by Janis Patterson
If you’re like me, this past month or two has been a fairly dizzying round of parties and dinner parties and cooking and quick meals snatched while shopping and wrapping. Calories have been whizzing around (and sticking more than we would like, darn it) like mosquitoes on a hot, humid day.
Well, it’s all over, and I say thank goodness! Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are over, the parties are finished and we are stuffed to surfeit. All that lies ahead of us in the near future is Valentine’s Day, which is usually awash with chocolate and, if you’re lucky, a nice dinner out.
Real life is back. Now we clean up the drifts of tissue paper and wrapping paper scraps, put away the holiday china for another year, take down the tree and pack away the ornaments. If you had a real tree, you have the joy of vacuuming up the dried needles that seem to be able to hide in your carpet until July.
Oh, and work. I’ll admit my work tends to suffer during this intense holiday season. It’s hard to sit at the computer making up tales and trying to get all my clues in line when a big chunk of my mind is trying to remember how far along I am on gift buying and worrying if we’ve forgotten someone and trying to decide on what dish to take to the family potluck on Christmas Day and… well, you know. So I pretty much quit writing. It is, I delude myself, better not to spend the time screwing up my story with a bunch of stuff that will probably have to be pulled out later in favor of something more rational.
That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!
But now the holiday season is over. New Year’s is never a big deal in our house. We don’t like to go out and celebrate on that night – too many irresponsible revelers out after drinking too much making the streets dangerous. Like last year, like almost every year, we went to eat Mexican food at our favorite neighborhood café in the early evening, then went home and watched television while we split a bottle of champagne at midnight - or earlier. The quiet times with The Husband are the best.
As the cold days of winter set in, though, and the holidays are just a memory, it is time to concentrate on work again. I have two standalones to finish and several completed books to get into the publishing pipeline. The most exciting thing, however, is I have a new series to write. I personally dislike series, or at least most of the series I have read. Just how many times can an amateur sleuth fall over a dead body in a small town, after all? Plus, I’m very tired of the current trend of cutesy and relentlessly perky amateur sleuths (female) who obsess over shoes, who either cook or do some sort of craft, who brainlessly charge into danger and who always manage to avoid being arrested for impeding a police investigation.
My sleuth is Dr. Rachel Petrie (no relation to the famed Egyptologist Flinders Petrie, a fact that is a running gag) a contract archaeologist who works all over the world, giving her a chance to stumble over a body in a different place each time. Hey, if she didn’t find a body it wouldn’t be a mystery series, would it? There does have to be a certain amount of suspension of disbelief.
Currently I’m working on the first book, A KILLING AT TARA TWO, which is set in Alabama on a dig excavating a plantation house burned during the War of Northern Aggression. It’s great fun.
Now I must get to work writing on it. I hope all of you had a very happy holiday season, and wish you a happy and prosperous New Year.