Readers and writers lost a treasure last Monday when fellow mystery novelist Sheila Connolly passed.away.
I used to always refer to Sheila's books when I spoke at writers' conferences. Why? She was not only a brilliant writer, creating engaging characters and intricate plots, she was a master at using research in her books. She handled research in a clever, effective way, never overwhelming the reader, always tucking in the most salient detail. No one did it better than Sheila.
Her County Cork Mysteries are set in Ireland, her adopted homeland. If you're reading the series you know that her main character took up residence there. "Maura Donovan came to Ireland to honor her grandmother’s last wish, but she never expected to stay in provincial County Cork—much less to inherit a house and a pub,"
Sheila went to Ireland for a simple reason: she adored the country and the people. Her warm, generous spirit called her there to live in a lovely stone cottage and continue to work on her County Cork Mysteries.
A lot of readers may not realize that Sheila had a terrific background. She graduated from a prestigious college (Wellesley), did a Ph.D. in Fine Arts at Harvard and followed this with an MBA at UC-Berkeley. All her education and various careers (art historian, financial advisor, political fundraiser) made their way into her books.
She was kind and generous to aspiring writers, and a devoted friend and colleague. She will be missed. Her warm spirit will live on in her books and delight new readers for years to come.