NEWBERRY — Hope Clark knew that Newberry County would be the next setting for her “Carolina Slade Mysteries” series after she was interviewed by Sue Summer at WKDK. Clark revealed this during the Newberry Friends of the Library annual Literary Luncheon.
“It’s been a long road to get to this book, I started off writing Slade because I was going to be the next Sue Grafton of a series. I was gong to write one series and it was going to be Carolina Slade, she was going to travel to every county in South Carolina, so I had 46 stories to write,” Clark said. “I love Slade, and when I finally got Lowcountry written, I heard from Sue Summer and she said she wanted to interview me on WKDK radio. I was surprised, and honored.”
Some time after the interview, Summer took Clark on a tour of Newberry, and the duo spent a better part of a day touring the county. By the time Clark got home, she knew Newberry would be her next Slade book.
“By the time you see a book that is out, there is another book behind it. I finished Tidewater, and I already started on Palmetto and I said the fourth book has got to be Newberry,” Clark said.
At that time, it was time for Clark to do a new contract with her publisher, but her publisher said they didn’t want her to write Slade.
“She said we wanted you to come up with a new series, and we want it to have three components, we want the main character to be in law enforcement, we want you to pick one place in South Carolina you really like and then we want a lot of family drama,” Clark said. “I had a contract based on that, a two book contract. I had no choice in that point in my career, I came up with Edisto (series), and of course family drama out your ears. I actually started liking that series, but the publisher loved that series.”
Time came for Clark to do another contract, and the publisher wanted two more Edisto books. Clark asked about Slade, but was told they’ll get to Slade later, and everyone loves Edisto.
However, when it came time for yet another new contract, things changed.
“It got to the point my publisher needed me as much as I needed them. They came back and said we are ready for another contract, they said we want the first to be Edisto, and the next, and I said, stop right there, the next one is going to be Slade,” she said. “I said no, I’ll go somewhere else, next one has to be Slade and in Newberry, and they caved.”
Her publisher agreed, but said they wanted the next book in her series to be a crossover, where her Slade series met her Edisto series. Clark is in the middle of writing that book, and she said she is having a lot of fun with it.
From her negotiation with her publisher came Newberry Sin. Clark started off her new book related to how she started off in Newberry, at WKDK.
“It just took on a mind of its own, this book was hard to come to fruition,” Clark said.
According to her website, chopeclark.com, Newberry Sin involves the death of a local landowner, and Carolina Slade senses a chance to get back into the field again.
“I looked at all the notes I wrote when talking to Sue, I read History of Newberry, trying to come up with enough Newberry, without saturating the book with it, because it has to be readable to all of the United States.”
The locations in the book have, from what Clark said, bits of flavor, to where locals know where they are, and make people want to visit these spots. One item of note for Clark’s books, murder locations will not be real places.
When it came to picking the name of her book, Clark said she was coming up with a lot of problems. She knew it would be in Newberry, but she needed something that really “hit it.” She wrote up a page of what she calls “sins.” She looked over the list and finally she looked at the top of it and said, Sins…that’s it.
When it came to the cover, which Clark said it is her all time favorite cover, her publisher had her take some Newberry photos. Clark spent the better part of a day taking pictures of various Newberry locations, she sent the pictures to the publisher, and they loved the picture that is now on the cover, which involves a local house.
“I got a couple of calls of who owns that house, I said, I don’t know, luckily it is not illegal to take pictures from the street,” Clark joked.
Reach Andrew Wigger at 803-276-0625 ext. 1867 or on Twitter @TheNBOnews.