Thursday, December 8, 2011
It's All About the Characters by Lucy Burdette
I've always been a huge reader. I tore through the Nancy Drew mysteries, then moved on to my brother's Hardy boys mysteries, gobbling lots of teenage romances in between. I'll give you an example of the kind of detail I remember best. There was a less well known mystery series featuring a nurse named Cherry Ames. Okay, we're talking forty-something years ago and my memory isn't as sharp as it once was, but I remember so clearly the book's title: Cherry Ames, Student Nurse. Cherry was working on a hospital ward and one of her patients reported a fever and chills. She did just what she was supposed to: got a blanket for the sick person and reported the symptoms to the supervisor. Now here's where the facts get fuzzy: I think the supervisor on duty had it in for her and didn't write down what Cherry told her. And later, she got in big, big trouble for failing to report those important symptoms. And now Cherry had a dilemma: Did she rat out the other woman, or take the rap? Isn't it funny how clearly I remember the character's emotional dilemma even though most of the other details about the book have faded?
And I also remember a romantic series about twin teenaged sisters. I'm certain one of them was named Joby. They both liked the same boy of course and in the end he could only marry one of them. When the single sister went to visit the married twin for the first time, they had a happy evening joking about "their" husband. but that night, the pull-out couch was made into a bed and the newlyweds retreated to their bedroom and shut the door. Oh ouch--i can still feel the pain of the sister who was no longer the center of her twin's universe. (Does this sound familiar--I'd love to know the name?)
Anyway, I'm just saying, what stays with me after fifty years of reading are the characters and their conflicts.
As we speak, I am working on my Key West food critic series. These books are mysteries so I understand I need a body. And suspects. And clues. And theories about the murder. But most of all, I'm hoping readers will fall in love with my new character Hayley Snow. I hope they'll feel the shock she does when she sees her ex-boyfriend out at dinner with his new girlfriend. And feel her heart sink when she thinks the job of a lifetime has slipped away. And then want to read the next book in the series and recommend the books to friends. And maybe even remember Hayley in fifty years--now that's what I'd call success!
AN APPETITE FOR MURDER by Lucy Burdette will be published in January 2012 by NAL/Obsidian. Please follow Lucy on Twitter @lucyburdette or join her on facebook or read the first chapter on her website. And best of all, you can certainly pre-order!