by Maggie Toussaint
Since my Cleopatra Jones amateur sleuth series focuses on Cleo's family, I tend to write scenes at her home, her office, her ladies nine-hole golf league, her car, and her church. On the Nickel, the second mystery in the series, has several church scenes, but they don't have much to do with a church service. Most of the scenes involve activities that occur in a church building.
For instance, when Detective Radcliffe bars Cleo and her friend Jonette from the church parking lot crime scene, they race around to the back, to the thicket, where for years they watched the Sunday School ladies hide Easter eggs. While vying for the best vantage point, Cleo falls through the thorny bushes, landing smack dab in the middle of trouble - ending with her being led away in handcuffs.
Other church scenes involve a funeral reception, a church ladies meeting, and a bulletin-folding morning. In this book, Cleo tries to prove her mother didn't kill the church lady, her arch-rival, even though her mother's car is the murder weapon.
Cleo is Episcopalian, which is a Protestant church, just south of Catholicism and close kin to Methodists and Lutherans. Like the church, Cleo's life has seen upheaval in the last few years. Like the church, she is somewhat resistant to change, but life has a way of changing anyway, doesn't it? The conflict of new versus old, of time-honed prayers and joyful noise, of joy found and lost - those distinctly different yet eternally connected viewpoints are all rolled into a woman trying to cope in a world she can't control.
While I try to paint her into a corner with setting, character, and plot points, Cleo finds a way to cut through all the noise and triumph. She's my hero.
Want to read more? This post is a stop on a rolling blog tour. KT Wagner shares her thoughts on favorite settings at http://northernlightsgothic.com/a-setting-i-love-to-write and Kathleen Kaska expounds on the topic at http://kathleenkaskawrites.blogspot.com/2011/09/favorite-place-to-set-scene-do-you-have.html while Ryder Islington talks setting at http://ryderislington.wordpress.com/2011/09/12/favorite-settings-in-my-writing/ and Nancy Lauzon adds her two cents at http://chickdickmysteries.com/2011/09/11/favorite-place-to-set-a-scene/.
Have a great week!
Mystery and romance author