Murder Mushroom

By Janet Finsilver

My Kelly Jackson mystery series takes place in the fictional town of Redwood Cove, which is based on Mendocino, California. Whenever I feel myself getting stuck in my writing, I head for that quaint town. I don’t enjoy the drive from the freeway to the coast as it is a two-lane road with lots of twists and turns. I stop in Cloverdale at Starbucks and order a coffee Frappuccino with an extra shot of espresso to give me a boost to begin that part of the journey.

Festivals abound in the area as a way to attract tourists. I attempt to coordinate my visits with one of those events. Each of my books has a festival based on real ones that take place in or near Mendocino…and they give me lots of ideas! Chocolate, Wine, and Ale, a fundraiser for the Mendocino Music Festival, inspired the activity in Murder at Redwood Cove. The first one I attended took place in a gigantic white tent on the lawn of a museum. People danced, bid on raffle items, and enjoyed an enormous variety of chocolate delights.

The Mendocino Whale Festival kick-started book two, Murder at the Mansion. The day begins with chowder tasting at Crown Hall built in 1905. I’ve incorporated that building into two books now. I volunteered for the festival last year and got to see some of the “behind the scene” activities, such as chefs arriving with their huge, steaming cauldrons of soup. After that event you can purchase a ticket for food and wine tastings at various establishments throughout the town.

Winesong, a fundraiser for the Mendocino Coast District Hospital, helped me create Wine and Flowers in Murder at the Fortuneteller’s Table. Tables are set up throughout the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens. The sensory experience is amazing. Not only do you have exceptional food and wine, you have the rich smells of a garden surrounding you as well as the salty ocean breeze filling your senses. I volunteered for this one as well and helped serve for one of the restaurants. People came from faraway to attend and lots of interesting discussions ensued.

While writing my fourth book, Murder at the Mushroom Festival, which comes out April 17, I attended a mushroom identification and cooking class. I gathered a lot of information, returned home, and began incorporating it into my story. A short while later I felt like I didn’t have enough details about mushrooms or the festival and headed back to Mendocino. Luckily the Mushroom Festival occurred over a couple of weeks. I was fortunate to get into another mushroom identification class held at the Mendocino County Botanical Gardens. That, combined with interviewing some locals, had me on the way home feeling confident to continue the book.

So when I need to “stir things up” in my writing, I head for the northern coast of California with its towering redwoods, the spectacular crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean, and the fascinating town of Mendocino.



Janet Finsilver photo
Janet Finsilver

Janet Finsilver is the USA TODAY best-selling author of the Kelly Jackson mystery series. She and her husband reside in the San Francisco Bay Area. She worked in education for many years as a teacher, a program administrator, and a workshop presenter. Janet loves animals and has two dogs—Kylie and Ellie. Her debut mystery, Murder at Redwood Cove, released in October 2015. Her second book, Murder at the Mansion,  came out in June 2016. It was followed by Murder at the Fortune Teller’s Table in March 2017. Murder at the Mushroom Festival will be released in April 2018.


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