About the Book
Book: A Troll Falls
Author: Marji Laine
Genre: ChristianHistorical Mystery, Fairytale retelling
Release date: March 7, 2023
Murder. Even the word sounds ugly. Almost as ugly as the corpse on the shore.
Dallas, Texas, 1948
Opal Stedman enjoys caring for old Mrs. Farnesworth. But keeping her sister Ruby out of trouble, well that is another issue entirely. Especially now that Ruby has stepped into high society with her new beau. A dubious man. Maybe even duplicitous.
Even the handsome security guard warns her sister about him.
When a body is dragged onto the shore of the lake that borders their home, rumors and worries over the new man become assurances. But why has he involved her household in these gruesome shenanigans?
And why are Opal’s loved ones suddenly having “accidents”?
Loosely based on the little-known fairy tale of “Snow White and Rose Red” this mystery twists its way all along the banks of White Rock Lake during its heyday.
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About the Author
Marji Laine is a graduated home-schooling mom of four with two college students staying in the nest for a little longer. She and her hubby of 34 years also share their North Texas home with a rescue pup named Rosie. When Marji isn’t editing or publishing the books for her authors at Write Integrity Press, she indulges in penning her own mystery, suspense, and romance novels. She loves acting in musical comedy, has directed many stage productions, leads a high school Bible study and sings in her church choir. She prefers mountains to beaches, dogs to cats, NASCAR to football, Magnolia pie, white roses, green, and Hallmark Movies and Mysteries. You can find her at her website: MarjiLaine.com
More from Marji
A Troll Falls is set in my hometown of Dallas, Texas around the time that my grandfather served as one of the fire captains in the area. I have pictures of my mom and my aunt posing near the spillway of White Rock Lake.
Yep, White Rock Lake is a real place less than ten miles from the central district of Dallas. I remember doing a Walk-a-Thon around the lake and playing softball on Saturday mornings at Winfrey Point, overlooking the lake with a view all the way to downtown. Swimming in the lake was never an option in my lifetime, but my mom remembered swimming there. Because the lake was a major reservoir for Dallas, they had to close it to swimming in the early 1950s due to a drought. By the mid-1950s, boating had made the lake dirty and crowded, so the city of Dallas closed it to motor boats that traveled faster than ten miles per hour. Aside from little fishing boats here and there, White Rock Lake is primarily a sail-boat lake now, and a beautiful sight on a clear day with a light breeze.
The Bonnie Barge is a real thing as well. The double-decker party and dance boat sailed around White Rock Lake from 1945-1956. Fraternities, church groups, reunions, and all types used the Bonnie Barge. Even such famous people as Gypsy Rose Lee and Billy Graham are rumored to have sailed on it, though not at the same time! Johnny Williams, Jr. grew up on the barge that his father built, often steering it even though he was underage. The young man who has the “find” in the Prologue is fashioned after him. Johnny actually did find a body once when he was sixteen, in a similar manner to what I described, except the deceased was a woman who had fallen into the lake and drowned after a night of drinking. The Bonnie Barge was a mainstay on White Rock Lake, but it relied on speed boats to come help in case of trouble. When the speed boats were ousted in 1956, the Bonnie Barge floated her last party as well. You can learn more about the Bonnie Barge here: https://lakewood.advocatemag.com/a-boat-named-bonnie/
On the shores of that lake lies the Dallas Arboretum, a beautiful collection of gardens that I visited often, field trips for my homeschooled kids. The focal point of the Arboretum is the DeGolyer House. Built in the 1930s, the house is fashioned after a Spanish Hacienda. I heard rumors about the house and the rare book collection that Mr. DeGolyer kept locked away in his library, and it became the inspiration for the Halling Estate in my book. You can learn more about the Dallas Arboretum (well worth the visit!) and the DeGolyer House here: https://www.dallasarboretum.org/
My fictional Halling Estate is situated on the lake about where the DeGolyer House still stands, but my imaginary house is a two-story hacienda instead of a single story. I also created a covered drive (called a dog-trot) that separates the kitchen from the garage and the servant apartments above the garage.
While I took some liberties with my 1948 Dallas, the Adolphus Hotel is the real deal. (I shared about it in my first book, A GIANT MURDER, too.) They really did have ice skating shows in their Century Ballroom in the 1940s and 50s. And the dance floor really did glide back over the ice for dancing after the shows were over. You can learn more about it here: https://flashbackdallas.com/2014/10/26/century-room/
I’ve always loved writing mysteries. I love the unexpected twists, and I usually have an idea of who the murderer will be before I start the story. Adding the element of history to the mix has been sheer pleasure. I love setting my stories in and around real places, events, and people. I hope you enjoy A TROLL FALLS as well!
Interview with Marji
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
I don’t know that I would consider it a pilgrimage, but hubby and I did take an Alaskan cruise a few years ago. Someday, I’ll write the story that the trip inspired!
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
Jungle Fire by Dana Mentink. Dana is a multi-published, multi-award-winning author, but I think Jungle Fire was one of her best works!
How do you select the names of your characters?
Sometimes the characters come with the names attached to them. Like in my first “Ever After” book, A GIANT MURDER, my characters were named according to the “Jack and the Beanstalk” story. Harper, for the golden harp, of course there is a Jack, and TG (the giant) is my victim. For my main character, I went to the author of the most common version of the fairy tale, Joseph Jacobs, and named my main character Josephine Jacobs – Josie for short.
In my newest story, A TROLL FALLS, my fairy tale is about Snow White and Rose Red. Well, Rose isn’t all that odd, but there aren’t too many Snows running around. So with those names, I went to gemstones. My great aunt’s name was Opal, so Opal and Ruby became their names.
What was your hardest scene to write?
The last one. I’m never ready to see the book end, so it’s like digging through cement to get that last scene finished.
What is your favorite childhood book?
“Snow White and Rose Red” was one of them, but “The Frog Prince” was my favorite
If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
I probably would have taken school a little more seriously. I rarely did any homework – especially English or history because they came pretty easily to me. I wish I had gone a little deeper in my understanding of the various classics and the things they could teach me.
What comes first, the plot or characters?
The plot. My mysteries are inspired by settings or inciting incidents. I write an outline of everything I know about the story. Usually, my characters are called “Antag” and “Protag” and “LoveInt.” Lol! Once I have the bones of the story, I develop complete characters with values, goals, and back stories before I ever start writing.
Who is the author you most admire in your genre?
Patricia Bradley, Lynette Eason, Elizabeth Goddard – I love the way these ladies intertwine suspense, romance, and mystery all with a canvas of Christian characters.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
I love playing board games (even online board games) with my family! I love good movies and NASCAR races and will most often be found crocheting while I’m watching them.
If you could invite one person to dinner, who would it be and what would you cook?
I would say Jesus, but I’ll be able to be at a banquet table with Him one day and I won’t have to cook! There are people I would love to meet, though. Caroline Hunt who is the daughter of one of Dallas’s founders tells amazing stories about my hometown, from what I’ve heard. Priscilla Shirer would be one of my top choices as would Bible-study author and speaker Jennifer Rothschild. I could listen to either of those ladies talk about the Lord for hours! However, I’m not a cook. I would be a basket case if I had to prepare a meal for any of them!
Thank you Marji for letting us get to know you better!
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, April 27
Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, April 28
Denise L. Barela, April 29 (Author Interview)
Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, April 29
Texas Book-aholic, April 30
Locks, Hooks and Books, May 1
For the Love of Literature, May 2 (Author Interview)
Lily’s Book Reviews, May 3
Connie’s History Classroom, May 4
Guild Master, May 5 (Author Interview)
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, May 6
Blogging With Carol, May 7
Through the Fire Blogs, May 8 (Author Interview)
For Him and My Family, May 9
Happily Managing a Household of Boys, May 10
To celebrate her tour, Marji is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.