Nancy Lynn Jarvis, author of Dearly Beloved Departed, a Pip Inc mystery, is visiting Ascroft, eh? today to tell us about how her characters took things into their own hands.
Welcome Nancy. I’ll turn the floor over to you –
I realize I’m taking a chance, but my characters made me do it.
I’ve been writing for a number of years and have developed relationships with many other writers. It’s easy to do since I find writers to be generally kind to and supportive of one another. When I had this crazy idea to put together a cozy cookbook a few years ago, one-hundred-twenty-eight fellow authors contributed recipes and bios for the book. They didn’t get paid; they contributed out of the goodness of their hearts. The result was Cozy Food: 128 Cozy Mystery Writers Share Their Favorite Recipes. In the course of editing the cookbook, I met a lot of fellow authors, mostly online and over the phone.
The first series I wrote consisted of seven books, the Regan McHenry Real Estate Mysteries. My protagonist was already married in the first book so I didn’t have her go through any finding romance foibles. The fact that she was happily married from page one didn’t bother any readers. I suppose they thought of Agatha Christie’s Tommy and Tuppence, Dorothy Sayer’s Lord Peter and Harriet Vance, Nick and Nora Charles, or Mr. and Mrs. North written by the Lockridges, a couple who themselves are married. It seems a married couple at the start of a series is acceptable.
Not so if a writer decides to marry her protagonist after a few books. Doing so courts disaster many of my writer friends told me. There’s even a name for it, The Moonlighting Curse, which came from a popular TV series that went downhill to cancelation after the protagonists who fought, flirted, and sizzled for several seasons finally got together romantically.
Love triangles and interrupted kisses populate cozy mysteries. I intended the same thing to happen with my protagonist, Pat Pirard, when I started writing The Glass House, the first of my PIP Inc. Mysteries. Pat was newly dumped by a long-time boyfriend and had a crush on a divorce attorney she met in her job as the Santa Cruz County Law Librarian. She also met Deputy Sheriff Tim Lindsey because he interviewed her after a murder. I intended to use him as another potential love interest in the series so I’d have the quintessential cozy mystery threesome conflict.
I thought I’d keep the tension between the three going for at least three books, but Tim had other ideas. Tim isn’t arrogant, he’s just a self-confident, persistent man who knows what he wants, and he wants Pat. He also happens to be a great kisser.
Pat Pirard isn’t a little girl. She’s thirty-five, has had a successful career, and is smart and resourceful. Admittedly, in the first book her weakness is not feeling confident when it comes to her romantic life, but even so, she explains to her best friend Syda, a happily married woman who is desperate to fix her up with anyone good looking and male, that she’s fine with being single and not about to be cornered into romantic entanglements against her will.
Tim pursues. Pat parries. The attorney looms. But by the end of the book Pat realizes Tim is the better man and that because of his personality and character she’s attracted to him. Did I mention that he’s also a great kisser?
I intended for Pat and Tim to get together, just not quite so soon. I thought they’d date for a bit, that the attorney might try to win Pat’s heart again, and there could still be up-in-the-air romances, but by the time I got to The Corpse’s Secret Life, the third book in the series, he’s carrying around an engagement ring, although ultimately it’s Pat who proposes to him which eliminates the attorney as a love interest.
I can’t blame everything on Tim for the speed Pat and Tim’s romance progressed, though. Engagements can be long, but it’s Syda who decides as Matron of Honor, she should also take on wedding planning duties who says she knows the perfect wedding venue for them. Syda says it’s currently booked for months, but in Dearly Beloved Departed the venue suddenly becomes available because the groom who was to be married there on Christmas Eve is murdered.
So Pat and Tim are going to be married a mere seven months after they met. Not what I had in mind at all when I started the series. Of course, if you look at the book’s cover, you may wonder if there’s a happy ending to their journey to the alter. One way or the other, Pat and Tim’s romance will no longer be a typical cozy one. Will Pat be a bride or a widow before she can be a bride? If Tim survives and they marry, will it unleash the Moonlighting Curse?
Whatever happens with Pat and Tim, remember, it’s not what I expected would happen.
Thank you for sharing this with us, Nancy, and good luck with Dearly Beloved Departed, a Pip Inc mystery.
Readers can learn more about Nancy Lynn Jarvis by visiting the author’s website and her Facebook and Goodreads pages.
The book is available online at Amazon
About Nancy Lynn Jarvis: Nancy left the real estate profession after she started having so much fun writing the Regan McHenry Real Estate Mysteries series that she let her license lapse. She’s enjoyed writing about Regan and her husband, Tom, but decided it was time to do a new series. PIP Inc. introduces protagonist downsized law librarian and not-quite-licensed Private Investigator Pat Pirard. “The Funeral Murder” is the second book in the series.
After earning a BA in behavioral science from San Jose State University, Nancy worked in the advertising department of the San Jose Mercury News. A move to Santa Cruz meant a new job as a librarian and later a stint as the business manager for Shakespeare/Santa Cruz at UCSC.
Currently, she’s enjoying being a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and Santa Cruz Women of Mystery.
Thanks so much for having me on your blog, Dianne. Should your readers have questions for me, I’ll try to answer them in a timely manner, but our power company, PG&E, informed us last night a few minutes before 9:00 that they will be turning off our power again today (day nineteen so far this year.) No power equals no internet so I don’t know how the day will go.