Thursday, February 12, 2015

Murder and Valentines

by Jackie King

The thought of Valentine’s Day always gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling. I can’t help myself. This all started back in grade school when we were allowed to decorate a special box or paper sack in anticipation of the valentines we would receive.

And in appreciation of Valentine's Day, I'd like to say that I can’t seem to spin a romantic yarn without weaving “Murder Most Foul” in with “Happily Ever After.” When my fingers hit the keyboard I’m immediately seized by the urge to murder some odious person on paper. ALAS for my LACK (pun intended) of control, but YEA for the fun of it. You see, I can choose any dolt I wish who has ‘done me wrong’ or ‘irritated the fire out of me.’ (Okie speak.)

The Inconvenient Corpse 1st Grace Cassidy Mystery

Since I write traditional (cozy) mystery, the violence in my stories happens off scene and my main character stumbles onto the body. Circumstances then drag this hapless person into the solving of the crime. In my novel THE INCONVENIENT CORPSE, poor Grace Cassidy discovers a naked dead body in her hotel bed. Then (as if she didn’t have enough problems dealing with an unfaithful husband), I add a rugged cop named Sergeant Sam Harper, who thinks our Grace did the killing but likes her anyway.

The Corpse Who Walked in the Door --2nd Grace Cassidy Mystery

In my second in this series, THE CORPSE WHO WALKED IN THE DOOR, the romance continues slowly. The slow pace is because my books are primarily cozy mysteries, and murder is the main focus.

At present I’m on the second draft of the next in Grace’s adventures, THE CORPSE AND THE GEEZER BRIGADE.

Oh my! There’s nothing like murder and mayhem and secret lusting after someone who is totally wrong for you, to get a reader’s/writer’s juices flowing. I know, because those are the kinds of books I read until my eyes feel as if they have been sandpapered.

For other writers out there, I suggest you consider spiking your romance with a touch of mystery. For my favorite people, readers (and of course this includes writers who are avid readers) let’s chat for a minute about authors who excel at this skill:

Blackbird Sisters Mysteries by Nancy Martin:

Nancy Martin has penned the delightful Blackbird Sisters mysteries series. She begins with HOW TO MURDER A MILLIONAIRE and continues to A LITTLE NIGHT MURDER. And I just heard a new Blackbird book is in the mill. Martin also writes the brassier Roxy Abruzzo series featuring a monster dog and a monster truck, along with the madcap heroine.

Charlaine Harris doesn't just write about vampires! If you haven’t already done so, check out her Aurora “Roe” Teagarden line involving a young librarian and her evolving love life. Aurora “Roe” Teagarden begins as a stereotypical librarian wearing coke bottle glasses and sensible shoes. Her social highlight is a once-a-month meeting with other mystery enthusiasts to discuss murder. As might be expected, someone is iced and Roe becomes sleuth. She also evolves through the series into a sexy woman with an exciting social calendar. These books are well-plotted, exciting mysteries, combined with romance.

Have y’all (more Okie speak) read Elaine Viet’s ‘Dead End Job series?’ If not, you might want to read the first chapter of AN UPLIFTING MURDER (free on line). Bet you’ll love it. I intend to order my copy as soon as I finish writing this blog. She’s another writer who keeps me glued to the book until the last page is finished.

I've shared three of my favorites mystery/romance series. Let me know your best picks, whatever they may be, and if I haven’t already tried these authors I’ll download copies ASAP.


Bill Kirton said...

I'm with you, Jackie. It wasn't until I started giving talks on my books that I realised how many of them had started life as a way of getting my own back on some (usually very nasty) real people. Revenge is a great trigger.

I've also experienced the sometimes inescapable mingling of crime/mystery and romance. My editor expressed surprise and some misgivings when my historical crime novel, The Figurehead, started becoming a romance half way through. But if that's what the characters want, you have little choice.

Jackie King said...

Thanks for your comment, Bill. These contrary characters become so real inside our heads they just take over!

Jean Henry Mead said...

They do, indeed, Jackie. As you know, I also write amateur sleuth cozies with a bit of humor, romance and murder. With my WIP, one of my favorite characters has turned out to be the killer, no matter how hard I tried to make him the love interest.