Writer's Notes

Suspension of Disbelief: Rita Lakin

R LAKIN Book coverSuspension of Disbelief – an interview with author Rita Lakin


So, Rita, what drove you to write a totally unbelievable series?

Purely by accident. When I left “show biz”, I decided to finally write a novel after 25 years of churning out television scripts. I wanted to write about my mother and aunts and other relatives who retired to a condo in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. But as I started to write it, I knew it wouldn’t sell; not a novel about old people getting older. Definitely depressing. Because I was so ingrained with writing and selling “commercial,” ideas, I decided to turn them into elderly private eyes. And because my relatives were so unknowingly funny in real life, I knew it had to be a comedy. Ergo – a humorous crime series. And to my surprise, I found that I had written a parody of the PI genre.
Tell us about your characters and plots–in what ways are they unbelievable?
I realized that I didn’t have to make things up. Florida turned out to be rich in totally nonsensical craziness. For an example of the outrageous: my senior citizen characters go to the pool for their morning swim, only to find, after jumping in, a lost alligator terrifying them. True story.

Example – This made the news. A woman stopped a thief from robbing her by hitting him with her cane. Within a few weeks, “Cane Fu” shops blossomed, teaching seniors how to protect themselves with canes. True story.

So my plots were easily believingly unbelievable, and wonderfully funny. Like the case of an 86 year old woman who hires our girls to stalk her 89 year old husband to find out if he was cheating on her.

My elderly ladies on stakeout are hilarious. What with “ blankies” for comfort, cards, knitting, and enough snacks for a month. And when they need to go to the bathroom…
Picture a chase scene: the perp is driving 90 mph on the freeway; my elderly ladies are pursuing him at 35 mph on the city streets. They don’t go on the freeway. Not them. Especially at night.

The plots are funny, the characters are funny. And easy to come up with loveable “villains” like the 80 year old Grandpa bandit who robbed banks.

The alligator in the pool, Cane Fu, Grandpa bandit – All these stories were true, unbelievable as they might seem. A wealth of story material waiting to be harvested.

Your Getting Old is Murder series is still going strong. What’s up next for Gladdy and her girls?

Books eight and nine are soon to be available: GETTING OLD CAN HURT YOU and GETTING OLD WILL HAUNT YOU. In the first novel, an angry grandchild comes to wreak havoc on the condo and in the second, Gladdy and her girls deal with a most amazing client who demands they solve a murder. Funny stuff.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAuthor Rita Lakin worked in Hollywood as a script writer and then a producer of her own shows. Some of the shows she worked on were: Peyton Place, Mod Squad and Dynasty. Lakin wrote her memoir of those years spent in that world: THE ONLY WOMAN IN THE ROOM – Episodes in My Life and Career as a Television Writer.


Life in sunny Fort Lauderdale’s Lanai Gardens is turned upside-down when Ida’s long-lost granddaughter, Tori, gate-crashes the ladies’ deli lunch, demanding protection from men she insists are out to kill her. Determined to assist Ida and her granddaughter, Gladdy Gold’s Detective Agency is on the case.

R LAKIN Book coverBut the stubborn and secretive Tori is not easy to help, regularly sneaking off to the puzzlement of Gladdy and her girls. A series of family secrets leaves a grudge heavy in the air between Tori and Ida: will Gladdy’s gals be able to reunite the warring pair in time to figure out who the sinister men chasing Tori are?



While the men of Lanai Gardens are off on safari, Evvie and Gladdy worry about their grumpy PI partners. The girls are bored. No cases in such a long time! So when a caller in Key West wants to hire the team to solve a murder, Gladdy says yes—maybe too quickly. The girls are thrilled. Key West: a great place to sight-see, too.

Sadly, on the day they leave, Ida is too ill to travel. Suddenly their annoying neighbor, Hy, has gone missing and Ida, feeling better, has to tackle this on her own.

Gladdy’s case is fraught with strange goings-on, a bizarre client and a murder that nobody believes happened. Meanwhile Ida has to deal with Hy’s awkward secret life. Will the girls, in each of their situations, muddle through their hilarious misadventures?







Writer's Notes

October: Suspension of Disbelief

By Thonie Hevron

Samuel Taylor Coleridge by Washington Allston circa 1843


Willing suspension of disbelief is a term coined in 1817 by the poet and aesthetic philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who suggested that if a writer could infuse a “human interest and a semblance of truth” into a fantastic tale, the reader would suspend judgement concerning the implausibility of the narrative.

Every fiction writer must wrestle with this at some time. The worlds we create are products of our imagination with a little fact thrown in.

The main facet of suspension of disbelief: Could this happen, really?

Something that I see in my genre (police procedural/thriller/mystery) so often is multiple officer involved shootings (OIS’s) several times a shift or day or week. Officers never seem to go on Administrative Leave ever. Administrative Leave is a temporary leave from a job or assignment, with pay and benefits intact. Officers are routinely placed on administrative leave after a shooting incident while an investigation is conducted (sometimes by an outside agency for impartiality), without implying fault on the part of the officer.

My husband, the retired firefighter, cries foul when a vehicle is involved in a crash and subsequent explosion (this doesn’t include when the plot specifies an incendiary device was aboard). What typically happens is this: cars don’t explode on impact. If they catch fire, it often due to fuel leaking to an ignition source (such as an overheated catalytic converter).

Cops and fire fighters are readers and know when something just ain’t right. But when you include a feasible ignition source in that Impala that collides with a tree—then you have the “well, it could happen” moment.

ThonieHevron-ByForceorFear.jpgAnother part of suspension of disbelief involves the premise of my first novel. By Force or Fear’s protagonist is a female detective being stalked by a cunning judge. Her superiors don’t believe her when she reports him. In this day of #MeToo, I seriously doubt any responsible administrator would discount the report. But it could happen, right? That’s suspension of disbelief.

The key to making the preposterous believable is to sow seeds of reasonability into the story (foreshadowing) ahead of time or during the event. For instance, an observer of the car crash might see the fallen tiki torch next to the tree or the officer may be the last officer (think a department-wide epidemic with no mutual aid officers available within the day—hey, it’s a stretch but it could happen, right?). Sometimes a scientific explanation after the event can work but that can be dicey. Balance this with authenticity.

The trick to all of this is to make your devices (and plot twists) believable. Do your research, online and on the ground. Talk to police officers, fire fighters, professors, whoever you need to get the scoop. After talking to these folks, you may find that the truth is less believable than fiction!

October 12th will feature D.R. Ransdell’s take on this topic. On October 19th, an interview with Rita Lakin who dishes on the hard-to-believe-it-but-they’re-true stories with her Getting Older is Murder series. Niles Reddick winds up the month on October 26th with writing about differences.

You’ll be glad you checked them all out! Don’t forget to read Hal Collier (Ramblings), Ed Meckle (The Call Box), Mikey (Roll Call) and others on Just the Facts, Ma’am to find out how much stranger truth can be than fiction!


3 book covers
All three of my thriller novels are for sale on I’ll also be signing and selling books at the Rohnert Park 2018 Holiday Craft Faire November 23 and 24. 


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