The Writer as Vagabond by Molly MacRae

The word vagabond strolled into my head the other day. I’ve always liked the word so I was happy to see it and to have it stick around for a while. I like the sound of it—full and round but with concrete edges in the G and the D, and with that tiniest buzz you get from the initial V. Say it out loud; it’s completely satisfying. I also like the definition—vagabond: one who moves from place to place without a fixed home. But why did vagabond choose now to come calling? Because it’s summer and the word wanted to lure me to the open road and away from a writing deadline? That’s a distinct possibility, but here’s another. Vagabond arrived so that I’d have a word to describe what kind of writer I am. It turns out that, besides being a mystery writer, I’m a vagabond writer, setting my stories in place after place, staying for a while, and then giving in to wanderlust and moving on.

It all started with short stories set in an unnamed bookstore in an unnamed town. The stories are a series that appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. They’re about Margaret, who’s a bookseller, and her sister Bitsy, who’s annoying. I knew the town was in northeast Tennessee, but that didn’t particularly matter to the stories. When Margaret and Bitsy appeared in the novel Lawn Order their (fictional) town gained the name Stonewall (not named for the general, but for the walls a man named Grundy built around his cow pastures).

From Stonewall, my stories travelled to Nolichucky, another fictional town in northeast Tennessee. Wilder Rumors, about a museum curator who might also be a burglar, didn’t pull up roots entirely, though. The curator made a quick trip to visit his aunt in Stonewall—a trip with near-disastrous results.
Then comes Blue Plum, Tennessee, and the Haunted Yarn Shop mysteries. Blue Plum is dear to my heart and based on my favorite parts of the small towns I’ve lived in. It’s also suspiciously like Jonesborough, Tennessee, where my family and I lived for close to twenty years. There are six books in the yarn shop series, starting with Last Wool and Testament, and any one of them will give a flavor of that beautiful area snugged up near the border between Tennessee and North Carolina.

After travelling around northeast Tennessee, getting my writing feet wet as it were, my stories flew off to Scotland for the Highland Bookshop Mystery series. Scotland! The Highlands! A bookshop! What could possibly go wrong with a set up like that for my new set of characters? Well . . . dead bodies. Sorry, but that’s an occupational hazard in mystery novels. Starting with Plaid and Plagiarism, there are five books in this series, and the characters acquit themselves well, if I do say so.

As Margaret Welch (that’s Margaret from my Hitchcock short stories—she runs a bookshop and loves books as much as I do, so when I needed a penname, I figured why not let her take credit?) I’ve written about Cape Cod and Monterey County, California.

13 thoughts on “The Writer as Vagabond by Molly MacRae”

  1. Hi, I love your book cover and I love the sound of your book. I enjoyed reading this post. Have a great week and stay safe.

  2. Hi, Love your book cover, title, excerpt and author. They all make me want to read & review the book in print format which I would love to do.
    Your books are really good and I like reading them

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