Wisdom of the (Mixed) Ages: Linda Lovely

Edith here, trying not to get whiplash from how fast and how extreme our weather has been changing. I’m happy to welcome author Linda Lovely back to the blog. She has a new book out today that looks like a lot of fun! Here’s the blurb:

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It’s been seven months since vegan Brie Hooker moved to Udderly Kidding Dairy to live with her feisty Aunt Eva, a confirmed carnivore. But tonight there’ll be no family feud over dinner entrees. Udderly’s hosting a campaign fundraiser for Eva’s best friend, who hopes to be South Carolina’s next governor. The candidate’s son, a pro quarterback, is flying home for the wingding. And Brie’s eager to get a close-up view of the cute tush she’s admired on TV, even though she’s reluctantly sworn off even more tempting local beefcake.

The campaign fundraiser promises to be a huge success until a pitchfork attack turns the goat farm into a crime scene—again. To protect her friends, Brie puts her sleuthing skills to work. Will she live long enough to find out who’s behind a vicious assault, a kidnapping, blackmail, and multiple murders?

Take it away, Linda.

How often do you spend a full twenty-four hours having no interaction with people younger or older than yourself?

The answer is probably seldom unless you’re a hermit or an author on deadline, who doesn’t find time to interact with soap and water either.

From birth through teen-hood, even the kids who have their eyes glued to electronic screens for hours at a time must deal with parents, grandparents, teachers, doctors, babysitters, and store clerks.

Likewise nursing home residents may be surrounded by other oldsters, but they still come in contact with younger medical orderlies, nurses, doctors, and, if they’re lucky, visiting family members.

Those of us in the middle typically spend some time every day with younger and older people. Out in the real world generations mix, which is one of the best arguments for populating a mystery with a cast of characters outside the hero’s or heroine’s age range. It makes the novel’s world more credible.

But there are even better reasons for giving face/page time to individuals of differing ages. These include divergent viewpoints shaped by generational life experiences and unique knowledge and skill sets that can be tapped to solve a mystery. And don’t overlook how choosing main characters of mixed ages opens up possibilities for conflict and laughs.

Among my favorites in the “Die Hard” film franchise is Live Free or Die Hard. This film pairs a crusty veteran detective (Bruce Willis) with a twenty-something computer hacker (Justin Long). The combination accomplishes all of the objectives just mentioned as the two team up to stop a digital-based “fire sale” aimed at crippling America’s transportation, communication, financial and utility networks. The plot would never have worked had screenwriters tried to pull it off with either main character acting solo. The detective was a digital simpleton, while the hacker’s skills would have been worthless without the detective’s policing knowhow.

I’m currently re-reading Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, the first of Alan Bradley’s delightful English mystery series set in 1950s Britain for a mystery book club. The series features Flavia, a precocious 11-year-old girl, who keeps her loneliness at bay with her passion for chemistry. She has two older sisters (late teens) with quite different interests and outlooks. But the clever plot has her interacting primarily with adults from relatively young to over ninety. Humor’s derived from her view of the world and also from adult assumptions that tend to dismiss Flavia’s capabilities due to her age.

In my new humorous cozy Brie Hooker Mystery series, I’ve yet to feature a main character as young as Flavia. (Not sure my childhood memories are anywhere near accurate.) But I did intentionally make certain that Brie, my early thirties heroine, has plenty of give and take with the older generation. Brie, a vegan, lives with her Aunt Eva, a sixty-two-year-old carnivore, on a goat dairy farm, and Brie’s parents, a lawyer and a professor in their fifties, live a few miles away. Since I’m closer in age to Brie’s aunt than Brie my casting motivation may, in part, been a desire to give older folks a voice in the series. But my main reason was to offer the reader a more textured world with greater variety. Like the world most of us live in.

Readers: What’s the age range of the people you hang out with?

LindaHeadshotOver the past five years, hundreds of mystery/thriller writers have met Linda Lovely at check-in for the annual Writers’ Police Academy, which she helps organize. Lovely finds writing pure fiction isn’t a huge stretch given the years she’s spent penning PR and ad copy. She writes a blend of mystery and humor, chuckling as she plots to “disappear” the types of characters who most annoy her.  PICKED OFF is the second humorous installment in her new Brie Hooker Mystery series. Lovely is active in Sisters in Crime and belongs to International Thriller Writers and Romance Writers of America.


Guest Linda Lovely

Edith here, writing from north of Boston, where fall has finally hit. Our guest today is the multi-published Linda Lovely.  Bones to Pick, the first mystery in herFINALBonesToPickfrontCover new Brie Hooker Mysteries series, releases in a few weeks! To celebrate, she’ll give away a signed ARC now or an ebook after the book comes out to one commenter here today. Take it away, Linda.

Wicked Research for Wicked Villains

This blog’s Wicked Cozy Authors title echoes my belief that the best cozy mysteries have plenty of wicked seasoning. Just because a novel eschews profanity, graphic violence and sex doesn’t mean the heroine (or hero) won’t confront a multitude of deadly dangers engineered by wicked, ingenious villains

A mystery’s heroine is most memorable—and heroic—when she faces scary villains. This requires some wicked research. The Writers’ Police Academy (WPA), held each August at a real police academy, offers hands-on experiences that writers can use to create haunting villains and plausible plots. WPA instructors are the same ones who train police in everything from firearms and non-lethal weapons to drones and crime scene investigation. Outside experts also explore subjects like bioweapons, forensic psychology, gangs, and private investigation techniques.

Full disclosure: I’m a five-year member of the Writers’ Police Academy (WPA) “family.” I handle registrations, coordinate the Golden Donut Short Story contest, and help with varied organizational details. I volunteer because the program affords me—and fellow crime writers—invaluable opportunities to pick the brains of experts and get the details right.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESOver the years, the WPA has given me the chance to fire a Glock and an AR-15…feel the tension of making a split-second, shoot-don’t-shoot decision…learn to free myself from a larger assailant…ride in an ambulance with a paramedic…handcuff a suspect…join a SWAT team in clearing a building…wear a duty belt…swing a baton. And the list goes on.

Once I’m home, these experiences weave their way into my cozy mysteries. In Bones To Pick, the first novel in my Brie Hooker Mystery series, Brie’s recall of her dad’s story about gangbangers hiding  weapons saves her life. (Though Brie’s dad is a horticultural professor, he’s also an aspiring crime novelist who attends the WPA each summer.)

In the second Brie Hooker Mystery, which I recently turned into my editor at Henery Press, the heroine flies a drone to gain key information. While Brie doesn’t pack heat, the villains she faces do. So I tap weapons’ knowledge gained at WPA to describe their firearms. Insights into police procedures, CSI techniques, autopsies, poisons and criminal proceedings also figure in how Brie interacts with law enforcement and the legal system.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

In the real world, amateur sleuths seldom prove the innocence of a loved one, solve a cold murder case, uncover fraud, or thwart a radical group’s attempt to rig an election. However, authors can make any of these plots more plausible by weaving in accurate criminal behavior and crime-fighting details.

Writers who can’t attend a WPA can look to information sources in their own backyards Options include ride-alongs with local police and online and in-person programs hosted by Sisters in Crime. Speakers at my Upstate South Carolina SinC chapter’s meetings have included K-9 officers, DAs, judges, detectives, US Marshalls, FBI agents, crime scene investigators, ATF officers, paramedics, bank fraud investigators, and even psychics.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe best part? I’ve yet to meet an expert who wasn’t willing to answer my questions. I’ve gained insights into experiences well outside my day-to-day existence. It’s also allowed me to make friends with people from many walks of life. Yes, research improves books, but it also enriches the researcher’s life.

Linda Lovely finds writing pure fiction isn’t a huge stretch given the years she’s spent penning PR and advertising copy. Her blend of mystery and humor lets her chuckle as she plots to “disappear” the types of characters who most annoy her. Quite satisfying plus there’s no need to pester relatives for bail. Her new Brie Hooker Mystery series offers good-natured salutes to both her vegan family doctor and her cheese-addicted kin. While her new series may be cozy, she weaves in plenty of adrenaline-packed scenes to keep readers flipping pages. LindaHeadshot

She served as president of her local Sisters in Crime chapter for five years and also belongs to International Thriller Writers and Romance Writers of America. She’s the award-winning author of five prior mystery/suspense/thriller novels. To learn more, visit her website: www.lindalovely.com  

Readers: Which expert has helped you in some area of your life? Writers: Who is the quirkiest expert you’ve called on in the name of research? Remember, she’s giving away a signed ARC now or an ebook after the book comes out to one commenter here today.