Writing the first book in The Nut House series: A TOUGH NUT TO KILL, was the hardest part of this new process. The second book, SNOOP TO NUTS (out in January) was easier. My people where all together, they knew each other on sight, and had a lot to say. What’s different in this second book was figuring out what they all wanted this time and how they were going to get it. Or in the case of the murderer, how I was going to keep them from succeeding.
One thing I have to say about my characters is that every single person I’ve written about has parts of me in her or him. Even the murderers. I hear words coming out their mouths that I’ve said myself. I’m ashamed, but I won’t take any of it back. That’s what they said—like it or not.
I guess I’d have to admit that coming up with characters I want to spend a few years with, is the toughest, but also the most rewarding part of writing. When I’m hurting while they’re hurting or crying when they’re crying, I know I’ve got it right. Last thing I want are stick figures I can push around at will.
Take Lindy Blanchard, my protagonist in The Nut House series. I didn’t want to make her a southern woman who sits around gossiping and drinking tea on the veranda all day. I wanted a real woman. One with ambitions and deep emotions. I wanted Lindy to fight back when she has to. This woman’s no pushover—not for the guy she’s been kind of in love with since childhood and not for any murderer bent on destroying the peace of Riverville, Texas.
Maybe it’s because I teach creative writing at Northwestern Michigan College that I’m so attuned to how a character comes off in a story. I know when I hear a good story coming on, if the character grabs me right away. Since I look for it in my students’ work, I look for it in my own. My characters have got to live and breath and kick and scream. They’ve got to tell me off a time or two and go their own way. I hear their stories whispered in my ears. If I’m not listening to what they say to me, I’m not writing a good book.
Now I’m on to the next book in the series: NUTS AND BURIED. I’ve got to get it right. Deepen the clash between Lindy and her boyfriend, Hunter Austen. Stick the two of them with a couple of murders. Watch how they handle things and come out at the end with a few changes in their lives and another story of mayhem and murder they’re going to chalk up to my devious imagination and mumble amongst themselves that they wished to hell I’d stop it.
About the author:
Elizabeth Lee, (pseudonym for Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli) lives far back in the woods where nobody can find her unless they call first and she decides to answer. Mostly her life is about deer and fox and bear and raccoons—oh my! Part of her life is about a bunch of kids—she thinks the number’s up to nineteen as of now—that’s original kids and then grandkids. She writes murder mysteries because it’s a great way to let off steam. Get mad at a clerk in McDonald’s? Ooops, do her in in the next book. You’d never know she’s sweet as sugar most of the time. Just watch your back if you get invited to visit. Even her husband, Tony, is nervous—with all those books on poisons and guns and forensics sitting on their bookshelves.
She’s also written: