Today is the anniversary of the founding of one of my favorite little towns– Camelot, West Virginia. This little village exists within the pages of a series of books that I co-authored with New York Times best-selling mystery writer Emma Jameson. Truthfully, I’ve spent more time in Camelot over the past year than I have in the actual town.
One year ago, it began with an online chat between Emma and myself about comic books of the 1980s. In case you didn’t know, in addition to being mystery writers, we are both full-on pop culture nerds. I asked if she’d ever read a comic book called Camelot 3000. It’s a modern retelling of the King Arthur legend in the year 3000.
That led to an exchange about favorite Arthurian works and a suggestion from me that she should write a modern day retelling of King Arthur set in the UK (just like her wonderful Lord & Lady Hetheridge and Dr. Benjamin Bones books). But she had a better idea. King Arthur should come here to save us. Mind you, I was having this discussion on my phone while driving to the grocery store (My husband was behind the wheel, so all was well). I wondered if there were any towns called Camelot in the U.S. Turns out there’s actually one in Tenessee. So I messaged a screenshot of a Google Map of the town with the words “Book title?” That got me a smiley face and a “That’s a very good idea.”
Then the oddest thing happened to me while pushing my cart down the frozen food aisle at Walmart. I imagined a town and the people who lived in it. My mind began to fill so rapidly with ideas that I stopped dead in the middle of the aisle and stared at the selection of frozen vegetables like it was going to do tricks. As always, there were two cash registers open to serve the approximately 7,000 people in line on a Friday night. To kill time during the wait, I pulled out my phone and started to jot down the story ideas that were filling my head. Then I went home and let my hubby put away the groceries while I typed up the idea. Then I sent the document to Emma with this message.
She liked it. A lot. And I was just a little bit excited. When your friend, who was one of your favorite writers long before she became your friend, likes your ideas, you tend to get excited. She’s a huge fan of King Arthur and Camelot and knows so much more about that mythology than me. Then we started discussing the characters she’d like to see in a book like this. But one thing I do know a lot about is Appalachia. It’s my home and my heart. Somewhere along the way, I realized that Camelot was in West Virginia. And the next thing I know, we were collaborating on a series together. A series that now had two books and a third in the works.
In fact, Christmas in Camelot had been hanging out near the top of the Amazon charts this week.
There once a town called Camelot, West Virginia that rose up out of the frozen food case at Walmart and soared to the top of the Amazon charts. And if I’ve done nothing else in my life I created a character named Misty Avalon.
If you haven’t visited Camelot, WV yet, I highly suggest you get your ticket in the form of Christmas in Camelot and The Lady in the Lake. Just click on the book images to head on over to Amazon to download. Emma and I will be celebrating by working hard on book 3- Queen’s Gambit.