I’ve posted this before, so I hope you don’t mind seeing it again. Yes, I know Mother’s Day was last Sunday 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.
I went straight from Nancy Drew to the ‘Rabbi’ series and the 87th precinct. Once you hit 13 you were allowed in the adult section of the library!
I don’t know the Rabbi series. Will have to look that up. Interesting about the adult section of the library. Thanks for commenting.
Fun post! I read Judy Bolton instead of Nancy Drew, probably because my dad picked them up at the Salvation Army. I need to go Google now.
I don’t know Judy Bolton, but did read some of the Trixie Belton series. I wonder if that series had multiple authors too.
My first job, at the Vose Library in Union, was as the librarian’s assistant, which meant I got second dibs on Mary Stewart, Phyllis Whitney, and Victoria Holt books. Surprising that I don’t write romantic suspense, isn’t it.
But you do have romance in some of your books. Nothing like those authors we both cut our mystery teeth on.