Monday, January 2, 2012
The Men of Jungle Red
LUCY BURDETTE: No, this is not a post about our fantasy beefcake--because in fact we already have the men of our dreams. And we thought it would be fun to start the year off with a real bang--the inside scoop on what it's like to be married to a crime fiction writer. Take it away guys!
JOHN BRADY: My wife, LUCY BURDETTE, and the fellow members of her writers group are just this close to being taken in for police questioning. Only they don't seem to know it.
Not long ago I came downstairs while they were meeting. That's when I heard: "We have to do something with the body!" Then a male voice, "Maybe we could drag it down the driveway and put it in the trunk." To which a female responded: "No one is going to believe we carried the body that far. And wouldn't we leave DNA evidence all over the place?"
So far so good - I know I am married to a mystery writer. But as I told the group that night, what if they were meeting at Starbucks? Any self-respecting eavesdropper would surely call the police. Obviously, someone has been murdered and these conspirators are trying to cover it up.
Being married to a mystery writer, who also happens to be a psychologist, has its fun side too. If somebody really makes her mad--or me, she can kill them off in the next book.
Of course all this talk of murder does make me wonder from time to time. My wife has spent an awful lot of time consulting with toxicologists. Like I tell my friends, if I die unexpectedly, please insist on an autopsy...
JERRY TOUGER (Hallie Ephron's sweetheart): When I was beginning work on a voluminous physics textbook and wallowing in multiple revisions of chapters, my wife HALLIE EPHRON wasn't yet a mystery writer. So turnabout is fair play. Unfortunately, she always gives me her manuscript to catch errors and inconsistencies before its final edit, during which she almost invariably tweaks the endings. So her books have never ended for me the way they do for her readers.
Neither do television mysteries. Because she is so immersed in the craft of mystery writing, she usually sees the ending coming, and is none too inclined to keep it to herself.
BRUCE HARRIS: (Rosemary's guy) It's all been wonderful. I love that my wife writes mysteries. I like to watch her live in her imagination and then transfer it to the page. I marvel that she's written five novels in five years, when most people, including me, can't sustain a story beyond 2 pages.
I love that Rosemary reads mysteries - she doesn't just read them she consumes them. My mother read mysteries like that. She used to rent them from a little store in Brooklyn for a nickel a day. I love mystery readers. They have definitely helped keep books and bookstores alive (as a former publisher that means a lot to me.)
And I really love going to libraries and hearing my wife talk to people about writing and how she got started. I don't even mind being the chauffeur.
JONATHAN SHAPIRO (Hank's sweetheart): I haven't seen my wife for five years. Okay, that's really not true. It's more like seven years, starting from the time she first started writing mysteries. That's not really true either; sometimes it just feels that way. From the day she got the idea for the plot of Prime Time, Hank has been obsessed with doing all she can to fill with writing every waking hour (and apparently sleeping hour, too, since I often find her writing notes in the middle of the night that are undecipherable by the light of day). Even when we are together I often know from that distant look in her eyes that she is thinking of the next twist in the plot.
She used to cook. And I think she was good at it.
But, the truth be told, I love that Hank's success has made her so happy. And me, too. It rubs off. It has transformed our lives in a good way. For instance, in the past years I have dressed up as a vampire, an Oxford don, and Lord Peter Wimsey. My wife is the only person I know who could get me to wear a smoking jacket, a monocle, and fangs.
The times we are apart are amply made up for by the more interesting fabric of our lives together. As a criminal defense attorney, I get to advise her sleuths, Charlie McNally and Jane Ryland, on the complexities of criminal law and procedure. And I share in the triumph of the crime being solved and the book being published.
All I worry about is what I'll have to wear for next year's Crimebake.
And yeah, Bruce. The chauffeur thing.
BILL SANTO (Jan Brogan's husband): Aside from the obvious risk that your wife can bump you off in any number of clever undetectable ways with the gleeful participation of all her mystery writer friends, the most notable characteristic of a "mystery marriage" is the frequent discussion of completely fictitious people as if they actually exist. Getting lost in the fantasy of a good plot peopled with characters created from your mates imagination is better than any therapy session, and cheaper too!
JOHN QUIN-HARKIN (Rhys Bowen's Piece): Most of the time I enjoy Rhys's mystery writing (except when I get my head bitten off for attempting to communicate with her when she's working through a complicated plot point). I spent most of my life with an airline so I'd seen much of the world, but Rhys's writing has given me an opportunity to travel with her around the United States. When she started writing mysteries I suggested that we drive instead of fly around the United States to visit bookstores and I believe we've covered almost every state on several interesting coast-to-coast car trips. More recently I enjoyed accompanying her to New York when she was an Edgar nominee, to DC when she was toastmaster at Malice, and to Hawaii when she was guest of honor at Left Coast Crime.
As for getting involved with her work--I'm her final editor before the story goes off to her pubisher and we have several days of tension while i try to make her see things my way (I''m always right, of course and she's always stubborn).
We have been known to act out action scenes that didn't seem quite plausible to me. This has involved wrestling on the floor and raised eyebrows from our children.
Above all I'm delighted that she has been able to do what she wants to do all her life and is always busy and energetic.
RICK WILSON: (Deborah Crombie's husband) AKA the Technical Expert. Who does she ask when she wants to know how to fire a shotgun or a pistol? What a crime scene looks like? A fire scene? How to make a Molotov cocktail? Where a suspect would leave fingerprints? That would be me.
And Jonathon, I know that blank look all too well--that vacant stare just as I'm telling her something really important. She's talking to people in her head. Sometimes she does this out loud, but fortunately not too often in public.
I take care of the dogs and cats and the house when she goes gallivanting off to England to do RESEARCH.
I also design and administer her web page, but the most important thing I do is KEEP HER COMPUTER RUNNING.
Oh, did I mention that dinner is always late when she's writing?
LUCY: Aren't we the luckiest women in the world? aren't they charming and funny? (Most of the time, that is...) And wait, there's one you haven't heard from--Julia's amazing husband Ross. He got so excited by writing up his post, that we decided he should have his own day. So look for the men of Jungle Red, part two on Saturday.
And if you have any questions, ask away. I can't guarantee any of the guys will answer, but we probably will!