When Lynn Franklin was a child, she often accompanied her jeweler grandfather on his local buying trips. As they traipsed the grungy streets of Pittsburgh, Grandpa carried a battered briefcase filled with diamonds, emeralds, rubies and sapphires. These trips provided fertile ground for Lynn’s imagination, allowing her to search the shadows for thugs, thieves and spies.
So it came as no surprise when at the age of eight, she demanded a deerstalker hat and wrote her first mystery novel. To hone her sleuthing skills, she studied the case files of Nancy Drew, Frank and Joe Hardy and Trixie Belden.
In time, Lynn became an award-winning writer and an Accredited Jewelry Professional. But she never lost her fascination with gemstone history and lore. And so the Kimberley West Gemstone Mystery Series was born.
Lynn and her Pulitzer Prize winning husband Jon Franklin live in the Chesapeake Bay area with their standard poodle Dash. Dash works just as hard as his humans, creating comic relief for Lynn to include in her books.
How did you get the idea for the Kimberley West Gemstone Mystery series?
I’m a big fan of books that not only tell a good story, but pull you into new worlds. Everything I know about horse racing, for example, comes from mystery author Dick Francis. Beverly Connor (archeology), Robin Burcell (forensic art), Julie Moffett (computer hacking) and Elizabeth Peters (Egyptology) also incorporated their specialized knowledge into their books.
Thanks to my jeweler grandfather, I’ve long been interested in gemstone history, legend and lore. Like Kim, my main character, I tend to wax poetic whenever I discover a new gem story. People seemed surprised and intrigued by these tales.
The Kimberley West Gemstone Mysteries give me the chance to share these stories while weaving a fun whodunit.
So the gemstone stories in the books are real? There really are ants that mine garnets like you describe in The Pirate's Ruby?
(laughing) Yes, all of the gemstone stories in the books are true. The Carolina Emerald, in fact, is based on a real museum burglary that was never solved.
The human fascination with gems and gold and everything bright and shiny creates some interesting tales.
Take amethyst, for example. During the height of the Roman Empire –- a period known for its decadence –- people believed that wearing amethyst would protect them from getting drunk. After all, wine is purple and so is amethyst . . .
As I keep discovering, gemstone lore often reveals more about human psychology than the gemstones themselves.
What about Rory and Al? Are their antics real?
Absolutely. Anyone who’s lived with a dog of any breed will recognize some of Rory’s and Al’s behaviors, from finding creative ways to steal food to ecstatic running and leaping. As members of our human families, dogs contribute much to our emotional well-being –- including providing comic relief when life grows too intense.
So what's next? When can we expect another Kimberley West mystery?
In July, 2023, I released The Poodle Who Sang Undercover, a total departure from the gemstone mysteries.
The novel blends Nancy Drew with a pair of wisecracking dogs and features Kimberley West as a 15-year-old. It’s intended to be a hilarious and heartwarming cozy mystery for all ages. Readers reported that the book made them laugh out loud. Their enthusiasm keeps pushing the book onto Amazon’s American Humor bestseller list.
Readers asked for more, so I’m currently working on a sequel.
As for Kim’s gemstone mystery series, I have another one planned but can’t predict how soon it will be released. I’m excited about the gemstone that will be featured; I’ll reveal the gem in a future Diamond Digest. I can say that readers are going to be delighted by some little-known facts I uncovered about a well-known historical figure.
I’m also working on a new series featuring a husband and wife amateur sleuth team. I’ve always wanted to write about a husband and wife team. Think of the Nick and Nora movies, the Hart to Hart television series or Agatha Christie’s Tommy and Tuppence books.
What sets Nick and Alexandria (Lexie) Morie apart from previous husband/wife detectives is their age. Nick is 70 and a retired computer expert who loves to sing. Lexie is a 65-year-old investigative reporter who, in the first chapter, is forced into retirement.
Nick convinces Lexie to join The Golden Stars, a group of senior citizens who perform variety shows. While Nick possesses a beautiful baritone voice, Lexie has no performing talents whatsoever. But when a body is found at a show, Lexie puts her investigative skills to work.
Like the Kimberley West series, the Nick and Lexie series will feature realistic, likeable characters.
Seven Little-Known Facts About Lynn Franklin
• Lynn’s first-grade teacher predicted she would grow up to be a writer. We don’t know if this was because of Lynn’s proficiency with the English language or her propensity to scare the other children by telling ghost stories during recess.
• Lynn’s parents begged her to consider a more practical career, one that would actually earn money.
• In response, Lynn created a list of alternative careers: circus trick rider, rodeo barrel chaser, treasure hunter, dog trainer and pirate. Her parents shot down each one. They also dissuaded her from becoming a paleontologist (“not enough jobs”) or oceanographer (ditto).
• Nancy Drew’s adventures — not to mention her spiffy red convertible — inspired Lynn to create the perfect career. She would become a detective who wrote mystery novels. This time she didn’t share her aspirations with anyone.
• To hone her detecting skills, Lynn used the cover of a forested park to spy on her neighbors.
One day, when she was ten years old, she followed the smell of burning paper to find a grizzly-bear-sized man ripping a manuscript and tossing the pages into a fire. The man’s furtive head swivels convinced Lynn his actions were illegal.
Was he burning stolen FBI files, evidence of his criminal activities?
Peering from behind a tree, Lynn strained to read the mysterious document. But she was too far away.
She held her breath and creeped forward. Closer, closer . . .
A twig snapped.
The man’s head whipped around. He pinned her with dark, evil eyes.
“What are you doing here?” he growled.
Lynn lifted her chin.
“Spying on you.”
Her audacious answer distracted the man long enough for her to disappear into the woods before he could capture and hold her for ransom.
• To this day, we’re not sure Lynn’s parents would have paid a ransom.
• Lynn never became a detective.