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Tuesday, 27 August 2013

I Am Not a Mystery Novel Heroine

New York Times Bestselling Author Gemma Halliday talks about her High Heels Mystery Series, coming soon to the Indian market...


Like most authors, I write about what I know. I'm a pretty fun-loving person who generally tries to see the humor in life. I'm also a crime show addict, and love anything having to do with forensics and crime solving.  So, it should come as no surprise that I turned to writing humor-laced murder mysteries. I set my High Heels Mysteries in places where I've lived myself, and I'll admit that the heroine of that series, Maddie Springer, is very much like myself. However, I did have one incident that proved to me just where the writer ended and the character started. 

I was dating at the time, and was contacted by a guy through an online service. He was a mixed martial arts fighter – which sounded interesting, so I agreed to meet him for a check-you-out coffee. Turns out, he was interesting. And kinda hot too, which made for a great combo. We did coffee again later that week, and again that weekend, and it seemed like we were really clicking. So when he asked me out for dinner the following week, I was psyched. I agreed to meet him at his house at seven that Friday.

Friday comes, and I get to his place exactly at seven and knock on the door. Nothing. I ring the bell. I wait.  And wait. Finally his roommate answers, lets me in, then promptly leaves. So, left alone, I go down the hall to Fight Boy’s room. The door is open, so I push my way in with a, “Hello?  Anyone home?”  The TV is on, but he’s not there. I decide to sit down and wait, figuring he's just in the shower or something. 

A few minutes go by. No sign of him. I’m feeling a little odd hanging out in his bedroom like this. I mean, I don’t know him that well. So, I get up, kinda peek around the rest of the house. He's not in the kitchen, living room, bathroom, or backyard. Hmm. Odd. 

I go back to his bedroom and wait a few more minutes. He still doesn't show. And it's getting late now. So that’s when I really start checking out his stuff. Investigating, if you will. His keys are on the nightstand, so is his cell phone.  He wouldn't leave the house without those, right?  So he must be someone nearby or on foot.  I try texting him, just to make sure that’s his phone on the nightstand. Yep, my text (“I’m here. Where R U?”) shows up on the screen. So his stuff is here, but where the heck is he?

And that’s when things go from odd into mystery novel territory.

I hear a noise. It’s coming from the closet and sounds like a sort of something-shifting sound. I look up.  And I swear on my life, a body part falls out. 

A.  Body.  Part. 

It looks like someone's knee. Or elbow. Definitely covered in flesh, definitely not moving. I freeze. Has someone been in the closet watching me this whole time? I get up and walk out of the room, totally casual-like, pretending I didn't see anything. I'm thinking either a) he's been sitting here watching me from his closet (creepy!), or b) he was doing something totally embarrassing when I walked in and has been hiding in his closet this whole time (double creepy!) or c) there's a dead body in there (beyond creepy!) 

I wait in the kitchen, letting my pulse return to normal and giving anyone hiding in there a chance to get out and slink away seemingly unnoticed. I contemplate leaving… but my purse is still in the bedroom. I take a few deep breaths, then slowly go back in his room. 

Yup, the knee is still there. Definitely human. Sticking out of the closet. Not moving at all.

This is the moment when Maddie Springer would have peeked into the closet, found out who the knee was attached to, why they were there, and if they were, in fact, dead or alive. 

Me? I grab my purse and bolt. Hit the front door, run to my car, lock the doors, peel out of there so fast my tires squeal, and drive straight home.

I know. I’m a total chicken. It’s a hard thing to admit when I've spent my life writing about brave kick-butt chicks who laugh in the face of dead bodies. Me? I was lucky I didn't pee my pants. 

Needless to say, that was the end of Fight Boy and me. Though I did hear from him afterward (which was a good thing, because I was feeling just the teeniest bit guilty about leaving my date possibly dead in his own closet), I never did find out where he was or whose body that was. I’ll be honest, I didn't ask too many questions. There are some situations where it pays to be blissfully ignorant of the facts. All I know is he beats people up for a living, and someone’s body was in his closet. Best case scenario: they were passed out. Worst case: my fingerprints are now all over a crime scene. 

So, as much as I hate to say it, I would never make it as a mystery novel heroine. I’m going to have to settle for writing about my much braver, much more fictional counterparts, like Maddie. Truth may be stranger than fiction, but fiction is so much safer.        


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