INTRODUCTION: Today Marja McGraw, a Cozy Mystery author, of the SANDI WEBSTER MYSTERY SERIES and the BOGEY MAN MYSTERY SERIES, has contributed as a guest writer on THE MAGAZINE AT BLOGSPOT, by writing on a topic relevant to LIFESTYLE CORNER.
According to her, each of her mysteries contains...
A little humour, a little romance, and A Little Murder!
...and her books concentrate on the characters and solving the crime rather than the crime itself.
I am a mystery writer and I write two series. In every book I have to figure out how the characters and the story might relate to everyday life. Yes, even though there are crimes in the stories, the characters need to be as lifelike as possible. By the way, the books are lighter reading with a little humour included.
One series is about Sandi Webster, a female private investigator. She may have to solve cases, or mysteries, but that doesn't change the fact that she has a romance with her partner, a menopausal mother, and a male employee who's growing and changing. In the midst of solving a crime, she still has to deal with everyday issues, like her mothers mood swings. She's not a loner and she has a best friend. I try to keep her as real as possible. We have relationships and busy lives, and so does she.
The other series involves a Humphrey Bogart look-alike, Chris Cross, known as The Bogey Man. He's married with a young son, and the family often goes through typical family issues. Its just that there's usually a mystery attached to their everyday existence. In this case, Chris and his wife, Pamela, own a 1940s-themed restaurant which causes them to juggle all the parts of their busy lives. Chris uses a lot of forties slang when he speaks, and Pamela finds herself often rolling her eyes in amazement about life. Their son, Mikey, wants nothing more than to become involved in the mysteries, but the Crosses try to keep him safe and out of danger. Lastly, Chris's eccentric mother and quiet father move to town and turn everyone's lives upside down.
So many of us have pets who are a big part of our lives. I added dogs in both series.
In the "Sandi Webster Mystery Series", I added Bubba, a half wolf, half Golden retriever dog. He's based on a canine a one-time employer owned. He smiles a very toothy grin, as the real dog did, and it scares people because they think he's baring his teeth at them and he's so big. The construction office where I worked was out in the country and the real Bubba used to stay with me all day. When strangers came calling, he would sit between me and the stranger, smiling. It was his way of being protective, and I always had to explain that he was actually smiling. It still kept them at a distance, between his size and his facial expression.
We have two yellow Labrador retrievers, and I added them to the "Bogey Man Mystery Series". They're called Sherlock and Watson in the stories. (I actually wish I had given them other names for the books, but its too late now.) Dogs have personalities, and these two are quite entertaining.
In my latest book, How Now Purple Cow, a "Bogey Man Mystery Series ", there's a humorous scene involving Sherlock and Watson and their fear of the dark. Its based on a true story about my own Labs who are afraid of the dark.
Why add dogs? There are many reasons, but one of the most important is that they're able to add comedy relief when necessary, just by being true to themselves. They also add a level of protectiveness, although sometimes they really have no idea what's going on. They just know that someone may be in trouble.
I am working on a new Sandi Webster book and bringing in a new character a small dog named Clementine who happens to be a Chiweenie. You might laugh at that breed name, but she's actually half Chihuahua and half Dachshund. I chuckled when someone thought Chiweenie was the name of an American Indian tribe.
Characters in books need to be as lifelike as possible so they'll be believable. Of course, this means including good people, bad people, odd character traits, clumsy people, athletic people, and every conceivable type of person I've ever known.
So, is the lifestyle of people and animals included in books? Yes, and it can be quite entertaining. As an author I try to be true to life, the stories, and myself.
I hope my books take you on an interesting journey through life with their characters.
Ramla Zareen, thank you so much for allowing me to share a bit about my books and the players in them, and how they relate to everyday lifestyles.
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