Sunday, September 07, 2008

This Sunday's Guest Blogger: Mary Jane Maffini

It is my extreme, extreme pleasure to introduce the talented, vivacious and most excellent Mary Jane Maffini to you all. Anyone who has read any of her books knows how witty and well-written they are. If you haven't read a Maffini, than get out to a book store immediately! Welcome to Type M, MJ!


Ah September. For me it's always meant the start of the real new year and the traditional making of lists for school and family activities. That habit lingered long after my children fled the nest, screaming. I was working on this year's list when Rick Blechta kindly asked me to guest blog. I thought I'd share my top ten reasons to become a mystery writer. I'm glad I made that switch, and so I'll make the case.

The number one benefit? Revenge. If a stranger cuts you off on the highway, say, for the sake of argument some guy in a black Cadillac Escalade, you can get that road rage out of your system by sending him to a fiery finale and squashing his flashy vehicle. Okay, fictional, but very very satisfying. Plus, your acquaintances may start to think you're dangerous, which is lovely.

Then there are the people, some of them very strange, who move into your brain. I share headspace with Camilla MacPhee, a grouchy lawyer and victims' advocate, Fiona Silk, reluctant investigator and good drinking buddy, and Charlotte Adams, professional organizer and amateur sleuth. Once your own characters take up residence, you'll always have someone to talk to and you'll never have to drink alone. Not only that, but they'll lead you on many adventures that definitely get your heart rate up. If you're not staring down the muzzle of a gun, clinging by a fingernail to an escarpment or dodging falling beams to escape a blazing cabin, you're tied up in a dumpster listening to the sounds of the approaching garbage truck. You face the prospect of death so often you can probably give up cardio.

Don't overlook that your favourite reading can now become tax deductible. Fiction, because that's your trade. Non-fiction, if it's related information. I'm just saying. I offer my towering stack of organizing magazines and books as Exhibit A (thank you Charlotte Adams) In a related benefit the stock of booze I had to pick up to test the high octane recipes for Too Hot to Handle, the latest Fiona Silk was all for research.

You can keep it all in the family. Go ahead: write your dogs (or cats if applicable) into your books and make them work (non-speaking or detecting parts only). On the down side, my accountant said thumbs down to claiming the miniature dachshunds' raincoats as expenses on my taxes.

The comfort quota is high. You can go to work in your flannel jammies and bunny slippers if that's what you love. Or in your underwear, I suppose. Even … never mind, that doesn’t bear thinking about.

Speaking of perks, you also get the best coffee because you make it yourself and it's only twelve feet away from your desk and plays an important part of the daily procrastination process.

Now you'll be able to hold your doctor's attention by asking more interesting questions than the other run-of-the-mill patients. The inquiry about much morphine would it take to kill and old lady, for example, is a cut above 'What should I do about this stubborn wart, doc?'

Your friends might tour historic homes or spectacular gardens, but you'll get to see the holding cells in the police station, the inside the paddy wagon, and the stainless steel tables in the morgue. What's not to love?

In fact, you'll look at your town in a whole new way. Ottawa, for instance, has many wonderful opportunities for crimes: high rocky outcroppings (mmmm), two fast flowing rivers and a slippery ice-covered canal, and many high stone steps, to name just a few prime locations for bumping people off. Dibs!

You meet the nicest people. They're called readers. You never know when they'll turn up: at a bookstore, a workshop, a library event. Sometimes they pop into your email to give you a lift. For all of you readers, if you are at Bouchercon (the world mystery convention) in Baltimore, October 9 – 12, 2008, please come up and say hello. I expect to be in the bar with the rest of the gang.

Mary Jane Maffini is the author of the Camilla MacPhee series, the Fiona Silk mysteries and the Charlotte Adams books. She's also a reader. Drop in on her and her characters at


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Rick Blechta said...

Thank you, thank you "artstudio sri lanka" for adding your cogent comments to our little discussion. You know it's caring folks like you who make it SO worthwhile to conduct our little blog.

The only thing better would be some pithy words of encouragement from Sarah Palin on how we should make sure our stories contain enough guns at all times, preferably semi-automatic.

Donis Casey said...

Mary Jane, one of my reasons for writing fiction is that my main character, Alafair, has all kinds of virtues that I don't, so I can be wise and strong and sure of myself without having to actually put myself out.

Vicki Delany said...

Nicely put, MJ. I'm just back from a lovely weekend in the Finger Lakes, and I came home with more money that I left with! Another, but very rare, advantage of being a mystery writer.