If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com

Our June author interviews: Fish Out of Water Authors--6/7, Susan Van Kirk--6/14, Renee Patrick--6/21, and Joanne Guidoccio--6/28.

Saturday Guest Bloggers in June: 6/3--Geoffrey Mehl, 6/10--Joan Leotta. WWK Saturday bloggers write on 6/17--Margaret S. Hamilton and on 6/24--Kait Carson.


“May 16, 2017 – The Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA) today announced the finalists of the second annual Star Award, given to authors of published women’s fiction. Six finalists were chosen in two categories, General and Outstanding Debut. The winners of the Star Award will be announced at the WFWA Retreat in Albuquerque, New Mexico on September 23, 2017.”

In the general category, WWK’s Carla Damron was one of three finalist for her novel, The Stone Necklace. Go to Carladamron.com for more information. Congratulations, Carla!

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Warren Bull's new Lincoln mystery, Abraham Lincoln In Court & Campaign has been released. Look for the Kindle version on February 3.

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

In addition, our prolific KM will have the following shorts published as well: "Sight Unseen" in Fish Out of Water, Guppie (SinC) anthology, just released, and "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Once a Kappa" was published as a finalist in the Southern Writer's Magazine annual short story contest issue. Mysterical-E published her "Double Crust Corpse" in the Fall 2016 issue. "Baby Killer" will appear in the 2017 solar eclipse anthology Day of the Dark to be published this summer prior to the eclipse in August.

Linda Rodriquez has two pending book publications. Plotting the Character-Driven Novel will be released by Scapegoat Press on November 29th. Every Family Doubt, the fourth Skeet Bannion mystery, is scheduled for release on October, 18, 2017. Look for the interview by E. B. Davis here on that date!

James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for order.

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

FINDING CHARACTERS IN OBITUARIES



Eileen L. Mowery
                                                                        1950 – 2012
                                    Portage Falls – Eileen, 63, of Portage Falls went to be
                                    with the Lord Aug. 4, 2012. She died at home. Cause
                                    of death is being investigated. Eileen was born Feb. 1.
                                    1950 in Cleveland to the late John and Mary Holko
                                    Sutley.  After Mary graduated from Lakeside High School,
                                    She went to Kent State University where she received her
                                    RN nursing degree. She married William Mowery,
                                    June 17, 1973, who died March 17, 2011. Eileen was
                                    a dedicated nurse working at The Millport General
                                    Hospital for 20 years before becoming head nurse
                                    at Happy Days Nursing Home. She loved planting
                                    tomatoes every year,  dancing, playing cards and going
                                    to race tracks and Las Vegas. She will be missed by
                                    daughters, Peggy Smith, Raleigh, N.C., Michelle Jones,
                                    San Mateo, CA, one son, William Mowery of Cleveland,
                                    and five grandchildren, who were the joy of her life. She
                                    will also be missed by Muggles, her dog, and a very
                                    special friend, Alex Mooney, her long time dance partner.
                                    Calling hours etc. etc. etc.

The above obituary is fictitious, of course, but you get the idea. There are lots of ways you could develop this character to fit into a mystery. For instance, just how and why did she die? Could she have been poisoned by tomatoes with something added? If her husband only died a year ago, who is this long time dance partner? Did her love of gambling create a problem in her life? Why did she leave a hospital to work in a nursing home where the pay is less? There could be simple and logical answers to these questions, but there could also be something else. Was she caught stealing meds in the hospital so they let her go, but because of her long service and likeability someone might not have documented what happened so Happy Days might not have known about it? Or could she have lied and said she’d been innocent and someone else took the meds? And could this dance partner be on the Board of Directors of the home and got her the job?  

Even if you don’t kill off this person, you could still use her as a minor character; a neighbor, the mother-in-law of a friend, the main character’s Aunt Eileen, either loved, tolerated or disliked if you add other quirks and habits.

Obituaries are also a good source for names for a certain age group – obviously you’re thinking most obituaries are of an older generation, but obituaries always list names of children and grandchildren or nieces and nephews. It’s a quick and easy way to pick out names for characters.My suggestion, though, is switch first and last names, especially if you’re going to use a lot of information from one particular obituary. Don’t make it obvious to someone reading your book that you used their Aunt Agatha for your character.

Have you ever used obituaries to get names or create characters?

How would you use Eileen in a mystery?
                                   
                                   

                                    

12 comments:

James Montgomery Jackson said...

It's an interesting approach, but one I have not used for character development.

On our local radio station, they have a daily obituary report sponsored by the local funeral homes. Always interesting to see what is said about each individual.

~ Jim

Gloria Alden said...

I've seen some really over the top obituaries paid for by survivors who would have you believe their loved one should be canonized and/or receive the Nobel Peace prize or better yet have a movie made of their life. And then there are those that have only the necessary bare bones making one wonder if they were really such a nonentity. Mostly I just use them for names when I'm trying to find one I've never used yet.

Sarah Henning said...

I love this idea. As a former newspaper copy editor, I've read a lot of obituaries in my day, but I've never thought of using them for character development or descriptions. Genius!

Warren Bull said...

This is a new idea for me. Thanks, I'll try it out.

Paula Gail Benson said...

Like Jim , I've read obituaries with interest and learned from them, but have not used them to build characters. Thanks for this idea.

Shari Randall said...

Obits are a great place for finding names, as are cemeteries. Love a good stroll in an old cemetery.

Georgia Ruth said...

In our little county paper, the obituaries are on the second page. Definitely a must-read because funerals are family reunions. So many of the neighbors have had roots here for generations. Attendance at a wake might generate interesting stories. Thanks for the plot idea, Gloria.

KM said...

Great idea!

I think Eileen was a "babe," married to a much older man who thought her scatter-brained ways were adorable and loved to take care of her. He had a fair amount of money put in life trusts for her as long as she did not remarry. When he died, she let Alex move in and live off her as long as he took care of her in the same way. Alex did it willingly, but it's a tough way to make a living. Eileen wrote a will leavig everything she had to Alex, but it wasn't much, because most of the money was in life trusts.

She took up genealogy, but in her usual haphazard way. Alex gritted his teeth & delved into the project to keep her happy. He was amazed to discover that she had been placed with the Sutleys as an infant,having been born illegitamately to a 16 year old cousin of Mrs. Sutley, but never legally adopted. In fact, her father was a wealthy industrialist who provided support until she reached 18 and married. He did not want to be known, since obviously the relationship with the mother was statutory rape, and he didn't want that information made public. He manipulated the introduction that resulted in Eileen's marriage.

Armed with that information, Alex discovers that Eileen is, in fact, heir to a significant fortune from her biological father, who is also deceased.

For first names, I use a "naming your baby" book. For last names, I often use the phone book.

Patg said...

I don't read a newspaper and have never read obits. The funeral home put my husband's obit in, the free version, which is short and to the point, and one of his sisters is still mad that I didn't mention her in it. I dislike all that stuff anyway, but you know me Gloria. :)I never have problems with names.
If I were writing a story, the first line would be:
The stake sticking out of Eileen's heart caused some consternation for the person who found her body, but it was joke time for the cops and pure terror for the morgue attendant who managed to remove it.
Patg

Gloria Alden said...

Georgia, like you, I probably read more obituaries now than when I was younger because I've lived in this area all my life and have a lot of extended family and friends And you're right that funerals are like family reunions. Also,as my dad was fond of saying, I read them to make sure I'm not there.

Sarah, Warren and Paula, I don't often get my characters there, but I do wonder about the people I read about and what were they like - at least some of them. I'll never forget the obit that the only attribute given to their mother was "She loved to clean." So sad. That is one thing that will never be said about me. :-)

Shari, I like cemeteries, too. I'm always curious about the people there especially if they have an epitaph that says a little more about them.

KM, I love what you've done with this obituary. Very creative. How funny that Alex is going to benefit, too. You are very creative. I use the phone book, too, especially if I'm looking for a last name with a certain letter because I don't want to cause character confusion.

Your take on poor Eileen is quite gruesome, Pat. I'd say short but sweet, except there's nothing sweet about It. :-)

Kara Cerise said...

I do read the obituaries, Gloria. It’s fascinating and inspiring what people have done with their lives. I haven’t written a mystery based on somebody I read about but I have picked up ideas for a character’s backstory. I should try your idea of developing a character to fit into a mystery. Great idea!

Gloria Alden said...

Actually, Kara, except for ideas for a character's back story, I haven't used them for my books, but I'm thinking it would be good for a short story. Actually, I have clipped out a few and many have led inspiring lives - or not. It will depend on what kind of character I want to write.