How I developed the character of Pegasus Quincy for DEATH in COPPER TOWN

Featured

Death in Copper Town, a Pegasus Quincy MysteryUsually 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.

  I’d love to hear from you. Use the box below to leave a comment, and, if you liked this post, please share to your friends using the little share buttons. To see Peg Quincy in action, purchase a copy of the book using the link on the book cover above. Thanks!

 

Downton Abbey: Up close and personal

Highclere Castle van de Carnarvon-familie, gel...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I’ve been sitting here trying to figure out the fascination of Downton Abbey. Certainly the clothes. How marvelous! And the interweaving of the upper class with those who care for them. But one of the biggest draws for me was watching the vehicles change.

They lived in the Age of Transportation, going from horse carriage to rail to automobile to airplane.  How exciting to see all of these for the very first time. Can you imagine, having been limited to the speed a brace of horses would go, to all of a sudden be catapulted into the 20th century with a ride in a brand new automobile!
I’ve been reading a memoir of an extraordinary person, whose life parallels the folks at the Abbey. In many ways her life was as exciting as theirs. The author? Agatha Christie. I was first introduced to Dame Christie by watching reruns of M.A.S.H. There is a wonderful episode where Hawkeye and B.J. are reading her newest mystery, only to find the last page missing. The story follows their efforts to find out exactly what happened.

Agatha had always been a story-teller. As a young only child, she invented a group of Kittens, and told elaborate stories of their adventures. Later on, of course, she became famous for her wonderful series of mysteries involving both Hercule Perot (who bears an amazing resemblance to her second husband) and Miss Marple.

In a way she was like Conan Doyle in that both characters were old when she invented them, with little chance to grow and change. She tried several times to shift into other venues, but her publishers kept pulling her back. They knew what the readers wanted!

She traveled with her first husband around the world. Followed her second husband to archeological digs all over the middle east. Lived through both world wars. An amazing lady!

I’m turning into my mother-in-law

2012-09-08 - Apple Cobbler Insides - 0015

Some women have a worry of turning into their mother, especially during stressful times. I have found through a quirk of fate that I think I’m turning into my mother-in-law instead!

She was a simple, though intelligent woman who died many years ago, a traditional homemaker who raised a large family in the 40s and 50s and never worked outside the home.

But as I review my current, semi-retired lifestyle, I find it remarkably similar to hers. For example: She rarely went out, except to the grocery store, the hairdresser and the bank. (Hand raised. Just got back from all three.) She had one good friend. (Hand raised).

She loved to cook Southern style, what we’d call today, whole foods, slow cooked: Home-made biscuits, fried chicken, apple cobbler, all made from scratch. Because I am mostly vegetarian and gluten sensitive, my style is different, but the same.

Right now I am cooking applesauce with apples from the frig, and I make my own almond milk, because many of the store-bought brands list sugar as the first ingredient! But I experiment–cooking beans in a slow cooker is the only way to go, and I have a chayote squash waiting for tomorrow’s supper. I notice I have shared her joy of discovery of a new recipe, the pleasure in the process and the pride in the final product. A nice feeling!

She was intensely interested in both her neighborhood and nature around her. She usually had a small vegetable garden and grew roses, even in the shortened growing season in Flagstaff. For me it’s the new covey of baby quail living under the Russian sage, and the pecans I harvested and shelled from our tree out back.

The fire that blackened Mt. Elden north of town was right at the top of her street. She felt the horror at that destruction much as I am living through the aftermath of the Slide Fire.

She loved afternoon TV and could quote you chapter and verse of the Phil Donohue show. For me it is books–I’ve currently embarked on an round-the-world cruise. Right now I am “in” Canada, and loving it!

But most of all, when I went to visit her, I loved the predictability. When I was in my thirties and forties, a full-time working woman, I’d rush to her house and let out a sigh of relief at her rhythm of life. The pineapple crocheted doily was always on the kitchen table, the same picture always hung over the couch, and the coffee (always Folgers) was brewing in the old Pyrex percolator that she’d had for decades.

I used to wonder, back then, what on earth she did with her day.

Now I know.

 

 

 

 

Enhanced by Zemanta