‘Smoke,’ the third Cully Beach mystery is pretty close to being finished, mostly written and to some degree edited. I would expect it to be ready for the public sometime around the end of this year. That assumes I keep working and don’t get distracted.
I had always known that Charlie Jackson — ‘Shaper’ Ted Carrol’s stepdaughter-to-be — had a half-brother she had never met. Nor even heard of. That latter was a detail that became fixed once it was included in the narrative of ‘Smoke.’
The half-brother is named Sebastian. Sebastian Furr. Charlie was born Charlotte Furr but changed that after her late stepfather, Bradley Jackson, officially adopted her. The birth father, Doug, was dead by that time.
Yes, he was Douglas Furr. Let’s not dwell on that.
I also knew Sebastian was gay and that he had a boyfriend by the name of Alastair Brown. Where did I come up with the names you ask? Or maybe you didn’t but I’ll inform you anyway. These are the names of the two teddy-bears who inhabit a high shelf in my home. Alastair has been with us since I was a little kid; Sebastian, who is twice as big and grayish, belonged to my late aunt.
I could also note that his name is an homage of sorts to Sebastian Flyte, of Evelyn Waugh’s ‘Brideshead Revisited.’ Needn’t dwell on that either — I just tell myself these little private jokes.
What I hadn’t known when I started this novel was how large a role I would give the pair in the story. I knew they would be in it, you understand, but not whether I would use them much. They could have existed only to help flesh out Charlie and Michelle’s backgrounds a little. For the first half of the narrative, that is indeed about all they did. But I decided not to make the women’s past an important feature of the novel (that had always been one way I had considered going with it).
Rather, I decided to have them accompany Ted to the Florida Folk Festival. He needed backup and they were perfect for the job. More so when I gave Brown a military police background. After that, they slip more into the background but remain a presence — and someone Ted can depend on. I’m letting them hang around Cully Beach through the end of the book; they might even get jobs and stay on longer.
But Dot Dominguez, insurance investigator, has already suggested to Al that he could do well in the private security sector so he may be headed that way. Temporarily — I have other plans for the pair.
Not in a sequel. Or probably not. I have no Cully Beach sequels planned yet and if I do write one it will be set several years later. I’m still thinking about that. What I have in mind is a spin-off.
Sebastian Furr and Alastair Brown starring in their own mystery novel, having opened their own private detective agency. Maybe, on the agency angle but definitely on the mystery. Where they would be located I have no idea at this point. Probably in Florida; almost certainly not in Cully Beach. A larger city, ideally, and one I know well enough to make it convincing.
There is no hurry on any of this. A Furr-Brown novel is something I shall let develop in my mind, in my notes, for a while. A year or two from now, maybe it will be ready to write. We’ll all find out then.