The series was designed to carry readers into the fascinating world of gemstones and jewelry while enjoying a fast-paced cozy mystery.
Each book focuses on a different gemstone and the plot is interwoven with gemstone history, legend and lore.
My readers tell me they love the characters, who feel so realistic that they’d like to join them for dinner. Kimberley West, the protagonist, is a gemologist, psychology professor, dog trainer and reluctant amateur sleuth. She’s loyal to family and friends, which sometimes draws her into dangerous situations.
The series is set in a small town located on Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay and features a strong female sleuth, realistic secondary characters, challenging puzzles, suspense and romance. Two precocious dogs add touches of humor.
2. What got you interested in gemstones?
Like my main character, Kimberley West, I could never afford to buy jewelry even at my jeweler grandfather’s discount. But I quickly learned that the gemstones themselves, their history, legend and lore, were absolutely fascinating.
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 looked around, I realized that gemstone lore often revealed more about human psychology than the gemstones themselves.
3. 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 combine my love of mysteries with my interest in gemstones.
4. Why did you decide to set your series in Maryland?
I love the friendly people in Maryland. We have all the cultural activities one could desire. But we also have gorgeous natural areas from the mountains to the shore. The ambiance of the Chesapeake Bay and its beaches is different from other beachy areas. When my husband and I moved here, I felt instantly at home.
You’ll notice, however, that I also include other states in the stories. The Blue Diamond, for example, begins in Arkansas’s Crater of Diamonds State Park, while The Turquoise Treasure entices Kim to a treasure hunt in Arizona.
In The Carolina Emerald, the main characters dig for gems in North Carolina. The research was so much fun because I toured a real, honest-to-goodness American emerald mine. It was a fascinating experience, one that I share with readers of the book.
5. You’ve also launched a series called the Grandpa Max Tall Tales. What’s the story behind those novellas?
I wrote The Poodle Who Picked Pockets to give to members of The Diamond Digest as a holiday present and thank you. The story highlights the relationship between Kim as a child and her grandfather, Max Hershey. Grandparents play such an important role in children’s lives and this story was intended to celebrate that.
I intentionally structured the stories similar to The Princess Bride, with Grandpa Max telling Kim a bedtime fantasy.
In Grandpa’s story, a standard poodle named Sam and a long-haired dachshund name Tucker take control of a detective agency when the man they work for falls ill. The conversation between the two dogs is hilarious and, of course, only special humans can understand them.
The overwhelmingly positive response to The Poodle Who Picked Pockets — it was shortlisted for a Dog Writers of America Award! — convinced me to write more.
Currently, there are two more planned novellas in the series: The Poodle Who Ran Away From Home and The Poodle Who Sang Undercover.
Like the Kimberley West Gemstone Mysteries, this series relies on the special relationships between the main characters, both human and canine. And, while talking dogs aren’t real, readers will recognize their own dogs in these characters.
6. What about the dogs in the Kimberley West series? Are the dog behaviors in your books real?
Absolutely. Anyone who’s lived with a dog of any breed will recognize some of these behaviors, from finding creative ways to steal food to ecstatic running and leaping. As members of our human families, dogs contribute to much to our emotional well being –- including providing comic relief when life grows too intense.
7. What part of writing is the most fun for you? The most stressful or the hardest?
The most fun and the hardest are actually two sides of the same coin. I love that moment in a story where the characters start helping the plot by behaving true to their natures. They’ll often move the story in unexpected but delightful directions.
But that’s also stressful because they’ll sometimes paint themselves into a no-win situation or cause other plotting headaches.
In The Carolina Emerald, for example, the character I’d originally slated as the victim grew so charming that I didn’t have the heart to kill him off. So I had to introduce a new character to play that role.
8. Tell me about the first moment you knew you were an author.
My first-grade teacher predicted I’d grow up to be a writer and I’ve been writing stories my entire life. But “author” carries a loftier meaning.
I never felt like an author until one summer day when I was sitting in my car in front of the Dunkirk, MD, post office waiting for a friend to mail a package. A woman came out of the post office, glanced in my direction and suddenly stopped to stare at the two dogs in my backseat.
Now this wasn’t unusual behavior. Dash, my standard poodle, and his best buddy, a long-haired dachshund named Bogie, are both uncommon breeds. People often ask about them. Seeing the two dogs trotting side by side –- one tall and elegant, the other short enough to drag his fur along the boardwalk –- usually produces comments.
So I wasn’t particularly surprised when the woman approached the car.
“Excuse me.” She offered a shy smile. “Can I ask you a silly question?”
I smiled back and prepared to offer a brief history of the two dog breeds.
Instead, she said, “Are you Lynn Franklin, the author?”
My mouth fell open and I stuttered an answer.
“I recognized the two dogs from your books.” She gestured to Dash and Bogie, then smiled. “I love your books!”
We chatted for a few minutes. After she left, I noticed the two dogs staring at me.
“No,” I told them. “This does not mean you get a commission.”
9. What do you most like about being an author?
Meeting readers. My goals as a writer are to entertain readers and encourage them to view the world in new ways. The feedback from readers not only helps me improve my writing, but also spurs me on to write, write, write.
10. What has been the hardest part of the book/series writing process?
Juggling real life with my writing schedule. You can measure the intensity of my writing by the number of dust bunnies in our house!
11. How do readers find out about your next book?
Sign up for The Diamond Digest, my occasional email-only newsletter. I use the Digest to give readers insider information about the series and, of course, let them know when a new book is available. To sign up, please click here.