Usually I begin a new novel with setting. In the case of Death in Copper Town I was fascinated with the history of copper mining in Arizona. It started in the late 1800s, but continued until the 1950s, and even now companies are exploring ways to recover yet more minerals from the earth.
Next, I since I was writing a series, I needed to develop characters to people this setting. I wanted to write a police procedural, but one from a feminine viewpoint, and particularly that of a beginner. Enter Pegasus Quincy. I determined she needed to be a beginner, experiencing all that a cop learns for the first time, unjaded by patrol work in a grungy inner city setting. She had to have a sense of humor and a deep sense of caring for others in her world.
She wouldn’t know a lot about police procedure, since she was young and just out of the police academy; therefore she would view death like most of us do, something that happens out there, to somebody else.
Peg had recently moved from Tennessee to Arizona, trading lush green hills for the sometimes harsh high desert plateau. While she would know copperhead snakes, encountering timber rattlers would be unnerving. Javelinas would be a new experience for her as would dramatic summer monsoon thunderstorms in the southwest.
Oh, and since characters never operate in a vacuum, let’s give her a grandfather she can’t get along with, and a mother with early dementia, and a boss that rues the day he ever hired her.
Add bright red hair, a stubborn personality, and a six-foot height. Yes, that’ll get her started.
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