HANK: Darlene Ryan is so happy for Sofie Kelly! Because they are the same person. And Sofie just made the New York Times Bestseller list.
Let's give her a Jungle Red whoo hoo!
I asked Sofie/Darlene about the moment she got "the call" saying she'd made the list--she said "I'd been working on a new painting technique when my agent called, so there I was splattered with three colors of paint, gel medium and specks of newsprint. I looked about as far from a New York Times best-selling author as someone can get!"
Whatever that looks like. (Some of you? Look in the mirror.)
But Darlene is always on the lookout for mystery fodder--which makes her perfect for
True Crime Tuesday
Hit and Run
by Darlene Ryan
I doubt you’ve ever heard of Alan McLean. In fact, most people here in the city where he lived, wouldn’t recognize the name.
Alan McLean was a university professor and father to five children. In the early hours of January 8, 1994 he was walking home from a party. He was wearing dark clothing, walking with the traffic, and it had been snowing.
Alan McLean died on the side of the road that runs along the river to the downtown. Witnesses who arrived shortly after the accident said they saw a white truck stopped a short distance ahead. As they stopped, it drove away.
Police looked for evidence, interviewed witnesses, contacted local body shops. In the days after Alan McLean’s death, they were on every local newscast urging the hit and run driver to come forward. He or she didn’t.
Fairly quickly the hit and run death of the university professor wasn’t news anymore. I didn’t know Alan McLean, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the accident. Maybe it was because I’d walked that same stretch of road several times and driven it many more. There was speculation that the driver had been drinking and that’s why he (or she) had bolted. Maybe that was why the story burrowed into my brain. One of my favorite people died because of a drunk driver.
Whatever the reason, the case stayed in the back of my mind. I wondered what it was like for the driver that hit Alan Mclean. Did he put the accident out of his head or was there always a frisson of fear that someone, somewhere would put all the pieces together? Did the accident change the driver? Did it turn him into a better human being? Or were the changes darker, more destructive?
A few months ago, an idea for a book began turning in my mind, a book that’s darker than the series of books I’m currently writing. And yes, there’s an unsolved hit and run in the story. No, the victim isn’t a professor, it’s not a snowy night in January, there isn’t even a white truck. But I can see the influence of the hit and run case from all those years ago on my story. I’d always wanted the real story to have an ending, and in a way that’s what I was doing, even though all it was a fictional one.
And then—because sometimes, real life is weirder than fiction—a friend of mine who’s a reporter wrote in an email, “Do you remember that hit and run accident years ago where the professor was killed?”
Yes, I remembered, and at last, I got an ending of sorts. Police had worked that case for several years, I learned. They’d had evidence. They’d had a suspect. The problem was, that suspect was dead.
It wasn’t the kind of ending I was looking for. The story I’m writing has a very different one. And in truth, that’s one of the reasons why I write books, because I get to control the ending and supply all the answers. Real life isn’t nearly as simple.
HANK: So fascinating, Darlene/Sofie. "Real life isn't nearly as simple." That actually stopped me for a second. I guess because I'm trying to write an ending--and right now it seems like the most difficult thing of the planet.
**So, Reds, do you have trouble with endings? What drives you crazy in an ending?
Bio: Darlene Ryan is the author of four award-winning teen novels, a memoir and a children's picture book. Her alter ego, Sofie Kelly, is the author of the new Magical Cats mysteries from Obsidian. The first book, Curiosity Thrilled the Cat is out now.
ABOUT CURIOSITY: When librarian Kathleen Paulson moved to Mayville Heights, Minnesota, she had no idea that two strays would nuzzle their way into her life. Owen is a tabby with a catn
ip addiction and Hercules is a stocky tuxedo cat who shares Kathleen’s fondness for Barry Manilow.
When murder interrupts Mayville’s summer music festival, Kathleen finds herself the prime suspect. More stunning is her realization that Owen and Hercules are magical—and she needs their skills to catch a killer.