Mystery, Murder, Mayhem
Why would a mild-manner retired kindergarten teacher turn to murder and mayhem in her golden years? Maybe it’s because being an author has been a lifelong dream. But why, you may ask, would her chosen genre be such a violent one? Actually, in a cozy, most of the violence happens off stage, so to speak but there’s a more important reason: I love reading and writing cozy mysteries.
A writer has to be, first of all, a reader. It all began with Nancy Drew, many years ago. From The Secret of the Old Clock, I was hooked on mysteries. Then, of course came the popular television series, Murder, She Wrote. I just had to try my hand at writing a Jessica Fletcher type book.
A friend, Barbara Burgess and I came up with the idea of a mother and daughter sleuth team. Barbara and I both had supportive moms who were inspirations for our writing. We both had Cherokee ancestry. We were brought up in rural areas and writers are supposed to write about what they know, right? Throw in some legends, two women with a healthy dose of curiosity and a penchant for mystery, place them in a hundred-year old farmhouse in a small Oklahoma town. Stir in a romantic interest or two and that’s a recipe for our cozy mysteries. We named the younger sleuth Darcy and her mom, Flora. We named the town Levi.
We got to know Darcy and Flora. We liked sitting down and having coffee with them around the old wood dining table. We admired their courage and determination and empathized with their human failings. So, we couldn’t just leave them in Levi after The Cemetery Club’s rousing finish. That’s how the second book, Grave Shift came about.
After the first two books, we had some questions we wanted Darcy and Flora to answer, questions about their own family and happenings in the long ago past. Best Left Buried was the ultimate and natural result.
Every writer knows that writing is a way of life, a flame within that will not be quenched, a dream that keeps growing. So, after Darcy and Flora, I launched out into a new series with a new protagonist set in another small Oklahoma town. Moonlight Can Be Murder grew out of a lot of “What Ifs.” What if a slightly past middle aged woman came back to her hometown after forty years absence, found her uncle dying, inherited a Victorian house and stirred up an old hornet’s nest? Well, you can see that this premise could not be ignored.
With a mystery writer, there’s always another possibility just around the corner, a long ago legend, a mysterious disappearance, or a question without an answer. This retired kindergarten teacher doesn’t plan to rock gently into her sunset years. I plan to liven up life a bit and what better way than jumping headfirst into a mystery?
Blanche Day Manos is a retired kindergarten teacher who makes her home in Northwest Arkansas after being an almost-lifelong Oklahoman. When she isn’t busy cooking up the next round of murder and mayhem, she enjoys her grandchildren, painting, playing the piano, and, of course, that most relaxing pastime, reading.
The Darcy and Flora cozy mysteries are available at Pen-L.com, Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com. Her blog site is BlancheDayManos.com and she invites you to drop in for a visit.