Friday, April 15, 2016

Tired of Writing a Mystery Series?

by Jean Henry Mead

Some serial mystery authors have grown tired of writing about the same characters. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle grew bored with Sherlock Holmes and killed him off although he later resurrected the infamous sleuth. Agatha Christie also grew to hate her arrogant little detective Hercule Poirot and wanted to end his career as well as his life. My own Logan and Cafferty mystery/suspense series became tiresome after I had finished novel six, Murder at the Mansion. However, after starting a standalone suspense novel, I began dreaming about my senior sleuths, Dana Logan and sidekick Sarah Cafferty. In my dreams, both women seemed to plead with me to continue the series.

I have to admit that, after six months of not tuning into their conversations and adventures, I missed them. They had become old friends. In fact, they were patterned after my best friend and I while we were still both young, single and adventurous. My sixtyish amateur sleuths have gotten themselves into some unusual predicaments but have managed somehow to survive.

I eventually decided to write a serious seventh novel but my sleuths refused to fit completely into serious mode. Dana’s friend  Sarah has an innate sense of humor that can’t be tamped down, and Dana usually goes along with her antics, no matter how much I try to discourage them. However, the novels’ subjects are serious:  drugs, terrorism, adultery, anarchy, romance, theft, gray wolves, RV park intrigue, a tornado, flood, and, of course, murder. But Sarah always seems to make light of or exaggerate the problems which present themselves.

Emotions are the most important elements in novel plots, so I’m grateful to have a quirky character like Sarah to make the novels come alive. No cardboard characters for me.

My current work in progress, Logan and Cafferty #7, is titled Mystery of the Black Cross and features Sarah’s laser-burned face and the murders of two women in the cosmetic surgeon’s office. I researched the novel by suffering through a similar burn myself. I then came across an anarchist’s group dating back to the twelfth century. The research has been fascinating. I tied the two subjects together by having the killer paint a black cross on the house the two women share. A deadly warning or a prank? I’m afraid you’ll have to wait to find out.  : )


Bill Kirton said...

I also find it fascinating how fictional characters somehow have an independent existence. I'm sure, Jean, that we (and others like us) would be interesting subjects for some research psychologist/psychiatrist investigating the nature of reality. I know, for example that my cop, Jack Carston, actually needs a sixth (and final) book so that he can leave the police force. i wonder if, when he has and is in a happy retirement, he'll leave me alone.

Jean Henry Mead said...

LOL, Bill. I've tried for several years to start a new series, but Dana and Sarah come back to haunt me. Series characters are like old friends and I'm unable to let them go. I hope you do bring out another Jack Carson novel. I enjoy reading about his adventures.

June Shaw said...

Wow! You sure left us with a cliffhanger! What an exciting premise for your next book. I look forward to reading it.

Jean Henry (Mead) said...

Thank you, June. I'm nearly finished with the book and the characters have certainly surprised me. Pantsers have more fun. : )