My fourth-in-series romance, Waking Up To Love, pits nerdy Kyle Pennington and luscious Lyssa Doughty against charismatic bad guy Rand Cunningham. This was my first experience with a villain, and I enjoyed exploring all the ways the ill-intentioned Rand could mess with the hero and heroine and their relationship.
As I wrote Kyle and Lyssa’s love story, it became apparent that the two of them have inquiring minds, albeit different styles. Kyle is relentlessly logical and is cleverer than any bully he might encounter. Lyssa tenaciously follows the money story and shamelessly flirts with villains and innocents alike. The two of them simply had to spin off a cozy mystery series with romance in every chapter. Now that Waking Up To Love is under consideration, I’m writing the first cozy.
Writing a cozy mystery, for me, is a very different process from writing a character-driven romance. As the author, I have to know, in depth, the backstory that led to the murder, while my characters know none of that at the start of the book. Their job is to ask the right questions and pursue their leads until they solve the who-done-it mystery. The process reminds me of the logic puzzles I loved so much in the middle grades. You remember: the man with the collie lives across from the widow in the house with the purple shutters; the vamp has three cats, and so on; whose pet bit the mailman?
In their first cozy mystery, when Kyle and Lyssa have to salvage their reputation in their new neighborhood after a shooting in their backyard, they turn their good-will tour into a fact-finding expedition. I dove right into that scene! However, at the end of the day, I had two completely different people living at number 52 Seneca Street and the same problem at number 59 Seneca Street. OMG! There was nothing for it but to sketch the street, add in the residents and their bits of knowledge, and re-route Kyle and Lyssa so the clues they collected added up correctly to new leads.
Good old-fashioned graph paper saved the day! Here’s my map:
I’m curious what techniques you use to keep things straight in your books, your series, or your more complex works? Hope you’ll share! –katie o’boyle