Ok, the title of my July release is actually Murder at Ochre Court, but I almost didn’t write this book—at least not the way I would have wanted to—if not for a little magic that happened on our annual trip to Newport two years ago. You see, Ochre Court, the summer “cottage” set on the famous Cliff Walk that used to belong to the Goelet family, is now the administrative building of Salve Regina University, and it’s not open to tours. That doesn’t stop people from trying, of course, and tourists trickle in all day long, only to be told no, you can’t see the inside of the house, but The Breakers is just a short trek up the road and they’ll welcome you with open arms.
Thus did my hopeful attempt to see Ochre Court begin that September afternoon, with the very nice woman at the front desk explaining the deal – as in, no deal. Nope, can’t let you in. What did I do? I kept talking. Desperately. I told her I was writing this book, you see, part of my series, maybe you’ve heard of it? blah, blah, blah… I suppose I pleaded just a little, and I guess I wore her down, because she reluctantly gave us permission to quickly snap some pictures of the ground floor. The ground floor is an astounding feat of architecture, I might add, and we might have gone away satisfied. But while my husband snapped those pictures, I kept talking, and suddenly I stumbled upon the magic word: our last name, along with my husband’s family ties to Newport. Well! Turns out this lovely woman is a very good friend of my brother- and sister-in-law’s. Et voila!
The next thing we knew, she was locking up her desk, and we embarked on a guided tour from nearly top to bottom, including riding in the elevator built in the 1890s. Thanks to her, we learned some way cool insider info about the house – such as the owner, Odgen Goelet, designing the upper garden with a railing curved like a ship’s bow in order to keep his sea-faring wife happy here in Newport. She liked to travel, he didn’t so much. She could stand at the railing, look out over the ocean, and pretend she was on her way to Europe. I don’t think it worked very well, but he tried. There’s also the carved image of Bacchus between the double fireplaces in the dining room, whose nose guests used to rub for good luck. Yes, we rubbed! And then there are the mirrored closet doors in the attic, which play a role in my story. . .
These, and more, are all things I’d never have known if not for that bit of magic on that beautiful fall day. So, I learned several things from the experience. One, when up against a wall, start talking and keep talking. Two, never underestimate the adage, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” And three, believe in magic, because from time to time, magical things DO happen!
Come to think of it, this is kind of magical: in celebration of the release of Murder at Ochre Court, which is book six in the series, the first book, Murder at The Breakers, is a Monthly Kindle Deal! That means it’s only $2.99 all month long at Amazon. So, if you haven’t read any of the series yet, here’s your chance to give it a try. Also, comment below for a chance to win a signed, hardcover copy of Murder at Ochre Court! (U.S. residents only, due to shipping costs). Winner will be chosen randomly.
Alyssa Maxwell knew from an early age that she wanted to be a novelist. Growing up in New England and traveling to Great Britain fueled a passion for history, while a love of puzzles drew her to the mystery genre. She is the author of The Gilded Newport Mysteries and A Lady and Lady’s Maid Mysteries. She and her husband reside in Florida, where she is a member of the Mystery Writers of American-Florida Chapter and the Florida Romance Writers.