Why I Write Mysteries
I've been a mystery fan all of my life. I've always loved the puzzle aspect to the genre. After all, isn't that what mystery series are all about? Finding out whodunit?
Not really. They're every bit as much about enjoying intelligent, sometimes brilliant characters who live interesting lives and who pick up on the minutia that escapes most of us normal human beings. After all, if the answer to every mystery was obvious, the story would be only one or two pages, and they'd be no reason for the Sherlock Holmes or Miss Marples of this world.
My own sleuth, Jennifer Marsh, is a person I enjoy visiting, or inhabiting, each time I take her out on an adventure. Her mind works in interesting ways, and yet I try very hard to always make her conclusions logical as well as intuitive. She's an introvert and yet she has a tight group of friends in her life that she couldn't live without. She's an intentional contradiction. That, I believe, is what makes her real and relatable.
Jennifer's latest adventure, DYING BEFORE "I DO", presented special challenges for me as a writer because Jennifer's relationship with her boyfriend Sam has progressed to the logical point of actually getting married, a rather terrifying idea for this gal that I created. She's been so driven to become a published writer since graduating from college that she has trouble seeing past that. And like many intelligent and creative people, her insights that shine so brightly in her writing and in solving crimes fall pretty short when it comes to her personal life. But, unlike some other writers, I don't see Jennifer's progression into married life as a conclusion to the series. Instead, I see it as an opportunity to make the series even more interesting.
I'm not about to suggest my JENNIFER MARSH MYSTERIES are about to become anything like other beloved crime solving couples like Nick and Nora Charles. Jennifer and Sam are just as likely to become a more sophisticated version of Lucy and Ricky Ricardo. How they will cope with married life will be a new adventure for me. But at the heart of all of the Jennifer books will be the mystery, the heart-tugging loss of some human being that meant something to someone else. Yes, there will still be lots of fun and jokes, but never about death and loss. That's far too serious a subject to jest about.
So, as I look at all the series that I've adored over the years and new ones I continue to discover, I strive to make my books true to themselves and offer my readers the world as I see it. I adore period mysteries, especially English television mysteries, but I'll probably never write anything like one, except for maybe an American gothic. Foyle's War is one of my all-time favorite series, as is Inspector Lewis. Both of these bring a sense of humanity to their stories that I sometimes find lacking in series. I may not be able to emulate the sense of history or place that inhabit their mysteries, but I do try to bring the unique workings of a young woman's mind to mine. There is good and bad in this world, and Jennifer is one of the good guys. That's one of the reasons I like writing her so much.