When mystery author Meredith Cole penned her first novel, Posed for Murder, she had two puzzles to solve: 1) Introduce an engaging and likable amateur sleuth and 2) Tell a good story. With the critical success of Posed for Murder, Meredith did just that and now her second book, Dead in the Water — coming May 11, 2010 –, will continue with Lydia’s (mis)adventures.
In today’s guest post, the author explains how it all began as well as offers a few clues to where it’s going.
When I wrote my first book POSED FOR MURDER, I knew Lydia McKenzie was going to have her own series. Lydia is an interesting character, an artist and photographer struggling to build a career in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. She loves vintage clothes, music and spending time with her friends. In order to pay her rent and pay for her studio, she works as an administrative assistant to two private investigators.
Whether you like them or not, there’s no question that series dominate the mystery genre. It’s hard to come up with a good sleuth, and people don’t like to see them exit the stage when a book is done. Arthur Conan Doyle couldn’t kill off Sherlock Holmes: the public kept clamoring for more, even though he was sick of him.
That decision to make my book the start of a series gave me a couple of interesting challenges. As I wrote, I not only had to think about the arc of the book, but I also had to think about the arc of the series. Lydia couldn’t change too much in each book and become unrecognizable, but she also has to have room to grow. I don’t like characters that never evolve, but I had to give readers a character that also felt consistent.
The first book introduces Lydia, her private eye bosses the D’Angelos, the detective Daniel Romero and her best friend Georgia Rae. In the second book, DEAD IN THE WATER, Lydia has a boyfriend named Jack. A few readers have asked me about Romero and what’s going to happen with the two of them, so they may be disappointed when she dates someone else. But I wanted to see what Lydia was like in a relationship. She’s very independent, and I thought it would be interesting to see that side of her. I also gave her a cat, which presents its own challenges.
So far, I’ve tried to make each book a little different and show different aspects of Lydia. Both books reveal a lot about her art. In the first book, she’s photographing her friends and posing them as murder victims based on historic cases she’s researched. In the second, she’s photographing portraits of prostitutes. In both cases her art leads her into trouble and helps her solve the crime, so there’s a nice symmetry.
DEAD IN THE WATER comes out in a few weeks, and I’m hard at work finishing book #3. I won’t tell you whether she keeps the boyfriend or cat from book #2, but I will tell you that Lydia’s parents come for a visit in book #3. They’re traveling America in an RV, and they have a mystery in New York that they need to solve. I thought it would be intriguing to see what she was like with her family. Her parents have been lots of fun to write, and they’ve definitely helped me learn even more about Lydia. I hope readers will enjoy learning about her as much as I have.