We, the sisters who make up Maddi Davidson, are often asked how we ended up writing information technology murder mysteries. Simple! Both of us worked in IT and decided that the information technology sector was under-served––or perhaps, under-server-ed––as a medium for parody. Who doesn’t have at least one bizarre technology experience, e.g., the computer says that your water bill was $47,298 last month and computers are never wrong, right? This actually happened to one of us, who happens to know that she did not take a 28-day shower. Fortunately, her local utility mavens were even more skeptical of computers than we are and corrected the bill.
Many users of technology are as enamored of technologists as they are of other professional “ists,” like proctologists. In fact, the average computer upgrade feels just exactly like…oh never mind. Encounters with IT can inspire anxiety headaches as large as the RMS Titanic and inspire rampant murderous thoughts involving chain saws––energy efficient saws, as it is so important to be an eco-friendly homicidal maniac! In short, homicide and technology go together like rap music and really good earplugs. We believe our stories provide a public service: dispatching a purveyor of technology allows our readers the opportunity to experience a frisson of schadenfreude, a fancy term for “boy, he/she sure had that coming!”
The technology field is rife with dramatic (not to mention humorous) possibilities, and we are not just talking about companies that track your every move online, collect as much information as they can, and then complain about a government invasion of privacy. So many companies and organizations have used technology to “improve service” (e.g., removing real people so you can go online and take 285 steps and a couple of Valium to complete a transaction) that the average user has more than 78 passwords. Okay, we made that number up, but it’s still a lot. Companies and organizations demand you sign in and choose a password, even for mundane activities such as reading a newspaper online that really, you don’t want to pay for but can stomach 10 articles a month, maybe, if it doesn’t contain too many stories on the Kardashians. And you can’t necessarily use the passwords you want: you must use capitals, lower case, numbers, and characters. Only a Mensa member can remember &8jauOhcraponit,seriously? as a password. So, technology itself is a character in our books, even if it’s a character nobody would mind killing off.
Another element in our stories is the location in which the action occurs: San Francisco and its environs for our first two books, and Hawai’i for our third. Both have a strong sense of place, and that adds verisimilitude to a story––verisimilitude being a fancy word for “making sure you don’t get caught out having Van Ness cross Franklin Street when everybody in San Francisco knows they parallel each other, you failure-to-fact-check doofus.” One of us lives in San Francisco and knows that, however many the charms of the city, some of the you-can’t-make-this-stuff-up weirdness is more amusing than anything we can invent. Having a character perplexed by the parse tree of recycling bins is both accurate and farcical: “recycle” and “trash” have long since been replaced by “paper,” “plastic,” “glass,” “batteries,” and “compost.” Although, you may only be able to recycle plastic up to category 5; oh wait, we digress.
We are often asked how we write together when we live thousands of miles apart. Microsoft Word and track changes is the short answer. Additionally, we share the same demented sense of humor from growing up together. We each appreciate the other’s strengths. One of us is the structural engineer: outlining plot, putting the framing up, and ensuring soundness of what we are building. The other one is more the interior decorator: filling in the home, adding a pop of color here and there. The entire plot may rise or fall on whether we have granite countertops! Or, maybe we mixed the metaphor too much. When we have questions about whether something works, whoever feels the strongest “wins.” Yet, both of us respect pacing: whatever we write has to advance the story, not our egos. Especially in a murder mystery, you want your reader turning the next page eagerly to find out whodunnit, not wondering whether the character is a refugee from a Henry James novel, wandering around contemplating the meaning of life.Above all, we try to have fun with our writing. We have no Tolstoyian aspirations. Or Mother Gooseian aspirations, either. What we hope is that our readers will have a good laugh. A merry heart, as it says in Proverbs, doeth good like medicine. We hope so.
Maddi Davidson is the pen name for two sisters, Mary Ann Davidson and Diane Davidson. Residing on opposite coasts of the US, the sisters have spent too many years inflicting “new and improved” information technology solutions on dubious users. Their short story “Heartfelt” will appear in Mystery Times 2015, to be published in April by Buddhapuss Ink. Another short story, “Whiteout,” will appear in Chesapeake Crimes: Storm Warnings in 2016. In addition, they’ve published three novels in the Miss-Information Technology Mystery Series, available through Amazon: Outsourcing Murder, Denial of Service, and With Murder You Get Sushi. More information is available on their website: maddidavidson.com