How the movie Clue inspired Bella author E.J. Cochrane

When I was a kid, board games were a giant part of my social life. True, it wasn’t all that social since I pretty much played with my family and no one else, but still, my formative years were built on a foundation of Life, Sorry, Head of the Class and everyone’s favorite, Clue. So, when we heard about a movie based on the game Clue, my sister Heidi and I knew not only that we had to see it, but also that we had to go to as many theaters as it took for us to see each of the different endings. It was a brilliant plan, except for the fact that neither of us was old enough to drive, which meant that our mother would be responsible for schlepping us to and from the theaters. I could write an entire book on my mother (and have plans to do so someday), but for now, just trust me that she was in no way supportive of our plan. The idea of watching the same movie at least three times seemed utterly ridiculous, and even though we explained the part about the different endings making it very much not the same movie, she refused to support our dream. We never even got to see it in the theater.

But, thanks to the miracle of VCRs and video rental, we finally got to watch it in the relative comfort of our home. It quickly became a beloved classic, not simply because of the sheer rebellion of watching it, but also because of the humor and mayhem of the film. I’m certain we saw it far more than three times. And once I started writing mysteries, I couldn’t wait to pay tribute to one of my favorite films in book form. However, when the time actually came to start work on Hounded, I was at a bit of a loss. Both of the previous installments of the Matilda Smithwick mystery series had been planned in a bar with my sisters. But that method was not an option this time. Not only had half of my planning team died, but I’d also moved to a different state. Barring a road trip ending in a séance, I needed to try something new. Enter my partner, Sue.

Sue is drawn to almost all things spiritual and mystical. I live in a house with crystals and incense. I regularly come home to the smell of sage permeating every room, and I always have a heads-up regarding Mercury retrograde and its effects on my life. So, when I was trying to figure out the mystery part of the mystery that I was about to craft without the help of my writing team, she suggested a tarot reading for the book. The cards provided a motive for the murder as well as the victim and the killer. And since the deck we used is based on Greek mythology, it also inspired some of the characters’ names and occupations.

It was one of the most fun things I’ve ever written, and my hope is that it will be one of the most fun murder mysteries that you’ll ever read.

Hounded the third book in the Matilda Smithwick Mystery Series, releases in March from Bella Books.