Author Connie Knight Opens Up About Her Book: Cemetery Whites

Here is what Connie Knight has to say about "Cemetery Whites":

Why Does a Mystery Story Start in a Cemetery?

Connie Knight

            "Cemetery Whites, my first cozy mystery novel, begins in a family graveyard out in the country. History professor Thomas Harrison, a black man, lies dead in a patch of white irises in the Hargrove Family Cemetery in DeWitt County, Texas. He lies close to a grave from 1875, where it’s rumored a second body was secretly buried under the man whose name is on the tombstone. Heroine Caroline Hargrove Hamilton and her cousin Janet, who have come to the cemetery to visit family graves, find the body and call the police, starting the investigation of homicide.

            What was the professor from San Antonio looking for? Why was there a shovel in his hand? Caroline and Janet become amateur detectives, and the cemetery holds the solution to the murder mysteries—one from 1875, and one from today.
            Those are the reasons the novel begins in the cemetery, and the climax occurs there, too. Another reason has to do with my perception of cemeteries—why I would want to create characters interested in them. I don’t see them as ghoulish homes for vampires and ghosts. I perceive them as peaceful final homes for people we knew and loved, places to visit and pray for their souls, places where we can find spiritual communication between the living and the dead.
            They’re also a source of family history. Names and dates on tombstones contribute to genealogy. Some old cemeteries have been neglected or abandoned, and they might be hard to find. Others are still in use and well-kept, even as private family cemeteries. Sometimes historic societies take on the project of restoring a crumbling old graveyard. One of these exists in my book as well as the well-kept Hargrove Family Cemetery and the church cemetery in San Antonio where Professor Harrison is buried. Also, there’s the huge 103-acre National Historic Cemetery in San Antonio, which Caroline and Janet visited and found another clue.
            In a murder mystery, funerals are often mentioned, even if not lengthily portrayed. In Cemetery Whites, I now have to admit, cemeteries and funerals are more prominent than I previously thought. However, there are other elements of life portrayed in my book: a large family, new friends for Caroline, Janet’s children to look after, an engaged couple, and a blossoming romance.
            Birth, marriage, death. Those are the dates on a tombstone, and all of these things occur somewhere in my book."

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