When I tell people about my novel, they’re curious to know if I based my character on a real person. I suppose it’s time to reveal that amateur sleuth Melissa Morris is based on a friend I used to know. I think I mentioned her in a previous post. She used to work for the Mossad.
After leaving the job, Lysette drifted, taking work no respectable person should ever consider. She was a secretary, a sales assistant, an ESL teacher and an archivist in a cruddy, dark basement in Queens where she had to drink instant coffee and microwave her lunches. Eventually she trained to be a social worker. Really, it was a nightmare to be her friend. Obviously, we lost touch.
So when it came time to write a novel, I thought, what if, instead of working with abused children, Lysette found dead bodies and solved crimes? This is the kind of stuff you have to think about when you’re a writer. You have to ask that really good ‘what if’ question. You have to put normal people in extraordinary situations. You have to sit down and write after drinking at least two gin and tonics. Most writing teachers will tell you that.
Oh yeah – did I mention my novel sold? My future ex-husband was so right. Four different publishers were bidding for it by the end of last week. My badly aging agent, Elaine Totsky, closed the deal yesterday. This industry moves so fast that it’s dizzying.
So back to Lysette. I called her to tell her that I based my detective character on her, and do you know what she did? She invited us for dinner. Now I have to go to Queens. What a nightmare.