Well here it is Labor Day Weekend and I’m still in the first 20k words for the second book in the New Royal Mysteries series, THE ORPHANS COURT. I had hoped to be through the first draft by now, but the summer and my gallbladder had other plans. That said, I’m picking up speed, and I’m starting to have a lot of fun with the voice of my sleuth.
In the first book of the series, THE MEAN BONE IN HER BODY, which may be out from Pandamoon Publishing in time for holiday shopping, my sleuth is an icy, arch Professor, Liz Murgatroyd, who puts her own interests ahead of the law. I loved her voice because it was formal, sly, and sometimes wicked. The sleuth in ORPHANS is Liz’s ex-con, punky assistant, Crocus, whose impatience generates a diction that is a lot more casual and earthy, often to the point of being crude. Together they make a great team, and it’s terrific fun going from one to the other—sort of like spending a week in Martha’s vineyard, followed by a week in Atlantic City. And of course, the series takes place in a fictional college/prison town in Ohio.
Working with Crocus while trying to develop short stories from the draft as I go along, does generate certain challenges. Many mystery fiction magazines ask writers to keep the language in in their short stories on the cleaner side, which is understandable given that the demographic of their readership can be conservative. Crocus, however, is an ex-con who served time for chopping off a man’s fingers with a hatchet. It feels odd to clean up her language in some cases (“mind game” for “mind fuck,” for example), but I do have the college setting and Murgatroyd’s mentorship to justify more self-consciousness in Crocus.
To get a taste of the series and how Crocus and Murgatroyd work together, I hope you will buy the September issue of MYSTERY WEEKLY, which will feature my short story “A Good Girl With A Hatchet.” Or, you can sign up to receive FREE weekly stories by email. “Good Girl” will be the free story September 6th.