Writing a Mystery with a Federal Agent in the House
By C. Hope Clark
It got tense. It got dangerous. It grew into more than we expected. People got mad. Some questioned if I’d made it up. Years later, that controversy propelled me nicely up the career ladder, much like my protagonist, but during that roller coaster ride, I became rather fond of that agent, who became rather fond of me.
Today, in my efforts to write mysteries, he comes in handy as we sit on the back porch playing out scenarios. He can also be a pain in the butt.
The first book in The Carolina Slade Mystery Series, Lowcountry Bribe, was based upon how hubby and I met, only I embellished, inserting murder, kidnapping and considerably more mayhem. As I fleshed out Carolina Slade and her special federal agent Wayne Largo, hubby became my sounding board. He taught me about weapons, blood spatter, and how a chase scene might play out. But invariably in my storytelling effort, he’ll say, “A real agent wouldn’t do that.”
“It’s fiction, sweetie,” I say. “Are you telling me this cannot happen?”
“No, I guess it could happen, but if I were the agent it wouldn’t. Too risky,” he says. “I wouldn’t allow a CI (cooperating individual) of mine to take those chances.”
“But the CI is the protagonist. She’s the main character, not the agent.”
“Just saying, an agent wouldn’t let her get in trouble.”
I sigh. “Well, humor me. She’s the heroine. The agent is the sidekick here.”
He sighs and shakes his head. “Just saying . . .”
And so it goes.
Palmetto Poison is the third book in the Carolina Slade Mystery Series. Slade is still partnered with Special Agent Largo, and they’ve been through a lot. Hubby’s mighty proud of my books, I might add. Still, we regularly sit on the porch with bourbon in hand, often playing out scenes to go in the next book.
“We can’t do that,” I’ll say sooner or later. “It ruins the tension. I need more danger and suspense.”
“But it’s stupid,” he’ll say. “A real agent wouldn’t do that.”
I sigh as always. “But sweetie, Slade has to solve the case, not Wayne. And she has to stumble along the way.”
“Wayne’s a pansy, then,” he says. “If I were the agent, none of this would happen.”
“Exactly,” I say. “And there’d be no book.”
“Hmph,” he says. “So what happens next?”
BIO – C. Hope Clark is author of The Carolina Slade Mystery Series by Bell Bridge Books. The third, Palmetto Poison, was released in February. Hope is also editor of FundsforWriters.com, where her newsletters are read by 45,000 readers.