Pen M won the Walter the Pug tote.
That shadowy figure known as Victoria Abbott is a collaboration between the always very funny and creative artist, photographer and short story author, Victoria Maffini and her mother, Mary Jane Maffini, award-winning author of three mystery series and two dozen short stories. Their first book in the series, The Christie Curse, has received excellent reviews and the second, The Sayers Swindle, hit the shelves in December. They are hard at work on the third installment: The Wolfe Widow(September 2014) and haven’t killed each other yet.
You can keep up with their characters on the thirtieth of the month over at www.killercharacters.comand their culinary adventures at www.mysteryloverskitchen.comor by signing up for their newsletter at www.victoria-abbott.com or www.maryjanemaffini.com. MJ also blogs at www.cozychicksblog.com
One character – two views
By Mary Jane and Victoria Maffini
First let us say how glad we are to visit Meanderings and Muses today. Thanks so much, Kaye, for inviting us. Now, we’ll segue into our little ‘situation’. Perhaps you can help us out.
We are at the end of book three in the book collector mysteries, our mother-daughter collaboration using the name Victoria Abbott. With The Christie Curse and The Sayers Swindle already on the shelves and doing well, you’d think we really knew what we were doing. People keep asking us about our process. They want to know how we write together. We try not to stare at them blankly or to make things up, such as, an alien told us what to write or we write in our sleep. The truth is that we’re not entirely sure how it all comes together, as we seem to be using different approaches in each book. Still we usually sing from the same hymn book. We talk, we plot, we discuss. Sometimes we compromise. We love what we’ve created with our young protagonist, Jordan Bingham, a grad student and the first person in her very large family to go straight. We agree on everything about her curmudgeonly employer, Vera Van Alst, the most hated woman in Harrison Falls, NY. We cherish the world of book collecting we’ve created for them, the stately old home and the quirky folks who inhabit it. We both love the classics from The Golden Age of Detection (Christie, Sayers, and Stout) that we draw on for our stories. We are equally fond of Walter the Pug and Cobain the whatever.
However, every now and then, we realize that Victoria Abbott is not a single entity and we can have very different views of the same character.
This came to our attention when we were reworking a scene in The Wolfe Widow (book three) just as Jordan saw her Uncle Kev show up bringing chaos and danger in his wake, as he so often does.
One of us added ‘his pudgy face’ to the narrative.
The other gasped. “Pudgy? What pudgy? He has cheekbones that could cut glass and he has a chiseled jaw.”
“No, listen to me, definitely pudgy.”
“What? Pudgy? This is the man that all women seem to fall for despite the fact he’s a disaster in the making. Only chiseled could explain that.”
“I’m pretty sure his face is pudgy. Nothing’s going to change my mind.”
“Really, Mum, really?
And so it went.
The thing is, neither of us owns Uncle Kev or any of the other characters in the series. Nor does either one have the right to tell the other what to do, write or think. Occasionally, the mother finds this a bit hard, but never mind.
So what did we do?
We considered possibilities: pudgy in one book and chiseled in the next? Pudgy on one side and chiseled on the other? Pudgy cheeks, chiseled chin? Obviously, no solutions there.
It was a bit tricky as Uncle Kev had already appeared (and caused quite a bit of trouble) in The Sayers Swindle. Was he pudgy or chiseled? We’d have to go with whatever we’d said, despite our different visions and memories of Kev. Apparently, there was a bit of pudginess and some chiseled as well in The Sayers Swindle, but neither was connected to Kev’s face.
At least we agreed on the ginger hair and wild eyebrows that all the Kellys attribute to their Viking ancestor, Olaf, who washed up in Dublin sometime in the ninth century and made his own kind of trouble. But we digress.
So, now we have to decide. And soon.
How about you? Given Kev’s appeal— his ginger hair and wild eyebrows, not to mention the frenetic disposition and attention deficit thingie—which would you vote for?
We may need you to break the tie. Or we could just see who does the ultimate set of edits …
Of course, you’ll have to wait until September to find out. Maybe we will too.
In the meantime, leave a comment here and we’ll put your name in the draw for a Walter the Pug tote bag. At least we all agree on Walter.