Bits 'n' Pieces: Crime on the climb in mystery

By Scott Hewitt, Columbian social issues & neighborhoods reporter

Published:

 
photoKate Dyer-Seeley

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photo"Scene of the Climb" by Kate Dyer-Seeley

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Kate Dyer-Seeley is like her fictitious heroine, Meg Reed: She's somehow gotten herself into a surprisingly high spot.

Vancouver native Dyer-Seeley had zero expectations for success as she tried her hand at the sort of mystery novels she loves to read simply for the "great escapism" value, she said. The college creative writing minor had penned a memoir about her mother's experience with Alzheimer's disease and was trying to pick up some freelance work writing articles — but she also knew how tough it can be to sell a book-length work of fiction to a real publisher.

None of that was on Dyer-Seeley's mind as she went hiking in the Columbia River Gorge with her husband one weekend and happened to notice a young woman traveling the trail in pink hiking boots. A few days later, news broke that some hapless hiker in the Gorge had slipped, taken a steep plunge and died.

The seed was planted for what eventually became "Scene of the Climb." "What if somebody fell and it wasn't an accident?" Dyer-Seeley started wondering. "What if they got a little push?" And what if that pink-booted hiker from Portland accidentally witnessed the crime and got mixed up in solving the case?

Meg Reed, Dyer-Seeley's green young journalist, was born. In the story, Reed bluffs her way into a reporting gig for Northwest Extreme magazine despite the fact that her idea of adventure "is climbing onto the couch without spilling her latte," according to one book summary.

Dyer-Seeley spent a year writing "Scene of the Climb." She pitched it to a few agents at a writers' conference in Portland. Lo and behold, there was plenty of interest — and the agent she eventually went with helped her draw up a three-book proposal. Publishers of popular genre fiction, including murder mysteries, love gifts that keep on giving, Dyer-Seeley said. The whole series was picked up by Kensington, a publisher of mass-market genre paperbacks. "They must have thought this one has some legs," she said.

Reviews have been positive. The Library Journal praised, among other things, Dyer-Seeley's bumbling but determined protagonist and her "splendid overview of the greater Portland and Columbia River Gorge region, perfect for travel buffs." Dyer-Seeley had a book launch earlier this month at Latte Da Coffee House and Wine Bar in Vancouver, and she was billed as a "breakout mystery novelist" before appearing earlier this week on the Hello Vancouver! talk show at the Kiggins Theatre.

Therefore, there's no escape for poor Meg Reed. Having survived vertigo in the Gorge, Dyer-Seeley will be "sending her all over the place on crazy adventures." Reed's buoyancy will be tested amongst the macho windsurfers of Hood River, and her blizzard-survival skills will get a workout when she's covering a skiing event high atop Mount Hood.

"Meg's not getting off easy," Dyer-Seeley said.

"Scene of the Climb" is available via Amazon.com and at local bookseller Vintage Books, 6613 E. Mill Plain Blvd., Vancouver.


Bits 'n' Pieces appears Fridays and Saturdays. If you have a story you'd like to share, email bits@columbian.com.