What does a Sydneysider do when they get back from the US? Get a cup of decent coffee, what else? No, I shouldn’t be so cruel – I’ve had espresso in New York and San Francisco that approaches the refined drop we enjoy in Sydney, city of a million coffee snobs. But spare me the warmed-up filtered stuff they serve in US diners! Kerry J Donovan serves gallons of it in this lively novel about Chet Walker, a young itinerant musician whose past is tantalisingly hinted at. Finding himself in the lakeside town of Lucky Shores, he is quickly embroiled in a festering scandal and instantly attracted to Josie, the minx in the diner with the coffee pot and an interesting past of her own. I loved the whole thing, even the sweet ending (I would have preferred a bit of angst, but that’s the kind of writer I am). Chet’s music and lyrics are woven into the plot, but because they are original I couldn’t play them in my head: Hey, Kerry, what’s the chance of getting them recorded on Youtube and embedding the links in the e-book?
I had some questions for Kerry:
Q – I think that On Lucky Shores was your first novel set in the US. What sort of reaction have you had, especially from American readers? After all, you’re an Irishman living in France!
A – Agreed, OLS is my first US-set novel and will come as a bit of a change of pace for my readers. I mostly write UK-based police procedurals, although in one of my books, I did send my hero, DCI David Jones to France to catch a paedophile killer.
Setting OLS in the Colorado Rockies was a bit of a gamble for me and required a heck of a lot of research. Although the resort town of Lucky Shores is totally fictitious, I did want the setting to feel authentic. As for dialogue, narration, and ‘feel’, that was equally as tricky. I considered making my leading man, traveling musician Chet Walker, a British ex-pat, a sort of Crocodile Dundee character, but that would have been a bit of a cheat and I didn’t want to write a ‘fish out of water’ comedy. Instead, I tried hard to find a realistic American voice for the narrator and the characters, and hired an editor from Colorado, PC Zick, to help me with the settings, US grammar, and colloquialisms. She did a wonderful job and so far, reader responses have been incredibly supportive.
Basically, no one’s called me out on my misuse of the lingo. Not yet, anyway.
Q – If you found yourself in the diner in Lucky Shores, who would you most want to have lunch with?
A – Great question and a difficult one. The easy answer would be Chet, or Josephine (the diner’s owner and female lead character), but they’d be pretty much lost in each other and I wouldn’t have much of a chance in the conversation. Young love, eh?
Apart from the two leads, my favourite character is ‘The Ghost’, Sheriff Casper Boyd. He has his own agenda and, like Chet, is a recent addition to the Lucky Shores community. As an outsider, he has a different perspective from Lucky Shores’ other residents. Apart from everything else, he’s more my age than the youngsters, and we’d have slightly more in common. One question I’d like to ask him is why he’s being so tough on Chet. After all, the poor guy only wants to find a gig, earn some money, and move on with his life. Yeah. “What’s your game, Sheriff? Why are you being such a hard-ass?”
Q – People drink an awful lot of coffee in Lucky Shores. Are you willing to share your true feelings about the coffee they serve in US diners?
A – Couldn’t possibly comment. I don’t drink coffee. Never have, never will. I’m old school, a tea drinker through and through. I’m sure all US diners serve delicious coffee all the time, but I’m not an expert and will leave that discussion to others. And by the way, in Chet’s defense, he’d been out in the cold and the rain most of the night and needed the coffee as much for its warmth as its caffeine. And anyway, he’s a big guy and the coffee cups are small. Give the guy a break, will ya?
Find out about Stuart Campbell’s novels here.