Wednesday, February 4, 2009


When I was a freshman in high school, my best friend decided we should join the Drama Club. Being painfully shy (at the time, I wouldn't even answer the phone) it was torture for me to get up on that stage--as an extra--and learn the chorus parts of the musical OLIVER. I definitely did NOT have acting in my blood. And--thanks to a cast member telling my friend that she had NO acting talent just a week or so before the first performance--she decided that WE would QUIT. Boy, was I relieved.

Still, the world of props has always fascinated me. I use them in my writing. Either I have some tchotchke that inspires me, or I'll go out and find something I've written about.

Cocktail shaker
My husband collects barware. For years we scoured flea markets, antique shops and garage sales for vintage barware. Was that the reason I made Jeff Resnick a bartender or was that just a coincidence? I'm not sure anymore.

In the first Booktown Mystery, Tricia acquires a little gold scatter pin. A few years ago, I bought a box lot of jewelry for $15. At the time it seemed an exorbitant amount of money. In the end, I think I sold most of it for about $150 in my both at an antique co-op. Not a bad investment, but I kept the most valuable piece--the gold scatter pin, for myself. I've never worn it, because I tend to lose things far too easily, but it has sat on my computer keyboard for a couple of years. And every day I look at it and admire this lovely little pin and remember the history I wrote for it.

I've collected other things that have/or will some day appear in a book. In the third (so-far unpublished) Jeff Resnick mystery, Jeff learns about the paternal (Jewish) side of his family. For years I searched for just the right Menorah. It now sits on one of my bookshelves. Not that a Menorah is mentioned in the story--but once I
decided to write about Jeff's extended family (in the month of December), it became important for me to find that Menorah.

I suppose one of the most tangible things I've incorporated into my work is my cat, Cori. She's been dead for almost a decade now, but she came back to life for me--and lives on as Miss Marple, Tricia's cat in the Booktown Mysteries. I wish the cover artist would have contacted me before she did the wonderful painting for Murder Is Binding--I would've gladly sent her pictures of my beloved Cori-Belle. And yet, Miss Marple on the Bookmarked for Death cover is much prettier than the one on the first book--but she still isn't half as beautiful as my Cori.

If I gave it more thought, I'm sure I could come up with a lot more examples of things I've borrowed from my life to inject into my fiction. These pieces of flotsam and jetsam are pieces of me I embed into my work. For some reason, incorporating these things into my
fictional worlds make them more real to me--and hopefully to my readers, too.
By the way, today I'm guest blogging over on The Diva Dishes.