**BREAKING NEWS!! HOORAY for Susan Elia MacNeal who hit the New York Times trade paperback bestseller list at #7 with MRS. ROOSEVELT'S CONFIDANTE! CONGRATULATIONS SUSAN!
Now, on to our blog for today...
LUCY BURDETTE: I know I shouldn’t read reviews, but I can’t help it. One thing that has stood out scanning these is the descriptor most often used for Hayley Snow (after dizzy in the debut book): loyal. Sure, loyal to the point of foolhardiness, but loyal all the same. She goes to extended lengths to support her pals and her family members and nose around looking for alternate answers if someone she loves is accused of something bad. It makes sense for the protagonist in a cozy mystery to have this quality, as she needs a reason to investigate a crime that would otherwise be none of her business. But I do love it when a reader says she wishes she had a friend like Hayley, someone who would step up and vouch for a friend in trouble. I aspire to be that kind of friend.
Reds, what has one of your characters taught you?
HALLIE EPHRON: Two characters in THERE WAS AN OLD WOMAN showed me how two women, one 92 years old and another 30-something, can develop a real friendship despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that they're not related. I've read too many books in which old woman are reduced to caricature or helpless victim and Mina is definitely neither. I hope I turn out to be as feisty and tenacious as she, and I hope, even in my final years, I continue to have friends decades younger than me.
LUCY BURDETTE: That’s so funny Hallie, because Hayley has an older woman (Miss Gloria) with whom she’s become friends and roommates. Readers love her. And they love the relationship between the two women.
JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: That's a wonderful sentiment, Hallie. I've noticed that the older people at my church who seem the most vital are the ones who are involved with and have friends of all ages. If it doesn't keep you young, it at least keeps you up to date with slang!
I think Clare Fergusson has given me a negative example. One of her most enduring traits is her impulsivity. She leaps into political positions. people's problems, volunteer jobs and crime scenes without stopping to ask herself, "Is this a good idea?" It's a terrific trait for an amateur sleuth - after all, she has to be drawn into investigations somehow - but in real life, it can lead to moments such as arriving in a romantic beach town and discovering there are no rooms to be had. And you forgot sun screen. And your bathing suit.
I used to be very impulsive myself, but as the years go by (faster for me than for Clare) I've learned the joys of pre-planning, scheduling, and buying tickets well ahead of time. Not to mention making reservations. Part of it is parenthood - it will be interesting to see, going forward, if Clare begins to stop and, as Russ says, "Measure twice and cut once," now they have a child.
RHYS BOWEN: I think both my main characters share my strong sense of justice although they are braver than me, more impulsive than me. Molly Murphy is most often described as feisty. Lady Georgie as delightful. So I wouldn't mind being both those things, Especially Molly, taking on assignments in an era when women were supposed to be helpless and stay home, when she was hampered by skirts and petticoats and yet kept up with men in a man's world. She should remind me that nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it. And Georgie? That it doesn't hurt to have royal connections.
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: True, Rhys! But commoner Jane Ryland is--more confident than I am. She talks back to power, stands her ground. Isn't afraid to do the right thing--often to her employment peril! I got an email the other day from a worried reader, asking me to make sure Jane stopped quitting, or getting fired over her ethics. She was worried Jane's unemployment benefits would run out!
When I was Jane's age, I put off having children and family because I was focused on my career. Though I have ZERO regrets, Jane, now in the same situation, is showing me, again, what a very tough call that can be.
Jane's often described as determined and honorable, and I get that a lot, too. But we're different in that Jane doesn't feel she has to please everyone all the time. I sometimes ask myself--Do I really need to say yes again? Or can I stand my ground and say no? I think-what would Jane do? And then I burst out laughing.
SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: Wow, this is a tough question. I feel I've learned a lot from Winston Churchill — not that he's perfect, or even close to it — but his sense of honor, duty, justice, and doing the right thing are inspiring. (We won't discuss Churchill and India here, ahem.)
I also love Churchill's sense of humor. And his perseverance. His love of language. His tenacity. And his willingness to speak out when it's not popular and it seems as though no one is listening. I'm continuing to learn from him (and also his mistakes) as I write the Maggie Hope series.
DEBORAH CROMBIE: So interesting, Lucy. What I'm reading in the others' responses, and what I'm thinking about, is that we seem
to write characters that we aspire to be. When I was writing A FINER END, an older woman named Erika Rosenthal popped up, one of those convenient secondaries who come along to move things forward for our primary characters. But Erika had her own story to tell, and later her own book, WHERE MEMORIES LIE. She survived leaving her country and losing her family during WWII, she lost her husband and then the love of her life, and yet she made a good life for herself in London, her adopted home. I love that she's developed a deep friendship with much younger Gemma, and especially that she continues to encourage and inspire Duncan's son Kit, who has also suffered great loss. I'd like to thing I'd be half as brave and compassionate as Erika.
Red readers, can you think of a character who's taught you something important or even become a role model?