I was ten when I borrowed The Secret of Shadow Ranch from a cousin. It was the first mystery I ever read, and I was hooked. Then, to my delight, I discovered this was only one of a long series of adventures in which Nancy solved mystery after mystery. Just as exciting, I soon found other amateur mystery-solvers: the Hardy Boys, the Dana Girls, Judy Bolton, Trixie Belden, and many more. By the time I began reading adult mysteries, my love of the amateur detective was completely entrenched.
When I decided I wanted to write a mystery myself, I knew my main character would be an amateur. After all, I’m not a policeman, or a lawyer, or a private detective. But I do have a healthy dose of curiosity about the world around me and the people in it. Charlie Harris, the sleuth in my new “Cat in the Stacks” series, is just like me in that respect. He’s also about my age (fiftyish, if you must know), he’s a librarian, he grew up in Mississippi, and he has a Maine coon cat. That’s as far as it goes, however. (I have two cats, by the way, neither of which is a Maine coon.)
While my life is pretty predictable, Charlie’s is far more interesting. He finds himself involved in the occasional murder in his hometown of Athena, Mississippi. He also lives in a big old Southern house and has enough money so that he really doesn’t have to work in the library for a living; he just does it because he likes to stay busy. Plus he gets to take his cat, Diesel, with him everywhere he goes. (I can imagine how well that would go over if I took one of my cats to work with me. Diesel is so much better behaved than either of my two.)
But all this is part of the fun of having an amateur detective. I know a lot of mystery readers don’t think amateur detective stories are very realistic, but I’ll let you in on a big secret. I’m not writing realism – I’m writing escapism. I don’t know about you, but I read to get away from the “real” world. I have a lot more fun tagging along with an amateur than I would shadowing a homicide cop trailing a grisly serial killer.
I also have a lot of fun writing stories about amateur detectives, and I hope my readers will enjoy themselves as they tag along with Charlie and Diesel in Murder Past Due and their new adventure, Classified as Murder. The fun part about writing – and reading — a series is finding out what’s going on with old friends every time a new book comes out. I know I feel like the characters in my favorite series are friends, and I hope my readers will feel that way about Charlie and Diesel, too.
Miranda James s is a mystery author who has lived in Houston, Texas for over twenty-five years, has two cats and thousands of books, and plays bridge as often as possible. He is the Manager of Murder by the Book in Houston, one of the nation’s oldest and largest mystery bookstores. He has co-authored a number of works of mystery non-fiction and has won the Agatha and Macavity Awards and been twice nominated for the Edgar Award. Though born and reared in Mississippi, he has lived in Texas for over half his life. He holds a Ph. D. in medieval history from Rice University.
He also writes under the name Honor Hartman, Dean James & Jimmie Ruth Evans.
TRAILER PARK MYSTERY Series ~ written as Jimmie Ruth Evans
Main Character: Wanda Nell Culpepper, Single Mother, Mississippi
- Flamingo Fatale (A Trailer Park Mystery #1) ’05
- Murder Over Easy (A Trailer Park Mystery #2) ’06
- Best Served Cold (A Trailer Park Mystery #3) ’07
- Bring Your Own Poison (A Trailer Park Mystery #4) ’08
- Leftover Dead (Trailer Park Mysteries (Berkley)) ’09
CAT IN THE STACKS MYSTERY Series ~ written as Miranda James
Main Character: Charlie Harris, Librarian, & Diesel, Well-Behaved Cat, Mississippi
- Murder Past Due (Cat in the Stacks Mystery) ’10
- Classified as Murder (Cat in the Stacks Mystery) ’11
BRIDGE CLUB MYSTERY Series ~ written as Honor Hartman
Main character: Emma Diamond, Novice Bridge Player, Widow, Houston
- On The Slam (A Bridge Club Mystery #1) ’07
- The Unkindest Cut: A Bridge Club Mystery (Wheeler Large Print Cozy Mystery) ’08
SIMON KIRBY-JONES MYSTERY Series ~ written as Dean James
Main Character: Simon Kirby-Jones, Writer, Vampire, American, Gay, Snupperton Mumsley, England