Clare Vengel is in many ways my opposite. She eats KD and pizza, I’m an organic food health nut. She wears jeans and sweats, I sweat which earrings go with which jeans.
But my husband and my mother only see similarities. They see Clare and me as the same person inside two different shells.
Clearly, it’s a strange relationship, this author-protagonist dynamic. Technically I guess I can exert my will and make Clare do anything I like. But in practice, it doesn’t really work that way. I might try to show her things, but over the course of three books, I’ve also learned a few things from Clare:
- Wear whatever the hell you want to. In Death Plays Poker, I tried to glam Clare up by showing her how fun it could be to wear nicer clothes. And Clare did, grudgingly, come to enjoy the pink and the bling in her new wardrobe. But the lesson I was trying to teach her—dress for success, because what you’re wearing tells others how to treat you—ended up falling flat. Clare understood my point professionally (when you’re going undercover, you need suspects to welcome you quickly into their world) but she refused to care about being judged for her appearance in her private life.
And, I realized, I refuse to care, too.
- I am not a mechanic. When I dropped out of university, my plan was to learn how to be a motorcycle mechanic. I started waitressing instead. The money was good and the late night lifestyle suited me.
I pretty much forgot my mechanical ambition until I was writing Dead Politician Society and spent several hours on YouTube watching people work on cars so I could get the details right in the auto shop scenes. My motorcycle was having some mechanical issues, so—inspired by Clare—I took the manual outside and got to work.
After two days of staring at the innards of my machine, I was nowhere closer to understanding the problem, let alone fixing it. I realized that while I greatly admire people with mechanical skills, I do not have them. I’ll stick with writing wishful scenes in fiction.
- Grab the reins. In the first two books in the series, Clare is a passive heroine. She gets her man (or woman) in both cases, but she’s more pulled along by a series of clues than hunting the clues down herself. As a result, her superiors (and some readers) are frustrated with her.
In Death’s Last Run, Clare finally figures out how to take charge of the case. She meets with some opposition from her superiors as a result of her unconventional thinking, but in the end she gains their respect like she hasn’t before.
My lesson: Be the hero, not the victim. It’s easy to let things drag us down—bad weather, the flu, a bad review. Through Clare I’m seeing that adverse conditions are just additional factors to work with. Let them stop you and you become the victim. Work through them and you’re the hero—and it’s the only way you’ll meet with real success.
Thanks to ECW Press, I have one (1) copy of DEATH’S LAST RUN to give away. Leave a comment to be included in the giveaway. The book will be shipped directly from the publisher. Contest ends May 3 and open to US and Canadian entries only.
You can read more about Clare in Death’s Last Run, the third book in the “Clare Vengel” mystery series. The first book in the series is Dead Politician Society .
Meet the author
Robin Spano writes mystery novels in the Pacific Northwest. Her Clare Vengel series is a little bit edgy and a whole lot of fun. Her latest book is Death’s Last Run. You can visit Robin at her website, on Twitter and on Facebook.
Books are available at retail and online booksellers.