My latest novel MURDER IMPOSSIBLE is now as they say in French, un fait accompli—a done deal. I can now hold this book in my hand. It is a tangible thing. It is the other side of the rainbow of the expression “I’m going to write a book.” I must say, as any author would, that to hold the finished product in your hand is almost similar to holding your new son or daughter. This product of your making will now have to go out into the world and make a name for itself.
But how did this book come about? Did I just one day wake up and say that I was going to write a book about a blind assassin and then jump both feet right into its creation? No, that is not how MURDER IMPOSSIBLE was conceived. It took a lot of topsy turvey doings to see this thought go from an intangible to a tangible.
It all began 46 years ago. I was recovering from a broken kneecap. A pin had been put in and I was in a cast up to my hip. I was for the most part bed-ridden and then once the cast was off had to be in a wheelchair, then crutches, then a cane. Mobility had become something I dreamed about once again having one day. I was about to go nuts for something to do. I was at the time teaching high school Spanish but did not get to start the school year and was told I would be lucky if I could go back to my job in five months. What to do to kill time?
I took a cue from Margaret Mitchell, the author of GONE WITH THE WIND. She was laid up from an accident and her husband who was tired of bringing books back and forth from the Atlanta library for her suggested that she write her own book. So I decided that’s what I would do too. I would write a book. About what, I thought? Up to that point I had at best written a couple of plays and several short stories that had gone nowhere. What did I know about writing a book?
I was a schoolteacher (Spanish) so I figured I should write something about a high school. I decided to make my main character a female teacher because that way I could be more flighty and loosey goosey. If I wrote about a man teacher, it would have to be sports and the like because in the year 1968 men had had no liberation of their feminine side. It was all beer, belching, scratching your junk and who was going to win the football game. So a woman it was to be and she had to have a name. I wanted it to be a little unusual so I used “Olivia” which was an old maid who worked at the railroad with my father. My character’s last name “Haines” arrived due to the underwear I was wearing.
Okay, I had my leading character. So what was her problem? I decided to have her teaching English lit and being a bit old maidish—only because at that time the only alternative would be the “domesticated life of Olivia Haines.” This meant she would have had to be the social equivalent of our burping male—meaning a steel magnolia of some kind. So what was her problem? Obviously it was acceptance and trying to fit in, which she never did. The name I gave to my opus was “Teddy Bears Get Tired.”
I worked on this every day and it became a fantastic time killer. The project carried me from bed ridden to finally getting back into my classroom—five months to be exact.
Then I tried to peddle my book and that lasted actively for at least a couple of years. I did manage to get an agent to handle it but I had to pay her, which I didn’t realize was not the way it was done. She was a good soul and did let me know I could write but that what I had written wasn’t exactly the “great American novel.”
Teddy went into deep retirement after two years or so but followed me in all my different abodes world wide. Then three years ago, after all my years as a screenplay writer and with three books published, I unearthed Olivia and wondered if the old gal might have a life after all. I re-read Teddy and saw what that woman agent was talking about—the writing was okay but the plot was hardly enough to work up any enthusiasm. So, I decided to give Olivia a ride in the park and outfit her with a new plot—this time a murder mystery where one of her students, a sociopath, was out to kill her. Olivia came alive in my book TEDDY BEAR MURDERS.
After it was published, I was surprised to find out how many people loved and read murder mysteries.. Many people requested a sequel to more of Olivia’s adventures. I came up with a new plot for our girl and sent her out into the world again in the just released this past week MURDER IMPOSSIBLE.
There you have the anatomy of Olivia and her two books TEDDY BEAR MURDERS and the now on the market MURDER IMPOSSIBLE. Olivia and I would be deeply appreciative if you’d pick up either or both and give them a read. We’d love to have you with us on Olivia’s new ride through the park.
Occasionally it takes a long time for an idea to see itself become fully developed, but Olivia is a perfect example. Ideas don’t die. They just lay in waiting.