Arts and Culture 2011

Amy Holtcamp

SOUTH CAROLINA INSIDER

 

Artist of the Week – Michele Nutwell

Posted 12/17/2011 8:27:00 AM

Michele Nutwell began her career as a journalist. After moving around the United States for a time she settled down in South Carolina, near Folly Beach. There she found the Lowcountry’s magnificent scenery, a macabre history, and a slew of colorful neighbors: in short, all of the ingredients for a great mystery novel. The Folly Beach Mystery series was born.

Nutwell’s first book was Death on Coffin Island. The title was inspired by a South Carolina legend that ships entering Charleston harbor after a long sea voyage would drop off their dead and dying on Folly Island so that they could avoid quarantine in the main port. A second installment in the series, Born on the Edge, soon followed. Her fans adore the blend of suspense and off-the-wall humor on display in the novels.

The books’ protagonist draws on Nutwell’s own history. Like Nutwell, her main character, Kell Palevac, is a journalist who has found her way to South Carolina’s shores.

Q: You began your writing career as a journalist - how was it, making the leap to fiction?
A:
Making the change from reporting to writing fiction was very natural for me as I am constantly conjuring up stories to share with others, it just takes a bit longer to get the point across when you tackle a book project.

Q: How does the South Carolina setting inform or inspire your books?
A:
Using Folly Beach as a setting sometimes feels a bit like cheating; the characters and the story ideas are so rampant I have to sort through what to work on!

Q: What attracted you to South Carolina as a place to live?
A:
The obvious beauty of the Lowcountry has inspired many authors, and I feel so privileged to actually live in a place others also choose to write about. South Carolina in general grabs hold of you and you either embrace it or leave. Once I arrived over 20 years ago, I never left.

Q: What are you working on now?
A:
I'm currently working on the third book in my series set on Folly and invite everyone to find me on Facebook.

Q: Let's say someone reads your books and is inspired to vacation in Folly Beach -- any suggestions on how they should spend their time?
A:
For those who aren't familiar with Folly Beach I'd say don't miss the chance to experience a very unique place. Folly is actually a character of her own. When you get here, ride a bike around the island to get acquainted and make sure to join the Sand Dollar Social Club for just one dollar. You'll find real locals and all the area gossip.

If you are heading to Folly Beach and want to follow Nutwell’s advice and visit the Sand Dollar Social Club, you can find it at 7 Center St. But remember to stop at an ATM; the Sand Dollar is a cash-only establishment.

You can connect with Michele Nutwell and looks for updates on that third installment in the Folly Beach Mystery series on her Facebook page.