Welcome to Mysterious Writers, Jeannette. Tell us about Murder Most Academic--academia with a twist.
A good mystery is like a good recipe: it takes fresh local ingredients and mixes them just right: characters, plot, background, dialogue. One of those ingredients is both important and elusive: the main character’s background. There are mysteries involving people who do dog-sled racing, about people who appraise antiques or knit or sail, about archaeologists and poker players and restaurant owners … mysteries involving mystery writers, even.
So it’s a challenge to ensure the freshness of that particular ingredient.
That’s why I wrote Murder Most Academic, the first in a series about Trinity Pierce, a young professor at a Boston-area college. No, wait: there’s more. Because of some horrific circumstances, Trinity’s mother is confined for life to a psychiatric institution, and when a problem with insurance meant that the policy had lapsed, Trinity ended up doing her doctoral work alongside a brief career as a high-class call girl to make ends meet.
Not an everyday back-story, but far more common than most people think—there are in truth scores of young women who dabble as escorts to put themselves through college. And what an intriguing background for Trinity to draw upon!
I love Trinity’s past. And even more than Trinity’s past, I love the people it’s brought into her life. Meet Kate Kazanjian, who, as Trinity observes, is probably the only madam in the world who still lives with her mother. Mama is always making Armenian sweets for Kate’s girls, all the while yelling at the collection of family from the old country that drifts in and out of their Victorian house. Trinity lives above an auto body shop whose owner is in love with her and is constantly offering to sell her cars of slightly dubious provenance. And her best friend is Sean, a reformed alcoholic who drives Kate’s girls to their appointments and shares Trinity’s passion for Irish music.