Sunday, November 6, 2011

Including special days in your mysteries

Honoring a family's dead at
Dia de los Muertos, Mesilla, NM
Sometimes an event of regional interest can provide a great locale for your fiction. In the fall there are lots of county and state fairs, for example. We all just had Halloween, of course, but that's followed on November 1 by All Saints Day. In Mexico and in much of the Southwest, that's known as Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. The tone is much different from Halloween, as people honor deceased members of their families. It's mixed, though. In the plaza in downtown Mesilla, New Mexico, vendors will sell sugar-coated skulls and artwork depicting skeletons, almost with a feeling of thumbing our noses at death. But other people will display pictures of their deceased loved ones, with touching mementos from their lives. Children do participate, but it's not specifically for them at all. Many adults take the day quite seriously.

What events do you know about that can add life and color to your mysteries?

Sugar skull made for Dia de los Muertos
Bob Sanchez is the author of three novels. Check them all out at


Morgan Mandel said...

That skull is fascinating - scary and pretty at the same time.

I use holidays in mysteries, but it would be a good idea to make up some local events and use them as well.

Morgan Mandel

Bob Sanchez said...

I'd thought of using "Day of the Dead" as a title, but some well-known author beat me to it. Anyway, local festivities can add unique flavor to your story.

virginia winters said...

A "Pioneer Village" near my home hosts a yearly wine and cheese, which many local VIP's attend. A dandy spot for a murder among the antique farm implements and bread ovens.

Guilie said...

Nice post, Bob. Being Mexican, the Day of the Dead means a lot... It IS a thumbing of the nose to Death, but at the same time it's an honoring of it as an intrinsic part of life. The "calaveritas", the rhymed "obituaries" that people make for one another, for example, make fun of each other's shortcomings, give a comedy-rich vision of a fictitious future, and basically provide a good-natured reality check. I love the fact that Death is embraced rather than shunned.

Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

I'm going to try cooking up a new mystery before April 25 - Administrative Professionals Day. It used to be secretaries day, but since secretaries are now all robots, this sounds better.

William Doonan

Robyn Campbell said...

Hi Bob! I am a recent grad of BBT and saw your request at the cafe, so I thought I'd drop over for a visit. This has given me a great idea about a story I am wanting to write. Thanks for this post. *waving*

Anonymous said...

Bob, As usual, I loved your post!

Editor, The North Palouse Washington e-Newscast, http://www.palousenewscast