Know what I mean? ANd how did you learn how to do it?
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