Meet Lennie Carson

MCMThursday, August 20, 2015

As we approach the launch of Droplet Fiction, I'm going to do a few introductory posts about the stories that are part of its launch slate, with some interesting details about their origins that you may not know (and I may not remember to tell you again).

Next up is Lennie Carson, star of the aptly-named Lennie Carson Mysteries.

Lennie Carson is a sassy young sleuth in 1925 Chicago, cracking cases with the help of her ethereal partner, Mr Parker. But between the pressures of being a reluctant debutante, and having to work for a living to get out from under her Uncle's thumb, Lennie has to be extra clever to help people in need. That, or fudge some facts along the way.

What's it all about?

Lennie is an amateur sleuth in 1920s Chicago, but with a twist — basically mashing up tons of my favourite notions into one wonderful series. First of all, she's got a mouth on her, which is always fun to write. And thw twist in the story (which I won't spoil) adds a layer of complexity that I absolutely love. Plus, she's kicking around in the land of Al Capone and so many other gangsters, so there's no shortage of drama to be had.

But the really fun part about Lennie is that she isn't mixed up in guns, drugs and booze. No, these stories are actually sass-filled cozy mysteries, where the action centres around problems like missing brooches, or stolen rent, or missing pets. Not high-octane cases, except for the fact that Lennie has enough baggage of her own that she complicates things immensely.

How'd it come about?

Well, first of all, I wanted to write a cozy mystery series, because it's always eeemed like fun. But then my messed-up brain thought it would be a lot of subversive fun to set a cozy mystery in the un-coziest time imaginable, in Prohibition Chicago. And while wondering "what do I know about that time and place?" (actually, quite a lot) I remembered the thing that pulled it all together.

So. Lennie lives with her rich aunt and uncle because her mother (her aunt's sister) was disowned for marrying a wily Italian, who ran back to Italy and abandoned his family. Lennie is being raised to be a proper heir to the fortune, but she's got a massive chip on her shoulder and refuses to play along. She's got a complicated past, and she's hellbent on making the future even worse.

That character and situation are a fictionalized take on my own grandmother, whose father abandoned his family in America and ran back to Italy; whose mother was disowned by her wealthy family for eloping; who grew up in 1920s Chicago (among other places) seemingly hellbent on making her prologue seem tame when compared to her future. I took the skeleton of a real life — the parts I actually know, because so much is undefined — and treated it like any other premise. The result is... fun.

How many in the series?

There are six Lennie Carson stories currently planned for its first "season", with the possibility of more to come. The first, Risk the Queen should be launching in mid-September, so stay tuned for more... including the moment I can finally stop dancing around the big twist for this series, and get into the nitty gritty for real.

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