The more books I wrote, the more my protagonists developed traits of their own. But certain personality and character traits of mine cling to each of my sleuths. Sometimes fiction precedes real life. In my Twin Lake mysteries, Lydia Krause is newly widowed and starting a new life in a gated community. She beat me there, as I became a widow after I wrote the book. Still, we both have a cat and we both live in a gated community.
Gabbie Meyerson in Giving Up the Ghost is also starting a new life. She’s divorced her husband, something I never did, after helping to send him to prison. (Didn't do that, either.) She takes a job teaching English (I taught Spanish) in a small Long Island community, and discovers she’s sharing a cottage with the ghost of Cameron Leeds. Pressed into service, Gabbie finds out who murdered Cam.
Ardin Wesley in Dangerous Relations bears the emotional scars of an abusive marriage, something I’ve never experienced. She finds herself wanting to adopt her murdered cousin’s little girl, which pits her against her cousin’s widower. She tries to ignore the fact that she’s falling for the guy, telling herself she doesn’t want anything to do with romance. In the course of the novel, Ardin comes face-to-face with her ex-husband. Even more painful is overhearing him tell his current wife that he'd never loved Ardin. Through it all, Ardin grows stronger and is able to love again.
There’s no question that Lexie Driscoll in Murder a la Christie is intelligent (she’s an English college professor). But Lexie’s not always wise when it comes to choosing the men in her life. Her first husband left her when she was pregnant with their son. When she decided to divorce her crazy second husband, he burned down her house with himself inside. Lexie finds herself spending the summer housesitting in affluent Old Cadfield, blocks from her college roommate and best friend, Rosie. Rosie is married to one of Lexie’s rejects and lives the life of luxury. Lexie realizes that this life could have hers. But would she have done things differently if she'd known how everything turned out?
The more books we write, the more our characters take on lives of their own. I suppose we subconsciously borrow traits from people we know, from characters in TV series, books and movies. How they behave and interact with one another are offshoots of their personalities and characters. My sleuths vary in age and social position, but they are all strong, intelligent women. Of course they’re all bolder than I am – never afraid to ask questions or to follow up on a clue, which often gets them into trouble as they go about solving murders.
In what ways are your sleuths like you? How are they different?