I think all mystery writers are tempted to write a story that takes place around Halloween. Mentioning of the holiday immediately sets that spooky mood we try so hard to create in our writing. Even for a cozy mystery author like myself, it’s hard to resist Halloween even though my style and tone are not particularly frightening. You won’t be pulling the covers over your head while reading Maid of Murder, but you might need a tissue to wipe away your tears of laughter (or so I hope).
One of the ways I got my start in writing was the direct result of Halloween. Each fall the local newspaper in my hometown sponsored a Halloween writing contest for high school students. The winners had their stories published in the paper and received a faux gold witch trophy with their names etched on the base as a prize. The trophies varied in size from third place to grand prize. Despite the difference in size, the trophies were all identical with black and orange bases holding up plastic resin witches coated with golden paint. The witches sat atop their brooms as if in mid-flight. I won first place twice and the grand prize my senior year. To be completely candid, I don’t think many other students entered, and one of my English teachers once said I won by sheer name recognition. I was a complete English department geek both in high school and college (still am).
For a long time, those trophies sat in a place of honor in my childhood bedroom, but when I moved away, I packed them into a box and stored them in my toy trunk in the attic with my Care Bears, Rainbow Bright dolls, and Glow Worms. I look forward to the day when my niece is old enough to climb up in the attic with me and rummage through that trunk for my retro toys. Among the My Little Ponies and Barbie clothes we will find those witch trophies, and I’ll tell her how I got my start. She might blink with surprise because to her Aunt Mandy will have always been an author. It’s her reality, but I will tell her “no” that wasn’t always the case, that I had to fight for that dream. Then I will tell her that she will have to fight for her own dream, whatever that might be, but not to worry because Aunt Mandy will do whatever she can to make the fight a little easier and much more fun.
P.S. The official Maid of Murder release date is June 16, 2010.