Lauren Carr is the best-selling author of the Mac Faraday Mysteries, which takes place in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. A Wedding and a Killing is the eight installment in the Mac Faraday Mystery series.
In addition to her series set on Deep Creek Lake, Lauren Carr has also written the Lovers in Crime Mysteries, which features prosecutor Joshua Thornton with homicide detective Cameron Gates, who were introduced in Shades of Murder, the third book in the Mac Faraday Mysteries. They also make an appearance in The Lady Who Cried Murder.
Lauren launched the Lovers in Crime (first introduced in Shades of Murder) mystery series in September 2012 with Dead on Ice. Real Murder is the second installment in this series.
The owner of Acorn Book Services, Lauren is also a publishing manager, consultant, editor, cover and layout designer, and marketing agent for independent authors. This year, several books, over a variety of genre, written by independent authors will be released through the management of Acorn Book Services, which is currently accepting submissions. Visit Acorn Book Services website for more information.
Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She also passes on what she has learned in her years of writing and publishing by conducting workshops and teaching in community education classes.
She lives with her husband, son, and three dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.
Visit Lauren’s websites and blog at:
Websites: http://acornbookservices.com/ // http://mysterylady.net/
Blog: Literary Wealth
Facebook // Gnarly’s Facebook Page
Lovers in Crime Facebook Page // Acorn Book Services Facebook Page
You Can’t Always Judge an Author by Her Characters
Recently, I was delighted when a friend of mine, who is admittedly not a reader, finally broke down and read A Wedding and a Killing. Yes, it is my twelfth book and it took her that long, but we won’t mention that.
Of course, she wanted to discuss the various characters and what I was thinking when I wrote certain sections of the book.
In talking about Carmine, a jolly good-natured fellow and trustee of the church in which the murder had been committed, she brought up an interview with the police in which he declared, “… so then we’ll all end up in hell for an eternity with all the stupid atheists … After five minutes of saying ‘I told you so,’ then what are we going to do? Do you know how long an eternity is? It’s a long time.”
With a cringe, she said, “That was pretty strong language, don’t you think? It didn’t sound like you.”
“Yes,” I agreed, “but that’s what Carmine said.”
After a moment, a slow grin crossed her face. “Yes, Carmine would say that.”
She got it—even though she’s not a reader herself. Maybe all those years of knowing me, some of my long winded rants about my characters taking over scenes in books had gotten through to her.
Unfortunately, some readers do fail to realize that usually things that come out of a character’s mouth do not accurately reflect the writer’s own thoughts, feelings, personality, or even beliefs.
That’s because serious authors, good writers, make it about the story, the book, not themselves. Admittedly, there are some writers who use their books as soapboxes, but most of us only want to spin a good story. The best ones include intriguing characters from all walks of life and each one has a different personality—sometimes in direct contrast to that of the author.
Some well-loved fictional protagonists have actually been hated by the very writers who had brought them to life. For example, Agatha Christie grew to despise Hercule Poirot, the detective who made her world famous. Forty years after creating him, she had been quoted as calling Poirot a “detestable, bombastic, tiresome, ego-centric little creep.”
Therefore, would it be reasonable for readers to assume that Hercule Poirot accurately reflected Agatha Christie’s own personality?
A handful of readers were outraged because a scene in my latest Mac Faraday Mystery, A Wedding and a Killing, included the murder of a homosexual couple. In their rush to judgment, some readers assumed that since I allowed two men engaged in homosexual sex to die violent deaths in my book that I, myself, am homophobic and was in some way acting out my hatred toward homosexuals.
What if, instead of a homosexual couple, it was a heterosexual couple murdered in A Wedding and a Killing? Would these same readers accuse me of heterophobia? Would they label heterophobic every mystery author who has offed a heterosexual? That would make well over ninety-five percent of murder mystery writers hateful toward heterosexuals. Seriously?
In my upcoming book, Three Days to Forever, I introduce a new positive character who is a vegan. He doesn’t eat meat (though he does eat fish and seafood), diary, or processed foods. Does that mean I personally don’t like people who eat animals?
Exactly, what can readers of my books gather about my personality, fears, beliefs, and prejudices based on my characters?
In Real Murder, the murder victim was an elderly woman who turned out to be a retired madam. This character was portrayed as a very sweet woman—she was a positive character. Therefore, I guess readers can assume that I approve of madams and believe prostitution should be legalized.
Dead on Ice includes a scene in which two elderly church ladies get into a brawl in the sanctuary. In A Wedding and a Killing, Police Chief David O’Callaghan recounts to Mac Faraday about being head-slapped by a church lady when he was a child. That was a true incident that happened to me! I guess readers can conclude that I really hate church ladies. (Not true. I am one myself.)
A reader once accused me of being prejudiced against fat people because one of the victims in It’s Murder, My Son was obese. Yet, I killed eight people in It’s Murder, My Son. One was obese. So-oo, taking into account all of the other murder victims in my books who did not have weight problems, is it safe for readers to conclude that I am bigoted against thin people?
In The Lady Who Cried Murder, readers get a closer look at Catherine Fleming, the wife of Garrett County prosecutor Ben Fleming. We learn that Catherine had come from a political powerful family and background, as did her husband—from the opposite political party. Who belongs to what party is not identified.
Readers also meet a villain, who is a corrupt senator backed by Catherine’s party. Yes, he is a white male who believes he is above the law. Therefore, I must believe all rich white males are corrupt. Wait a minute! My protagonist, Mac Faraday is a rich white male and he’s a good guy!
Catherine Fleming becomes a senator and is presented as a positive character. Therefore, based on that, readers can conclude that I am a feminist who believes that women make better politicians than men.
If that’s true, then why in A Wedding and a Killing do I have a “ditzy” blonde announce that she is running for the town council because “any idiot can get elected to office?” Surely, Catherine Fleming is not portrayed as an idiot, is she? Why would I say that? I didn’t say that. Marilyn did.
In A Wedding and a Killing, Edna, another positive female character and single mother, turns down a full time position that offers much more money and benefits because the job would take time away from her daughters.
Maybe I don’t believe women should have a job outside the home? But Catherine works outside the home in a demanding and important job that often takes her away from her husband. Two positive women who make two opposite career choices? Isn’t that a contradiction on my part since I’ve created both of these characters?
Yes, it is a contradiction. For me, it’s all about the mystery. It is a joy to write books that consist of a collection of characters who mix and match and contradict each other.
As a writer, if I limited my characters only to those who mirrored my own personality and beliefs—who walked and talked and acted like me, then that would make for a very boring book. My cast of characters would consist of Me, Myself, and I. I’d just change the names and clothes—but everything else would be the same.
Authors create characters to play roles in the books that they are writing. When they breathe life into the character, that character will take on their own personality, with their own wants and desire. Sometimes, they will mix well with the other characters (like Mac Faraday and his half-brother David O’Callaghan) and sometimes they won’t.
I had to fire a character in Shades of Murder, because she didn’t play well with my other characters.
The best way for characters to mix well is to complement each other—where one is weak, the other is stronger. Where one may have one set of beliefs, the other character may disagree, which will lead to the witty bantering that my readers so enjoy.
For example, protagonist Mac Faraday was the victim of a painful divorce due to his ex-wife’s infidelity. Plus, he has investigated several awful murders brought about by a high-risk lifestyle involving sexual promiscuity. Therefore, Mac strongly believes in leading a disciplined sex life. He’s in a committed relationship with his lady love Archie Monday.
In contrast, Police Chief David O’Callaghan has a weakness for pretty ladies. He’s also got a colorful history of embarking on casual affairs with the wrong type of women, including at least one who was married.
Both of these main characters are positive and well-loved in my books. In The Murders at Astaire Castle, David, upon being confronted by Mac about a long ago affair with a murder victim, asks, “Is my list of sexual conquests published somewhere?”
To which, Mac replies, “I hear it’s quite a list.”
So, based on what my characters say and do and the crimes in my books, where do I fall when it comes to sex?
Don’t ask me. I’m not going to tell you.
Coming in February
Three Days to Forever
But droopy flowers and guests who failed to RSVP are the least of Mac and Archie’s problems when a professional hit squad descends on Spencer Manor to send the groom, Joshua Thornton, the bride’s mother, and Gnarly running for their lives.
Three Days to Forever (the 9th Mac Faraday Mystery is scheduled for release February 10, 2015. Click on Book Cover to pre-order in ebook.