Please join me in welcoming Sharon Goldman and Marilyn Baron to the blog––sisters who count award-winning painter, award-winning novelist, children’s book author and illustrator, and musical playwrights among their combined talents. These very creative, multi-talented sisters have co-authored a set-in-Florida murder mystery with strong romantic elements, and today they tell us a bit about their book, what moved them to write this story, and, for those of us who wonder (and I’m one of them), what it’s like to collaborate on a novel.
Love and Murder. Love and Murder. Go together like a . . . But do they? They do in Groundwork for Murder.
Marilyn & Sharon: In fact, art imitates life when landscape artist Alexandra Newborn has a shocking reunion with her college art professor Dominick “Nick” Anselmo, once a world-celebrated Italian artist, now her homeless lawn man. Their passion is reignited, fueling a creative spark for both.
Nick’s provocative drawings, delivered weekly to Alex’s doorstep, chronicle a torrid affair between Alex’s husband, Mark, and the owner of a local art gallery. When Mark’s body washes up on an Atlantic beach after a powerful hurricane, readers will wonder, “Who done it?” The wife? The husband’s lover? Or the lawn man?
When the affair between Mark and his mistress is exposed to the world at a gallery opening, the seeds are sown for murder, mystery, and romance.
This book is really a hybrid. By rights, it could be considered women’s fiction—one woman’s journey from a less than satisfying marriage to a second chance at love after her former mentor breathes new life into her artwork. Or a romantic suspense, or even a crime thriller. We chose to set the book in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, where Sharon lives.
The two main protagonists are artists, so Sharon had those characters down and I studied art history in Florence, Italy, for six months in college, so we wrote what we knew about a topic that was of interest to both of us. Growing up in Miami, we’re more than familiar with hurricanes. We did have to do research on the homeless and on police procedures in Jacksonville Beach, when Alex is thrown into jail for the murder of her husband. But throughout, the book is infused with humor.
What’s it like to work with your sister? The coauthoring process was very smooth and enjoyable. Since we live in different cities, we did all the work by computer and telephone. We would each write a chapter, or character or scene and we worked hard to ensure that the end product was seamless. But we did have some moments when we were reviewing the sex scenes and I insisted, “I did not write that!” And Sharon retorted, “I wouldn’t have written that!” “Well,” we laughed, “one of us had to have written it.”
In the acknowledgments, we included this qualification: “And no, we didn’t base the character of Mark Newborn on our husbands.” If someone said to Sharon, “that sounds a lot like Richard,” Sharon would say, “No, it’s about Steve.” And I would say, “This book is not about Steve, it’s all about Richard.” Hopefully, our husbands will never read this book.
Marilyn Baron, a public relations consultant in Atlanta, is chair of the Roswell Reads Steering Committee, and a member of the Atlanta Authors Series Committee. She is also an award-winning author of women’s fiction, historical romantic thrillers, romantic suspense, and paranormal/fantasy, and a two-time Finalist for Georgia Author of the Year.
Sharon Goldman, a graduate of the University of Florida who had a long career in advertising, is an art teacher and an award-winning artist whose paintings are in private collections and are exhibited in galleries throughout northeast Florida, including the Haskell Gallery in the Jacksonville International Airport. She is also the author and illustrator of a children’s book, There’s A Day Out There. With her sister, Marilyn Baron, she has written Memory Lane, a musical about Alzheimer’s Disease, that was performed as a concert/reading at Essential Theatre in Atlanta.