Elaine Bonner Powell and I were best friends from the age of 15, so it’s no surprise that we liked to travel together. More surprising, maybe, is that we wrote novels together based on our travels.
The idea for our Maggie Valley series came after we spent a week in a cabin in Maggie Valley, North Carolina. After taking most of our vacations during the summer months, we got the opportunity to take fall vacations when I retired from teaching in 2005.
In October 2006, Elaine and I trekked from our homes in Texas to Maggie Valley. Our stay in a cabin on the side of a mountain in the valley led to the creation of our characters Edna and Klara as well as a broken leg for Elaine. Eventually it led to three return trips to the valley. The broken leg scenario didn’t make it into this first book, but will appear in Book 3, Murder in Medicine Bow.
Elaine and I decided Edna and Klara, widowed sisters-in-law, should create a pastry recipe to take to local festivals and fairs. But we didn’t have such a recipe. We’d need to create one, something I am no good at.
I received a phone call one day from Elaine letting me know she had come up with “the recipe.” The following weekend, I drove the 150 miles to her home, and we experimented. KEPS (meaning Klara and Edna Pigeon, Sisters-in-law) exist, but the recipe is a secret, per Elaine’s wish. Since she moved to heaven in May 2015, I’ll honor her wishes and only provide KEPS samples to readers attending book signings.
Our cabin stay in Maggie Valley inspired us, but no murder happened—that is a product of our vivid imaginations. The remaining characters we created out of our own minds as well. The local residents of Maggie Valley are warm, welcoming people, in contrast to some of our characters. We never met the real Haywood County sheriff, but we did require assistance from some of the deputies.
Here’s how that happened. On an earlier visit, the car we drove broke down as we returned from Cherokee, NC, at midnight. While arranging for a tow, a car pulled off the highway behind us. Elaine’s mother and her great aunt were along on this trip. Four women got a bit nervous, until one of the other car’s occupants approached the driver’s side—a Haywood County deputy. Another unit arrived after a few minutes and took the older ladies to our lodging, blaring sirens and flashing lights included. The first two deputies waited with Elaine and me until the tow service arrived and then took us to the guest house. The driver of the first unit turned out to be a Haywood County chaplain.
Kasandra Elaine is the writing team of Kassy Paris and Elaine Bonner. The pair met when they were fifteen and Elaine’s father moved his family to the small East Texas community to become the pastor of the Methodist church that just happened to be across the street from Kassy’s home. The two began their writing efforts as a team when they wrote a church Christmas play those many years ago.
Elaine lived in North Texas and worked as a registered nurse. She loved spending time with her children and grandchildren, singing, working in her local church, writing, traveling, and reading. At one time, Elaine worked as a travel nurse which afforded the writing pair the opportunity to travel to different parts of the United States. God took Elaine home in May 2015.
Kassy lives in East Texas and is a retired elementary teacher. At this time, she is developing an editing and mentoring business as well as continuing her own writing career. Kassy enjoys traveling, reading, going to church, and quilting (much to Elaine’s chagrin when she had to haul Kassy’s fabric stash and sewing machine around the country during their travels). Kassy’s nieces and nephews and their children bring her great joy.
Check out their book Murder in Maggie Valley, A KEPS Kozy Mystery, Book 1
To find out more, visit www.kassyparis.com.