Keeping Things Real

My upcoming release, #6 in my Southern California mysteries – MURDEROUS MEANS, hints of the supernatural and things that go bump in the night. 

The story takes place in a small Western style town in Southern California, halfway between Santa Barbara and Los Angeles. Have you heard of Los Ranchos? Probably not. It’s an imaginary setting in the Malibu canyon area. 

The idea seed was planted after I read an article about clairvoyants and mediums. I even included a séance scene, which nearly sends heroine Corrie Locke reeling away into the night, leaving the case in her wake. Do you believe in ghosts and otherworldly happenings? Corrie doesn’t. Or does she? 

Murderous Means was the first novel I didn’t write completely by the seat of my pants. The beginning and middle were mapped out, but not the ending. Name gathering helped my idea seeds germinate.

The past few years, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many wonderful people. One encounter introduced me to a name I’d not heard before; one that lit my imagination: Gifty. I met the real Gifty briefly in a virtual meeting. Her voice was low and melodious. Her manner was gentle. As I researched the origin of her name, Gifty, the character, jumped right into my novel. Meanwhile, I visited one of my favorite book stores and chatted with the lovely manager. She had another unforgettable name. Very James Bond-girlish: Heidi Honeyman. With the real Heidi’s permission, her name ended up in my novel. Then I met Caleb Wiseblood, a talented journalist. Guess where his name ended up? 

When I’m conjuring up characters, the right name helps me create a clear picture of each one in my head; the sounds of their voices, their physical appearances, how their minds work, how they dress, and so on. If they’re real to me, they will be to my readers, as well. Even after a book is done, my secondary characters stick around for a while, until I start the next novel. I kind of liked the company of the Murderous Means bunch, but we’ll be saying goodbye soon, as I hunt down names for my next cast of characters.


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