Susan Vaughan (www.susanvaughan.com) here. Yes, I know Mother’s Day was last week but this is my day so I’m having my say. I have my mother to thank for introducing me to mystery novels. We seldom agreed on much, but shared the love of a good mystery.
My parents were avid readers and regular patrons of the public library. My father preferred historical and science fiction novels but my mother read exclusively mysteries. We made weekly trips to the library, where she got me started with Nancy Drew. Here was a detective who was sharp, adventurous, and female. Who knew? And I really wanted a car like Nancy’s roadster.
Years later, I was shocked to learn not only that Carolyn Keene wasn’t the author’s name but she hadn’t even written all the series’ books. Several authors contributed but Mildred Benson wrote 23 including the first three. I researched her for one of my books and learned Mildred was a journalist and a bit of an adventurer like her fictional character, even getting lost on an Amazon expedition.
After going through all the mysteries for young adults, I switched to the books my mother read, Erle Stanley Gardner’s Perry Mason series and Agatha Christie’s wonderful Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot. My only disappointment in Perry Mason was the lack of romance, a trend that sadly continued on television. Finally, I discovered the beginnings of the romantic suspense subgenre with Mary Stewart’s and Phyllis Whitney’s books that blended romance and suspense along with the mystery. Still, their heroines too often put themselves in danger and had to be rescued by the hero. Thankfully today mystery novels have evolved as have their female characters, whether written by a man or a woman. Many of today’s heroine sleuths are as sharp and tough and adventurous as Nancy Drew, sometimes more so.
So thanks, Mother, for directing me toward the reading that would lead to what I’m doing today, blending romance, suspense, and mystery in my writing. If you’re still reading settled on your heavenly cloud, maybe you’ve picked up one of my books.
Susan, my mother bought me my first romance novel. I forget the title, but it was written by Rosemary Rogers. I was immediately hooked!
Thank God for mothers! 🙂
I remember reading that book too. But I think the first romance novel I read, after the early ones by the authors I mention above, was HUMMINGBIRD by Lavyrle Spenser. A bit of suspense along with the romance.
I used to be hooked on romantic suspense, and couldn’t wait for the new Phyllis Whitney, Victoria Holt, and most of all, Mary Stewart, to arrive in the library. As the librarian’s assistant, I was second in line to read them.
It helps to work in a library. Hmm, maybe I should’ve been a librarian. All those books…
My story is similar to yours, Susan. My parents read to me at night before I went to sleep when I was very little. The Bobsey Twins. They read a chapter a night. When I was a teenager I picked up mother’s Emily Loring books, continued to read them when I was a young married. Of ocurse the trifecta you mention, Whitney, Stuart, and Holt set the standards for romantic suspense. After many years of “real life,” I went back to reading RS. What a surprise at the changes. All to the good, IMHO, but we’d never have gotten there without the big three.
Lovely tribute to your mom. I posted mine on my blog Thoughts on Thursday http://www.marsharwest.com/category/blog before Mother’s Day. Probably anytime is a good day to say, “Thanks, Mom!”
Oh, I loved the Bobbsey Twins. And the Boxcar Children.
You followed my reading path exactly! And went from there to du Maurier, Wilkie Collins and more. My mother read to me every day and when I went to kindergarten I was already reading… But never lost my live for mystery. So of course The Nora Tierney Mysteries were born!
You followed my reading path exactly! And went from there to du Maurier, Wilkie Collins and more. My mother read to me every day and when I went to kindergarten I was already reading… But never lost my love for mystery. So of course The Nora Tierney Mysteries were born!
Perry Mason – at least in the TV show there was a hint of flirting. I kept waiting for them to get together. Should have known then I was destined to read and write romance ( I do love reading romantic suspense and straight out mysteries, too.)
Now thrillers … that’s another story. Kidding Susan – but, as you recall, I did have to read Primal Obsessions during daylight. Even though I knew it was a romantic thriller with a happily-ever-after ending, it scared the wits out of me 🙂 BUT, I loved it!
Deb, yes, that bit of flirting in the TV show did keep the tension up. None of that in the books. Thanks for the compliment on Primal Obsession!