Mystery Readers Only Writer's Notes

Guest Post: Maris Soule’s Take on Coming Up With Ideas

A Killer Past by Maris Soule

By Maris Soule

I’m often asked, “How do you come up with your ideas?” Well, Mary Harrington took form during a walk with my husband. We’d just watched the TV show Nikita (A rogue assassin returns to take down a secret organization) and I said, “I wonder what she would be like in her seventies?”

Hmm. I had a character. A woman in her seventies who regularly works out at the gym and has kept a low profile since moving to Rivershore, a small, rural town in southwest Michigan. She’s a widow whose grown son thinks, for her safety, she should move out of the two-story house she’s called home for almost forty-four years. A woman with secrets.

Mary Harrington became real to me, but now I needed an event to change the course of her life. I came up with two. First, she’s featured in a magazine article about the mental and physical advantages of older people staying active. Her picture is included, showing Mary working out at the gym, and the article goes out on the Internet, where it can be (and is) seen by people from her past. And then, the night before Halloween, Mary’s car breaks down two blocks from her house, and two gang members see her as easy prey. When one of the punks grabs her, Mary discovers old habits are hard to forget, and the gang members are the ones who end up in the hospital.

Of course, I needed a foil, someone intent on discovering why Mary isn’t willing to admit she bested the boys. Enter Sergeant Jack Rossini, Rivershore’s lone investigator. He’s a widower and younger than Mary by over a decade, who finds her fascinating, especially when he discovers there’s no record of her life prior to her arrival in Rivershore and is told by the F.B.I. to drop his investigation.

I loved writing this book. It was fun verbally pitting Mary against Jack, creating a son who thinks his mother can’t take care of herself, and a snobbish daughter-in-law who wants to trace Mary’s family tree. To the mix, I added a drug pushing gang and a man from her past who want her dead.

As an older woman myself, I hate being classified as “elderly.” The word conjures up images of feeble and weak. Yes, I can’t do everything I used to do when I was younger, but I still remember some of the Judo I learned in my teens. Don’t try grabbing my arm and pulling me somewhere I don’t want to go. And I may not see the target as well as I did in my younger years, but I can still put some bullet holes near the center. I never learned how to use some of the weapons Mary had hiding in her basement, but it was fun doing the research.

So, what would a woman who was an assassin in her twenties be like in her seventies? Meet Mary Harrington who has A KILLER PAST.

Maris Soule

About Maris:

Maris Soule has had thirty books published, ranging from romance and romantic suspense to mystery and thriller. Over the years, her books have won and placed in more than a dozen contests. Born and raised in California, she was working on a master’s degree in art history when she met and married her husband. She taught high school art and math for eight years before turning to writing full time. The Soules, who have two grown children and two granddaughters, now live in Michigan in the summer and Florida in the winter.

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