The protagonist of A Village Shattered is what Jean calls a “senior sleuth.” With all the baby boomers around today, Jean can expect a lot of enthusiastic readers. Everyone wants to read a book that has characters they can identify with, and A Village Shattered has that for the millions who are retired or looking forward to retirement. Readers follow two members of the Sew and So Club, Dana Logan and Sarah Cafferty, who set out to find a killer and along the way encounter mystery, suspense and a bit of humor and romance.
Today, Jean is going to tell us about writing the “senior sleuth” and why she chose this category within the mystery genre. She’s very open to questions and comments, so stick around and visit with her! (She’s also giving away free books!)
Contemporary Senior Sleuths
by Jean Henry Mead
by Jean Henry Mead
I write senior sleuth novels because there’s a growing market for retirees who like to read in their own age bracket. Years ago I was intrigued Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple and Hercule Periot, who were wise and perceptive, but never seemed to have any fun. That’s not true of today’s seniors who are less inclined to retire to their rocking chairs than previous generations.
Pat Browning, who wrote the novel Full Circle, said a St. Martin's editor gave her a piece of advice she never forgot: ‘Be careful not to turn your characters into cartoons.’ Pat said, “I try to picture older characters as they are--the same people they always were, only older. This is especially true when it comes to romance and sex. For all the jokes about senior sex, it’s a very real part of senior life, and it's no joke to those lucky enough to have a romantic partner late in life.”
I agree. Not unlike Janet Evanovich’s character, Grandma Mazur, who is eccentric enough for a cartoon character, most seniors have the same interests they’ve always had, with the possible exception of roller blading and downhill skiing. On second thought, I once interviewed Buffalo Bill’s grandson Billy Cody, who learned to downhill ski at 65 to keep up with his much younger wife.
Mike Befeler writes what he calls “Geezer-lit.” His first novel, Retirement Homes are Murder, features his octogenarian protagonist, who is short on memory but has a sense of humor and love of life. He accepts his ‘geezerhood,’ solves a mystery and enjoys romance along the way.
My latest senior sleuth mystery, A Village Shattered, takes place in a California retirement village. The plot is generously sprinkled with humor but none of the seniors resemble cartoon characters, although a couple come close, a redneck Casanova and love starved widow.
Another senior writer, Beth Solheim, spent years working in a nursing home and says she loves the elderly and their “humorous, quirky insight to life, love and longevity.” Her protagonists are 64-year-old twins in her humorous, paranormal cozy series, The Fifi Witt Mysteries.
Octogenarian Chester Campbell writes the Greg McKenzie Mysteries. He said, “My friends in this [age] bracket are out going places and doing things. Some, like me, continue to work at jobs they enjoy. I chose to use a senior couple in my books who are long married, get along fine, and do a competent job as private investigators. Greg, who narrates the books, is aware of his limitations from age and makes up for physical shortcomings by outsmarting his adversaries. My hope is to dispel some of the absurdity of the stereotypes about seniors that are all too familiar.”
Like so many other novelists, I write what I enjoy reading. My readers are mainly retirees and baby boomers who number over 87 million. Some 8,000 boomers are moving into the senior column every day and are the fastest growing potential book buying market on record. We’re experiencing the graying of America. What better subgenre to write for?
(The first novel in my Logan & Cafferty senior sleuth series, titled A Village Shattered, will be released in both print and multi format in early December. The second in the series, Diary of Murder, will appear next spring. I’m currently working on the third in the series.)
Thank you so much, Jean!
If you’d like to read more about Jean Henry Mead, you can find her all over the Internet. She has a website and several blogs: Murderous Musings, Make Mine Mystery, Write On! Advice From an Editor, and A Western Historical Happening. Now that A Village Shattered is out, Jean is going on a virtual book tour. You can follow her schedule, and take a look at her brand new book trailer. In addition, Jean will be giving away three signed copies of A Village Shattered. To put your name in the hat for a book, follow her on her tour and leave a comment. (Leaving a comment here today gets you in the drawing!)
You can buy A Village Shattered at FictionWise in multi-format or there's still time to order your Christmas copy from Amazon.
I hope you’ll leave a comment for Jean, ask a question or just say hi. See you in the Comments Section!