I am tickled that everyone who reads my novels knows they are getting some laughs, a touch of romance, and an old-fashioned, fun read.
Before I dove into mystery writing, I tried my hand at screenwriting. (I think it’s a requirement when you move to Los Angeles.) I joined the appropriate groups – Women in Film, Scriptwriter’s Network – and attended events at Paramount Studios and Universal Studios. Pretty thrilling. I even took a class from (the now late) Danny Simon, the older brother of Neil Simon, who generously shared his wisdom. I still refer to my notes from his class.
Then I attended the Love is Murder convention in Chicago, and I realized that mystery writers were my peeps. They were so concerned about bringing readers the best experience possible, and they were friendly and supportive of other writers.
When I asked the lady sitting next to me if she wrote full-time, she kindly said, “Yes, dear, I do,” and then she got up and gave the keynote address. Charlaine Harris was incredibly gracious. She didn’t even try to switch tables when she was finished. Ken Bruen, the Irish author of the Jack Taylor mysteries, wished me luck before my pitch session, and he really meant it! You can’t beat that kind of camaraderie.
But I worried.
Fleshing out stories is much different than the concise wording required in screenwriting, and there wouldn’t be an actor, director or producer to add his or her own two cents to the final creation.
However, when I became a semi-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest with my first attempt at a mystery, Family Matters, I gained the confidence I needed to keep going. Another author in that contest, Karen Cantwell, has become one of my favorite authors to read!
I decided that I would create characters who were as flawed as I was, and flawed equals funny. I also wanted to give readers the experience of traditional mysteries with modern characters that reflected my world view as a child of the 70s.
There have been critics, such as the woman who chastised me for not having my character, Frankie Chandler, tell off her annoying aunt in A Bird’s Eye View of Murder. (She called my character a weak woman.) In my world, yelling at people, especially elderly relatives, isn’t acceptable, and it’s a sign of weakness to give in to one’s emotions and cause a scene. So, I stuck to my guns.
I’ve had to wear many hats, and the learning curve hasn’t been easy, but the response to my books and short stories has been amazing. I love hearing that I’ve put a smile on someone’s face, and it makes my day to hear they laughed out loud.