When I contemplate that my seventh Lane Winslow Mystery will be released into the world in April of 2020, I am nearly at a loss for words. All that come are the exaggerated, clichéd words we always apply to everything from a ham sandwich to a cataclysmic volcanic eruption plunging us into an eternal winter; “amazing”, “incredible”, “unbelievable”, “dude!”.
I never thought there would be a first book, let alone a seventh. I simply wrote them out of a desire to spend time with people I love, in places I enjoy, during a period that fascinates me, together with an ample supply of murders. The fact that readers enjoy all these things as well is, I must say, an absolute delight to me.
So what is in A Match Made For Murder? Had we better address the elephant in the room? Lane Winslow’s situation is considerably altered. She is married. At the recent Vancouver Writer’s Festival I was challenged on this: Could she continue to engage the readers now that she is married? Where will the tensions in the stories come from?
It’s a funny thing about marriage in the literary world. A woman in a book apparently drops right off the face of the earth if she marries, and yet, much of the focus of the readers during the earlier life of that woman has been the earnest desire to see her become someone’s wife. A sort of Jane Austen syndrome. She is married, brava! But she is no longer interesting.
I know of actual people who found me interesting before I married and have continued to do so afterwards, showing, I must say real fortitude, because I have been married for forty years. I dare say there are other married women who have found the same. So, as I said in answer to that question at the festival, getting married, while not such a draw in these times, was often a very normal outcome of a serious romance in the 1940s.
The trick, of course, is what becomes of that woman. In many places the social expectations of the day still required that the woman give up her job, if she has one, and stay home to delight in her newfangled appliances and bring up a couple of extremely tidy children. Even my own mother, upon whom the whole idea of Lane was originally based, as unusual and bohemian as she was (she was often called this by people who struggled to explain her, though, sadly, I never saw her draped in long silk scarves), would never have considered not marrying. She even made a completely failed attempt to be uninteresting and domestic. I’m afraid appliances held no magic for her, and her children were what is called ‘free range’ today, if by that we are to understand that the parents never knew where their children were from dawn to dusk.
Of course, in real life, we are lucky if we find a partner to amuse us, to help with the bills and love the children. An author, however, faced with the marriage to which the activities of the early books has inevitably led, must find a way to continue to build a level of tension, growth, discovery, and even romance in beloved characters, or the series is over.
I believe I am lucky in Lane and Darling. They are interesting on their own, and interesting together. They are intelligent and witty and extremely in love, and have a great deal to learn about one another. Their worldviews will deepen and alter. Darling, whose brusque personality gives way in the face of Lane’s love, will have to take what she thinks into consideration because he is courteous and thoughtful, and she brings a new perspective that often matches and expands his own thinking. Lane for her part is incorrigible. She cannot stay out of cases as much as she would like to, because really, she does keep finding bodies, and she has a powerful drive to be useful. This is bound to create interesting tensions. He for example, is terrified for her. She, perhaps, is not terrified enough for herself.
So, I have sent them off on a sunny honeymoon which turns out far from idyllic, and left Ames behind to confront an extremely personal crisis as the dark Kootenay winter closes in. Let’s see what happens!
Meet Lane Winslow!