posted by Donna Fletcher Crow
Book lover, avid reader and literature professor Elizabeth Allerton wouldn’t think there was any such thing as being “too bookish.” Reading is her hobby, her profession and her passion. That means a week at a resort high in the Rockies, enacting and solving a Dorothy L. Sayers-style mystery will be the perfect spring break.
As head of the English department at Rocky Mountain College, Elizabeth badgers the newly hired professor Richard Spencer to accompany her for this living-inside-a-book experience—the perfect event to add breadth to Richard’s reading background and depth to the course in The English Mystery Novel Elizabeth teaches.
And it becomes all the more perfect for Elizabeth when the man of her dreams enters the scene.
Until the play-acting embroils them in a real-life murder and the lines between reality and fiction blur dangerously.
TheShadow of Reality, book 2 in my Elizabeth and Richard Literary Suspense series, has recently been re-released in an all-new edition.
The story is based on a murder weekend my husband and I attended at MohonkMountain House in the Hudson River Valley many years ago, although I have moved the setting to the Rocky Mountains.
For my fictional Eyrie House I used Glen Eyrie, home of Navigators InternationalStudent Ministry, where my husband and I also attended a conference. Glen Eyrie is tucked in the Garden of the Gods, near of the foot of the mountain; I merely moved it to the top for my story.
Although Elizabeth’s experience is a figment of my imagination, since I did experience the mystery week which serves as the background of my story, I can attest that there were moments in our role-played adventure when I felt the lines of fiction and reality blurring:
The old hotel was quiet, and the uneven floorboards creaked under her feet as Elizabeth climbed the stairs, her hand running lightly up the oak banister. On the fourth floor the hall was softly lighted, and the mellow wainscoting was warm and welcoming. Elizabeth’s mind was full of images from the movie and the roleplaying of the past days… and suddenly she was walking down the hall in a Yorkshire country house in the thirties.
The sensation lasted only a few seconds before reality intervened and shattered the illusion, but for that moment it had been so absolutely real, so totally authentic, that it left Elizabeth shaken and strangely buoyed. It was as if all the books she had read and the movies she had seen about time travel and visiting other dimensions were possible.
The above scene is written in my heroine’s consciousness, but it was my experience. Even as I write this I can see the old, deep red carpet and feel it under my feet.
This you-are-there experience is something I hope for in all the books I read and strive for in all that I write. But at the end of the day, it’s important to remember that literature can reflect life and teach us about life by expanding experiences beyond our own, but, as Elizabeth learned, it isn’t real life.
Have you had experiences where reality and fiction blurred for you?
Donna has loved interacting with the backgrounds of all of her books. She currently authors 3 mystery series. you can read about all of them and see photos from her research trips at DonnaFletcherCrow.com