Monday, August 18, 2014

Me & My Sleuths

I love my sleuths and have lots of fun watching them solve murders and navigate relationships. As the protagonist in a series, each of my sleuths is complex, with both endearing and irritating characteristics. They’re all clever enough to solve mysteries, spunky enough to take risks they have no business taking, and all have blind spots that occasionally lead them to wrong conclusions and into danger. As their creator, I have something in common with each and every one of them. I thought I’d say a few words about my sleuths Lydia, Gabbie, and Lexie—what they’re like and the traits and similarities I share with each.

Lydia Krause stars in A Murderer Among Us and Murder in the Air of the Twin Lakes Mysteries series. She is an attractive widow aged 58, who once ran her own company and now resides in the upscale retirement community of Twin Lakes on Long Island with her red tom Reggie. She has two daughters who give her joy and grief, a slew of new friends, and a budding relationship with Detective Sol Molina. While I live in a gated community on Long Island, it’s nowhere as posh as Twin Lakes, nor is it a retirement community, and, alas, we don’t have an indoor pool. Ironically, Lydia became a widow before I did. I have two sons, not two daughters, and one granddaughter so far, not two as Lydia has. Both Lydia and I have red toms.

In Giving Up the Ghost Gabbie Meyerson comes to the village of Chrissom Harbor on Long Island in the middle of a cold January to teach English at the local high school.
Gabbie is in her midthirties and like Lydia, starting a new life. She has recently divorced her husband, after helping to send him to prison for white collar crimes. She rents a cottage on a bluff and discovers she has a housemate—the ghost of wheeler dealer Cameron Leeds, who plagues Gabbie until she agrees to find out who murdered him. Gabbie’s students play a part in the mystery. While I never had a ghost for a housemate, I was a high school teacher for several years though my subject was Spanish. I never divorced my husband, nor did he ever commit any crimes. We writers must take liberties. <g>

Lexie Driscoll is my sleuth in the Golden Age of Mystery Book Club series. Lexie is a 48-year-old English professor at a Long Island university. Though she is very bright, she has poor judgment when it comes to choosing husbands. Her first husband left her when she was pregnant with her son, Jesse. Now father and son enjoy a close relationship. Years later, she married a fellow academic, only to learn he was extremely unstable. When Lexie told him she was ending the marriage, he burned down her house and died in the fire. In Murder a la Christie, Lexie’s best friend, now married to Lexie’s former college boyfriend, asks her to facilitate a Golden Age of Mystery book club in her wealthy town of Old Cadfield, Long Island. While discussing Agatha Christie and her novels, one of the members becomes ill and dies. Lexie is c
ertain that Sylvia’s been poisoned. More members are murdered, and Lexie fears their lives are on a parallel course of Christie’s novel, And Then There Were None. Lexie’s barrage of questions often upsets the Old Cadfield residents. She exposes old secrets and resentments, until someone tries to kill her. While I’m nowhere as intrusive as Lexie, probably because I haven’t had to, I find it ironic that just before the book was published, my local library asked me to lead the mystery book club. (I am no longer the leader, and we have not suffered any murders. ) A case of life following art.  <g>

What do you and your sleuths have in common?


Evelyn Cullet said...

While all your protagonists are so different, they all have one thing in common. They're all single at the moment. Which opens up your stories for romantic interests. Nice touch. I've read and enjoyed all of them. But I'm still waiting for a sequel to Giving Up the Ghost.

Marilyn Levinson said...

Hmmm. I never realized all my sleuths are widowed or divorced, and therefore single. I do love adding a romantic interest to the plot. I'm so glad you've enjoyed all my mysteries. People have asked for a sequel to Giving Up the Ghost, so perhaps I'll work on that next.

Palmaltas said...

I don't have sleuths in any of my "mysteries". In one, my police chief is a blithering idiot. In another, my private detective is a bit on the shady side. In the third novel, the main characters are unaware of any crimes being committed although they are the main suspects. In my current WIP, the two protagonists discuss the murders constantly but are just as clueless as the police.

Marilyn Levinson said...

How unique. You've created a new genre.

Marja said...

Great post, Marilyn! I guess there's a little of most of us in our protagonists. I think I'll leave it at: I sigh, I roll my eyes, and I'm a chocoholic, traits of two of my characters. : )
Marja McGraw

Nancy LiPetri said...

Fun to get the inside scoop on some of the shared traits. I find myself wondering how many edgy/obnoxious/unwise traits in my various characters readers will assume belong to my real self.

Marilyn Levinson said...

One thing I love about creating a sleuth is making her younger than I am. And braver. And stronger.

Marilyn Levinson said...

You raise a good question, but I think our readers assume we're more like our sleuths and that "other people" are more like the villains and characters with annoying attributes.