Saturday, September 12, 2015

A dozen reasons to love writing mysteries

I am delighted that this week's guest author is Victoria Abbott. So charming and delightful is Victoria that they couldn't fit all that awesomeness into one person, so two had to do!

First of all, there’s all the fun of engaging in a contest of wits with the reader.  We writers want to pull the wool over the readers’ eyes while playing fair, of course.  Strategic misdirection, it’s like a drug for us. The reader is determined to figure it out and we are equally determined not to let that happen.  Music to our ears, the words:  You really surprised me!

Then there’s the unmitigated joy of creating secondary characters (the sidekicks and walk-ons and love interests) some of whom are fun, moderately insane and many of whom cause things to blow up now and again. Explosions are a treat for those of us who a little too law-abiding in real life.  Kids: do not attempt this at home! 

Regardless of the writer’s personal issues with the numbers on the bathroom scale, writing a mystery, especially a cozy, allows that writer to feed her main character endless delicacies. In the book collector mysteries, we let our protagonist chow down on mountains of homemade Italian food and never gain an ounce. There’s lots of fun to be had with junk food too.  We can include whatever food descriptions suit our mood to lure the reader into this crazy world of ours.  Face it, we’re better together.  Poutine anyone?

Any foolish individual who upsets you in real life can be easily be transformed: a bad toupée for him, a fringe of hair on the upper lip for her, a different hair color for anyone, an irritating accent, a few other incidentals and, poof!  Our nemesis has been transformed into a suitable victim or villain.  So very satisfying and yet, they will never be aware. We can just keep that enigmatic and knowing little smile when we see them.

Then there’s the chance to explore some issue that interests us and call it work. Nudge wink. Say for instance you loved reading mysteries from the Golden Age of Detection and you were writing, hypothetically, the book collector mysteries which link to authors of The Golden Age, then you would be required to spend quite a bit of time curled up rereading the books you love and it would be all in the pursuit of business.   It’s a tough life, all right.

Have we mentioned the freedom of writing?  Unlike at home, if the building you are writing about gets cluttered or dusty, you can just burn it down.  That’s really quite liberating.

You can double the number of pets in your life without really having to walk them, feed them or pay the vet bills. The furry darlings are there to provide affection and lovely tactile elements to the story and also can serve to make sure your protagonist is less of a jerk, because he or she cares for them.

You can develop useful new skills: researching how to build a still, open a lock with a credit card or make a Molotov cocktail were recent favorites. Could come in handy in real life too.

A remarkable number of your activities, purchases and expenditures become tax deductible.  Others that you think should be, like your closet, your dress jackets and your powder room, strangely are not. 

You may have to go to jail. This may be your choice as in ‘great place for a promo shot’ and the police may remark that the ladies who end up in that cell don’t usually put their lipstick on first. Or it may be an unwanted close call if you’re, say, a Canadian getting a mood shot of the historic post office in a certain upstate New York town that is quite a lot like your fictional setting and security becomes more than a bit alarmed.  We dodged a bullet with that one. 

In our case you may get to write a mystery with your mother/daughter and live to tell the tale.  We’ve had a remarkably good time, set a few fictional fires and set off explosions, but neither one of us has stuck a mustache on the other one (so far!) or turned the writing partner into a villain or victim. But then again, how would we know?


That shadowy figure known as Victoria Abbott is actually a dangerous collaboration between artist and photographer Victoria Maffini and her mother Mary Jane, author of thirteen mysteries in three other series. The Marsh Madness was released on September 1 which means they have managed to stay alive during the writing of their four book collector mysteries: They expect that to continue during the completion of the fifth, The Hammett Hex, September 2016. When not writing, they can be found lurking mysteriously on the outskirts of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada’s capital. Most likely they will be surrounded by dogs, including Peachy the Pug.

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1 comment:

Nicole said...

You ladies are such a great
team! I just started The Marsh Madness and I'm really enjoying it! :-)