Writing mysteries by Marjorie Thelen
I write the kind of books I like to read. I read a lot of mysteries but many are straight plot. I like a little relationship with my mystery so I always have a female protagonist with a male love interest or partner-in-crime. And it is hard for me to be serious so there‘s a little humor thrown
Designer Detective, my latest mystery, will be out for e-readers December 1, 2012 on Amazon and other online retailers. This is a mystery I wrote to entertain my Australian friend, Bronwen Porter, who is an interior designer and who loved my first two mysteries, The Forty Column Castle and The Hieroglyphic Staircase. It was fun writing to entertain her because she likes the humor in my books. After she read an advance copy of Designer Detective, she said, “I love Fiona, but she’s not Australian. She’s American!” So Fiona Marlowe, the main character in the book, became Irish-American and seems to be just as happy.
I tell people I write beach books which are considered commercial fiction. They definitely are not literary fiction. I will not win a Pulitzer prize for my mysteries. They do not deliver any heavy messages. I write to entertain myself and, hopefully, my readers. The first two books are part of a series called Mystery-in-Exotic-Places. The first, The Forty Column Castle, was set on the island of Cyprus. The second, The Hieroglyphic Staircase, was set in Copan, Honduras. I’ve visited both places and knew they’d make a great setting for mystery and romance.
Designer Detective is set in MacLean in Northern Virginia, where I used to live. MacLean is one of the posh suburbs of Washington DC. Fiona Marlowe is interior designer to the rich and powerful and one day finds her wealthy old client, Albert Lodge, dead on the floor of his library. As the investigation unfolds, Fiona discovers she has detective talent, and her innate curiosity spurs her into sticking her nose where it does not belong. Albert’s eighty year old eccentric sister, Opal, arrives from her ranch in south eastern Oregon to settle the estate. She has talked her ranch hand, Jake Manyhorses, into the role of private investigator as she is convinced one of the numerous family members murdered Albert for his money. With Opal's encouragement Fiona joins Jake in the investigation as it spirals into the netherworld of betrayal, blackmail and smuggling, none of which Jake or Fiona bargained for when they said yes to helping Opal solve the mystery of Albert’s demise.
Here’s the first page from Designer Detective:
The private investigator introduced himself as Jake.
“I understand you’re an interior decorator,” he said.
“Designer. I don’t just decorate I design living space,” I said.
He cast his eyes around the room like maybe he didn't understand me right, like I'm glad you're not my interior designer.
“Okay, I know the place is a mess. I'm busy. I lead an active life. I travel a lot. But that’s not why you’re here.”
We sat on my beige leather couch. His knees didn't quite fit between the couch and the black lacquer coffee table, overloaded with books and empty coffee cups that hadn't made it to the dishwasher. He spread his legs wide in the way only a man can do. His thighs were big, and his Levis fit tight. I like the curve of a man's thigh so I sneaked a discreet glance when he wasn't looking. I didn't think he noticed.
“I understand you found the deceased when you went to his house this morning.”
“Yes. I have a key. I let myself in because he leaves for work before I arrive.”
“What time was that?”
“Then you arrived late in the morning.”
“Yes.” I smiled like it was normal to report to work after eleven in the morning. I am not an early riser.
“Did you notice anything out of the ordinary?”
I thought that one over and felt a need to explain. “I was in a rush this morning and got held up in traffic. When I arrived at the Lodge estate, parked in the drive, ran through the downpour, struggled with the key in a Byzantine lock, banged open the door and shook off, I was in a foul mood. Finding Albert Lodge on the floor of the library was the final nail in the coffin, you might say. I wasn't at my most observant.”
My writing space is where I live -- on a small ranch outside the frontier town of Burns, Oregon with a collection of critters, a retired husband, and endless volunteer opportunities. The big skies, wide open spaces and freezing winds are conducive to the writing life for me. My background is pretty eclectic. I have an undergraduate degree in Latin American studies and have traveled and lived in the region. I speak fluent Spanish and have studied Latin, Russian, French and Portuguese. I like languages as they are the key to understanding other cultures which have always fascinated me. For a while I had a career with the League of Women Voters working in their Latin American programs. Then I decided to go back to school and got an MBA in marketing and finance. That landed me a ten year career working in sales and marketing for Exxon Company USA. I changed careers again to marketing consulting for small businesses for a while then went on to financial management for a software firm then on to a non-profit where I was responsible for all the money going into and out of their Latin American programs. In the late eighties while going from career to career I started my first novel, a science fiction adventure. It wasn’t until ten years later and realizing that I wasn’t getting any younger that I started seriously writing with a daily goal. I finished an historical romance novel set in Galveston, Texas, two science fiction novels and after that it was mysteries. I tried for a long time to get published by the New York publishing gods, but when that didn’t work I became an indie publisher, am having a great time, and like the artistic control. If you like a good mystery, take a look at Designer Detective and my other mysteries. They’re like a vacation that'll take you places you'll want to go, or you can take them with you on vacation. You can learn more about Marjorie and her books at her website: www.marjoriethelen.com