Inspire Me

We are excited to announce our book is now available for the Nook. Go to http://www.bn.com and search for “Maddi Davidson.” Paperback version available… “a very soon moment now.”

A friend asked one of us recently why we decided to do a series of mysteries instead of “just write a book.” The answer is one-third shameless self-promotion and two-thirds literal self-interest. The one-third self-promotion part came in when we were looking for an agent (before we decided to self publish). We’d read that proposing a series of books was more likely to engage an agent’s interest than a single book where, at best, you’d be a one hit wonder. But the most important reason we decided upon a series is because of a dream one of us had (a literal dream, not the “I have a dream” kind of dream). The dream, wacky as it was, led to us starting a second book, a humorous paranormal. (There is such a shortage of paranormals.) We were struggling with the second book when it occurred to us that we really liked – and “knew” – the characters in Outsourcing Murder so why didn’t we continue to write about them? We tabled the troubled book – it’s still sitting in pieces in a folder some place on a hard drive – and sketched out a second book about Emma Jones, and then a third. We suspect there will be more, which, of course, leads to new challenges like how to keep the stories fresh, and how to manage your characters’ development and aging. “Aging chronologically,” that is: Emma is nowhere near Botox and Juvederm but it’s available if she wants it, a couple of decades from now, if we are still writing about her. One of us is considering personal and in-depth market research in this critical aspect of character development…

Another question we are asked is whether our characters are based on real people (including “people of the fur persuasion”) and to what degree. First off, nobody is 100% based on anybody, even if our mother is a stickler for writing thank-you notes and using well grammar. Er, good grammar. Our father has been a university professor and administrator, though he was not a classics professor. Neither of us has been a student at Berkeley, where both of Emma’s parents teach, though one of us has taken a couple of extension classes there (in classics). Which is how she knows about the dreaded aorist infinitive. (And don’t get her started on Greek participles.)

Stacey, Emma’s best friend and sidekick, is loosely based on a character one of us has worked with, let’s call her “Jane.” The real Jane has been with her employer for eons and has a well-deserved reputation as a corporate “fixer.” When the company was smaller, you’d almost see people genuflect at the mention of her name, she was so well-known for unjamming almost any nasty problem you could imagine. One of us on a business trip got a brand new phone charger she badly needed hand delivered to her by a hotel concierge thanks to Jane, who really and truly rocks in the insta-fix department. The story about freeing electronic goods from officious French officials – as we noted in the book, “is there any other kind?” – is absolutely true. We are still not sure how Jane did it. Jane is uber competent, very nice and someone you’d want to have your back in a firefight because she’d have the right caliber ammunition no matter what heat you were packing. Just like Stacey.

Parts of our formative years were spent on a military installation, where we met many officers and their wives (now, of course, we say “officers and spouses”). Magda, Emma’s landlady, is a tribute to the many military wives we met, who have adapted to so many moves, seemingly effortlessly. (One of us moved five times in three years in the Navy and that’s not even that big a number of moves, nautically speaking.) We did, sadly, meet a number of military wives who had lost one or more husbands in wartime, as Magda did. Magda’s apartment is based on many houses we visited and enjoyed hospitality in: wonderful bibelots and mementoes from duty around the world, coupled with guerilla entertaining skills. (On one evening, both of us helped a Navy captain’s wife clean up after a dinner party. We counted sixty dinner plates before we stopped (counting, not washing).) Alas, some of the disrespect for the military we allude to in Outsourcing Murder – that inspires Magda’s protest march – was inspired by real attempts in San Francisco to kill junior ROTC.

The banter between Virgil and Emma is based on real conversations one of us has had with a cherished friend who, unfortunately, died before we finished the book. “Honey bunch” and “sweetie pie” seem so tame: nothing says, “I love you” like calling someone “eel enema.” (Or, “gopher guts,” “pus sac head,” “roach rectum,” all oldies but goodies.) (You’re llama lips. Nope, you are the llama lips!) A character in our second book, Harrison, is based on our beloved Kerry. Like Kerry, Harrison knows everybody in the surf lineup (and the coffee shop and the grocery store, etc.) and can wheedle a life story out of someone in five minutes or less. And, like Kerry, Harrison is a wonderful encourager and “coach.”

Magda’s pets – Edson and Chesty Puller – were inspired by real animals. Edson is inspired by a dear friend’s Maine Coon cats, who are so social, they are almost dogs. Chesty Puller, Magda’s dachshund, is a composite of several dachshunds we have known and loved. The tradition of naming pets after military heroes was borrowed from former next-door neighbors, who always named their dogs after Confederate war generals (e.g., “Beauregard,” a standard poodle, and “Stonewall Jackson,” a basset hound). We have both had dear friends who have been members of the US Marine Corps (there are, of course, no ex-Marines, only “former” Marines) and we honor them by naming Magda’s pets after a couple – but by no means the only couple – of brave, honored Marine heroes. There are so many to choose from. Uragh.

One of our favorite inspirations proves the old maxim, “living well is the best revenge.” In book two, we give a former boyfriend a bad comb over and have him arrested. He really did have it coming, hehehe, or should we say, “he had it combing?” (Now, this isn’t a threat, but be careful how your treat us, or your name, actions and or personality may appear in a later book. We will naturally deny any connection, but you’ll recognize yourself. Except for the zits, extra pounds, and “declining hairline” we add. Hehehe.)

As for Emma…let’s just say she reflects the trials and tribulations of many a twenty something. We only wish that at that age, we’d had Emma’s backbone to take on our fears, instead of hiding from them. To be like Emma is our aspiration and inspiration, even now.

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