How did the death of a beloved canine lead a wildly talented high-school poet to mystery writing?

Jackie began her writing career in Illinois at a single-digit age when her favorite dog died in an accident. (She actually played a part in his death, but it was an accident! And if it makes you feel better, the dog was over-bred and insane and once attacked a group of mentally handicapped children.) Her mother–ecstatic that the child-attacking dog was dead–told her daughter to stop moping.  Then she relented and asked her child to express her sorrow in a story.

The first line was a delicately crafted piece of prose:

 “It was a scene from hell.”

Her mother took her pen away and told her to go outside and play.

Rumor has it that half the blame for Jackie’s sense of macabre belongs to her sister, Andrea, who is two years older and must bear some responsibility for leading her baby sister to dark places. Yes. We’ve discovered the Barbie ritual.

Every night, the sisters would lie in their darkened bedroom, each holding a Barbie. The floor was hot lava. Barbie would say mean things to the siblings and they would (justifiably, perhaps) lower her towards the lava. When her shapeless rear began to feel the heat, Vacillating Barbie would shout, “I love you! I love you!” Once back to a comfortable height, the plastic wonder would turn nasty again, and the ritual would repeat. When the girls tired of her antics, they would toss Barbie to her doom and then laugh their wicked little heads off.

Even more shocking, the Hospital Death Game has come to light. These demented daughters would convince their baby brother to pretend to be in a coma. Andrea provided the beeps for the heart monitor. At some point, one or the other sister would smother him with a handy pillow and the beeps would crescendo before tapering off into one, long beeeeeep. Another source of giggles.

Perhaps Jackie was influenced by her large extended family. Her fascination with death is attributed to the uncle with nine lives who gave her many unusual examples of how a person without Uncle’s good luck could perish. Her respect for weaponry comes from her dignified maternal grandfather who proudly carried a walking stick with a hidden blade–a gift from Hell’s Angels after the former motorcycle cop sent a congratulatory letter after they beat up a man who disrespected the American flag.

Or was it her own experiences that lead her to murder?

She worked as a telemarketer at a funeral home, phoning people to offer free plots in exchange for a meeting with sales rep. Jackie wondered what would happen if a sinister prospect turned the tables. Would the sales rep get an employee discount?

Working in offices introduced her to undermining co-workers who begged to be poisoned if only the rest of the office staff could find the time for a quick trip to the drug store.

Then she and her husband moved to Los Angeles and she tried temping in the film industry as a casting assistant. The various responses of famous actors to her inability to remember their names gave her an understanding of the senseless reasons some people are moved to murder.   

Jackie finally realized that she was a mystery writer when it seemed perfectly natural to roll over in bed and ask her husband, “If I chopped your head off in your sleep, do you think it would stay on the pillow or roll onto the floor?’ And he answered and went back to sleep.

 Though her focus is mystery novels, she also writes children’s books, short stories, the occasional non-fiction piece, and screenplays. She’s even turned a short story into a play, “Streetcar Named Death”, which she secretly hopes to see produced by community theaters around the world.

Her mission is to bring you a good story, make you laugh, and leave you with increased endorphins and a warm fuzzy feeling.  She writes as she reads–for enjoyment. If you are looking for angst, she recommends the daily paper or one of those advertisements intent on frightening you into using a product.