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  • Writer's pictureAnne Lovett

How I Wrote My Second Book

Saving Miss Lillian wasn't really my second.

Gulf Fritillary at Sapelo Island


While trying to find an agent or publisher for Rubies from Burma, I’d tried my hand on a sort of funny Bridget Jones thing, thinking it might be more appealing to agents, and my writer’s group loved it. At a writer’s conference I showed the synopsis and first few pages to an agent, who suggested that I ought to turn it into a mystery . She thought my voice was more attuned to mystery writing.

Well. I put the Bridget Jones thing aside and decided to write a mystery from scratch. I like to read mysteries, but I wasn’t very good at taking them apart to see how they worked. I studied some books on the subject and I joined Sisters in Crime, for women ( and some brothers) who are crime writers and readers. SinC has great support and information for newbies.

Where should I set the mystery? I’d always loved the Georgia Coast , and  I recalled splashing around on the beach as a child, eating crabs at a crab shack with a sawdust floor,  throwing the shells down a hole in the table… yes. I wanted to set a book there.   

My husband and I had spent our honeymoon partly on Cumberland Island and partly in Savannah, and we’d visited Jekyll as well. We joined a Georgia Conservancy trip to Sapelo Island, which belongs to the state, to help with maintenance. My husband cut brush and I cleaned windows in the old mansion.  For Ossabaw, also a state-owned island, we once again joined up with an organization for a tour. (No work this time!)

Ossabaw Island

 My idea for a woman who owns an island came from the late Eleanor “Sandy” West, benefactor of the arts, who sold Ossabaw to the state in the 1970s with the exception of her own house and grounds. She lived there until she was over 100. She died not too long ago at 108. Sadly, I never met her, so Miss Lillian is my invention. Maybe I’ve met someone like Miss Lillian….

With all the ducks in a row, I started to write, and the story just came together.  I have a great writer’s group—we read pages of our work to each other-- and one of the members kept me straight about my main character, Sunny,  because, like Sunny, she’s a nurse, but one who retired and started writing. She’s published lots of poetry and articles about her nursing life.   

Saving Miss Lillian is, of course, a great read for the beach. And there are crabs in it.   


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